Fixed Screen vs Retractable Screens

Manual Retractable Shades

Porch screens, also known as solar screens or motorized patio shades, are ideal for weather and insect protection and for privacy. Whether you’re considering installing your first set of porch screens or replacing your old ones, the question is whether you’d rather install a fixed screen or a retractable screen.

To help you make an informed decision, here are the benefits and drawbacks of both types of screens. 

The Pros of Fixed Screens 


When it comes to cost, you’ll want a screen option that fts with your budget. If you have a smaller budget to work with, a fixed screen is likely your best bet.

This is because of how affordable fixed screens are. Generally, a fixed screen patio or porch area will cost roughly $3,000 to complete – that’s including all 3 screen “walls” and the hardware to install your screen.

If you have a professional do the install, it might cost a bit more but even still, $3,000 is fairly affordable in the grand scheme of things. 

Inexpensive repairs and maintenance

Fixed screens do need to be maintained and will occasionally require repairs – like everything else that is constantly fighting against wind current. Luckily, their repairs are pretty cheap.


You can easily repair or replace one panel of your system without having to even consider the other panels. This cuts down on the cost of unnecessary materials and repairs, as well as to the installation fees that you need to deal with if you have a professional do the job.

Improved appeal

In the early days of screen porches, fixed screens were bulky and awkward looking. Today, they’re much more sleek in appearance requiring minimal hardware or large support posts. 

The Cons of Fixed Screens 

Difficult Removal

Fixed screens can be removed for seasonal purposes but we don’t recommend it. Why? First things first, it’s a major pain. It takes 1 or 2 days to completely remove all the panels. If your porch isn’t at ground level, it becomes even more difficult to remove as you’re forced to climb up and down ladders.

Secondly, you’ll also have to find and secure adequate storage space for your screens once you’ve removed them. 

Thirdly is, of course, the fact that you’ll have to put them back up when the time comes, consuming even more of your time. 

Minimal flexibility 

Fixed screens are not as flexible as their retractable counterparts. For example, during certain months of summer when the bugs are at bay, you’ll still have your screen up whether you need it for bug control or not unless you go through the hassle to take it down.

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You can’t just roll it up like you would with a retractable screen. 

Pros of Retractable Screens 

Connects Multiple Porches 

If you’re fortunate enough to have a home that has multiple decks, chances are that one of them came pre-screened. 

You can use your retractable screen to connect two porch spaces that are next to each other, using the retractable screen as a wall or divider. You can retract it when you want to utilize the entire space created by the two areas or pull it down to separate the two. 

Wide Width

Retractable screens are available in large sizes. They can come in sizes of up to 20-feet in length! This means that you can have one covering a large opening without having to have a ton of support beams. 


Retractable porch screens and stylish and modern. They give a touch of character to every home and look great regardless of what type of home they are installed on.

Their seamless, post-free installation makes them look sophisticated. 

Cons of Retractable Screens 


Compared to fixed screens retractable screens com with a hefty price tag. On average, one screen panel costs $2,700, bringing the total for 3 motorized panels to around $8,000. Installation is more expensive, too, coming in at $2,000 to $3,000. 


In addition, repairs and maintenance is also more expensive, seeing as the panels are motorized and require a great deal of technical skill to be fixed properly. Since this is the case, there’s almost no chance that you’ll be able to DIY a solution to your screen problem; a professional will almost certainly need to be called. 

Tripping Hazard

While neither type of screens are a hazard when they are pulled down, retractables can be hazardous when they are retracted. This is because of the track that runs along the bottom of the attachment area. It can and has served as a tripping hazard for many people. 


Using our pros and cons comparison of fixed and retractable screens, you should be able to choose the best type for your personal needs.

Just remember that the more complex a screen system is, the more it’s going to cost you across the board. Also, keep in mind that both screens will get the job done; don’t get hung up on one type or the other just to try and stay current or to impress your friends. 

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