Your Guide to Three Season and Four Season Sunrooms

four season sunroomsDo you want to spend more time outside enjoying your yard, or do you prefer the view from inside your home? The Structurally Speaking team can help you design and build the perfect combination indoor/outdoor space. Four season sunrooms, three season rooms, enclosed porches, and decks can all be part of your new addition. Let’s talk about the different types of spaces you can consider and which is right for your home.

Different Types of Indoor/Outdoor Spaces

When it comes to indoor/outdoor spaces, your main question should be whether you want the space to be more indoor or more outdoor. There is no right or wrong answer here; it just depends on how your family wants to use this new space.


First, we encourage you to consider a traditional sunroom. This is the most versatile indoor/outdoor option. Often called a “four season sunroom” or an “all season sunroom,” this type of space has not only windows so you enjoy more natural light in your home, but also electricity, heating, and cooling.

So, what makes it different than any other room in your home?

With a sunroom addition, we’ll focus on maximizing the sunlight with very large windows. Most sunrooms have floor to ceiling windows on at least one wall if not on two or three walls. Moreover, it adds to the square footage of your home, thus giving you additional heated/cooled space when it comes time to sell and when you want to have the maximum size floor plan. The fact that it is an insulated room, the same as the rest of the house, gives you an additional room that has a wide range of uses.

Three Season Rooms

A three season room, also called a “three season sunroom,” “three season porch,” or “seasonal sunroom,” is similar to a four season sunroom, but it does not have heating and cooling. Like the four season version, this type of indoor/outdoor living space uses very large windows to let in as much light as possible.

Some three season rooms have electricity, while others do not. Although there is no HVAC unit controlling the three season room, many homeowners opt for ceiling fans to keep the room/porch functional during the summer.


A solarium is a type of glass sunroom. It can have a glass dome ceiling, as well as floor to ceiling windows. It can have heating and cooling, as would a four-season room, but most are three season rooms without a built-in HVAC unit.

You might hear some people call their solarium a “conservatory.” Essentially, these two types of rooms are the same thing, but a conservatory’s main function is to grow plants – sort of a mini greenhouse. Most people do use their sunrooms for plants, but if that is the main function you could also call it a conservatory.

Florida Rooms

Sunrooms are extremely popular in Florida, giving rise to the term “Florida room.” In most cases, people talking about a Florida room are referring to a three season room (i.e. a sunroom that does not have heat or air conditioning). However, a Florida room can also be a four season sunroom, complete with an HVAC unit.

At the end of the day, a Florida room is just another term people use to talk about their indoor/outdoor space. In other words, a Florida room isn’t something different from a sunroom. It’s the same thing, just a different term.

Enclosed Porches

Enclosed porches, also called “screened porches” are very similar to three season sunrooms. Usually (but not always), an enclosed porch starts off as a normal porch attached to your home. Then, as the name implies, we enclose it using screens and sometimes glass.

With an enclosed porch, you typically don’t get those floor-to-ceiling windows. Instead, there is often a railing that closes it off or it may have a half-wall. It depends on the existing porch that you are enhancing. The design may include a door leading to the backyard or to a deck.

You can create an enclosed porch from scratch, instead of enclosing an existing porch. Traditionally, an enclosed porch would be more of a narrow place to sit that runs the length of your home, rather than a larger, more square room. However, we can design the perfect size space for you, regardless of its name!


Last, but certainly not least, a deck is an outdoor platform that is not enclosed or heated/cooled. It is the most “outdoor” option, since it doesn’t have a roof and walls in most cases. Keep in mind that this means you won’t be able to use your deck during inclement weather. However, it is the least expensive option for most homeowners.

With your deck, we can include options to make the space more functional even when it is raining or hot. We have pergola options, for example, and can explore partial roof options such as pavilions and awnings to protect you from the harshest overhead rays of the sun.

Benefits of Four Season Sunrooms

Of all the indoor/outdoor living space options, a four season room is the most versatile. Because this space has heating and cooling, you can use it all year, even during North Carolina’s summers when it feels like the surface of the sun outside and winters when it drops below freezing.

Because it has temperature control, a four season sunroom adds to the square footage of your home. This is extremely valuable if you sell your home, since a larger home typically sells for a higher price. Additionally, many buyers are looking for sunrooms or enclosed porches, so it can help you sell your home faster.

