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There’s something very surreal about a sunroom. It lets you enjoy the beauty of the outdoors regardless of the outside climate, weather, or the creepy crawlies of nature. To utilize this sanctum to the fullest, it’s important to find the right sunroom windows. The ideal windows will help your space stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
What is a sunroom?
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Also called a solarium, or a Florida room, a sunroom is a thermo-insulated space on your property. Structure-wise, it has a solid ceiling and is surrounded by three walls made up of large glass windows or sliding glass doors.
Because a sunroom is made up almost entirely of glass, it’s cost-effective — making maximum use of natural light and hence reducing your electric lighting usage.
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An important point to remember while selecting your sunroom windows is that you must not buy cheap-quality sunroom windows in order to keep your renovation costs down. Since windows make up the majority of your sunroom’s structure, it’s a wise decision to opt for good-quality windows and still keep your building costs manageable.
How much do sunroom windows cost?
Sunroom windows cost ranges between $2,000 to $12,000 for an average renovation project with 10 new or replacement windows. This amount includes professional installation. By the way, we strongly recommend hiring a professional for the job.
What are the best windows for a sunroom?
The best sunroom windows are large windows with narrow frames. These types of windows offer the most amount of visibility. Common types of sunroom windows include stationary windows, casement windows, and sliding windows. Homeowners can install awning windows on top of stationary windows so as to allow air to flow in and out — without blocking visibility.
Types of sunroom windows
Sunroom windows differ in how they look and function. Some slide manually, others open by a crank, while stationary ones remain fixed within the window frame.
Your sunroom window options are largely based on the climate of your area, the time of the year when you intend to use your sunroom the most (3 season rooms or 4 season sunrooms), how you want to use it (as a home office, an indoor garden, or for social gatherings), and the sunroom’s location with respect to your house.
Considering all the above, here’s a list of the most popular types of sunroom windows for you.
1) Operable windows (with window screens)
As the name suggests, these windows can be operated to allow ventilation. The most common kinds are:
- Hinged windows
Hinged windows such as awning windows hinge from the top. The best part is you can keep them open even while it rains. Moreover, they allow warm air to rise and escape.
Casement windows, on the other hand, are hinged from the side — either left or right. They open all the way but may obstruct the outside view a little. Unfortunately, they do not protect against rain.
Both these windows are easy to operate and are ideal for situations where there’s an obstacle in front of the window.
- Sliding windows
Double-hung windows are the most common type of sliding windows. These have two framed panes — one moving up and down relative to the other. Just for your info, double-hung windows are usually more expensive than casement or awning windows.
Horizontal slider windows, on the other hand, have sashes that move side to side. Many homeowners prefer sliding windows over a crank system due to the ease of usage. However, we still think that casement or awning windows provide the best-unobstructed view from a sunroom.
- Bay and bow windows
Bay and bow windows are one of the most interesting fixtures — made of multiple adjacent windows angled to project outwards.
These windows can be fixed or stationary, operable, or even a combination of both. Since they provide the most expansive view and sunlight, they are a great choice for a sunroom.
Due to the angle of their construction, such windows create more interior space. So, if you’re thinking of having a cozy reading nook, window seat, a perch for your plants, or a dining area with a round or oval dining table — they are perfect for you.
2) Fixed windows
Most homeowners who use fixed windows want to create an indoor room that looks almost like an outdoor room. Such windows, quite obviously, allow maximum sunlight to enter, but not so much fresh air. Therefore, they are ideal for regions where the climate remains uncomfortable during most part of the year.
Also, fixed windows are great for the upward sections of the wall. This high, it would be too difficult to operate the sunroom windows anyway.
- Picture windows
The most common type of fixed windows includes picture windows. They are best for windows facing a private yard.
Since they are quite large, they provide maximum view and sunlight. A little too much sunlight and glare sometimes! Lack of privacy is another concern. You can, of course, use blinds or shades, but they take away from the open look of a sunroom.
Keep in mind that south-facing windows receive the most sunlight all-year-round. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to maximize it or prevent excessive heat gain.
- Clerestory windows
Clerestory windows are located above eye-level — usually as part of a series of picture windows along the top of a wall. In a sunroom too, you can use them over other windows or doors, or span them across the top of a solid wall. The major advantage of such windows is that they bring in the extra light, but there’s no glare.
Sunroom windows based on the type of glass
The most important factor to consider when choosing a sunroom glass is how well it insulates. Generally speaking, there are three things that determine the energy efficiency of your windows: the thickness of the glass, the number of panes, and what’s there in the air gap.
Today, energy-efficient windows with Energy Star ratings are the preferred choice for sunrooms for most homeowners. The government even offers tax credits for its usage.
Keep in mind that the higher the R-Value, the better the insulation. Other window glass options include Low-E coatings and argon glass.
Sunroom windows based on frame material
When it comes to window frames, you can choose from vinyl window frames, wooden window frames, and aluminum window frames. Out of these, vinyl window frames are less vulnerable to damage from high humidity. They don’t require repainting and cost less than a wood one.
However, if you want to paint your windows to match the interior and exterior color of your sunroom — opt for a wood frame.
How to insulate sunroom windows?
As mentioned above, the insulation of your sunroom windows is important. Ideally, the windows should be able to keep the heat of the sun’s rays out while allowing in a lot of natural light.
Here are some steps you can take to insulate your sunroom and maintain a comfortable level of temperature inside:
- Install window weatherstripping for preventing heat from leaking out or the cold outdoor air from entering.
- Choose windows that have multiple panes of glass. Or, opt for windows that have Low-E coatings that reflect heat energy.
- Have argon gas inserted between two or three panes of glass. This improves the window’s ability to insulate against cold and heat. Double-pane argon gas-filled windows are ideal for a sunroom in most climates.
- Apply window tinting to block radiant heat from escaping. The tinting allows sunlight to warm the space without letting the solar energy escape.
- Add insulation to the surface of the windows with a layer of clear plastic. Though plastic does not have the same R-value as solid material insulation, it will improve the energy efficiency of your windows — especially if they are single pane windows.
- Cover the sunroom windows with insulated drapes, wall-length valance, or window blinds — including wood or bamboo blinds.
- Install a ceiling fan or ventilation fan to circulate the air in your sunroom.
Important considerations before installing sunroom windows
Once you’ve zeroed in on the type of window you want for your sunroom, it’s time to tick off a few points off your checklist. Here are some features that your sunroom windows must have:
- Draft-proof seals for energy-efficient windows.
- An R-value of 4.0. It will effectively block ultraviolet light while allowing sufficient light in.
- Tempered glass that crumbles if it breaks instead of falling off in hazardous shards.
- Reduced glare so you and your family are able to enjoy the outside view.
- Dirt- and stain-resistant coatings to keep the glass surface clean.
- Window locks and other features that meet the International Residential Code.
- The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) seal of approval.
Thank you for reading!
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