You and your family love the outdoors, but you don’t always love the weather that comes with it. The interior of your home seems a little crowded, too, yet you don’t necessarily want to build a room addition. What do you do? Enter the lanai, often referred to as a lanai porch or lanai patio, an outdoor structure attached to your home that lets you extend your living space in various ways and enjoy the fresh air while remaining protected from the elements.
WHAT IS A LANAI PORCH?
A lanai porch is an enclosed structure that combines the design elements of a porch, veranda, and patio while also offering protection from the elements. A traditional lanai porch has a hard floor plus screens to keep out bugs but does not have glass windows. The porch can be at ground level but can also be elevated a few feet so that there are no steps between the lanai and the home interior. The difference between a lanai vs a standard porch is the latter can be in front of the house, while a lanai is only in the backyard.
Further Reading: Difference Between a Porch and a Patio
WHAT IS A LANAI PATIO?
The terms are often used interchangeably, but if you want to be technical, a lanai patio isn’t enclosed, whereas the porch is. Confused? We don’t blame you. A lanai porch can be fully enclosed with glass windows and doors, although it doesn’t have to be. It is always at ground level as a patio and must share at least one wall with the home. The difference between a lanai vs a standard patio is the latter doesn’t have a roof. Lanais can also wrap around the sides of the house to accommodate multiple outdoor entrances.
Further Reading: What is a Patio?
WHAT’S THE HAWAII CONNECTION?
The term “lanai” comes from the island of Lanai, known as the Valley Isle in Hawaii. These roofed, open-walled porches originated in the 1800s because of the islands’ warm climate. They have slowly evolved over the years. Most single-family homes in Hawaii have a lanai, while other warm areas like Florida and California have also adapted them. They offer easy access to a home through one or more entrances and can vary in size, style, and shape.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BUILDING A LANAI?
When you install a lanai, you get an outdoor, screened-in space that lets you enjoy warm weather without fighting mosquitos and other pesky bugs.
By screening in your lanai, you’ll also have a lesser likelihood of frogs, lizards and other warm-weather critters invading your outdoor relaxation area. Additional benefits provided by a lanai include:
- Increases your home’s value and curb appeal
- Extends usable living space
- Provides protection from inclement or hot weather
POPULAR LANAI PORCH IDEAS, MATERIALS AND OPTIONS
For lanais at ground level, creating an enclosure for an in-ground pool is one of the most popular. These can become quite showy with angled glass roofs to let in sunlight and give your lanai a resort-like feel.
Other common uses include:
- Outdoor dining areas leading from a kitchen or dining room
- Bars with stools and tropical lighting
- Complete outdoor kitchens
- Seated conversation areas with comfy furniture
LANAI SCREENED IN PORCH MATERIALS
Aluminum and stainless steel are the most popular screen materials, as they are also the most economical, making them ideal for homeowners on a budget.
Fiberglass is even more inexpensive but tends to tear easily, so you may have to replace the screens frequently.
Vinyl-coated polyester is another choice, especially if you want a non-corrosive material that can withstand high winds.
Choose copper for a high-end look; this shiny metal will make your lanai sparkle. Just remain aware that if your area is prone to harsh storms, copper damages easily.
ADDITIONAL LANAI ENCLOSURE MATERIALS
For the base, you’ll need a paved foundation made of concrete, stone, bricks or tiles. You can keep an existing wall as is or place wallboard and finish it with paint for a more refined look.
Timbers are a popular means of support for screens and exterior walls. If you prefer to enclose the area entirely but still want an open feel, multiple large sliding glass doors will allow you to keep colder air, wind, and rain out on stormy days while allowing warm air in on sunny days.
HOW MUCH WILL A NEW LANAI PORCH ADDITION COST?
If you already have a patio adjacent to your home or a porch suitable for an upgrade, you’ll save a lot of money by only adding the walls and the screens to enclose the space.
The cost to enclose your area with screens runs between $520 for a small 80-square-foot lanai to $5,200 for a sizeable 400-square-foot relaxation area. The mesh for screens averages about $4.50 per square foot, not counting labor.
You’ll need to add that cost if you don’t have a roof. Building a new lanai from scratch is much more expensive. Remember, the larger and fancier your design is, the higher the cost.
Low-cost lanais start from around $800 for a simple, small, covered structure to over $50,000 for a lanai with all the bells and whistles.
Related Reading: Patio Cover Cost Per Square Foot | Patio Enclosure Cost Per Square Foot | Patio Remodeling Costs
MODERN LANAI PORCH IDEAS
Would you like some inspiration for using your lanai? Here are a few.
CREATE A BOOK NOOK
Let’s say you have an outdoor passageway between your home and your garage. Bump out the walls, so the passage becomes wider than a sidewalk, add screens and an attractive roof, and you have a beautiful entryway that you can use for convenient storage when you don’t want to head out to the garage. Add several chairs, a table and enclosed shelves or racks, and you have a cozy book nook.
FIRE PIT GATHERING AREA
Does your area get cool at night? Place a firepit near the screened opening and surround it with comfy outdoor chairs for your nightly chats. A fireplace will do the same but with a more formal setting.
CONSIDER THESE ACCENTS
Customize your space and make it unique. Here are some ideas:
- Add curtains to divide areas
- Install ceiling fans for hot days
- Place tropical plants for natural decor
Related Reading: Compare Screened Porch Ideas