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Outdoor Rooms: Comparing Patio Cover Options

Are you feeling a little cramped at home? A lack of space can make anyone feel crabby. After all, everyone needs their own space to relax and unwind. However, in this dismal economy, few homeowners can afford to add an entirely new room to their homes. (And because home prices are still in the dumps, buying a new home is usually out of the question.) However, adding an outdoor room is often a more affordable way to add livable space.

There are many ways to build an outdoor room. Landscaping may be designed to create the sensation of moving through different “garden rooms.” Alternatively, you can build a deck to create a stable floor where children can play and partygoers can gather during fair weather months. However, in wetter climates like the Pacific Northwest, many homeowners will fail to maximize their new outdoor room unless it has some sort of roof. To help you plan your outdoor room budget, the following is a comparison of different patio cover options, arranged by price.

1. Pergolas with a Patio Cover Kit

Traditionally, pergolas do not include patio covers, but some manufacturers now offer built-in fabric covers that may be pulled across the roof of the pergola to create shade. Alternatively, you can build a patio cover yourself for your pergola, using shower rods and hooks. This would be a major DIY project; only the most experienced, intrepid crafters should attempt it.

Typically, adding a pergola with a sliding patio cover is the least expensive way to build an outdoor room. Another slightly more durable option is to add a polycarbonate patio cover kit to your existing or new pergola; read on to discover how polycarbonate covers work.

2. Aluminum/Polycarbonate Patio Covers

One drawback of choosing to build a pergola with a sliding patio cover is that the cover itself will not stand up to harsh weather. Such shades are intended for protection from the sun, not from rain or snow. For a somewhat larger cost, you can instead have an aluminum patio cover installed.

An aluminum patio cover includes a sturdy aluminum frame that supports clear shatterproof polycarbonate panels. Some patio cover brands, such as Sky Vue, even block 98 percent of harmful UV rays! And best of all, aluminum patio covers allow the light in while providing shelter from the rain. Finally, as mentioned above, you may be able to simply add a Sky Vue patio cover kit to your existing pergola.

3. Solid Patio Covers

Compared to an aluminum/polycarbonate patio cover, a solid patio cover generally comes with a higher price. However, that price may be worth it, depending on what kind of outdoor room you hope to create. Basically, a solid patio cover will match your home’s design by extending the roof out over a patio. This means you’ll still be able to enjoy a cool breeze while sitting on your patio, but you won’t have to worry about being chased inside by rain or snow.

Solid patio covers are available in a wide array of styles. Nearly any roofing material, from asphalt to tile, can be used to build a patio cover. You can even add a few skylights to make your patio space brighter. Finally, a solid patio cover allows for privacy; just throw up a few panels of trellis, for example, and you have a wonderful place for a hot tub.

4. Sun Rooms

Building a sun room is often the most expensive way of adding outdoor living space. Sometimes called a conservatory, a sunroom is a home addition built primarily of glass. The glass may be curved, straight or even roofed. A “cathedral” style sunroom has a tall, pointed roof made of glass. Some sunroom manufacturers also build solid-roof sunrooms, meaning that the home’s roof is extended over the patio, while the walls of the sunroom are made of glass.

Many homeowners appreciate how they can experience the outdoors year-round in their sunrooms. A sunroom is certainly a wonderful place to watch the sunlight changing throughout the day. However, if you are trying to save a little money, a sunroom may not be the best patio cover option for you. Depending on the manufacturer, a new sunroom may cost upwards of $50,000.

Whether you envision eating outdoor meals, meditating or just chillaxing in your new outdoor room, a patio cover can help expand your living area. Depending on the type of patio cover you choose, you can create a whole new outdoor room at an affordable price.

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