As the weather warms up, it’s tempting to head outside and enjoy the weather. But sometimes, you want something a little more cozy than a lawn chair in the backyard. While a barbecue on the lawn is nice once in a while, folding tables on the patio is no how you’d like to enjoy your dinner every night. And especially here in Georgia, mosquitoes and other bugs can put a damper on any outdoor time. For all these reasons and more, a transitional room like a sunroom is a great way to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors with the convenience and comfort of the indoors.
Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy al fresco dining, a comfy spot to curl up with a good book, or a great new space for hosting family and friends, a sunroom is a great way to incorporate the best of the indoors and outdoors into your home. But before you dive into building your new sunroom, it’s best to know all your options. What are the different types of transitional rooms? Where is the best place to add sunroom? What kinds of materials should I use? These are all important questions you’ll need to answer before you embark on your sunroom addition.
Sunrooms and Other Transitional Rooms
Sunrooms are a subset of the broader category of transitional rooms. As their name implies, transitional rooms blend the indoors and the outdoors. Different types of transitional rooms vary in how much they incorporate the indoors versus the outdoors. If you want to build a sunroom, you should first learn about the options for transitional rooms.
A typical sunroom is a room with walls (and sometimes a roof) made entirely of glass windows. The windows let in light and warmth during milder weather. They also open up the view to your outdoor space, so you can enjoy your landscaping without actually being outdoors. With a real floor and solid roof and walls, a sunroom functions as additional living space. You can fill it with indoor furniture and keep it as clean and bug-free as the rest of your house. Most sunrooms are not climate controlled, so they may not be comfortable during the hottest and coldest months of the year. However, where you place your sunroom will affect temperature, as well. The glass windows can function as a greenhouse to hold in heat during the fall and winter, and sunshades can block out extra heat during the spring and summer.
A four-season room is very similar to a sunroom with one major distinction: it is intended to be climate-controlled. The addition of extra insulation in the walls and double-paned insulated windows allow a four-season room to maintain a steady temperature regardless of the weather. With appropriate heating and cooling, you can enjoy a four-season room year-round
A screen room is built similarly to a sunroom, but instead of glass windows, its windows are merely screened. The use of screens instead of glass allows the room to catch a breeze and generally makes you feel close to the outdoors. The addition of a solid roof and indoor flooring make this room more weather-proof than a typical porch or patio. But the lack of windows limits the seasons in which you can use a screen room. Screen rooms are best for mild to hot regions where the weather is livable for much of the year. One advantage of screen rooms is that they are typically less expensive than sunrooms since they don’t require lots of expensive glass windows.
If you have a porch that you love and bugs that you don’t, a screened porch is a great way to keep out pests. Screens are usually retractable and can retract manually or be motorized for added convenience.
Where to Place Your Sunroom
The placement of your sunroom is critical to its function. There are two primary considerations when choosing a location for your sunroom.
First, the sunroom needs to work with the existing layout of your home. Often, homeowners want a sunroom that is accessible from a kitchen or living room. While your backyard may have a perfect spot for an addition, if it would make the sunroom accessible only through a bedroom, it may not be ideal for the layout of your home. (Unless, of course, you want it as part of a bedroom, such as an addition to a master suite.)
Northern vs. Southern Exposure
Second, the placement of your sunroom relative to the sun will have a huge impact on its temperature and livability. In the northern hemisphere, a sunroom with a northern exposure will receive less sun than a southern exposure. If you live somewhere that is very hot in the summer, a northern exposure could put your sunroom in the shade for most of the day, keeping it significantly cooler. However, if you live in a cooler climate and want to extend your sunroom’s season from early spring to late fall, a southern exposure will give the room more time in the sun and make it warmer most of the day.
Eastern vs. Western Exposure
If you want to put the sunroom on the east or west side of your home, you will have to decide what time of day you plan to use the sunroom most and how well you plan to shade it. A sunroom on the east side of your home will be exposed to the sun in the earlier part of the day. If you live in a climate with cold nights and want the room to warm up in the morning, an eastern exposure would be ideal. Similarly, if you live in a hot climate and want shade in the afternoon, an eastern exposure is the way to go. However, in a colder climate where you want to use the sunroom from spring to fall, a western exposure would provide warmth from the sun in the second half of the day, making for cozy afternoons, even in cooler weather. Remember, though, that if you plan to eat dinner in your sunroom, you may need some shade to block out the glare of a setting sun.
Placement of a Four-Season Room
A four-season room is better insulated than a regular sunroom. However, its placement still matters. First, even though the room will be climate-controlled, keeping the room naturally as close to your ideal temperature as possible will significantly cut down on your heating and cooling costs. Second, you should take into account any glare from the sun. Even if your room is the right temperature, you may not want to stare directly at the sun in the morning or evening.
A sunroom typically has windows on all sides. That’s what makes it a sunroom. Some sunrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, while some may have solid walls for a few feet at the base. While some sunrooms have a glass roof, roofs are typically made to match the rest of the house. Since windows are so central to a sunroom, the most significant difference in materials is the type of windows you choose.
Windows should be double-glazed (sometimes just referred to as double-paned windows). In a double-glazed window, two layers of glass are separated by a thin space that is sometimes filled with argon gas. The gap and the argon help reduce the amount of heat transfer. That keeps heat from the sun out and, when you want it, keeps warmth from your home in. Whether you are just trying to control the temperature in a regular sunroom or cut down on energy costs in a four-season room, double-glazed windows are the way to go.
In addition to double-glazed windows, some windows come with a low-emissivity coating. A “low-E” coating helps the window reflect heat and ultraviolet rays. “Low-E” coatings vary in how reflective they are, with a lower U-value indicating fewer ultraviolet rays penetrating the glass.
Frame and Roof
A sunroom’s frame can be made of vinyl, aluminum, or sometimes wood. Vinyl is the most popular choice because it is the cheapest and requires almost no maintenance. It also provides superior insulation. Aluminum is more expensive and doesn’t insulate as well, but it is stronger, so many vinyl sunrooms use aluminum for their roof structure. Wood is a premium material, as it is more expensive than vinyl or aluminum. It also requires more maintenance, but wood can also give a classic look. Many vinyl and aluminum sunrooms use some wood, such as in the ceiling, for aesthetic effect.
When a TrustDALE certified company and member of the TrustDALE Circle of Trust, you get the best materials and craft. They will build a sunroom to look like an extension of your home, not an addition. They match the roof of your home for a seamless look. And they offer options like a gabled roof to add extra light and ceiling height. You can also get a wood-paneled ceiling to add a unique luxurious finish to your sunroom. And like every TrustDALE certified company, Betterliving Sunroom and Awnings of Atlanta is backed by Dale’s trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right™ Guarantee.