A Sunroom vs. a Screened-in Porch – which is right for you?

When thinking about remodeling with a room addition, many families want to create a room that helps bring the outdoors indoors—like a sunroom vs. a screened-in porch. They love the expansive views offered by a wall of windows, or the warm fresh air on a summer evening and are looking for additional living space in their home. Here’s how to choose the right room for your family’s needs.

Screened-in Porches

A screened-in porch built under a roof with mesh screen walls added to the home’s structure allows fresh air to circulate while preventing insects and debris from entering the room. Normally, it is built as an addition to an existing home to act as a transitional room between the indoors and outdoors, although it can be created as a free-standing structure. The structure is not insulated, therefore, it is most comfortable in the warmer months. Most families choose to add their screened-in porch to the back or side of their home. We have also added them to the front of the house as well.

Screen Types

The screening for a screened-in porch can come in a variety of materials:

  • Fiberglass

Fiberglass mesh screens are the most popular choice. The cost is relatively low and it offers good visibility. The material comes in rolls for easy installation, doesn’t crease or dent like metal screening, and is available in a variety of colors like black, silver, gray and charcoal to match your home’s exterior. It is one of the most easily repaired types of screening material. Its downside is that it can be susceptible to stretching and tears more easily than metal.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum screens are the budget-conscious choice for your screened-in porch. They are lightweight, rigid and strong, and easily cut to size. Aluminum screening may be slightly more difficult to install than fiberglass screens and is susceptible to rust if not coated. It is available in colors like gray, silver, charcoal and black.

  • Copper

Copper screens are a higher-end option, but require maintenance to maintain their color and sheen.

Advantages of a Screened-in Porch

Your screened-in porch enables your family to enjoy the outdoors without being exposed to direct sunlight or flying insects, and offers a low-maintenance alternate to a porch. Decorate your screened-in porch with plants, a ceiling fan and outdoor furniture. Add electrical outlets, plumbing for a wet bar or gardening sink, or built-in seating for even more practical uses. In the “old days,” people would even sleep overnight in their screened-in porch when the weather was hot—before the days of air conditioning. It’s a nice alternative if the power goes out! In Northern Virginia, you should be able to enjoy your screened-in porch from March to October. An outdoor fireplace or heater can extend your use.

COST: Least expensive


Here in Northern Virginia, cold winters are the norm so year-round use of a screened-in porch vs. a sunroom would be limited. That’s why sunrooms are popular as a versatile room for relaxing or entertaining. Two options for a sunroom include a three-season or a four-season version.

Three-Season Sunrooms

A three-season sunroom is built with four structural walls of brick or siding, windows and doors, and an HVAC system. As the room is not intended for winter use, it is usually not insulated, and the glass in the windows and doors offers low energy efficiency. Even though the sunroom may have an HVAC system, it is not effective on colder days due to the lack of insulation. Because of all the windows, the room may trap heat and it may not be practical on the hottest of summer days to cool the three-season sunroom.

COST: Moderate

Four-Season Sunrooms

If you want to use your sunroom year round, it must be built as any other room in your home, with four structural walls, insulation, an HVAC system and energy-efficient doors and windows with tempered, UV-protected glass. This enables you to use the room in comfort no matter what the outside temperature may be. This option also adds the most value to your home.

COST: Moderate to expensive

Advantages of a Sunroom

A sunroom vs. a screened-in porch gives a homeowner all the advantages of a screened-in porch by opening the windows or doors on warmer days to allow fresh air into the room while keeping insects out, yet can also keep the family warm and cozy in cooler months with energy-efficient windows and insulation.

Screens can be built into the windows, added onto windows, or interchangeable with windows. Sliding glass doors can also be added that can open one door’s width or across the entire wall of your sunroom, like a glass wall system.

Your sunroom will be built to blend in with the existing architecture of your home to create a seamless look and flow from both inside and outside the home.

Personalized Sunroom Ideas

Nowadays, homeowners are designing their sunrooms for special uses as well. How about creating a:

  • Spa Room, with a jetted tub or indoor pool and heated flooring
  • Library, with built-in bookcases and sunny reading nooks
  • Solarium or Greenhouse, with plants and a gardening theme
  • Indoor Porch, with a swing, hammock and dining area
  • Cozy Living Room, with overstuffed chairs and a fireplace
  • Spectacular Dining Room, with architectural features and a statement chandelier
  • Home Office, with a relaxing view
  • Playroom, a place just for the kids

Related: 21 Gorgeous Sunrooms for Your Entire Family to Enjoy

A Sunroom vs. a Screened-In Porch

When deciding whether a sunroom vs. a screened-in porch is right for your family, take into consideration the layout of your home and property and how you will want to use your additional room, and then talk to remodeling professional like Schroeder Design/Build. We’ll be glad to go over the numerous options available for adding space to your home and walk you through the entire process, from design through construction.

