I am a man of the city. I have never lived in a rural area, and I rarely visit the suburbs. But as I have gotten older, certain friends of mine have gotten married and settled down in the more family-friendly zones of ex-urban America. I have visited several old college buddies and marveled at the castles they have built for themselves in the housing developments they have moved to.
I have been especially taken by their patio enclosures. Everyone one of my friends seemed to have one—each one distinct in some way. I am a writer by profession, and I like to learn everything about a subject I have taken an interest in. Patio enclosures caught my attention. The following article is a summary of the nature and types of patio enclosures.
What is a Patio Enclosure?
Simply put, it is a paved area of ground that is extends from the home. A patio enclosure can be made of poured concrete, pavers, bricks, or any other material that will make the ground flat and sturdy.
A patio enclosure is not to be confused with a porch. The two are very different. A porch is situated at the front, or entrance of a residence, and tends to be covered. A patio is either at the back or the side of a home and can be covered or uncovered.
Many homes—especially those in the ex-urbs where my friends stay—come with patios. In other instances, transform the backyard area that is nearest their home into a patio. A common move among homeowners is to enclose a patio. This can be done in different ways. Adding screens, a supporting structure, or material drop curtains are some of the many ways to enclose an existing patio.
The Difference Between an Enclosed Patio and a Sunroom
This is another common conflation. A sunroom is not the same as an enclosed patio. A sunroom has inflexible frames, a great many windows, and is developed as a direct extension of the interior of the home. It is not a freestanding structure outside of the home.
An enclosed patio and a sunroom are not the only choices for homeowners who want to modify and extend their living space. Some choose to retrofit existing decks or porches to convert them into outdoor spaces that resemble patio enclosures and sunrooms.
Types of Patio Enclosures
These are the most common types of patio enclosures. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but to give you a sense of the most popular choices on the market. In most cases, you should hire a professional to have the enclosure installed. Getting an installation right can be tricky, and you don’t want to spend even more money fixing a botched job.
1. Patio Screen Enclosure
The main idea behind this type of enclosure is to facilitate the flow of air into the space while preventing bugs and other annoying critters from getting inside. Most patio enclosure screens are composed of an almost invisible aluminium screen mesh. They are quite durable and have an engineered frame around the screen.
Having such a screen enclosure means that you can sit outside even when it is raining.
2. Glass Enclosure
These enclosures provide a great deal of natural light all year round. The style of roof, door type, and final finish can all be customized to suit your taste and preferences. If you have a deck or patio that is already under your home’s roofline, then you can fit it with glass to create this type of enclosure. If your patio does not square with your home’s roofline, then you can have a glass roof added to create the enclosure.
3. Vinyl Enclosure
This is one of the more popular choices. With a vinyl enclosure, you will get a dry, warm, and protected space. You can enjoy all the comforts of being indoors while actually being outdoors. A vinyl enclosure is also a great way to create an extra living space in your home.
There are a couple of ways to install a vinyl enclosure. You can attach it to a patio frame or purchase it already mounted on a frame. There are also companies that do custom-designed vinyl enclosures, which they are usually willing to install.
To complement this enclosure, you can get panels that run on tracks like curtains. These are great for windy days, but do not work as well in heavy rain.
There is also a less expensive version of this enclosure: clear vinyl.
A clear vinyl enclosure will allow you to enjoy a great view of your backyard while keeping warm and dry. Different levels of thickness are available, and it can be fitted in many different ways.
4. Aluminium Enclosure
This is another good option if you are on a budget or just don’t want to pay the earth for an enclosure. You can usually get aluminium-framed walls and a roof. The latter are made of interlocking panels, which make them weather-resistant and sturdy.
Typically, aluminium enclosures have 3-inch walls with recessed doors. The doors and windows can be made of glass or screen mesh. One of the best things about this enclosure is that it requires very little maintenance, and you do not need to paint it.
5. Acrylic Enclosure
You may want a glass enclosure, but this may not be a practical option if you have young children. (You can no doubt image a baseball smashing through the glass). Glass is also expensive. Acrylic is a good compromise.
Acrylic enclosures are resilient and safe. Though they are not invincible, they will not shatter like glass. This makes them the safer option.
