Do It Yourself: Arizona Sunrooms

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An Arizona sunroom is a screened or glassed-in patio.
An Arizona sunroom is a screened or glassed-in patio. (Image: véranda image by thierry planche from Fotolia.com)

Before the invention of air-conditioning, Arizona residents often slept in their screened Arizona rooms. The free air movement made them cooler than indoor rooms at night and the screens kept the bugs and snakes out. An Arizona sunroom, also known as an "Arizona room," is a glassed-in or screened-in porch, not usually heated or cooled, where you can enjoy an outdoor feeling while being indoors. Sunrooms are often made from an existing patio and are decorated Southwestern style with indoor plants. A glassed-in patio may act as a passive solar form of heating in winter.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood or aluminum framing
  • Rolls of screen material
  • Screen installation tool
  • Screws
  • Nails
  • Nail gun
  • Plumb line and level
  • Tape measure
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Electric saw
  • Miter saw or miter box
  • Caulking
  • Utility knife or scissors

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Decide on the type of sunroom you want. A screened-in sunroom has more of an outdoor feeling and allows the breeze to blow through, but you are not able to heat or cool it. A south-facing, glassed-in sunroom will keep out the cold and warm your house in winter but may be too hot in summer. Windows with screens may offer the best choice.

Measure your existing patio and calculate what materials you will need to close it in. You can use 1 by 2 or 2 by 2 lengths of wood or aluminum framing, which comes in a choice of profiles. The screening material comes in rolls. Visit your local builder's supply store to choose the size and style of windows or glass panels and find out how to install them if preferred. Be sure the windows come with screens. Consider blinds to keep the direct sun out in summer.

Research sunroom kits online or at your local building supply superstore. If you do not have an existing patio, it may be possible to add a sunroom onto your home. If you are doing it yourself, a kit is the easiest way to get it done. Sunroom kits are often made of glass and vinyl and may even have a glass roof to maximize the outdoor feeling.

Contact your local city or county building and zoning department to apply for a permit. Discuss your project with them and understand how to build it to conform with code requirements. They may require a plan showing dimensions and proposed materials.

Cut the wood framing materials to fit your patio and attach to your existing walls or columns with nails or screws. Cut lengths of screen with scissors or a utility knife and attach one side to wood framing with a staple gun. Stretch the screen and staple to the other side. It may take a little practice to get the screen stretched correctly without over or under stretching it. Trim excess screen. Nail 1 by 4 pieces over the stapled lengths to finish.

If using aluminum, cut with a metal cutting blade and attach to the existing walls or columns with set screws. Aluminum framing material screws together at the corners and comes with a groove that runs down the length of each side. Force the screen into the groove using the specialized tool and follow with a thin rubber spline to hold it in place.

Build removable screen frames on a flat surface prior to installation as an alternative method. Use a miter saw or miter box to make certain your corners are cut to 90 degrees to get the frame squared up, and take extra care to make your measurements accurate. Use the same technique to stretch and attach the screen to the frame. Attach the frame to your existing patio walls with screws. The advantage of this system is that you can easily remove the screens simply by removing the screws should you wish to change them, maintain them or clean them.

Install windows by first framing the patio to the size of the windows using lengths of wood or aluminum. Fit the window into the framing and use shims and a level and plumb line to get it square. Attach with nails. Caulk around the window and finish with strips of wood around the frame. Fill in the non-windowed portions of the framing with nailed or screwed-on hardboard.

Decorate your sunroom Arizona style and throw a party -- a sunroom is a great place for entertaining.

References

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