Sunrooms can be a wonderful addition to any home, giving you somewhere to eat, read or simply relax with a tranquil view of your garden. One of the most important aspects of a sunroom is the windows, so here is everything you need to know about sunroom windows.
What is a sunroom and why would you want one?
A sunroom is essentially a room that is part of your house but that largely consists of windows rather than walls to let the sunlight in and to let you see out.
They can be a stunning feature of any home and allow you to benefit from the pleasures of being outside without any of the inconveniences. For example, in the summer, you can enjoy the glorious sunshine and a beautiful view of your yard without having to worry about the heat, dangerous UV rays from the sun or irritating insects.
During wintertime, on the other hand, you can take in the sublime snow-covered vistas while remaining snug and warm inside.
Sunrooms can provide a sanctuary and a haven, somewhere to escape and relax. They are ideal for curling up with a good book or you can simply enjoy your morning coffee in the comfortable and serene surroundings that only a sunroom can provide.
In short, there are many reasons why sunrooms are highly desirable additions to a home, and if you have the space to build one, they are an option that can be well worth considering.
Sunrooms – the basics
Before we move on to talk about the windows of a sunroom, let’s think about some of the more basic considerations you need to take into account if you are planning to build one.
Broadly speaking, for you to get the most out of your sunroom, during the summer, you want it to be able to keep the heat and UV rays out while letting plenty of light in. You also want a good flow of air to keep it fresh and amenable inside.
During the winter, the opposite is true. You want a sunroom that can retain the heat, keeping you warm inside, even when it’s freezing outside.
Getting this right is important because it can save you lots of money in the long run – money you will otherwise have to spend on heating in the winter and running the A/C in the summer.
A large part of this comes down to the windows you choose, and we will come to this in a moment.
However, another part is choosing the location where you construct it – and the best place to put it depends on where you live.
If you live somewhere with mild winters and hot summers, you should choose to build it on the north or north-west side of your home. This way, you will avoid direct exposure to the intense rays of the summer sun.
Conversely, if you live somewhere with cooler summers and cold winters, a better pick would be to construct it facing south. This will allow you to make the most of the natural light and warmth.
Before you start thinking about which windows you want to use, you should also think about what you hope to use your sunroom for. Will it be a breakfast room? A reading room? An office? Or maybe a place for entertaining guests?
By being clear about what you plan to use it for, you can help ensure you make the right decisions when choosing the best windows later.
Three seasons or four?
The final thing you need to decide before choosing the windows themselves is whether you want a three-season sunroom or a four-season one.
A four-season sunroom can be used year-round, and it can be a great joy to sit in the comfort and warmth of a heated sunroom in the depths of winter when the world outside is covered in snow.
However, this kind of sunroom costs more since you need to pay extra for the kind of insulation required to make it possible.
For this reason, you need to consider whether you are willing to pay more for a sunroom you can use in winter or whether you prefer to save a bit of cash and choose one that is off-limits during the coldest months.
Type of window
When you are clear about what you want to use your sunroom for, whether you want a three- or four-season sunroom and where you plan to build it, you can then start the fun part – choosing the windows you want to install.
There are several options, and each has its associated advantages and disadvantages – and each type also has a strong influence on the visual effect created by your sunroom.
Let’s have a look at the main options now.
- Sliding windows
Sliding windows are essentially very similar to sliding patio doors and are the most popular type of sunroom windows – for good reason. They are large, functional and versatile, and they allow plenty of light into the sunroom while giving you a clear view of the scenery outside.
In the warmer months, they can easily be opened, allowing you to increase the flow of air, while in the winter, they can be closed to keep in the heat.
- Casement windows
Casement windows are windows with the hinges on the side. They are a good choice in warmer climates since they can easily be opened to allow a cool breeze to flow into the room. They also provide a stylish, contemporary look.
However, they don’t provide quite the same unobstructed view as a sliding window.
Awning windows are similar to casement windows in that they are also hinged. However, here, the hinge is located on the top.
This makes them a good choice if you live somewhere with a rainier climate since they prevent rainwater from dripping into the sunroom.
They can allow a breeze to enter in summer but, like casement windows, don’t give you quite the same view as a sliding window.
- Picture windows
Picture windows are a great option if you have a particularly attractive view from your sunroom. They are large and clear, making the view itself rather than the window the star of the show – hence the name.
- Bay or bow windows
Bay or bow windows extend the room and give you a cozy niche where you can sit and read or enjoy a drink. They can give your sunroom a timeless classic look, but if you want the most perfect, uninterrupted view, there are better choices.
Type of glass
Choosing the right type of glass for your sunroom windows is at least as important as choosing the right style. Bear in mind that choosing less expensive glass can prove to be a false economy in the long run as you may end up spending more on heating or air conditioning.
Here are your main options:
Single pane windows are the cheapest but offer little or no insulation, meaning they won’t keep you warm in the winter and won’t keep you cool in the summer. For this reason, if you want to enjoy your sunroom year-round and for many years to come, you’re better off paying a bit more and investing in something superior.
Double-pane windows are separated by a space containing air to insulate your room against the temperature outside. In more advanced versions, the air is replaced by injected argon, a gas that is six times denser than air that provides even better insulation.
They are more expensive than single-pane windows, but they will save you money in the long run because you won’t need to spend as much on heating your sunroom.
Triple-pane windows are the most expensive but also give you the highest level of energy efficiency. They are especially useful if you live in a particularly cold area.
As well as the number of panes, another way of increasing the energy efficiency of your windows is to choose glass with a low-E coating. ‘Low-E’ is short for ‘low emissivity’ and refers to glass with a special covering that reduces emissivity, leaving the windows better insulated.
Again, this costs more, but choosing low-E glass will help reduce your electricity bills.
Another important consideration not related to insulation is safety. In the past, when windows smashed, they produced dangerous shards of glass that can cause horrific injuries.
While this type of glass still exists, it is now possible to opt for tempered glass instead. When tempered glass is smashed, instead of breaking into shards, it crumbles, removing the danger of serious injury.
In any room with large panes of glass, this a much safer option, and many people will prefer to choose tempered glass for extra peace of mind, especially if there are children in the house.
Several important factors to consider when choosing sunroom windows
It is many people’s dream to own a house with an elegant sunroom, and if you have decided you would like to build one, there are several important factors to consider.
Once you know what kind of sunroom you want and where you are going to build it, you need to choose the windows and the type of glass you are going to install. Above all, remember that going for the cheapest option may turn out more expensive in the long run due to the increased cost of heating or cooling the room in the summer or winter.