If you're planning on adding a sunroom to your home, give some thought to the type of window wall you want to add. In addition to the style of sunroom you construct, you have choices in the type of wall you install.
What Is a Sunroom?
A sunroom is an addition to your home that have three walls made of glass. The sunroom is meant to capture as much sunlight as possible, and there are three basic types:
- Seasonal: Used in warm weather only. It has glass panes, but is shut off from the rest of the home and is uninsulated and unheated.
- Solarium: Used year-round regardless of climate, is open to the rest of the home and is heated and cooled with the home.
- Screened Patio: A seasonal sunroom used in warm weather, it has no glass panes and is unheated.
With the exception of the wall joining your home in the case of a seasonal or screened patio, the walls making up your sunroom are known as window walls.
Types of Window Walls for Sunrooms
There are two choices of window wall available that you can use in any of the sunrooms.
A full glass wall essentially means floor to ceiling windows in frames. These windows can be opened and shut, and may include a sliding glass door that opens to the outdoors. Full glass walls offer the most light, but the least amount of privacy. Full glass windows must have more structural support built into the window frame; vinyl or clad windows are the best option to use for full glass window walls.
Knee walls have a solid wall from the floor to the base of the windows, extending around the perimeter of the sunroom. The windows extend upward from the knee wall to the ceiling and may encompass the entire wall or may be set into the wall as more traditional looking windows. Knee walls offer greater structural support, allowing you to choose aluminum or wood window frames for the room. Window seats, window storage and extended ledges can all be added to knee walls to increase the use and style of the sunroom.
Window Walls and Sunroom Kits
Sunroom kits are a great way of building a sunroom onto a home as an addition. They typically contain everything that is needed to construct the three window walls required for the sunroom. Some choices of window walls in kits include:
Window panels are set into a knee wall, and offer the most amount of sun. A wall panel system uses thin channels between the window panes as structural support to open the room up the sun as much as possible. Rather than traditional window frames, the panels lock together without a surrounding wall structure.
Stacking Window Walls
Stacking window walls can be full glass or set into a knee wall and also give large amounts of light. Typically, stacked window walls involve panels of glass set one on top of the other and extend across the ceiling of the room as well. Stacked windows come in multiple pitches and can include curved roof designs. They rely on the frame of the window for structural support, rather than a surrounding wall structure.
Curtain walls have a surrounding wood or aluminum structure surrounding each pane of glass. They work well with knee walls, and can help provide a more enclosed feeling to the sunroom space. Curtain walls can extend upward to include the ceiling as well.
Windows and Light
Sunrooms are constructed to capture the most amount of sun possible. Pay attention not just to the style of window wall you choose, but to the windows themselves. If your sunroom adjoins the main living areas of your home with no doorway, make sure you use window walls constructed of energy efficient glass to help preduce your home's energy use.