Adding a sunroom is a great way to increase your home’s living space and bring a bit of the outdoors inside. Sunrooms have walls made of glass or very large windows that give them a bright, sunny feel.
Sunrooms are constructed differently based on your local climate and the number of seasons in which they provide comfortable living space (usually two, three or four). In colder climates, you’ll need a heating system and lots of insulation to use the sunroom year round.
Sunrooms can cost anywhere from about $10,000 to upwards of $70,000. The cost depends on many factors, including size, layout, cost of materials and cost of labor. Four-season sunrooms are more expensive than two-season sunrooms because of extras such as heating and insulation.
The smallest two-season sunrooms or prefabricated sunrooms with glass walls start at about $10,000. The average prefabricated, or factory-built, sunroom costs about $15,000 to $35,000, including the foundation and all site work.
Custom-built, four-season sunrooms with heating systems, full foundations and insulation usually cost $40,000 to $60,000. In this price range, you’ll get finishing touches such as window screens and shades, tile flooring and ceiling fans.
- Controlled temperature - Because sunrooms are completely enclosed, they can be heated or cooled to a comfortable temperature for year-round use.
- More versatile - A sunroom can function as a family room, a playroom, dining space, a guest room, a gym - you name it. Screened-in porches are not as versatile because they are outdoors.
- No bugs, dust or pollen - You won’t have to worry about the not-so-pleasant aspects of the outdoors. Bugs, dust or pollen can’t squeeze into a space that is completely enclosed.
- More expensive - Sunrooms are considerably more expensive than screened-in porches because the construction process is more involved.
- Use more energy - Sunrooms require a significant amount of energy to heat or cool because of the large windows. Expect to see a noticeable increase in your energy bills.
- Not actually outside - Sunrooms offer a great view of the outdoors, but you’re not actually outside. You’ll miss out on fresh air and the sounds of nature.
Screened-in porches are more like outdoor rooms. Essentially, they are decks or patios with walls and a roof. The walls or windows are typically screens, not glass. You can opt for floor-to-ceiling screens, a half wall or “knee wall” with screens above, or regular walls with wind0w-like cutouts for screens.
Screened-in porches offer the feel of the outdoors without some of the drawbacks. You’ll feel the breeze and hear the sounds of nature, but you’ll be protected from direct sunlight, rain, mosquitos and other insects.
The price of a screened-in porch depends on the size, materials used and your geographic location. In general, plan to spend anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Enclosing a preexisting deck or porch will fall on the low end of that price range, while having a screened-in porch built from the ground up will fall on the high end.
- Less expensive - Screened-in porches cost much less to build. They require fewer materials and the construction process is not as involved.
- Outdoor feel - If your goal is to spend more time outdoors, a screened-in porch is the best choice. Screened-in porches are outdoor spaces, while sunrooms are indoor rooms.
- Seasonal limitations - You won’t want to use a sunroom in extreme temperatures, whether it’s very hot or very cold. Unless you live in a very mild climate, a screened-in porch is not for year-round use.
- Harder to clean - Dirt, dust and pollen can enter through the screens. Keeping a screened-in porch clean involves more work.
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