Help me turn my ugly sunroom into something less hideous!
June 21, 2010 6:04 AM   Subscribe

i want to fix up the sunroom in my house and I need a little guidance, as this is beyond some of the other home repair stuff we've done.

Basically, I have a little sunroom with windows all around, a crappy, crappy, sagging ceiling, and ugly, crappy, fake grass carpeting over a normal deck/porch flooring. What we really want to do is replace the flooring with something better (but not super fancy/expensive) and take out the ceiling, and have the space open to up to the roof, with a nice ceiling fan to cool everything off. The sunroom has it''s own roof (picture a mini house roof that comes to a point in the center of the room. We've pulled off one panel of the crappy drywall ceiling and found that it's a fully framed out roof with horizontal cross pieces (ie. the bottom of a triangle formed with the two diagonals of the roof) that run across the entirety of the room. Can we take some of those out, and how do we determine which of those are necessary to maintain the structure of the roof? Secondly, we obviously need something up on the ceiling... I guess we could put drywall across the support beams going up, which would allow us somewhere to hide the cables for the electricity, but I do think there's something a little cool about the beams being exposed (just not the plywood and nails from the roof).

As far as the flooring goes, it was suggest to me to just lay down a thin layer of styrofoam for insulation (the sunroom is on the 2nd floor (it's a split level house) with a outdoor storage area underneath) then just plywood sheeting and then whatever flooring choice we pick on top of that. Does that sound good? That will make a little step down between the sunroom and outside porch and mean that the door will be lower than the floor, but the door opens out anyways, so how necessary is that to fix?

Finally, with it being all windows, is it a bad idea to replace the crappy plasticy window sills on the inside with actual wood ones?

I'm looking for any advice/books to read/websites to peruse that may help us. We are generally fairly handy people who have done a bunch of work on the house ourselves (and thanks to my parents, my husband has experience drywalling a ceiling), but we just aren't quite sure all the steps we need to take here. Thanks!
posted by katers890 to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The rafters (what you are calling "horizontal cross pieces") are almost certainly structural. You might be able to rid of some of them, but not all (think what happens to a strong triangle when you take away one of its sides), but only in consultation with your local building inspector, an experienced carpenter, or (if you want to really pull out the stops) a structural engineer.

People often put beadboard or a pretty wood (eg ceder, fir, etc) on the inside of the roofing plywood; you could also just paint the ply.

Regarding your idea for the flooring, check your local building codes -- in some places, you are not allowed to put in small steps like that because they are a trip hazard, too small for people to notice.
posted by Forktine at 6:13 AM on June 21, 2010

I got to hear all about a house being renovated a while ago. One of the problems that they had was that people laid new floors over the ones already there (there was carpet, they put plywood down on top of the carpet, and then linoleum tile). On the second floor, the extra weight of the added flooring made the floors sag. One room looked like a bowl.
posted by galadriel at 6:40 AM on June 21, 2010

Response by poster: well, we have plenty of engineers and construction/architects to consult with should we need too, but I was hoping for some starting points to determine what needs to be done before I start bothering friends and extended family.

And galadriel, we are pulling up the carpet, and there is not real flooring underneath, just a deck, so I'm not worried about the floors sagging.

As far as the step, there is a step down into that room, so we could level it off to that point I guess and then have the step down be out to the porch.
posted by katers890 at 4:53 PM on June 21, 2010

I took a look in my sunroom today. It's a south-facing room, almost entirely windows, in Florida; it gets a LOT of sun. The windowsills are all wood and seem fine; the house is 25-ish years old.

If there's a storage area under the decking, can you put insulation underneath it instead? Then you wouldn't have to worry about the step-up, and probably could use more effective insulation than styrofoam board.
posted by galadriel at 8:04 PM on June 21, 2010

Response by poster: Insulation underneath might be possible, right now there is none, which hasn't been a big deal as that room was mostly to ugly to use and being in MA there is only so much of the year you can you use it anyways. However, I'm not sure we want just the porch decking as our flooring anyways (and being porch decking there isn't really normal floor space to build off under it), so something would have to go on top of it. I did manage to find a nifty site that showed me ways to get rid of some of the joists safely (Framing a Cathedral ceiling) so headway is being made!
posted by katers890 at 5:54 AM on June 22, 2010

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