A Delightful Sun-Filled Sunroom

Sunroom - interior view

This addition has to qualify as one of the most delightful and satisfying projects I have done in some years. It proved to be challenging, and two wild turkeys looked on in amusement, as we shall see! The owners are a retired university professor, a lover of classical music, and his wife, a former teacher. He wanted a sun room that affords uninterrupted moments listening to the masters, Chopin and Bach. Her primary interest was an excellent view of the back yard with its magnificent cedar trees.

Pouring concrete

Pouring concrete

Levelling the concrete slab

Levelling the concrete slab

The dining room’s rear door led to an old, non-descript screened porch. I had no trouble visualizing how the existing porch could be transformed into a year-round sun room. However, complicating the task was a lovely cedar tree. Side yard access limited the machinery I could bring into the back yard. I braced myself for rounds of heavy manual labor!

With my son’s help, I dug the footing trenches by hand, chopping through tree roots—it’s not a problem for this aging but willing worker!—and dispersed the soil in the far corners of the yard, under the trees. With a rented cement buggy my wife, son and I hauled concrete from the street and poured both footings and a concrete slab without incidence. Driving my van through the narrow side yard proved to be a challenge: one day it sank up to its belly in rain-softened soil! I had to hire a tow truck to haul me out! A pair of wild turkeys looked on with apparent amusement!!

Sunroom - interior view

Sunroom interior

The finished sunroom - side view

View from the side

The existing siding is made of redwood boards which are no longer available (thank goodness!!). I used fiber cement board siding and composite trim on the addition. Why not wood, you may ask? Cement board siding does not “breathe” moisture as wood does. It is able to retain a coat of paint without the paint flaking. Fiber cement board siding is warranted 50 years and composite trim 30 years. These products look like real wood.

Now a word about exterior paint. Sherwin Williams makes “Duration” brand paint, with the claim that it will look better than you and I in 20 years! Needless to say, I am extremely impressed with this top-of-the-line product. Two weeks later I still find myself cleaning stubborn paint off my fingernails! A gallon costs well over $50.00. Considering the warranty it is well worth the expense. On the down side, this type of paint does not apply as easily as most house paints.

Windows and doors are Pella products. Triple glazed, they have shades between-the-glass. The interior pine trim went through a three- stage staining process, expertly applied by my son. It matches the existing trim color. A laminate floor by Armstrong lies on moisture shedding, interlocking OSB sub floor panels. They add thermal value.

The wrap-around deck is made from pressure treated yellow pine. Pine tar will have to be cleaned off periodically with a power washer. Pine tar is the reason I installed a commercial-type hand rail system. Its white finish is guaranteed for life.

You may be wondering how a deaf contractor can build an acoustically correct sun room! I know that the ceiling, walls and the floor need to have sufficient mass. Glass walls will hardly do! But wait, the woman wanted a pure view of the back yard … and the man wanted pure sound! Hmmm … I think I managed to please them both, for to this day I have not received a complaint! Should the need arise, I am ready to custom-build a Shaker style, 9’ wide folding door to close off the existing dining room from the sunroom.

The cost (2006) for sunroom and deck: $35,000
From start to finish: 2 months
A viewing can be arranged.

The finished sunroom - back view

The finished project!

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