Your patio can be a wonderful place to enjoy the garden, relax in your garden furniture on a sunny evening, or entertain friends. Unfortunately, it can also get too hot in the sun, too cold and wet when the sun isn’t there. and too exposed to mosquitoes, flies and all sorts of other pests. Patio enclosures are a perfect way to ensure that you can enjoy your patio in all weathers, insect-free and in comfort.
Patio enclosures are outdoor living spaces or house extensions, which allow a patio area to be closed off and protected from the elements. Most patio extensions are attached to the house, although it is quite possible to have a self-contained patio enclosure, for instance surrounding a pool area. Patio enclosures are also often referred to as sunrooms, although it is more accurate to define a sunroom as a particular type of patio enclosure, with a more solid structure.
Why Have a Patio Enclosure?
More and more Americans every year are deciding to add patio enclosures to their homes, and it’s not hard to see why. Patio enclosures serve the dual purpose of extending the living area of your home, while at the same time greatly enhancing your enjoyment of your outdoor space. Because they are becoming so popular — sunrooms and patio enclosures are one of the features most in demand by house buyers — having a patio enclosure will enable you to sell your house faster, and at a better price, thus more than recouping the cost.
In fact, the cost of adding a patio enclosure or sunroom is a lot less than that of adding a house extension or an ordinary room, and it causes far less stress and disruption to your normal life. What’s more, once you have the extra space, it can function as any kind of room you want it to be. It can be a dining room, a family room, a playroom for the kids, or all of these at once, and more.
One big advantage of outdoor patio enclosures, which is being identified by increasing numbers of people, is the ability to enjoy far more natural light, and to allow more light and sunshine into your home. This is well known to be a stress reducer, and to be good for your physical health as well. At the same time, it greatly reduces your energy costs, by enabling you to use less artificial light and air conditioning. Modern sunrooms and patio enclosures usually have special ventilation and insulation systems, which make them both comfortable and highly energy efficient.
What Kind of Patio Enclosure?
The main types of enclosure you are likely to come across are sunrooms, screen patio enclosures, glass patio enclosures, and aluminum or vinyl patio enclosures. Sunrooms are more substantial structures, sometimes built from the same materials the house is built from, but consisting mostly of windows,providing the feeling of being out of doors, yet completely protected from the weather. A solarium is similar to a sunroom, but has glass ceilings as well, often high and vaulted.
The most popular enclosure types are screen patio enclosures and glass patio enclosures. A screen enclosure will cost a lot less than a glass one, and will enable you to enjoy your patio without being at the mercy of flies and mosquitoes. However, it will not shield you from the rain and wind, so is more suitable for warmer climates.
The screening for patio screen enclosures may be made either of aluminum mesh or fiberglass. Fiberglass is more common, but has the problem that it creates static electricity, which means that the charge attracts debris that clogs up the openings, and is hard to clean off. Aluminum mesh is much easier to clean, by simply lifting it up and hosing it down.
Glass patio enclosures obviously offer much greater protection from the elements, and add more value to the home. You can choose a three-season or a four-season enclosure. Three-season enclosures cost less and can be used from spring through fall — they have single-paned glass which keeps out the rain, wind and dust. Four-season, or all-season, enclosures have double-paned glass which provides energy-efficient thermal protection. This keeps you warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather, and also keeps your energy bills down to a much greater degree.
Your other choice for glass patio enclosures is between curved eave and straight eave design. Straight eave designs are more versatile, and have simple straight lines which complement a contemporary home. Curved eave designs provide extraordinary light and views, with no obstruction from joins to the structure.
Aluminum and vinyl patio enclosures are also very popular choices. Vinyl is durable, resistant to mold, and maintenance free, and is also very easy to install. It comes in several different colors and can be made to look like wood or metal. Aluminum is equally durable, and is less expensive because many people feel it has a cheaper and less attractive look. However, some patio enclosures can be made of alumawood, a type of aluminum manufactured to look like real wood.
How to Acquire a Patio Enclosure
There are different ways of acquiring a patio enclosure. If you are an expert do-it-yourself person, you may decide to build your own, either from scratch, or using a patio enclosures kit. Before starting, it is very important to check whether you need a building permit or not, as some states require them and some do not. Also check local by-laws. If you contravene building codes, you may find yourself fined, and be forced to demolish your enclosure.
If you are using a patio enclosures kit, be aware that it could be labeled as sunroom, patio enclosure, or enclosed porch, all meaning the same thing. It should come with a detailed instruction manual, and you can select the size, frame color and glass size to suit your budget and requirements. Some kits include all the necessary materials, while others may only provide the hardware, leaving you to buy the construction materials.
Unless you are very experienced at DIY, you will no doubt prefer to order your patio enclosure from a dealer, and you should get quotes from more than one dealer before deciding. Bear in mind that it is impossible for a dealer to give you an accurate quote without visiting you to obtain your measurements and find out your exact requirements. Any dealer who tries to quote over the phone should be avoided.
When comparing prices, remember all sorts of factors can influence patio enclosures cost — not just size, but the location in the home, materials, the quality of the finishes, and so on. Local conditions can play a part too, and prices can differ in different neighborhoods of the same city. The average patio enclosures cost when built by professionals is $12,600 to $17,700, but a really expensive one can cost up to $70,000.
There are other factors you also need to check, by looking carefully at the sample patio enclosures in dealers’ showrooms. If you are looking for a four-season enclosure, check that it is Energy Star qualified, meaning that it is designed for year-round cooling and heating. For screen patio enclosures, choose aluminum mesh rather than fiberglass screens if possible, and ensure they are glare-free.
If you are ordering a sunroom or a glass patio enclosure, examine the roller wheels on the doors and windows. It is the quality of these that ensures durability, and keeps the doors and windows operating smoothly. The best system is steel wheels on stainless steel tracks. Also check that the handles are strong, as they will have to withstand a lot of use.
One essential question to ask the dealer is about the warranty — both the manufacturer’s warranty, and the labor warranty. Ask how long they are for, exactly what they cover, and who stands behind the manufacturer’s warranty. You also need to ask if any sub-contractors will be used in doing the work, and if so, whether they are fully insured. Give preference to dealers who use only their own employees.
Where to Buy?
When you are considering where to purchase your patio enclosure, you should ideally choose a dealer who has a showroom local to you, where you can inspect the products, rather than just looking at pictures online. It can also be a good idea to use a dealer with a well-known name, as they have a reputation to keep up. Two well-known retailers with showrooms all over the USA are Patio Enclosures Inc., and Sunspace. However, it is not necessarily the case that a local retailer will not do good work for you, and if you have a friend or neighbor who has had a good job done by a local provider, a word-of-mouth recommendation will be very valuable.
Patio enclosures connect you and your home with the outdoors, enabling you to escape from the stresses of everyday life, without even leaving the house. When you look at the vast range of possibilities available, you will realize that your patio enclosure can be tailored exactly to your needs and desires and those of your family, and can make your home everything you want it to be. It will not just enhance your home, but will lift your whole life to a different level.
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