Screened porch or Four Season Room (Sunroom)?

ILoveRedApril 23, 2014

If you were choosing between one or the other, what would you choose and why?

I had this lovely image of a Sunroom with wicker furniture, a small dining area, and a place to read in the long winter months. In doing research I came across this GW thread. What an eye opener!

Now I am thinking a screened porch might be the way to go.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW thread

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jdez

We have chosen a screened porch. Our climate is hot/humid for most of the year, though, because we live in South Louisiana. We have a closed in "sun room" in our current house that is never used because it has no air circulation at all. We just prefer the feel of the outside air. Oh, and I also like to sneak a smoke from time to time (shhh, don't tell anyone) and I have to be outside....hehehe.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:02PM
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cas81611

I vote screened porch. Our sun room is uncomfortable when it is hot, and even worse when it's cold. And in nice weather, who wants to be inside anyway? Better to build a place you can enjoy really being outdoors.

For a sunny reading place, maybe you could work in a bay window, window seat, or similar elsewhere in the house?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:16PM
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mtnrdredux_gw

Where do you live, what exposure would it have, and what space do you have to sit outside?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 2:02PM
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mainecoonkitty

Sunroom. We have both a sunroom and a screened porch. We use both, but use the sunroom more. Ours has 3 outside walls and sliding glass doors on all sides. We can open them all up and close off the opening to the house with the french doors so it can be opened up if the air conditioning is on.It has a high vaulted ceiling with a big fan and it's our favorite room in the house. I have breakfast there every morning, winter and summer and read there every evening. It opens onto a large elevated deck and we have tons of bird feeders in the woods behind it. There's a little stream where all kinds of creatures come to drink. We love to watch all the birds and wildlife outside.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 2:03PM
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sweet_tea_

I think as mtnrdredux said, it probably depends on where you live and exposure.

I've chosen a screen porch for ours, but we're in the hot/humid South. I put ours on the the north/east side of the house so it'll be bearable. I will get far more use out it than I would a sun room, but if you're up North, then it'll probably be exact opposite for you.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 5:58PM
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ltilton

Sunroom. Ours has sliding windows, open them up for air, close them in bad weather. Best of both worlds.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:02PM
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ILoveRed

Mtnrdredux--I am in Central Illinois. Summers are hot, humid, and awful. Winters can be brutal.

My house will have an East back and proposed Four Season Room will have a few South windows as well. Property is wooded. The plans are preliminary and will still be easy to change.

The choice is this or a screened porch.

Would those of you that enjoy your sunrooms please post your location?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:20PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

I grew up with a sunroom across the entire back of our house-sort of. It was not heated, but we played out there in the winter when the sun shone into the room and it was comfortable well into fall and in early spring. The windows were just about floor to ceiling and my father had screens that were put in from April through September (Philadelphia area). One end was a dining room with a pass-through to the kitchen and the other end was large with comfortable seating for the adults with plenty of space in between the two. Best of both worlds. If you can't get or don't want storm windows and screens (might have to be custom), I would opt for a screened porch with a fan. Nothing better on a summer evening!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:34PM
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dekeoboe

I am in Central Illinois. Summers are hot, humid, and awful. Winters can be brutal.
My house will have an East back and proposed Four Season Room will have a few South windows as well.

Sunrooms can be very tricky to get right. You need to pay close attention to the type of glazing used in the windows or it can be unbearable certain times of the year. Also, with south facing windows you need to make sure you have proper overhangs for the same reason.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 9:15PM
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done_again

The previous owners of my house finished off a screened porch into a 4 season sunroom. I would have preferred it to remain a screened porch. It's off the family room on the north side of the house with a short eastern facing wall. I'm in the Midwest also. So far it has been comfortable through the seasons but it does have a separate heat/ac zone. If anything, I wish it had more sun exposure.

I'd think about how you want/plan to use the space. For us, a screened porch would be more useful as it's under utilized as a sunroom.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:42PM
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mainecoonkitty

I'm in north central Ohio.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:56AM
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joyce_6333

We are currently in the process of converting our deck to a screen room with Eze-Breeze windows. So it's a bit more than a screen room but not a full 4 season room. DH was hesitant at first to go with the Eze-Breeze windows. Reviews on GW were all positive, and he finally decided to go with the Eze-Breeze as it was only slightly more than just screens. From what I've read the Eze-Breeze windows offer little R-value, but do protect the from the wind and rain.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Naf_Naf

Or you could have screened / four seasons / covered open porch with a system like the one in the link, and they are in IL. I saw them in last years AIA national convention.

