The Inside Outside Guys: Three-season rooms you can enjoy

Ken Calverley and Chuck Breidenstein
Special to The Detroit News

The days are starting to get longer and cabin fever has reached its acme, but those cool breezes make it prohibitive to sit on the back deck or front porch to enjoy the sun.

What if you had a three-season room off that back door where you could enjoy the extended evening sunlight without concern about a spring rain or night breezes?

It seems every home has a back deck or patio. In fact, well over 80% of homes in the U.S. have either a deck, porch, patio, balcony or a combination of several.

The downside to most rear decks and patios is that they are very limited in their use. Rain and wind keep us off them in late winter and early spring, while biting pests and extreme sunlight keep us inside as summer progresses.

This three season room has a gas fireplace.

The ideal compromise is an enclosed space that has the flexibility to shift with the weather.

The concept of a three-season room is nothing new to the housing industry, but the product and process has advanced significantly in the past few decades.

For many years, aluminum and fiberglass walls and roofs were added to existing patios and decks with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality. Narrow windows with a lot of intermediate posts were installed supporting lightweight roof panels that depended on a lot of tar and caulk to remain watertight.

Under-built decks might begin to sag after a few years under the additional load, and many homeowners were left with roof leak issues that allowed water to infiltrate the home’s sidewalls.

Not only were many of these under-built and inadequately supported, but they failed as true “three-season” rooms.

Floors installed over the existing deck allowed drafts and pests to infiltrate while lightweight roof panels did little to slow heat gain when the sun was overhead.

Suffice to say, that with the right company, today’s three-season room is not your father’s three-season room.

To begin, using an existing deck to support the addition of three walls and a roof is rarely a good idea, and would not likely be code compliant if it was.

In some cases, the existing deck must be removed and replaced, while in other situations you may be able to re-engineer the existing deck and strengthen it to support the new load.

Roof and wall tie-ins are a huge consideration with these projects. A good company is going to be expert at connecting the new addition to the existing house and roof mechanically such that we are not dependent on caulks and tars which we know will fail over time.

Roof and floor components today can be both structural and energy efficient. Use of SIPs, structural insulated panels, will provide strength and comfort on the floor while also minimizing thermal heat gain through the roof on those hot summer days.

For those homes with a balcony or deck above a walkout basement, there is roofing/decking product to channel rainwater away from the lower walkout patio and the foundation.

Of course, the real purpose of the three-season room is to be able to comfortably enjoy the view. Window options abound with everything from clear vinyl glazing that can be rolled up to expose the screens, to insulated glass units that may help extend the season and roll up sunscreens that disappear into overhead channels when not in use.

A truly great company will design each unit to the owner’s unique desires and custom build the windows to maximize the view.

Design options today include flat and vaulted ceilings and amenities such as ceiling fans and custom lighting.

If the room adjoins an open deck, there are beautiful, custom aluminum railings and decking available to provide a seamless aesthetic to the project.

So now that we’ve tempted you with all the great possibilities, where can you find a company to handle the project? At you will find our expert, Sunspace by Spectrum Remodeling, in Macomb. Owner Chris Rigney, like all our professionals, welcomes the chance to discuss your dream space.

Take a look outside and let your imagination take over.

 For housing advice and more, listen to the Inside Outside Guys every Saturday and Sunday on News/Talk 760, WJR-AM, from 10 a.m. to noon or contact us at