Tips and Ideas for Designing a Sunroom
There are many benefits to adding a sunroom to your home, but before you lay the foundation, you’ll need to first think about its design.
Here are some tips on how to design a sunroom to match your home and lifestyle.
1. Choose a Sunroom for Your Needs
There are many ways to use your sunroom. How you plan to use the additional living space will help you determine the best type of sunroom for your needs.
Types of Sunrooms:
· Screen Room: Also known as a patio enclosure, a screen room is an extension of your existing patio, deck or balcony. A screen room is ideal in the summer months and in warmer climates as it allows you to enjoy the outdoor experience without having to worry about insects or other pests.
Three Season Sunroom: A three-season sunroom is constructed with both screens and single-pane glass windows and doors. This type of sunroom offers more protection from inclement weather and cooler temperatures than a screen room and is ideal for those who would like to use the room during the spring, summer, and fall months.
All Season Sunroom: As the name suggests, all-season sunrooms (or four season sunrooms) are built for those who plan to use this space throughout the year. These rooms are built with energy-efficient double-pane glass windows to reduce the loss of heat in the winter, as well as reduce the heat and UV rays in the summer. They will also typically be installed with more insulation and an HVAC unit for heating purposes in the winter months. If you live in a season area with cold winters, you’ll need a four season sunroom to use the space year-round.
2. Determine the Size and Location
It is important to consider factors such as where in your home the sunroom will be located, how much sunlight you’ll have in that area throughout the day and the traffic flow in that space before actually building a screen room or sunroom.
· How you plan to use your sunroom will help determine how spacious it should be. A nook, home office, or pet area might be relatively small. On the other hand, if you plan to use your sunroom as a spare living room or for entertaining, you’ll need a bigger space.
· While the general rule of thumb is to follow the light, it’s important to take into account the area in which you live and what you will be using the sunroom for when deciding the location. For example, a north-facing sunroom will let in the least amount of direct sunlight; however, this may be a more pleasant location if you live in a warm climate zone because it will minimize the amount of heat the room absorbs. An east-facing sunroom catches the morning sun and provides shade during the afternoon; it’s a prime location if you’re an early riser or plan to use the room as a breakfast/morning nook. A west-facing sunroom is a good location if you are home in the afternoon or evening as it receives the most amount of sunlight later in the day. A south-facing sunroom receives the greatest amount of sunlight throughout the day and is recommended if you live in the cold, northern regions.
· Also consider how the sunroom will flow with the rest of your home. If your sunroom will be used for dining or entertaining, consider building it off of the living room or kitchen and making it more of an extension of that space. If used for quiet relaxation or reading, close it off with French doors or locate it away from commonly used areas to minimize traffic flow.
3. Select the Right Materials
There are two types of materials commonly used to build sunrooms: aluminum and vinyl.
Aluminum has been traditionally used for sunrooms because it provides great structural support, is lightweight, low-maintenance, and cost effective. However, aluminum it is not a good insulator and is best suited for screen rooms and three season sunroom designs.
Vinyl is a more recently used material for sunrooms and is strong, durable, and more thermally efficient than aluminum; it is a better choice if you plan to heat and cool your sunroom throughout the year. Vinyl sunrooms are more expensive than aluminum sunrooms but are easy to clean and relatively low maintenance. Experts suggest repainting vinyl siding every 7-10 years because vinyl expands and contracts with the heat overtime, which can produce cracks and peels in the paint.
4. Choose a Roofing Style
The roof plays a major role in the design and overall appearance of the sunroom. Typically, your contractor will work within the confines of your home’s current architecture to keep the design similar.
The most common sunroom roofing options are gable, single-slope, existing and glass.
· Single-Slope Roof: A common roofing choice, the single slope roof (also called a shed or studio) is formed by extending a roof from any part of the home in a single-slope. A single-slope roof is the most versatile option because it complements a wide range of architectural styles, including Prairie and Ranch.
· Gable Roof: Also known as an a-frame or pitched rood, the gable roof slopes down in two parts at an angle from a central ridge. A gable roof is preferred for architectural designs that feature a gable roof, such as Cape Cod and Craftsmen house styles; it can also add visual interest to home’s with a flat roof or varying heights, like Raised Ranch and Split-Level Ranch house styles.
· Existing Roof: This roof is formed by installing glass or screens between the posts in your existing patio, porch or balcony.
· GGlass Roof: A sunroom with a glass roof is also known as a solarium Glass roofs are available in both gable or single slope designs and can feature a straight or curved corner (called an eave) where the roof meets the walls. A curved eave gives the sunroom a unique polished look and is best fitted for modern or contemporary style homes.
Photos courtesy of Patio Enclosures by Great Day Improvements, LLC
This post was written by Lindsey Gregory.