Here is a link that might be useful: nanawall

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 2:37PM
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mainecoonkitty

We considered the Nanawall option, but they are very expensive - about $1200 per linear foot. We have three outside walls in our sunroom, which is 16 x 22. We got the same effect for 1/5th the cost by installing double back- to-back sliding glass doors on each wall. Another plus is that the doors have screens and the Nanawall doesn't.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Naf_Naf

The system that I saw, had integrated screens, I'll verify the name. I do remember that the headquarters are here in IL. Yes, they are expensive, and there are a few different systems.

This post was edited by naf_naf on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 16:16

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 3:50PM
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DLM2000

We are also in IL, north Chicago suburb so weather is very similar to yours unless we are getting a lake breeze at the moment. We have a sun room, short walls are east and west exposure, long wall is south exposure. On a sunny, or mostly sunny day, the room is comfortable for sitting and reading -with a lap blanket for me :-) - down to about 40 unless the wind is howling - old house, no insulation. That would never happen for me with a screen porch as I hate being cold! We have one ceiling fan in the room and it can make the room comfortable on hot days with the windows and sliding door open - a nice breeze helps even more. When it gets really sticky and hot, we are never out there, but we also are not on our deck then either - as I imagine we would not be with a screened porch. If I were building I would hate to have to choose - can't we always have both!!! But for us, in this climate, a sun room has more use.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:31PM
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ltilton

I'm in the west Chicago suburbs. We use our unheated sunporch 9 months out of the year - except in winter, it's our favorite sitting room.

Over the winter, the snow crunched the roof and we definitely want to rebuild it as a sunroom. Only question is whether to make it 4-season or 3, as it is now.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:40PM
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ILoveRed

Ok...lots of great feedback here which I will look at more closely in a bit.

Bur, please tell me the difference between a 3 season and a 4 season room (feature-wise).

Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:38AM
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DLM2000

A 4 season room would have a heat source (and insulation), either connected to your main furnace or a separate unit of some kind. A cooling source would be possible, too. But for me, part of the joy of the room is *opening the porch* for the season after having closed off for the winter. If it were a year 'round room I don't think it would feel as special, ya know? It's like watching the world slowly turn green again after winter - that's what makes spring so special.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:56AM
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mainecoonkitty

I believe a 4 season would be heated and cooled like any room in the rest of the house. A 3 season would be unheated/uncooled by a central heating/cooling system, but might have a fireplace or a wood burning stove.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:56AM
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ltilton

A lot of people use sunrooms as winter greenhouses. In that case, a heat source is valuable. I've had plants freeze in my unheated room over a hard winter, and it's no place to start seedlings in January.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 5:49PM
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ILoveRed

Just spent some time looking at the Eze breeze system which looks intriguing. Sent a link to our architect. I think when I told him I wanted a four season room...I didn't really know what I was asking for. Looking at the Eze breeze pics and videos and reading all of your comments...I think the 3- season room is really more of what I envisioned in the beginning.

The house is already bigger than what we anticipated so if we make this a 3 season room instead of 4, this should help.

I didn't address each of you but rest assured that each response helped educate me on this subject and helped me to figure out what I really needed in this room!! Thank you so much.

Does anyone know if it is safe to grill on a covered porch like this?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:08AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Only if you have an expensive exhaust hood that will remove the smoke. Otherwise a covered porch area will trap that smok and asphyxiation is the result of your grilling efforts.

If the normal outdoor temperaure isn't amenable to spending time outside, then having an enclosed room isn't going to affect your ability to do that unless you provide temperature control. At that point, it's not an ''outdoor'' space anymore. And, if the room isn't sited properly with regards to the sun and latitude, you can create enormous solar gain when you least want that solar gain----the summer. A ''sunroom''can quickly become an oven in a hot summer climate.

Here in the South, a screened porch is best sited on the north side of the house. We hide from the sun, not embrace it. In the cold north, the opposite placement would be optimal. It's those mixed temperature humid climates that have the most trouble siting----and USING--- a ''sunroom'' or ''screened porch'' Some climates are just not suited to using a single space as an outdoor room year round. They need one location for that during summer, and another during winter. Most house and budgets aren't up to that.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:41AM
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bobhood

We just went down this same road - with a house we recently purchased in Aiken, SC. It had an 8' x 25' covered (but not screened) porch, about 9' above grade. Originally wanted a 20' x 25' covered porch, separated from the main living area, with EZ-Breeze screens\windows. Our contractor and designer talked us out of it and into basically a new extended room. Full casement windows on three sides - fixed on long outside wall and opening on side walls. Door from house removed and new HVAC ducts run to new area, with new up-sized HVAC to be installed, replacing a 15 year old system. The best part of the deal - I get a new 12' x 25' shop underneath the new sun room space, along with new 8' x 25' storage space under the original porch.

Any doubts resolved when I looked at the past 10 days of weather. Not a single day where high was less than 92
degrees! Cost differential between EZ-Breeze and "real" windows was negligible.

