What’s the difference between a Sunroom and a conservatory?
Sunrooms, or garden rooms are extensions with large amounts of glass and lead directly to the garden, they are an excellent way of linking the garden with your home, and provide a great place to sit and read, to have dinner, to entertain friends, plus many other uses. The main difference between a sunroom and a conservatory is the amount of time during the year the room can be in use. Conservatories are often too hot in the summer, and too cold in winter. This is due to their construction (an aluminium frame, covered in PVC, and massive amounts of inefficient glazing). A sunroom has less glazing, and is built using more traditional methods like slated roof, and brickwork piers. As the name suggests they are still wonderfully bright, but with this are warm in winter and cool in summer. The roof instead of being fully glazed has parts that are very well insulated.
Bringing in light through the roof.
A key thing to think about when planning your sunroom is how to bring direct (and indirect) sunlight into the room through the roof. There are several ways to bring natural light into the space, this can be done through rooflights (like Velux but other manufacturers are available) a roof lantern or even clerestory windows.
Living in a conservation area
As with all extensions, certain design elements need extra thought when living in a conservation area. It may not be appropriate to use a UPVC lantern roof, or standard velux windows. Luckily there are options, such as using flush rooflights that have less impact on the external structure or plate glass that sit flat on a roof.
A link between home and garden
The sunroom usually gives access to your garden, it is important when deciding on the style of your sunroom (modern or traditional) what type of doors you would like to install. If your sunroom is to be a modern style, bi-folding doors would be an ideal choice, alternatively modern sliding doors can be a good option, with slimline frames that allow more light to flood in. Traditional sunrooms tend to favour French doors which could be specified as having a timber frame which can be painted to match the interior decoration.
It is possible also to bring the outside in, by specifying almost invisible thresholds at the doors. This will, once the doors are open, give the appearance of a seamless finish from outside to in. By using matching external and internal tiles too, the lines between the sunroom and garden become even more blurred.
Heating and Ventilation
A common problem with large amounts of glazing in the past was overheating in the summer and heat loss in the winter. Getting the design right at the start will mean the sunroom is usable all year round. Things to consider when designing the perfect sunroom :-
- Orientation of glazing
- Amount of glazing vs amount of useable walls
- Heating options
- Openable elements to windows
- Thermostatically controlled roof lights
- Thermal massing