Open Air Sunroom

Open air sunrooms are a blessing in warm weather. They provide some extra living space that just can't be duplicated by decks or patios. They protect you from the sun and rain. However, when the weather turns cold a sunroom loses nearly all its appeal. It becomes dormant real estate that doesn't get much use until things warm up again. In some areas of the country this can take nearly six months, which is a long time for something that costs so much to be out of commission.

Sunrooms can be split between a dedicated seating area and a play area for kids, with plenty of built-in storage and a table for eating and other activities. You may enclose the space with large windows, ending up with a dramatic sun room that has a special appeal of its own.

Convert a Porch to a Sunroom

Because so much of the structure is already in place, enclosing a porch to create a sunroom is straightforward. All that's really required are installing some windows, adding some insulation and providing some extra heat. Unfortunately, porches come in all shapes and sizes and each is bound to have its own idiosyncrasies that can complicate the job.

You need to prepare the porch to receive the sunroom walls. The goal in this step is to create square, level and plumb opening to receive the windows, and to attach these openings to the existing porch in a stable and weather-tight way.

Begin by removing any porch railings and by cutting off any overhanging porch floorboards flush with the trim boards underneath.

Next, build a false post on both ends of the porch next to the house. The width of these false posts is based on the finished openings you need to accommodate the windows for the sunroom.

When the false post framing is complete, cut an exterior trim board to size and tack nail it to the post. Tests fit the trim board, and then caulk the board-to-siding joint and nail the trim board in place.

Next, nail the end knee wall studs to the posts and the sill to these end studs. Typically these studs will be different lengths because most porches slope away from the house to allow water runoff. Be sure that the sill board is absolutely level.

Then fill in underneath with the rest of the studs spaced apart 16 in. on center.

Once your wall framing is complete, nail sheathing on the outside. Once the sheathing is on, install the windows. First, lift a window into the opening and slide shims under both lower corners. Then center the window from side to side in the opening. Level and plumb the window from the outside, and add insulation to the sunroom walls.

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