On subject of grilling on an enclosed porch, I was quickly dissuaded from that crazy idea! (DW pointedly asked if I was really planning to burn down the new sun room!) We added an 8' x8' open grilling porch on one side. Case closed.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 11:57AM
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ILoveRed

Bob---I would love to see pictures of your new room. It sounds wonderful. Long way from Chicago.

Hollysprings--I apologize for not responding to your thoughtful comment. I respect your opinion and always know that you know what you are talking about. We have already changed the room to a screened porch. It's on the East. I really want an outside room with our wooded lot. I hope it works with the East exposure. Now I am trying to figure out if I should have Solatubes added to the porch so that my dining room won't be dark.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 4:02PM
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rmverb

We're going to do a large covered outdoor living area that will. It have any walls. It will be attached the house and held up by columns. We're going to have a wood burning fireplace installed as well as at least one ceiling fan. I'm guessing we could use it in 3 seasons.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:20PM
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chloenkitty

Screened in porch. We currently have a four seasons sunroom and never use it. It looks pretty, but here in the northeast it's stifling hot with all the windows in summer and cold in winter, even with good insulation. On our new build we went with a screened in porch to enjoy in the nice weather to keep the bugs away while still feeling outside. The bugs are horrible this year so I'm glad we did it.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 5:29PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Can't tell you how many times I've seen it. People want to sit outside so they add a deck...well they like using the deck so much they decide to screen it as a porch so they can get more use out of it, won't be in the sun so much, less buggy, etc. Well they like the porch so much that they decide to enclose it so they can get year round use out of it. Then they realize they have no place outside to sit, so they add a deck....

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:56PM
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ILoveRed

Annie, lol.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 2:10PM
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autumn.4

Red-ours is on the south east corner, off the dining room. So the dining windows that are un-obstructed are east (large window) and north (single window). We didn't do sky lights and so far I don't feel like the dining room is dark. Does your dunno room have any other windows? We are wooded as well. That said - not sure you can go wrong with solatubes. :). When are you breaking ground? Can't wait to follow your build.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 9:30AM
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ILoveRed

Waiting for construction drawings. Then we have to find out how much this house is going to cost. I wish I was a little less ambivalent.

Thanks for describing your porch. That makes me feel like our dining room may be light after all. Still have to do more homework on the Sola tubes

Happy Fourth.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:18AM
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musicgal

bump

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 1:50PM
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autumn.4

Red-hang in there. The ambivalence comes and goes. The process is such a roller coaster from planning to finish at least for me anyhow.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 7:23PM
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zippity1

we are building in south texas (south of houston on the coastal prairie)
we chose a screened porch with southeastern exposure, we have a very prevalent breeze from the southeast much of the time

friends and neighbors who have porches with northern exposure are finding their spaces to be almost unusable due to the extreme heat from april through october and much of the winter months due to cold north wind

i've observed our builder- drinking coffee and doing paperwork on our back porch in the early mornings and he's had meetings with other people for whom he is planning to build-- there also

in our climate i would chose the southeastern exposure porch and a northern exposure 4 season room

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 12:24AM
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AishaHansia

NanaWall has a lot of different products that vary in price. Since the doors are custom-made, talk to your local representative to optimize cost. They also have two screens: the NanaScreen Classic and NanaScreen ONE. http://www.nanawall.com/products/nanascreen

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 7:51PM
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eibren

We enclosed our previously screened-in carport, placing two small conventional windows on the SW side, facing our tiny sideyard. Both the SE side (facing our back garden) and NW side have sliding glass doors, the NW doors having glassed-in miniblinds.

Both sliding doors have thermal drapes that can be used to cover them completely in weather that is too hot or too cold, and I have both a portable dehumidifier in the SW corner and and a large "end table" automatic quartz heater in the NW corner.

I placed three large area carpets over the concrete slab, giving me essentially three different areas in which to arrange things. The slab absorbs both heat and cold, so if I am attentive to the room's needs it is entirely possible to keep it comfortable year round by adjusting the drapes, ventilating, and running the dehumidifier and heater.

My sliding glass doors are screened, so on a good day I can open the doors at both ends and have a wonderful breeze through the entire room, and almost have the look and feel of a sun porch *and* a screened in porch, but without the inconveniences.

The NE side opens into our tiny dining area, and we have an air conditioner in there. On very hot, humid days, our "sun room" is cooled sufficiently from that and a ceiling fan we added.

This is a fairly low cost solution for anyone with a roofed-over carport or garage that they never park in; it's incredible the amount of living space that can be added to a home--it's now the largest room in the house, and the most attractive in terms of view, lighting, and general comfort.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 2:30AM
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