Imagine enjoying the sun's warmth, surrounded by lush green plants on
a cold winter's day. Imagine fresh spring breezes and long summer
evenings while protected from insects …. A sunroom conjures up images of
tranquility, relaxed living and a green outdoor environment indoors.
Whatever your dreams are for a sunroom, experienced renovators say there are a number of things you need to consider.
What is the main purpose of your sunroom? Will it
be an extension of your family's living area, or a private space for
reading and quiet contemplation? Will you want an eating area for
leisurely weekend breakfasts or space for entertaining? Do you plan to
do extensive gardening or other hobbies?
Do you want to use it all year round or for only part of the year? A
four-season sunroom is built on a foundation and is heated and fully
insulated. A three-season sunroom should be wind- and waterproof, while a
two-season sunroom may be no more than a deck or porch with a roof and
Will it be part of the house or a separate area? A
sunroom can take many forms. It may be a sunny breakfast nook integrated
into the kitchen or family room; a glassed-in front porch, or a
separate structure that is added to your home. It can be an all-glass
solarium purchased as a complete package ready for installation, a
classical conservatory or a traditional addition with more windows,
glass doors and skylights.
Think about cooling … The most common problem with
sunrooms is overheating. This can be largely avoided by proper window
selection. Choose windows that open, to get good cross-ventilation in
the summer time. The type of glass is equally important; look for
glazing with reflective film which will keep some of the sun's rays out
and thereby reduce heat gains. Use venting (opening) skylights, and
consider built-in blinds for windows, skylights or an all-glass roof.
… and heating. With a large glass surface area, you
can expect greater heat losses in the cool seasons. Energy-efficient
windows can help keep the heat in. When you are planning an all-season
sunroom, your renovator will also look at your heating system to assess
if it can handle the additional heating requirements. The renovator may
recommend expanding your system to ensure that your sunroom is warm and
comfortable on even the coldest days. Or if the room is large and
constructed primarily with glass, a better alternative may be to install
a separate heating and ventilation system.
A good foundation is a must. All-season sunrooms or
solariums should sit on a proper foundation that extends below the
frost line. Otherwise, you may have excessive movement due to settling,
which can result in broken windows.
Trim nearby trees. Deciduous trees can provide
shade in the summer time. However, if you have a glass roof, watch out
for overhanging branches that could break and fall on the roof.
Renovators also recommend using tempered or laminated glass for the roof
to avoid dangerous shattering in case something does fall on it.
A well-planned sunroom will add to your enjoyment of your home. Do it right - work with a professional renovator.