Create an Indoor-Outdoor Oasis With a Lanai Porch

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated December 15, 2021
A luxurious lanai patio with an indoor pool
Photo: Pix by Marti / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • “Lanai” is a Hawaiian word for a covered patio 

  • A lanai extends outdoors from an existing room 

  • Lanais sometimes contain a swimming pool

  • A lanai can count toward a home’s total square footage

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If you love watching the birds as you sip your morning coffee, or savor the smell of a fresh afternoon breeze—but value privacy—a lanai can turn your home into a paradise. Add an inground pool to your lanai, and you’re living in a dreamy oasis.

“Lanai” is a Hawaiian word for a covered patio. Just saying it inspires images of palm trees, sandals, and sunshine. But people often confuse lanais with verandas or covered porches. A lanai has a different structure and design that sets it apart from other enclosed outdoor areas. 

The Different Types of Covered Outdoor Areas

Lanais are popular in Hawaii and other warm regions like Florida and Southern California, as they offer shade, privacy, protection from the elements, and (usually) year-round use. But not all covered patios or porches are lanais. 

Let’s take a look at how lanais stand out from other outdoor areas.

Porches

A porch is a covered area that’s attached to the outside of a home or building. A lanai is different in that it extends out from an existing room, with access via French doors or sliding glass doors. A porch is typically in front of a home, while a lanai extends out from the back or the side.

Verandas

A veranda connects to an entire side of a home or building and features a railing enclosure. It might cover more than one side of a home, like a wraparound porch. 

Patios

A patio is an outdoor area that is either covered or uncovered. Its main feature is hard flooring, be it concrete, pavers, or some other type of hardscape. A lanai also has hard flooring—it might even be the same type of flooring that’s in the room from which it extends.

Lanais

Lanais tend to be larger than other outdoor areas. In regions with year-round pool weather, it’s common for a large lanai to contain a swimming pool. Screens or glass enclosures often cover lanais to keep out bugs, critters, and UV rays.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Lanai?

Building a lanai with a screened enclosure costs between $1,200 and $1,600, according to HomeAdvisor, or about $6 to $8 per square foot. As with many other home improvement projects, the cost to build a lanai depends on the size of the space, plus labor and materials. For example, if you choose high-end pavers for the surface of your lanai, you will likely pay more for the project

Does a Lanai Add Value to Your Home?

A lanai patio with a sitting area facing the backyard
Photo: Kristin / Adobe Stock

If you enjoy relaxing or entertaining outdoors, a lanai could be a valuable addition to your home. Not only will you get to experience the perks of an at-home oasis, you’ll likely benefit from its added value if you decide to sell your house. Many buyers are eager to snag a home that offers the luxury of a lanai.

Keep in mind that a lanai will usually only count toward your home’s square footage if it fulfills two criteria: 

  • It’s heated or cooled by the home’s main HVAC system 

  • It has the same roof or flooring as the room from which it extends

A screened-in sunroom might have similar benefits to a lanai, but if it is attached to the home, it cannot be considered part of the home’s square footage. This will matter when your home is appraised, as the liveable square footage will influence the sale price.

Building a lanai is a big undertaking that is best left to a lanai installation professional. A local pro can answer any questions you have to get the ball rolling on your indoor-outdoor oasis.

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