The calendar says Spring break, but Mother Nature seems to have something else in store for us. Despite the chilly rain and snow that blew in to northern Virginia this year with the onset of Spring, you can have Spring in your own home any time of year. Bring the sunshine and warmth of Florida right to your house with a bright Florida room.
First, understand that the definition of a Florida room is often used interchangeably with a sun room or a four-season room. Different people in the industry describe these, along with screened-in porches, in different ways. At Thomas Custom Builders, we describe sun rooms and Florida rooms as those that are part of your home’s structure. A Florida room is a home addition, as is a sun room if you are constructing it. You could also renovate an existing room to be a sun room. These are generally on the side of the house with an east-facing view, because the homeowners wanted – you guessed it – maximum sun exposure. If that’s not feasible, choose the best view you have and work with it. The room will still let in light that can positively impact your mood. Florida rooms are usually at the back of the house and are built onto the home.
Both a sun room and a Florida room will increase the value of your home when it comes time to sell, but for now, enjoy the sunshine for yourself. Florida rooms require some thought and design, so be sure to talk with your custom builder to get a design that complements your existing home. Though they can be simple, all Florida rooms have the basic requirements of floor, ceiling/roof, four walls and, of course, windows — lots of them and big ones. If you are renovating your home, the Florida room can be an easy addition, provided you have the outward expansion capability. If the room you’re planning is going to be insulated for year-round use, it becomes part of the square footage of the home. It’s an extension of the home and is accessible from the interior of the house. It does not have to be accessible from the exterior. Three-season rooms are not insulated or heated like the rest of the house, and they were meant to be used only in warmer weather. Regardless of the positioning of the room or what you choose to call it, the windows are going to be the defining point.
Here are some things to look for when selecting windows for your Florida room:
Long and lean – Floor-to-ceiling casement windows are the most common for a Florida room. They let in the highest amount of light and are the most effective at letting in the breeze. The casement design allows select windows to be open for maximum air flow. They leave very little room for air leakage, which can be a challenge in a Florida room.
Well insulated – Florida rooms and sun rooms are tricky to keep temperature-controlled each season because of the potential for leaks. Any draft that can get in will do so, wreaking havoc on your heating and cooling bills. Make sure the windows are secure and tight against the casings.
A Matter of Materials – Buyers can usually choose from vinyl, wood or aluminum window frames. Vinyl is the most popular because of its economy and ability to be flexible and tightly fit in the window frame. It is aesthetically pleasing, and it is often the first choice for replacement windows. Wood frames require limited maintenance and are still handsome-looking in a rustic setting. Aluminum windows are strong and durable, but the material tends to cause annoying condensation around the frame.
Picture This – Picture windows are large and bright, and they can be crafted into all sorts of shapes and sizes. They provide large, panoramic views and are installed to be airtight. However, they don’t open unless you build them in as a bay type window, so you are sacrificing air flow in the room for the view.
Double Duty – Double-hung windows or sliding windows are often used in Florida rooms because of their versatility. You can open sliding windows from either side, and double-hung windows can be “bottom-up, top down” style – meaning they open from both top and bottom.
Follow your Furniture – Consider the furnishings for your new room. Looking at how you will use the room can help determine the furnishings. Take into consideration how close the windows come to the floor, and the direction of the breezes through the screens. It will be different based on the type of windows you chose: double-hung windows have screens on the exterior, casement window screens are on the interior and sliders are outside set screens. Whatever you select, let the room become a welcome respite for you that gives you a little Spring break year-round!