Contact Schroeder Design/Build

Since 1986, Schroeder Design/Build has been serving homeowners throughout Northern Virginia with additions, kitchen and bathroom remodeling and whole-house renovations. Look through our Portfolio for ideas on how to add a sunroom or a screened-in porch to your home.

To discuss adding a sunroom vs. a screened-in porch, or any addition to your home, contact Schroeder Design/Build at 703-449-1700.


7 Ways to Increase your Home’s Value

Homeowners are always concerned with ‘what’s their house worth.’ Other than normal appreciation, there are ways you can increase your home’s value. Here are seven options to consider.


Add Square Footage

There are a number of ways to increase your home’s value by adding living space. You can build an addition onto the side or back of your home, or add a second or even third level to your existing home. Consider unfinished spaces that can be converted into extra living areas, like the attic, basement or garage.

Remodel High-Value Rooms

Kitchens and bathrooms are always high-priority items on any homebuyer’s list and remodeling them can increase your home’s value by approximately 27%, according to Jeremy Sicklick, CEO and co-founder of HouseCanary. Invest in upgrading, expanding or renovating these rooms for the biggest bang for the buck.

Related: Home remodeling projects that will bring you the most return on investment

Choose Quality Finishes

When you choose high-quality items for your home, like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, you not only get to enjoy them for yourself, you’ll increase your home’s value for when you’re ready to sell. In addition, higher-quality products last longer and look more beautiful.

Even smaller items can increase your home’s value. Switch out doorknobs from brass to brushed nickel, or upgrade lighting to LED. This bright lighting will make your house feel lighter and more inviting. Choose items that are popular and you’ll see a return on your investment.

Go Green

Today’s home buyers are more concerned about the environment and looking for homes with eco-friendly features. When remodeling, invest in energy efficient appliances and equipment, from your kitchen appliances to your heating and cooling systems. Switch out windows for more energy efficient ones. As an added benefit, you’ll enjoy lower utility bills.

Add Technology

Smart home products are popular options in today’s marketplace and can help increase your home’s value. You might consider installing a smart thermostat, camera system, lighting system, locks, and a fire/carbon monoxide system.

Improve Landscaping

The outside of your home is just as important as the inside, so don’t overlook the value of great landscaping. There’s something to be said for curb appeal. Think of the landscaping as the first impression. You hopefully won’t show up at job interview wearing torn blue jeans. Invite visitors into your home from the moment they arrive with plants, flowers, walkways and interesting hardscape features.


Nothing refreshes a home more than a coat of paint—both on the inside and the outside. If you’re looking to sell soon, stick to neutral colors. Other than that, let the paint color set the tone for your design style. Paint can add drama or create a soothing surrounding. Paint can also help restore worn or dirty areas of your home. Work with your designer to select the right paint colors for your home remodel.

Increase Your Home’s Value with a Remodel by Schroeder Design/Build

At Schroeder Design/Build, we have professional architects and designers on staff to help you design, build and outfit your home remodel. Or we can build you a custom home from the ground up! Talk to us about how to increase your home’s value in Northern Virginia.

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Helping design and building businesses during this crisis offers advantages for homeowners
By Becky Harris March 21, 2020

You may have been planning to start a home project or remodel this spring and are wondering what to do now that people are being urged or told to stay at home. The coronavirus crisis makes it hard to imagine hiring a designer, shopping for your home or meeting with home pros to talk about a project. But one silver lining of this crisis cloud is that it may be one of most optimal times to do so.

You can stay safely isolated at home and still get started on a project and support the design and construction pros who are such an integral part of our community. If you were already planning a project, or if spending so much time at home has you thinking of improvements you’d like to make, here are some suggestions that will help you improve your home while you support these small businesses.

1. Set Up a Virtual Consult

“Keeping people employed helps the overall economy,” architect Jonathan Kuhn says. And during this crisis, an advantage for homeowners is that many pros have more time on their hands than they normally would — no commutes, site visits, show houses or markets are keeping them from working on your project. Fill that time with a virtual consultation.

If you haven’t yet found a pro to work with, you can start by searching the Houzz pro directory for an architect, designer or remodeler whose style, location and specialties match your needs.

Then it’s as simple as using FaceTime or Skype to give pros a tour of your space. You can answer their style and function questionnaires, share inspiration photos in Houzz ideabooks and get to know each other without having to meet in person.

See Schroeder Design/Build’s plan for Virtual Consultations.

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