What is the Difference Between a Sunroom and a Conservatory?

Most people use the term sunroom and conservatory interchangeably. There are some slight differences, but the average homeowner doesn’t make this distinction. A sunroom and a conservator are both rooms that are on the side of the home. They are normally on the south side of the home to maximize sun exposure. The will both have glass walls on three sides. Both types of room will have great views of the outside garden or lawn.

We’ll cover all the differences and similarities you would ever want to know about sunrooms in our exhaustive guide below.

The differ because a conservatory is mainly a metal frame with glass walls in between, and it will frequently also have a glass roof. It will normally not be connected to the central HVAC system. It will also often be lean on insulation when compared with a sunroom. Because of these reason, conservatories often don’t meet the criteria to be considered as part of a homes total square footage.

Sunrooms will often have traditional walls at the ground to to waist level and then very large windows to let the light in. The built out walls will contain the electrical wiring and the HVAC ducts where necessary. They also will often have more traditional ceilings, but many sunrooms have glass panels as skylight to let some light in.

A sunroom that is connected to the HVAC and is a continuation of the home normally meets the criteria of livable space meaning that it can be included in the total square footage calculation when selling the home.

What’s the difference between a sunroom roof and a conservatory roof?

Conservatory roofs are made of glass panels positioned in between metal framing. This provides the maximum amount of light, and it’s ideal if you want to use the space to grow plants.

Sunrooms may have a glass roof, but they may also have a traditional tile or shingle roof. Sometimes people will want a glass panel as a skylight to allow even more light to get in. Sunroom roofs are more sturdy and they will blend in with the home better. hink you should look at the addition shouldn’t be more than 10% of the value of the home. If the home is worth $300k then $30k is the absolute most I’d consider investing into a sunroom.

Is a conservatory a sunroom?

Yes. Sunroom is a generic term that applies to a room that has a lot of windows to maximize the light. Conservatory is a specific type of sunroom so if someone is using that term they are specifying that the room has specific features.

An easy way to think about this is if someone tells you they have an automobile or a Tesla. If you know someone has an automobile, you simply know it’s a vehicle that could be a car or truck. It likely has 4 wheels, and it’s purpose is to move between places.

If someone tells you they have a Tesla, you immediately have an image of a specific electric powered car. There are some nuances to which Tesla model they have, but using the term Tesla is far more precise.

This same holds true for sunroom and conservatory. The term conservatory is far more precise and therefore has a connotation of several attributes.

What is the history of conservatory rooms?

Conservatories originated in the 1500s when homeowners wanted a place to grow plants that wouldn’t survive as well outdoors. The grew in popularity in England in the 1800s. This allowed affluent homeowners the ability to grow plants from around the world. The room was used a lot like a greenhouse. (source:) Conservatories are less common in homes in the US. There is a major conservatory in Pittsburgh called Phipps Conservatory. Another perk of the traditional roof is that it can more easily be used to install a ceiling fan. This will conceal the wiring, and it will also provide an easier way of connecting the brackets.

Both types of roof have their own advantage, and this is ultimate a decision for the individual homeowner.

Sunroom Construction vs Conservatory Construction Conservatories ?

Conservatories will often come in kits that can be assembled an attached to a home. They will also normally start with an open space of land whether that’s a concrete slab or simply lawn.

Sunrooms will be less likely to come in a premade kit and instead use traditional building materials. Homeowners can convert their a covered patio or carport to a sunroom.

What are conservatories used for?

Conservatories can be used for many purposes. This could be a scenic home office, a dedicated room to grow plants, or a semi-outside area to place a hot tub. The lack of insulation means it’s not somewhere I’d suggest using for a bedroom.

It could be used as an alternate dining area or a place to entertain guests. I think the key is that conservatories are a space that’s used as the weather permits and not something that must be used regardless of outside temperature.

Conservatories vs Sunrooms for Plants?

Both conservatories and sunrooms are fantastic for plants. They will both provide ample light for the plants to grow. The sunroom will have a better ability to regulate temperature, but if this isn’t something you want you could crack slightly open a few windows.

Conservatories have the advantage of being all glass in the walls and ceilings. This will let in more light than sunrooms, but either should be sufficient for most plants.

The only caveat is that if you are adding a room expressly to use as a greenhouse to grow plants, you may be better off explicitly adding a conservatory than a sunroom.

Conservatories vs Sunrooms for Pets

When it comes to adding a room for your pet, we prefer a sunroom to a conservatory for a couple reason. The temperature swings will be less. This will make a more comfortable environment for your pet. Because part of the walls are made of opaque material, he/she will have the ability to get some shade when it wants to.

Costs of Conservatories vs Sunrooms

Sunrooms will be slightly more for a similar quality and size conservatory. Sunrooms will require wiring and HVAC access. Sunrooms will also require more labor construct. Conservatories can come from premade kits that are simply assembled and attached to the home. Both sunrooms and conservatories will be several thousand dollars so they are an investment in your home.

What are conservatories used for?

Conservatories can be used for many purposes. This could be a scenic home office, a dedicated room to grow plants, or a semi-outside area to place a hot tub. The lack of insulation means it’s not somewhere I’d suggest using for a bedroom.

It could be used as an alternate dining area or a place to entertain guests. I think the key is that conservatories are a space that’s used as the weather permits and not something that must be used regardless of outside temperature.

Wrapping up

The sunroom is a beautiful addition to any home. We’ve compiled all the best tips, tricks and FAQs to help you make an informed decision on how to add one of these rooms onto your house. Whether you want something low-maintenance or need some guidance in choosing the right materials, we have it covered for you!

So what are you waiting for? Head over to our complete guide to sunrooms now and get started with this great guide that will equip you with every bit of information necessary when designing your own sunroom today. That’s our complete guide comparing sunrooms to conservatories. We have written an exhaustive guide to sunrooms if you have more questions.

As a reminder, we are a community of average homeowners who enjoy DIY home projects. If you have added or upgraded a sunroom to your home, we’d love to hear from you. How did the project go? Are there any tips you’d like us to share with the other readers of the blog?

Last Updated:November 28, 2022