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A screened sunroom can please you and your budget

When planning for a sunroom addition, many homeowners find that screening in the space is the most economical option. An existing porch can be converted to a screened sunroom, or it can be built from scratch and customized to suit your needs.

Styles, brands and other considerations

A screened porch might have all walls made of mesh screens attached to metal, aluminum or wood frames and will look much like a screened-in porch. Other options include sliding glass windows that open to screens, knee walls with screens above, or solid walls with a bank of screens or windows built in.

A basic screened enclosure might include heavy-duty mesh screens that keep out leaves and insects but allow plenty of fresh air to flow in. An overhanging roof or awning can prevent most rain from making its way into the sunroom.

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A typical screened sunroom is best for use from spring through fall, and might be uncomfortable during the winter. For those who want more protection from the elements, sliding windows with screens attached can provide ample light and air flow but also allow for a tight seal against rain and heavy winds.

A wide variety of manufacturers offer do-it-yourself kits for sunrooms, usually with all materials supplied. Brands such as Florian or Four Seasons offer semi-custom and custom sunrooms that are built to suit your space. However, working with a contractor to create a screened porch or sunroom from scratch is often the best way to get exactly what you want.

Are screened sunrooms really energy efficient?

Due to the nature of screens that allow the breeze to blow through, the typical screened sunroom doesn't offer much in the way of energy efficiency. But those with sliding windows might. Energy Star windows, in combination with insulated walls and ceilings, can provide excellent energy efficiency if properly installed in a well-designed sunroom. A door between the sunroom and the rest of the house can also help preserve the energy-efficiency of the house itself.

Typical costs of a screened sunroom

Building a simple screened sunroom on an existing porch can cost between $500 and $1,500 for do-it-yourself materials. This is also an average cost of prefabricated screened enclosure kits, which can be installed either by the homeowner or a contractor.

Custom built sunrooms with glass walls can cost between $5,000 and $15,000, so the price can be expected to drop considerably if you are using only screens. Prices can increase with additional options, such as ceiling fans, outdoor furniture, cathedral ceilings, custom windows and the like.

Finding a contractor

Though there are many do-it-yourself kits available, hiring a contractor to handle the design and installation of your screened enclosure can help ensure the job is done correctly. A good contractor might be able to help you save money on materials, guide you through the permit process and offer a warranty on the work. To get started, use the form on this page to connect with local contractors.