Nature-lovers and sun-seekers alike are looking for more ways to bring the outdoors inside. Want to spend an afternoon soaking in warm rays while reading your favorite novel? Perhaps you’d like a sunny spot for family lunches.
If so, turn your attention to a fantastic home improvement project: sunroom additions.
If you’re considering this home remodel project, read on to learn about the benefits of a sunroom and which type of sunroom may best suit your needs.
Why Add a Sunroom to Your Home?
A sunroom can be a fabulous addition to your home for a few different reasons. A sunroom is the perfect balance of indoors and outdoors—a place to sit in comfort and appreciate the world around you.
A sunroom allows you to enjoy nature without the less pleasant parts. For those who live in humid climates, a sunroom can mean appreciating summer evenings without mosquitos, June bugs, or other unwanted visitors.
In more extreme climates, the addition of a sunroom allows you to be closer to the outdoors even in inclement weather. Depending on the design, some sunrooms may protect from wind and rain, and even provide heat when properly insulated.
You’ll also be able to take advantage of natural light with your new sunroom—perfect for artists and sunshine-lovers. Picture yourself painting on springtime mornings or drawing in the evening light.
Gardeners can also appreciate the abundance of natural light that a sunroom offers. It may even open you up to new varieties of plants that require a little more protection from the elements. The indoor/outdoor space may also be the perfect place for messier projects like potting and trimming plants.
Not only may the addition of a sunroom be a benefit to you in your daily life, but it may also help you financially in the long run. The additional square footage may increase the value of your home. Plus, sunrooms can be an appealing asset to prospective homeowners in the market for a new place — and just might give your home the edge over competition when it comes time to sell.
Which Type of Sunroom Is Best for Your Home?
When it comes to selecting a sunroom, there are many different options
to choose from, including a three-season sunroom, a four-season sunroom, a solarium, and a greenhouse.
Your selection should depend on your climate and how you plan to use your new addition, in order to determine the structure and insulative abilities of your sunroom.
1. Three-Season Sunrooms
A three-season sunroom is essentially a covered outdoor space, and doesn’t require the same level or quality of insulation and glass that other sunrooms might. They are designed for use during the spring, summer, and fall seasons in most climates, when outdoor temperatures are relatively mild. This may be between 5 and 8 months of the year, depending on your location. The colder your climate, the shorter your usage window.
Three-season sunrooms are typically not heated or insulated. Their windows are most often outfitted with single-tempered glass panes, which don’t offer much in terms of energy efficiency and are significantly less energy efficient than their double-paned counterparts.
A three-season sunroom may be the perfect choice for those in cold climates who don’t plan on using their sunroom during colder months, but would like a bit more protection than that of a screen room. Alternatively, for those who live in milder climates that don’t require extensive heating in the winter, a three-season sunroom may allow the sun’s rays to keep your room comfortable year-round.
2. Four-Season Sunrooms
A four-season sunroom is designed for year-round use in any climate thanks to thermal engineering. Four-season sunrooms provide temperature control that allows you to heat or cool your sunroom as needed, because they require the same insulation as a normal room addition.
The typical four-season room is outfitted with energy-efficient windows, which may reduce the loss of radiant heat in the winter. That means the heat that you put into your sunroom will stay in your sunroom, with less loss through walls and windows. These benefits may reduce your need to heat and cool year round, which may lower your energy usage.
Aptly named for its bounty of sunlight, a solarium’s walls and roof are made almost entirely of glass. While sunrooms typically feature more than 40% glass, a solarium features as much glass as possible—usually every surface beyond the structural frame of the room. Solariums often have a sleek, modern design and may feature rounded corners.
While solariums are the most immersive type of sunroom, they are often the most costly—not only in construction costs, but also in utilizing the room. Because the walls and roof are almost entirely made of glass, they may be more difficult to cool than other types of sunrooms. Many solarium-owners opt to mitigate the heat by installing ceiling shades. This can also limit glare during the brightest part of the day.
A greenhouse is designed for growing plants that require more humidity or protection from the elements. While once seldom seen in non-commercial usage, new materials have made greenhouses more accessible to homeowners. As a result, backyard greenhouses are becoming more popular.
Greenhouses may provide extended growing seasons and protection from bugs, birds, and critters who may eat or damage your plants. However, they require maintenance and monitoring much like any other sunroom.
Depending on your intended usage, there are a variety of types of greenhouses to choose from. When it comes to selecting the size of your greenhouse, homeowners typically choose from two categories:
- Starter greenhouse: These greenhouses are named because they are used to “start” seeds and small plants, which can be more vulnerable when exposed to the elements. They are small to mid-sized and allow the baby plants lots of light to grow.
- Grower greenhouse: Designed to grow plants full-term (meaning through adulthood), grower greenhouses are typically large and feature lots of space for plants to mature.
Once you’ve selected the size of your greenhouse, it’s time to select the temperature. The temperature in which you’re planning to grow your plants will determine the structure and design of your greenhouse. These include:
- Hot-house greenhouse: For tropical plants that grow in humid climates, hot-house greenhouses are an excellent choice. They’re built with heaters and grow lights to heat the room, (65-70 degrees or higher) and insulating materials to hold heat in.
- Warm greenhouse: Similarly to hot house greenhouses, these are built for stable temperature ranges, as well. Warm greenhouses are typically kept between 50 and 55 degrees, perfect for growing flowers and many veggies. While many warm house greenhouses feature heaters and grow lights, they’re often only needed during colder months.
- Cool greenhouse: These greenhouses are designed to hold a temperature between 40 and 45 degrees, most commonly used to protect seedlings and starter plants from frost. Cool greenhouses usually don't use heaters or grow lights.
A sunroom is a fabulous way to experience more nature within your home. No matter which sunroom you choose, this home improvement project may provide you with additional space and a new way to enjoy the outdoors.
If you decide to add a sunroom, our guide to planning your home renovations can help you start planning and prep yourself for success during your remodel project.