By Susan Towers
Builders are highlighting three-season rooms, sunrooms, and sun porches as not only extra living space but places to enjoy the outdoors while protected from the weather.
Tall windows and French doors augment what is the greatest feature of these rooms – natural light.
Yet the popularity of these rooms has also created a market for sunroom furnishings. No longer filled with basic, patio-variety chairs and couches, the sunroom of today can be a place to relax on luxurious couches and over-stuffed, reclining chairs. You can find every style of décor for your sunroom, from wicker to mahogany, and wrought iron to stainless steel.
Fabrics for chairs, couches, and window coverings are washable and elegant. These rooms are places to relax and to entertain. They can even challenge your passion for creativity, if you are of a mind.
The floor you choose for a sunroom helps create the mood and environment you want. Hard floors are popular, such as tile and wood, and even cement. Many people go with a vinyl standby, and then cover it with weaved rugs.
But what if you would like wall-to-wall carpet to muffle sound; to be soft on your bare feet; or to save a dropped dish, glass, or smart phone from breaking? If you haven’t shopped for outdoor carpet in a while, you will be surprised. Forget the hard, green-grassy plastic that you would never want in this room. Leave that for the boat dock or balcony.
Designed with your Sunroom in Mind
Many people have been using indoor carpets for their sunrooms, assuming their roof won’t leak and that the windows will be closed in a storm. Many consider indoor carpeting superior to any outdoor option, but in the semi-outdoor environment of the sunroom, rules are meant to be broken.
Indoor carpets, with their latex, water-soluble backings, plush piles, and propensity to suffer from mold and mildew, can make a bad choice for the sunroom. Most sunrooms don’t have both central air-conditioning and heating, which control humidity and temperature extremes. And, if they do have these air systems, they aren’t likely to be running them year around, especially in seasonal climates where people close up homes in either winter or summer. Many people, for example, have sunrooms in second homes that are not used in the winter.
How familiar is that musty aroma we discover upon visiting a beach house at the start of the season? Most indoor carpets are not designed to tolerate below-freezing temperatures or high humidity.
Outdoor carpets, on the other hand, are resistant to water, mold, mildew, and even to the sun’s intense, ultraviolet rays that fade and damage fabrics and fibers. Outdoor carpets are designed to keep their color and integrity as temperatures rise and fall.
Of course, saying that, you always need to check the guarantees of any product you buy. Generally, the outdoor carpet fibers are synthetic - polyester, polypropylene, and olefin. As natural insulators, they can make a sunroom feel warmer in the colder months and welcoming in the summer ones.
Color, Design, and Texture Options Abound
You may be surprised outdoor carpets come in an assortment of colors and textures. Manufacturers clearly have been targeting the sunroom market, just as designers have created fashionable outdoor furnishings. Carpet colors range from basic beiges and soft browns to bright reds and blues. They are available in patterns that can complement and coordinate with your furnishings. They also come in a variety of textures, some of which resemble grasses and sisal weaves.
Dollars & Sense
Outdoor carpet comes in varying price points to meet your budget. They can range from less than $1 a square foot for a low-grade style you might find in a do-it-yourself store, to around $6 or $8 a square foot for an upscale weave available in a better flooring store. It’s worth it to do a little shopping before making a decision.
Though durable, the less expensive carpets can be limited in design. The higher-end outdoor carpets are both luxurious and plentiful in design and texture choices. If you have French doors that open from the sunroom into the living room, for example, some of the luxurious styles will coordinate nicely with your living-room furnishings, too.
Outdoor carpet tiles also are available and can be priced from about $1.50 a square foot to $4 a square foot. Their advantage is that you can create unique patterns by using different colors and by laying them in varying directions. They also can be changed out if one area of the floor gets damaged.
Just make sure that the tiles are designed for outdoor use because many are available for indoor use only. For do-it-yourselfers, they are easy to install. No time for this project? Wall-to-wall carpet installation can be had for an additional $2 a square foot.
As you furnish a new sunroom, or remodel an existing one, think about outdoor carpet options. They can add warmth and charm to your sunroom. They can be used to highlight colors and textures in your furniture and accent pieces. They can help make this room feel like home.
Still not sure how to proceed with your sunroom's new look? Try out some ideas in House Tipster's 3D Virtual Rooms, which are all available online.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com and www.dreamstime.com