What to Know Before Adding a Sunroom.
A sunroom, also called a solarium, is a glass-enclosed living area usually attached to the house, accessible from inside. It’s designed to function as an additional living room during mild temperatures but might be too hot or cold in the middle of summer or winter.
Lower your stress levels: plan your sunroom budget in advance
15’ x 15’ sunrooms made of wood and other standard materials start at $15,000. Top-of-the-line aluminium and glass sunrooms top out at $30,000. Of course, prices will vary by design, materials, your region and the amount of work you’ll do yourself.
Construction costs of four-season rooms also vary according to heating and cooling requirements and finishings. Expect to pay at least $20,000 for a finished room.
Screened porches can also be a comfortable option for a far lower price tag. You can obtain the results you want often for $5,000 to $10,000.
Looking for a room for all year round?
A four-season room, similar to a sunroom, is designed to be cooled and heated but is generally more expensive due to the materials and the HVAC requirements. It’s the best option to consider if you would like a great view of the outdoors during even the extremes of the seasons. It’s a great home addition option.
Share the room with your flora in a greenhouse
Featuring the same basic structure and construction as a solarium or four-season room, an attached greenhouse structure offers light, heat, and humidity levels that are ideal for plants to flourish.
A more economical solution to getting a sunroom
A screened porch has walls constructed with mesh rather than glass, which offers the benefit of fresh air without the detriment of insects. Like a sunroom, it’s only habitable during milder weather.
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Consider the direction of the sun while planning
Deciding on the best location for your room is the first critical step when planning a glass or screen addition. In Canada, a southern exposure is best because it will receive the most light each day. But depending on how far south you live, a southern exposure may require additional cooling, which can be costly.
Eastern exposure will ease cooling needs by providing sun in the morning and shade the rest of the day, but isn’t the best on the colder days or for after work enjoyment.
Western orientation, on the other hand, can expose you to harsh afternoon sun that will need to be shaded.
Northern exposure will provide less light and partial shade most of the day. This will save cooling costs in the summer, but might not be as temporally comfortable.
Choose the right materials
Understanding a sunroom’s components will help you achieve the room you want at the right price.
Vinyl is the most popular material for the supports. It costs the least, requires minimal upkeep, and offers the best in overall strength and insulation. It is available mainly in white. Most vinyl supports are “multiwalled,” meaning they have an internal reinforcement of either aluminium or galvanized steel.
Aluminum is not as good an insulator as vinyl and is also usually more expensive. However, many rooms that use vinyl-coated vertical supports for aesthetics or added insulation have aluminium as the roof structure for added strength.
Wood is typically the most expensive choice of structural material but is also a more appropriate choice for screen rooms, easily allowing you to attach the screen mesh to the timber. Note that a screen room will involve extending the existing roof over the room and that wood requires periodic maintenance.
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Make sure your porch is watertight.
Sunrooms, four-season rooms and greenhouses are walled with glass and roofed with glass or polycarbonate (a tough, transparent thermoplastic). A glass roof is noticeably more expensive but provides the most clarity. When shopping for your solarium, look for the U-value of the glass or polycarbonate; this is a measure of how much heat the material conducts. The lower the number, the less heat passes through, so choose the lowest possible U-value for the most energy-efficient space.
Glass walls should be silicone double-sealed, A-rated and labelled “tempered safety” to meet building code requirements. The best choices are:
- Double-glazed glass. This material offers durability, insulation and glare reduction. A typical U-value ranges from 2 to 2.5. Common glazing, in order of most to least efficient, includes clear, solar bronze and opal.
- Double-glazed glass with a low-emissive coating. Applying a “low-E” coating helps the glass reflect heat and ultraviolet rays. The coating reduces the U-value to around 1.7, thus improving energy efficiency.
Double-glazed glass with argon filling and low-E coating. Argon (an inert gas) can be added to further reduce the U-value to about 1.48.
For polycarbonate components, the best options are as follows:
- 6-millimetre twin-wall polycarbonate. Probably the most popular glazing option in conservatory roofs today, this material features a U-value of 2.3.
- 20-millimetre and 25-millimetre twin-wall polycarbonate. For a strong roof that also insulates better, these thicknesses are great choices to create an effective true room for all seasons. The typical U-value is 1.6.
Ensure your sunroom maintains a comfortable temperature
If you are unable to choose the optimum location to control excessive heat loss or gain, or you simply want to extend the hours you can comfortably inhabit your all-season room, consider these options:
- Add operative skylights to act as heat dumps when the room gets too warm.
- Intersperse prefabricated insulating roof panels among the glass roof panels. Look for R-factors of R-16, R-24, or R-32 (the higher the number, the better the insulation quality).
- Construct walls so that several windows open. Choose those that will work together to allow optimum airflow.
- Install ceiling fans to aid air circulation. Choose models with forward and reverse speeds for summer or winter use.
- Install exterior roof shade tracks that hold rigid exterior sunscreens.
- Choose window treatments that can be raised and lowered completely along the most troublesome wall areas.
- Install a small gas wall heater in the space you will use most often during the colder months. For a more luxuriant touch, install radiant floor heating.
You can give us a call on 1-888-670-9742 or submit your project online to speak to an advisor who will discuss your sunroom addition project with you and refer up to three 360° Verified contractors to provide competing quotes for your project to ensure you get the best price. Best of all, our service is FREE and there’s no obligation to go with any of the professionals we refer, so you have nothing to lose.
Happy renovations start here!