The Biggest Differences Between a Sunroom and an Enclosed Porch

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated January 11, 2022
Girl petting dog on porch
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Both sunrooms and porches add value to your home and keep out pesky bugs—but which is right for you?

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Many homeowners consider installing a sunroom or an enclosed porch to their home—and for good reason. Both types of additional living spaces add natural light to your home, give you a space to enjoy nature (sometimes without the bugs or heat), and can even increase the value of your home.

Which is right for your home (and budget)? Here are some advantages and differences of each option so you can make an informed decision:

Advantages of a Sunroom

Large open sunroom with plants and sofa
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A sunroom is a four-season additional living space in your home. Whereas an enclosed porch can only really be used (for long periods of time, at least) during the warm spring and summer months, you can enjoy a sunroom year-round.

Advantages include:

  • Temperature-controlled

  • Natural light

  • Good for quiet activities like reading or writing

  • Four-season access

  • Predesigned templates and designs can help you lock in a price

Sunroom additions cost between $8,000 and $80,000 on average. (The costs can fluctuate greatly depending on materials and style.) If it’s a special build or you’re installing lots of insulation, expect the project to start around $25,000.

Advantages of an Enclosed Porch

Large enclosed porch with dining table and chairs
Pipas Imagery / Shutterstock.com

An enclosed porch is a roof-covered, screened-in room that’s open to the elements. Whereas a sunroom is built with four walls, enclosed porches often have screens on either side that allow fresh air into the room.

Advantages include:

  • Good for entertaining guests, hosting parties, outdoor barbecues

  • Access to nature and fresh hair

  • Additional living space for you and your family

  • Affordability (whether you’re planning a new screened-in porch build or adding one around an existing deck)

  • Newer enclosed porches use energy-efficient vinyl to increase year-round access

Adding a 200-square foot enclosed porch to your home will cost between $2,000 and $2,800, on average. The average cost per square foot is about $5. Of course, higher-end porches equipped with insulation for year-round access and custom builds with additional features will cost more. Recurring costs, such as the cost to rescreen your porch annually, should also be included in your budget.

Sunroom vs. Enclosed Porch: Factors to Consider

These factors can help you decide which type of additional living space is right for your home.

Purpose

You can decide whether a sunroom or enclosed porch is right for you by asking yourself how you’ll want to use it. Both types of living spaces offer different benefits, but considering your specific lifestyle needs or wants can help you hone in on what’s most advantageous and cost-effective for your family.

If you’re someone who enjoys hosting parties or likes sitting outside but dislikes mosquitos and other bugs, an enclosed porch could be a great choice. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to maximize property value or don’t like cold weather, a four-season sunroom could offer more benefits.

Climate

Do you enjoy the cool air in spring and summer while you drink morning coffee? Or do you prefer a temperature-controlled room year-round? Where you live—and if you enjoy being outside where you live—can also help you decide between a sunroom and an enclosed porch.

While you can use sunrooms year-round, porches are often best for only two or three seasons. However, many enclosed porches are now being built with energy-efficient materials and better insulation so the room stays warmer throughout the year.

Cost

Installing an enclosed porch is a simpler process and requires fewer materials than adding a sunroom to your home. Estimates and final price tags tend to reflect this.

For example, if, after cleaning your deck patio, you decide to simply install a porch kit with basic screens, you might only spend $1,000 to $2,000. If a budget-friendly addition is your goal, an enclosed porch is probably the better option.

You could also consider budget-friendly compromises, such as installing an enclosed porch with space heaters. You’ll pay a little more for your porch, but far less than you’d pay for a sunroom, and still get to enjoy the outdoors a little longer.

Property Value

Generally speaking, a sunroom addition, which adds year-round square footage to your home, will boost the property value of your home more than an enclosed porch. It’ll cost more, but you could recoup what you pay when you go to sell.

That said, the type of sunroom you install could actually be a deterrent. For example, higher-end builds with less insulation (such as a glass solarium, conservatory, or garden room) could be a deterrent for some potential buyers.

Which Is Easier to Install, Sunroom or Enclosed Porch?

Once you sign the contract and the project starts, a screened-in porch takes between four and six weeks to install. Building a sunroom from a premade template will take about the same amount of time. Custom builds, whether for porches or sunrooms, may take a few extra weeks.

Sunrooms may take longer but don’t require upkeep on the part of the homeowner. Your enclosed porch will need annual maintenance, so be sure you factor that into your budget.

Which Additional Living Space Should You Install?

If you love nature, are on a budget, or want to do the work yourself on an existing deck or patio, an enclosed porch is your best bet.

If you prefer moderate temperatures, want to increase property value, or just add more year-round space to your home, a sunroom is the way to go.

Ask a local deck and porch contractor for information or templates to help you decide.

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