Adding a sunroom to your home is like adding an indoor porch — it extends the reach of your home while increasing the light and spaciousness of the room. A sunroom addition is typically a glass or screened-in room, but they're available in a variety of different styles, ensuring that your extra (or converted) room will look like a natural part of your home.
What you're using your sunroom for — and if you intend it to be a year-round sunroom or a seasonal household retreat — will help you decide which options to consider. All-season solariums are typically higher in price, but have enough ventilation and insulation to keep your family comfortable no matter what the weather.
There are four main building styles for a sunroom addition: straight-roof sunrooms, which extend as a natural addition to your home; curved-roof sunrooms, which take advantage of full light exposure; cathedral-roof sunrooms, which use height to increase both the light and space available in your personal solarium; and conservatories, the classic dome-shaped sunrooms for a traditional yet luxurious addition to your home.
Wood, vinyl and aluminum frames are the most popular materials for sunroom construction. Wood that has been chemically sealed gives a warm, natural look to your sunroom. Aluminum is the standard for its lightweight strength; a small amount of aluminum can support a fairly large glass or screen area. Vinyl is the choice for maximum energy efficiency and low maintenance.
Do-it-yourself sunroom kits are perfect for the handyman (or woman) with some time to enhance their home. While these kits are invariably cheaper than paying for a contractor to build your sunroom, there's also a significant amount of work that needs to be done in order to build a sunroom that will last dozens of years. These kits usually create a sunroom out of an existing porch, deck or patio and come with roof, walls, windows, screens and doors.
Sunrooms may require building permits to construct, even from a kit, so make sure you follow the proper procedures within your city, county and state. However, sunrooms may be allowed even when other backyard additions aren't since they can be considered a porch extension or enhancement.
When buying furniture for your sunroom, it's important to consider the effects of so much sunlight in the room. Wicker and wood furniture doesn't absorb heat, making them more comfortable sunroom furniture choices than anything metal-based. Also, choose cushions and other material furnishings carefully — exposure to sunlight causes materials to fade and degrade much faster than normal. Look for outdoor cushions, which are made to withstand heat and sunshine.