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multitiered deck and patio covered lounge area clarksboro nj

Patio Rooms vs Patio Enclosures: Designing an Outdoor Oasis

Want to escape the hubbub of the house while also keeping a certain distance between yourself and the elements (and those pesky insects)? Join the millions who are bringing the comfort and amenities of the indoors outdoors through the implementation of a patio room (aka outdoor room).

One of the bigger design considerations of a patio room is the degree to which it is enclosed. Let’s take a look at a few different approaches to creating your ideal outdoor oasis.

What’s the difference between patio rooms and patio enclosures?

The term patio room refers to any manner of fully or partially covered outdoor living spaces that are meant to be enjoyed during the warm months. They may be open from one or all sides, employing any vertical built or landscaped element to create walls (or the suggestion thereof).

As the name suggests, a patio enclosure is a type of patio room that is fully enclosed (thus sometimes referred to as an enclosed patio room), with a hinged or sliding entry door. Because patio enclosures possess proper walls and are better insulated, it’s possible to extend their use beyond summer (inspiring another alter-ego, the three-seasons room).

Patio enclosures can be constructed from any number of materials, from simple screens to insulated glass or vinyl. Here at Ayars, we have long been a proponent of the PGT Eze Breeze vinyl enclosure system.

Patio room design considerations

How you design your patio room — including whether or not you enclose it — depends ultimately on your intentions for the space, as well as what’s important to you. For instance, if you want to use it for dining and entertaining, then you’ll want to make sure it adjoins the kitchen for easy access to food and refreshments. Additionally, the space will have to be large enough to accommodate multiple guests. If you have the budget for it, you might consider installing a cooktop or wet bar outside to avoid the back and forth!

Conversely, if you are a more quiet, private person, you might nestle a detached patio room into a garden or more secluded area of your property and relish your surroundings (and perhaps a good book) with more exclusive company. Regardless of how you spend your time (and how much of it) in your covered outdoor living space, bear in mind that the International Residential Code (IRC) proscribes use as a habitable room — which changes it by definition to an addition, subject to different regulations and taxes.

For more food for thought, read up on our do’s and don’ts of outdoor living spaces.

Patio rooms top to bottom

Roofing

An enclosed patio room typically requires a full roof or roof extension, with the requisite framing and shingling. The three most popular types of roofs for patio enclosures are gable (open-faced triangular with two sides sloping out from a centerline), hipped (a closed-face triangular roof that has three or more sides sloping down from a common point), and shed (rectangular, downward sloping). Homeowners can get creative by incorporating glass ceilings or skylights for a more modern or greenhouse flavor.

For an unenclosed patio room, the playbook (like the space itself) is much more open. Cloth canopies, retractable roller shades, pergola structures, or any combination thereof are among the most popular roofing solutions. You might even try a green (living) roof to truly camouflage your space with the backyard, or employ ivy or some other species of creeping vine to fill in the gaps of a partial roof.

Walls and windows

Whatever you choose to play the role of “wall” in your outdoor patio room will have a tremendous influence on the privacy, ventability, and overall seasonality of the space. As we mentioned earlier, a patio room technically only requires the suggestion of walls to define its boundaries. Drapes, curtains, hedges, shrubs, pavers, fences, and/or latticework might all serve this function.

A patio enclosure demands framing (aluminum, fiberglass, wood) to hold screens and/or windows in place. The simplest enclosures will only include window screens, which will filter out the bugs, but not the weather. Glass windows and/or window walls offer the maximum insulation and UV filtration capabilities, but depending on the size of the enclosure, can represent a significant expense.

The Eze Breeze enclosure system’s vinyl-glazed panels represent an excellent compromise, with great flexibility in design. They can be configured either horizontally or vertically to fit any opening size, with a variety of venting options to effectively mimic the function of glass windows. A broad palette of tinting and color options makes it easier to adjust for privacy and aesthetics. The panels also pop out for stress-free cleaning and maintenance.

Flooring

Last but not least, we need to decide what we’re going to set our feet on. As with the other facets of our patio room, there is a wealth of options out there, from concrete, bricks, and pavers to more luxurious flagstone and ceramic tile flooring. Engineered materials (e..g vinyl plank flooring) and wood-look tiles can convincingly emulate other patterns and textures with savings in cost. Wood decking still has its advocates, but it does not weather seasonal changes well without consistent maintenance.

Patio room examples

Exterior home improvements are one of the pillars Ayars is built on, and to this day we take pride in designing and constructing beautiful outdoor living spaces for our clients, whether they be decks, porches, or patio enclosures. Here are a couple of examples from our portfolio to demonstrate how both an open and enclosed patio room can beautifully come to life.