Don’t worry; even if you aren’t looking to sell anytime soon, a four season room can still have major benefits to you:

  • Your home will appraise higher, meaning you can qualify for a larger home equity loan or line of credit if you ever need it.
  • A sunroom addition gives you an extra living space, which can be healthy for your family if you have several people working or attending school online from home.
  • Pets love sunrooms! It’s a great way to give them a little access to the outside world without actually allowing them outside where they may hurt themselves.
  • Likewise, a sunroom is a great place for the kids to play “outside” without really being outside. It’s a safer option for small children and also an option kids of all ages can use even when it is raining.
  • If you like to entertain, a sunroom can help give your guests more space. Many homeowners use a sunroom for extra seating if your dining room table isn’t large enough to accommodate everyone.
  • Sunrooms can help you grow a wider variety of plants. Even if you don’t have a full solarium with glass ceiling, the large windows will allow plants that need more sunlight to thrive. Here are 6 plants that do very well in sunrooms to help you start your garden.

The biggest benefit is knowing that you can enjoy your home more. Many of our clients tell us that they’ve always dreamed of having a nice sunroom where they can enjoy their morning coffee in pleasant surroundings or read a good book while watching the sunset. You should enjoy every aspect of your home Let us help you turn your sunroom dream into a reality!

Heating and Cooling Your New All-Season Sunroom

The main thing that sets apart a four season room is the heating and cooling. You have several options to achieve this with your sunroom addition.

If your main HVAC system can handle the extra square footage, you might simply need to ensure you have ductwork and vents in place. This is a simple solution if your HVAC unit is large enough.

Another option is to add a mini-split unit. These smaller HVAC units mount to an exterior wall and don’t require ductwork as with larger units. This is a great solution if you want to create a new heating/cooling zone in your sunroom. They can be economical, since you can choose when you need heat or cooling in that one area of your home. Keep in mind that they do require an exterior wall. So, if you were going for floor to ceiling windows, you will need a normal wall section to mount this unit.

Another option, of course, is to use window AC units with radiators or baseboards for heat. This is a good solution if you do not currently have forced air heating and cooling in your home. Keep in mind that you will need one of your windows that is able to accommodate an AC unit, which may obstruct your view slightly. You’ll also need to remove the unit in the winter. Although this is a relatively inexpensive solution, it does require a little more work.

If these solutions don’t seem like good options for you, we can also talk to you about a three season sunroom instead, without heating and cooling. Some homeowners get more use out of a seasonal sunroom through the use of fans and space heaters. During your initial consultation, we’ll go over these options.

The Structurally Speaking Process

When you work with Structurally Speaking for your new four season sunroom or other indoor/outdoor living space, we design options specifically to meet your needs. Every project we complete has three phases:

With our team, you don’t get a boring, template design that looks the same as all of your neighbors’ homes. During the initial consultation, our owner sits down to talk to you about what you and your family want most out of a sunroom or other living space. Jim Brennan has decades of experience with deck, porch, and sunroom design. He built his reputation on unique, custom designs and oversees every project personally. He’ll consider what will work best for the space you have available, along with your family’s habits and personal style.

Then, Jim will get to work designing options that meet your needs. During the design presentation, you can review the various custom sunroom options and make tweaks based on what will work best for your family and home. We don’t begin project construction until you are 100% happy with the sunroom design.

As we are building your new indoor/outdoor living space, Jim will be there to oversee the entire process. We don’t leave you hanging with a bunch of unqualified subcontractors. Our in-house team completes the work with Jim at the helm. This means we take on fewer projects than other companies. However, we believe every client deserves the white glove treatment.

Our high-quality deck, porch and sunroom creations are well-known throughout the greater Raleigh-Durham area. By working with a local company, you know that customer service is paramount. Our clients spread the word about our work ethic and high standards and we work hard to earn their praise.

What People are Saying about Structurally Speaking

We think our design process is the best, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Here are some real reviews from actual Structurally Speaking customers:

“We could not be more pleased. Jim Brennan has a gift for design, and Structurally Speaking’s crew did an excellent job of turning our vision into a reality. Their attention to detail and their overall workmanship was wonderful.” – Mike Rosenthal

“Now that our deck is complete, I want to thank you and your team for the high level of craftsmanship and professionalism. We gave you a tight deadline for completion of the deck before a major social event and your team hit the target perfectly. The back and forth exchange of ideas and suggestions for the materials and design were most productive and our collaboration produced a beautiful deck area. As you know we connected immediately with the sense we could work well together and the whole process was well-explained and executed to perfection. The experience you possess showed itself many times over from the easy inspection approval to the look of the deck design from all viewpoints. Your crew was hard working and very highly skilled…a rare combination that shows in the final product. Thanks for a great job and many more beautiful decks are in your future, we are certain.” – Rob and Sheila Roszell

You can read more reviews here.

Are you ready to start the design process? There is no obligation. Simply schedule your free consultation by filling out the form above.