Planning A Beautiful New Sunroom

An English conservatory with green foliage out the windows.
  • 40-160 hours
  • Advanced
  • 2,000-30,000

If you’re thinking about adding a sunroom to your home, it’s important to plan ahead and equip yourself with information before you buy anything. After all, it’s no small investment - you want your new sunroom to be comfortable, attractive, energy-efficient, and worthy of your home.

First, consider the location. When determining what direction your sunroom should face, there are several things to take into consideration. If you live in a warm climate, a north-facing sunroom will be partially shaded for the majority of the day and will remain comfortable even if it’s sweltering outside. If your climate is cool, a south-facing room will get abundant sunshine. East-facing rooms are perfect for watching the sunrise and doing morning activities, and those that face west allow you to get plenty of afternoon sunshine and watch gorgeous sunsets.

Next, consider whether you’d like your sunroom to be constructed with vinyl or aluminum. For year-round use, you’ll want vinyl; it is thermally efficient and offers the best insulation. For three-season use, aluminum will work just fine: it tends to be more cost-efficient than vinyl and provides sturdy yet lightweight structural support.

The most important aspect of your sunroom is, of course, the windows. Because they’re so crucial to the room, you’ll need to buy the best quality you can possibly afford. Single-glazed glass is not energy efficient enough for a sunroom, so you don’t settle for anything less than double-glazed windows. This simply means that there are two panes of glass with air or gas between them to serve as an insulator.

Consider purchasing windows with low-E glazing, which allow light to pass through, but reflect heat. They also block the harmful ultraviolet rays that can cause furniture and carpeting to fade. As a general rule, the more energy-efficient the window, the more costly it is. But in this case, the old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies!

You also need to consider whether you want your windows to be operable. Operable windows can be opened if the room gets too hot. Whatever type of window you choose, look for tempered, or heat-treated, glass: when broken, it crumbles into tiny, cube-shaped pieces rather than jagged, dangerous shards.

Sliding glass doors are the most popular choice for sunrooms, as they don’t “interrupt” the all-glass enclosure. They allow light to come in and also provide an effective barrier against the weather. Look for steel rollers on stainless steel tracks, and make sure the door’s warranty covers the rollers.

Yet another factor to take into consideration is climate control, particularly with an all-season sunroom. As mentioned above, operable windows allow for ventilation. Ceiling fans can help circulate the air, and vents draw air in from outside. Blinds or shades can be useful for keeping the heat out in the summer and retaining it in the winter. You can even purchase windows with remote-operated shades between the panes of glass. Shades also give you a degree of privacy. If you’ll be using the sunroom in the winter, a heating system is in order. A sub-floor heating system is a good option for keeping things warm. You could add a fireplace for aesthetic appeal, though.

A sunroom can add value and beauty to your home and be an invaluable gathering place for your family. Make the place worthy of the ones you love!