Fully enclosed outdoor living room

This outdoor living room is a prime example of the PGT Eze Breeze vinyl porch enclosure system in practice. Like a classic indoor living room, the central feature is a fully operational fireplace, backed with Evolve Stone lightweight stone veneers and a custom-miter folded mantle fashioned from wire-brushed hemlock.

sewell nj outdoor living room with direplace

Open outdoor living room

This outdoor living room in Clarksboro, NJ comprises just one part of a bona fide outdoor entertaining complex, connecting to a more traditional deck, grilling and fire pit area, and in-ground pool. Attractively furnished and ringed with fairy lights, it also includes a ceiling-mounted television for watching the season’s hottest sporting events or just winding down after dinner with the family.

multitiered deck and patio clarksboro nj

Bring the indoors outdoors with Ayars

Are you itching to bring the indoors outdoors? The Ayars team is booked for Summer 2022, but would love to plan ahead for the seasons to come.

porch with gazebo sewell new jersey

Creating an Outdoor Living Space: Do’s and Don’ts

“Outdoor living space” has become the new buzz phrase in home and garden. It’s not that decks have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Or that porches and patios are passé. It’s just that homeowners have begun to expect a little more from their outdoors. Instead of seeing a lawn to mow or a deck to seal, they’re seeing opportunities to extend the utility and functionality of their indoor spaces into a seamless whole. 

Of course, there are subtleties to creating an outdoor living space that truly checks all the boxes. This month we’ll share some of the secrets to success, along with a few missteps to avoid.

Do: Consider usage

Before you can create your outdoor living space, you must first conceive your outdoor living space. It helps some people to visualize an outdoor room as they would an equivalent indoor room (e.g., an outdoor living room, outdoor kitchen, or outdoor sports bar).  A few major points to ponder:

  • What will it be used for? Entertaining? Relaxing? Your approach to things like location, features, privacy, and decor could be a lot different depending on the answer.
  • Who will be using it? Kids? Adults? Pets? All of the above?
  • How many will be using it at any given time? Do you regularly host big house parties, or would a smaller space for more intimate gatherings do?

Don’t: Neglect your surroundings

Your surroundings are absolutely critical when planning an outdoor living space. Pay particular attention to things like sun exposure, prevailing wind direction, sightlines both looking outward (ambiance) and inward (privacy), and grade — just like indoor rooms, outdoor rooms should be built on a level surface. And definitely do not overlook accessibility. For example, if you’re planning an outdoor kitchen, it’s advisable to be adjacent to your indoor kitchen to easily shuttle things back and forth.

mullica hill new jersey exterior trim improvements

Do: Incorporate vertical elements

Walls — or at least the suggestion of walls — help define the boundaries of an outdoor living space and create the sense of being in a room. Vertical elements such as hedges, trellises, curtains, or sliding doors can serve as capable substitutes if you cannot go the full brick and mortar route. 

Don’t: Completely close yourself off

On the flip side, closing off an outdoor room too much can seriously detract from its unique appeal. You’ll want to maintain some degree of openness to enjoy all that natural light and fresh air; otherwise, you’d be better off considering a home addition. Opt for a roof overhang, pergola, or other shade structure to keep the space nice and breathable. If you like the idea of a hybrid outdoor-indoor living space, Eze Breeze Enclosure systems are a beautiful and incredibly versatile middle ground that has proven immensely popular with Ayars customers over the years.

Do: Add visual interest and enhance atmosphere

Just like your favorite indoor hangout spots, your outdoor oasis or party zone can seriously benefit from some visual interest. There are all sorts of ways to enhance atmosphere, from landscaping to furnishings to lighting to artwork and decorations. Again, the layout and intended purpose of the space should dictate those decisions. 

For example, you might incorporate a fire feature — such as a fire pit or outdoor fireplace — to cozy up and bring people together when the temperatures drop after sundown. Alternatively, you might employ a water feature — such as a fountain or waterfall — to help you relax and get away from the crowd.

Don’t: Overwhelm

Conversely, there is such a thing as trying to do too much with a space. If it’s intended to be multipurpose, it may behoove you to visually divide the space up, whether that’s by varying surfaces, tiering or gating off sections, playing with furniture groupings, or using structural elements like a canopy or overhang to designate. 

Lighting can also be used to give visual cues about how an outdoor living space should be utilized and maneuvered through — but pay attention to placement and intensity. String lights are a tried-and-true, minimal-fuss solution for atmospheric lighting, as are LED-based candles and lanterns (of course, you could opt for the old-fashioned versions instead). Pendant lights and sconces are great for more sheltered areas, while low-voltage landscaping lighting is great for highlighting trees and other features in your backyard background. 

Do: Work with Ayars

Looking to tie your inside and outside worlds together? Definitely do talk to Ayars Complete Home Improvements about how you might make the most of South Jersey’s best months.