What Is the Difference Between a Sunroom and a Screen Room?

If your home is feeling a little cramped there are many options for adding more space. The most common and easily categorizable renovation is a full addition. Examples include adding a bedroom, bathroom, or den. But there are other types of additions that can be a little harder to differentiate between. Sunroom and screen rooms, for instance. In certain regions with mild climates such as Florida and southern Texas, it’s not uncommon for the two terms to be used interchangeably. After all, both a sunroom and a screen room feature many similarities, including their function as open and airy rooms that provide plenty of light and expansive views. But while they may serve the same basic function, there are several differences—both obvious and subtle—that distinguish one from another. So, what’s the difference between a sunroom and a screen room? Here’s a quick rundown.

Screens Vs. Windows

Let’s start with the obvious. A screen room is enclosed with meshes, while a sunroom is outfitted with glass windows. It may seem like a fairly cut-and-dry distinction, but there are screen room variations that blur the line between a “room” and a patio cover. These hybrids consist of a solid roof supported on columns, between which are retractable screens that can be raised and lowered either manually or with a motor. When the screens are lowered, they create an enclosure. When raised, they are open walled. Screens can also be retrofitted to an existing structure such as a porch or pergola for enhanced protection, creating an enclosure where there wasn’t one before.


Another basic difference between a sunroom and a screen room is the support structure. It might not be obvious at first glance, but sunroom construction is usually more substantial than that of a screen room. The walls are often thicker and, in some cases, filled with insulation to provide better thermal performance. That’s because sunrooms have the option of being fully climate controlled by the same HVAC system as the rest of the house. Screen rooms do not have to meet that same stringent performance standard. But just because screen room frames are less substantial than sunroom frames, it doesn’t mean they’re flimsy. Premium screen rooms are constructed to the same high standards as sunrooms and should be able to withstand comparable wind loads. One exception to this general rule is an upgradable screen room. This type of addition offers the option of swapping out the screens with windows at a later date, so the frame construction is the same as a typical sunroom.

Climate Control

As stated above, a screen room is not fully climate controlled, although it does provide some mitigation from temperature extremes. Additional warmth can be provided by space heaters and cooling with portable air conditioning units or, more commonly, ceiling and standing fans. A sunroom, on the other hand, can be either fully climate controlled or not. When integrated into a home’s HVAC system, a sunroom is considered a four-season room and its square footage can be included in a home’s total livable space. When a sunroom is not climate controlled, it’s considered a three-season room and is not considered livable space.

Protection From the Elements

Despite its lack of sealed windows, a screen room can provide a substantial amount of protection from many of the most common outdoor nuisances. These include most insects, windblown debris, glare, and rain. Since mesh types determine how much airborne particles get filtered out, the exact level of protection will depend on the type you choose. But there are some things even the finest mesh cannot block out, such as pollen, spores, and very small insects. For homeowners who do not want to have to deal with these annoyances, a sunroom may be the better option.

Southern California’s Exterior Renovation Experts

If you’re interested in learning more about the difference between a sunroom and a screen room, reach out to Pacific Patio today. One of our representatives will be happy to answer all your questions. And if you’d like to move forward with adding a sunroom or a screen room to your home in San Diego County, we’re ready to help. As a proud TEMO dealer, we offer and install the company’s entire line of sunroom, screen room, and patio cover options, all of which are custom made to perfectly suit your home, aesthetics, and budget.

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