A sunroom is a basic room addition that has more windows than your average room and a solid, foam-insulated panel roof that is similar to that of a mobile home. Sometimes called porch enclosures, sunrooms typically feature a shed-style or studio-style roof. Sunrooms are sometimes referred to as solariums, conservatories, patio rooms, and green rooms, depending on how they are is being used. It can be an addition to your kitchen or family room, a glassed-in porch or deck, or a separate structure that acts as an extension of your home with its own entry and exit.
What Are the Different Types of Sunrooms?
Each homeowner has a unique set of wants and needs. Luckily there are different styles of sunrooms available to accommodate anyone's preference.
Seasonal sunrooms are constructed with single pane glass windows and screens that can be full-length or built at a knee-wall to give a more closed-in feel. While they are not designed to be heated or air-conditioned, natural ventilation, window blinds, and shades add comfort and extend seasonality. These rooms are normally used from spring to fall or year-round in warmer climates.
Solariums and Conservatories
This sunroom style allows for a panoramic view of your surroundings. This type of room uses insulated glass and can be heated or air-conditioned for year-round use in accordance with local building codes. These also have the option of full-length glass or knee-wall panes. Most of these sunrooms are built with a curved or straight eave roof.
Screened Room or Patio Rooms
This style has walls that are meshed all the way around the room's perimeter, inviting fresh air in but keeping insects out. This is economical for those who only want to enjoy the outdoors from spring to fall.
A knee-wall is a short, decorative wall from the ground to the windowsill, which allows a view of the outdoors as well as some privacy of indoors. Knee-wall style sunrooms are good designs for installing electrical outlets.
What Are the Different Types of Window Structures?
Knowing the types of wall structures available to you can help you decide what kind of sunroom you can afford. It can also help you determine what options you have based on local building codes.
A good insulator, this inexpensive material offers durability and effectiveness with little maintenance. Most vinyl supports have an internal reinforcement of either aluminum or galvanized steel.
While aluminum is not as great as an insulator, it provides strong structural support.
This moderately priced option combines the energy-efficiency of wood frames with the maintenance-free aspect of vinyl and aluminum.
Wood provides an authentic, classic look to a sunroom. Although it is good for screened porches, it requires periodic maintenance because it is prone to rotting and can attract pests.
What Window Glass Options Are Available?
Windows are the most important aspect of a sunroom. They are what make it a sunroom. Choosing the right windows will allow the sunroom to maintain a comfortable climate. There are a few options for sunroom windows.
Glazing is clear, translucent material made of glass, or plastic that allows sunlight to enter and warm the space. A single-glazed window refers to the type of glass that is a single pane. Single-glaze does not provide sufficient insulation. This window is not recommended for four-season sunrooms.
This style has two layers of glass filled with air or gas between the two panes in order to provide insulation for winter and reduce condensation. A typical U-value ranges from 2 to 2.5.
The triple-pane glass provides three panes of glass with two layers of insulation to prevent heat loss.
This is a type of window that is coated with extremely thin layers of metallic oxide. The glass permits light to pass through but reflects off heat. This allows outside temperatures to be kept out and inside climate control measures to be better retained. The low-E glass acts like a"sunscreen" by blocking ultraviolet rays.
Argon Filled Glass
The space between panes is filled with argon gas, which reduces the amount of temperature in a room and provides better insulation. Argon gas is an odorless, nontoxic gas that is six times denser than air.
This type of glass is also known as safety glass. it is heat-treated, and when it breaks, it crumbles into little pieces rather than shattering into large shards of glass.
Where's the Best Location for My Sunroom?
The best location for your sunroom depends on the area you live in and what exactly you are going to use your sunroom for.
A northern exposure will allow a lower level of exposure to the sun with partial shade most of the day. Depending on the area you live in, a heating system may be required, but if you live in the south, this is good for the hot season.
Southern exposure allows the most sunlight in, which is best if you live in the north where climates are cooler. However, in the south these can heat up a lot, requiring a cooling system.
An eastern exposure provides just enough sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. This is perfect for a scenic morning breakfast or exercise room.
Western exposure gives off the harsh afternoon sun exposure. This location is best for sunset views but not practical on hot days.
What Are the Benefits of a Sunroom?
Adding a sunroom can be a big investment to your home, but it can dramatically improve your resale value. If the room is used an average of four times per day, the return on investment can average between 89% to 115% of the original cost. Sunrooms are one of the top important aspects of a house in the realty market, as many homebuyers request sunrooms so that they can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while remaining indoors.
Another benefit of sunrooms is that they can be a place of relaxation, allowing you to enjoy your surroundings. This is beneficial to your health. Many scientific studies have shown that exposure to sunlight can help with mental illness and depression.
They can also be used for yoga, reading, and other various activities.
What Options Can be Added to a Sunroom for Climate Control?
Skylights can be added if your roof is a solid roof, meaning it is not all glass. Skylights provide an extra amount of light and fresh air. Because they are opened directly to the sky, skylights allow nearly twice as much light to enter the room as regular windows.
Ceiling fans improve air circulation in a sunroom, which is great for hotter, southern climates.
Shades or blinds can control the heat and sunshine glare by blocking UV rays. Adding them to an overhead glass can prevent overheating. They also allow for more privacy in your sunroom.
Heaters provide warmth for the winter and can be installed through the floors for maximum comfort. You could also consider adding a fireplace for heating.
How Much Would it Cost to Build a Sunroom?
The cost of a sunroom depends on how big the room is going to be, the style or design you want, the type of glass, options you want to add, and the location of the space. Added costs will be in labor and installation, estimating about $3,000 for an average-sized sunroom of 10' x 7'.
Of course, a screened porch is cheaper than having an all-glass sunroom, which can cost anywhere from $5,000 or higher.
A standard knee-wall, half-glass, a solid-roof sunroom can start anywhere from $10,000.
Solariums or conservatories are the most expensive sunrooms to build because they require a cooling and heating system. The starting cost for a solarium or conservatory can be about $15,000.
Are Sunroom DIY Kits a Good Idea?
Sunrooms that come in the form of a kit are a lot less expensive than having a sunroom built by a professional. A kit can cost anywhere from $2,000-$15,000, depending on size, style, and type. A kit is good for any handy DIYer to put together. Some kits come with their own set of design options, video tutorials, necessary fasteners, screws, and frames.
The only thing that most kits don't come with is the glass for the windows, which are custom made and can cost a bit more. There are mixed reviews about sunroom kits by consumers. Some consumers consider these kits to be not worth the money because of the possibility of leaks from improper installation, but leaks can happen with sunrooms built by a professional too. Others have no problems with sunroom kits. Building a sunroom out of kit is based upon personal preferences and your willingness to do-it-yourself.