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Sunroom vs. Screened Porch: Which Should You Choose?

Need help choosing a sunroom vs. screened porch? Both create a new “bonus” area in your home. Both add space for entertaining and enjoyment. And both have unique features that make them distinct — and make choosing a sunroom vs. screened porch an individual decision.

What’s your budget? How often will you use the new space? How do you see yourself using a sunroom vs. screened porch? Which should you choose? Let’s help you find the answer!

Sunroom vs. Screened Porch: Structural Differences

Structure is the key differentiator in a sunroom vs. screened porch — which impacts how you use the space, as well as building time and budget.

Meant to be open to the outdoors, screened porches are all about air flow. Walls are floor-to-ceiling screens, or in some cases screened above a half-wall. Electrical can be installed for lighting, fans and other uses. The roof is not insulated. A screened porch does not factor into the official square footage of your home.

Sunrooms are complete rooms, with electrical, insulation and connection to your home’s HVAC. Window walls are double-pane glass and are either floor-to-ceiling or above a half-wall. A sunroom is considered an extension of your home’s square footage.

Sunroom vs. Screened Porch: Key Questions About Using the Space

When doing home improvements, budget is always a top consideration. But when choosing a sunroom vs. screened porch, how you’ll use the space should be the key driver. Once you determine your preference, you can plan your design to your budget.

Let’s review key questions — and answers — that will help guide your decision:

Do you want an outdoor living area?

YES: A screened porch directly connects you with the great outdoors — while protecting you from rain and bugs, of course.

NO: Sunrooms are meant to give you a great view of nature and let the sun shine in while you stay comfortable indoors.

Do you want a space you can use year-round?

YES: For year-round use, only a sunroom gives you full climate control 24/7/365. Open the windows when it’s nice. Otherwise your HVAC system will keep you comfortable.

NO: Screened porches are intended for seasonal use, which will vary depending on where you live. Fireplaces and fans can extend your usage. If you want to use a gas fire feature, check with a pro for ventilation and placement to stay safe.

Do you need to protect your furnishings?

YES: Sunrooms offer protection from dust, pollen and moisture, so you can use any furnishings you like.

NO: Screened porches should be furnished with items meant for outdoor use, which stand up to weather elements and can be wiped down or hosed off when needed.

Is bug protection important?

YES: Both a screened porch and a sunroom will keep those pesky critters at bay.

NO: If bug control isn’t a goal, either space will suit you.

Do you need the space to offer privacy?

YES: Both a screened porch and a sunroom can be made more private with curtains or shutters — while still allowing you to enjoy the view and the breeze.

NO: If you’re not worried about prying eyes, both spaces will work for you.

Sunroom vs. Screened Porch: Budget and Time

It should be no surprise that sunrooms cost more than screened porches because sunrooms are living spaces with insulation, HVAC and everything a room in your house would require. Costs for a sunroom vs. screened porch can be as much as double, though those costs can be well worth it to expand your square footage and give you more space for entertaining, relaxing, dining, working or working out. Keep in mind that adding square footage to your home can change its value — and your taxes.

Some options to impact overall costs:

  1. Screen in an existing porch or patio that is structurally sound and reduce your total costs for a screened porch compared to starting from scratch.
  2. Add single-pane windows or a 4-track window system to a screened porch to extend your use to 3 seasons — you’ll get more time to enjoy it, but be advised it won’t be efficient to heat or cool the space for everyday off-season use.

Generally speaking, because sunrooms are more complex structures, they take more time to complete. You may also need to factor in extra time for your area’s permitting and inspection processes.

Now that you’ve had the chance to think about how you’ll use a sunroom vs. screened porch, have you made your choice? Do you want the unlimited utility and year-round comfort of a sunroom? Or do you prefer a space that lets you enjoy the outdoors? Whatever you choose, enjoy your new space!

When you’re ready to take the next step, Archadeck is ready to help you bring your space to life. At Archadeck, count on our design experts to help you customize your sunroom or screened porch to your lifestyle and budget and create space that’s uniquely you. Our local owners use only premium products and trained, licensed contractors, and are backed by Archadeck’s exacting standards, professional code of conduct and three decades of proven experience as North America’s largest deck, porch and patio builder. Contact your local Archadeck today to get started.