One of the big downsides to an acrylic enclosure is that it can take on a yellow tinge from exposure to UV. Fluctuations in humidity and temperature also cause the panels to bow. Acrylic also scratches easily, and you must use a special cleaner to avoid streaks.
6. Retractable Enclosure
With a glass enclosure, you can keep out of the cold and inclement weather. When it is warm and sunny outside, the enclosure will also get sunny. However, it may also get a little too warm. If you want the best of both worlds, you should get a retractable enclosure.
This type of enclosure will allow you to be warm in winter and comfortable in summer. There are many different versions of these enclosures. Most have frameless panels that slide on tracks. These are easier to manage as they don’t need power to move.
You should be warned that you will pay a pretty penny for this type of enclosure. The price you pay will depend on many features, including the size, design, and mechanism used to move the retractable part.
7. Temporary Enclosure
This type of patio enclosure is good for people who live in places where the change in season makes a big difference in outside temperatures. You can keep this type of enclosure through the winter, sit outside, and be warm. You can then remove it during the summer to enjoy the heat, air, and sunshine.
Some of the most common temporary enclosures include insulated curtains, dropdown panels, mosquito curtains, removable panel screens, and vinyl panels.
8. Four-season Enclosure
If you live in an area in which weather shifts wildly in spring and fall, then you a four-season enclosure may be right for you. This will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer; and you can make the kind of adjustments that make it easy to be comfortable in unstable spring and fall weather.
This type of enclosure provides excellent views of your backyard and good natural light. A four-season enclosure is a permanent feature of the home, and it usually built in-line with its existing exterior. The walls will usually be made of double-glazed insulated glass like windows and incorporate ventilation.
The frames can be made of vinyl or aluminium. You can also have doors installed. And because the structure is an extension of your home interior, you can have cooling, heating, and electricity extended to it.
The Cost of a Patio Enclosure
The amount of money you pay for an enclosure will depend largely on the type of design you want. You will also have to pay installation costs.
The average cost is around $70 per square feet to be enclosed. You can pay anything from $200 for a temporary vinyl enclosure to $45,000 for a high-end four-season enclosure.
Benefits of a Patio Enclosure
If you have taken an interest in having your patio enclosed, you have no doubt already looked at the upside of getting the work done. But here are some other benefits to consider.
1. Bug-free Living
One of the most annoying things about using a patio in the summer are the mosquitoes, flies, and gnats that surround and attack you. It is hard to enjoy drinks, food, and conversation with such critters buzzing around and harassing family and friends. Patio enclosures are the perfect solution to this trouble. They provide a barrier between you and the elements.
Enclosures provide some protection against the prying eyes of neighbors. If you value your privacy, and want to spend time with family and friends without being spied on, then an enclosure is the way to go.
Summer evenings are long, and you may want to enjoy the warm air well into the night. Doing so in an open patio is not safe. The night brings creatures such as bats. It also makes it harder to keep track of young children and family pets. Having your patio enclosed will help keep everyone safe. It will give you more control over your immediate environment.
This is one of the best benefits of a patio enclosure. The roofs and protective screening provide shade from the bright sun and a barrier to heat and insects.
Having your patio enclosed counts as a home improvement. It will enhance the look and elegance of your house. The enclosure will ultimately increase the value of your home.
6. More space
An enclosed patio will add an additional room for your family. If you are fond of entertaining friends and family, the enclosed space will give you a wonderful platform from which to do it. A patio enclosure will make your outdoor area a fully functional place to live in during the summer months. It may even be possible arrange sleepovers for your kids on your enclosed patio.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a patio enclosure be used all year round?
This depends on where you live and the type of enclosure you have installed. Many of the types of enclosures described above allow people to enjoy their space at all times during the year.
Why build a patio enclosure?
It helps connect your backyard to your actual house. It not only serves as a transition from your house to your outdoor area; it also serves as a main entertainment and hosting venue in your home.
How do you make an enclosed patio feel like an outdoor space?
This is not as hard as it seems. You can install large screens or windows with minimal frames to feel as though you are sheltered when outdoors.
Is it possible to use a glass enclosure when it rains?
Yes. Glass enclosures hold up well in both rain and sunshine. If you like to watch and smell rain without actually getting wet, then a glass enclosure is perfect for you.