Conservatories and orangeries
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How to create a space you'll love, including how to make sure the temperature is just right.
To make sure you keep using your conservatory for years after building it, getting its look and feel right is crucial. Make the wrong decisions now, and you could end up with an uncomfortable space that you regret.
You've probably already imagined enjoying breakfasts in the sun, curling up with a book to the sound of raindrops overhead, or impressing your friends and family with a dinner party under the stars.
But to to make all that happen, you'll need to think carefully about the interior. Your positioning of doors, air vents, electrical sockets and light fittings will all impact how easy to use your conservatory becomes, and your choice of furniture, flooring and blinds will put your own stamp on your new space.
Take a look at our gallery for inspiration, and read on below to find out more details.
Getting the temperature right in your conservatory is key. Having one that is too hot or too cold is a common and very frustrating issue.
When we asked Which? members* about the temperature of their conservatory, 43% said it was 'good' but 11% said it was 'poor' or 'very poor', and 33% said it was 'fair'.
To ensure you avoid other annoying mistakes visit our conservatory pitfalls page, in which we reveal the common problems suffered by other conservatory owners and offer expert advice to stop you making the same errors.
Doors, windows, roof vents, sockets and lights
There are lots of options when it comes to doors and windows. Think about the following things before you make your decisions:
- How many windows and doors do you want?
- What type of doors would you like?
- How big do you want them to be?
- Where would you like them to be?
- How far do you want them to open?
To help you answer these questions, think about how you're likely to use the room. What time of day are you going to use it most often, and where will the sun be at those times?
You can choose single or double doors, folding doors or sliding doors. Where they are will affect how you can lay out furniture in your conservatory and how much useable space you have, so you'll need to think about how you want to arrange the layout early on.
Roof vents are often a feature you have to pay extra for, but can be worth it to keep your conservatory cool, particularly if it's south facing and will get a lot of sun.
Remember that the location of electrical sockets, radiators, doors and any TV aerial sockets will also affect how you can position furniture.
Heating your conservatory
There are a number of ways you can heat your conservatory, so it's important that you make the right decision for your needs and budget.
You could extend the pipework of your existing central heating system to add radiators in your conservatory. It's likely to cost a bit more to install, but will be fairly efficient in the long term - particularly if you have a modern gas boiler.
If you're on a time-of-use electricity tariff, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10, you could install a storage heater.
You could also use portable electric fan heaters. These are cheap to buy and offer flexibility, although they are likely to be expensive to run for long periods. So make sure you get one that's quick to warm up, is energy efficient and quiet - see our Best Buy electric heaters.
Another popular way to heat conservatories is to install underfloor heating, something a lot of people choose to do when having a new room added to their home.
We've spoken to experts and underfloor heating owners to find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of underfloor heating, including how much it costs to install. See our guide to underfloor heating to find out more.
Top tip: Whatever you choose, our experts told us it's a good idea to be able to operate your conservatory's heating system on a separate circuit and thermostat to the rest of your home. This will give you more control over its temperature and minimise any wasted energy.
Cooling your conservatory
Think about the number of opening windows and vents your conservatory will include. The more you install, the easier it will be to keep your conservatory cool.
Air conditioning can stop it from getting too hot, although it may stop you from being able to open the windows and doors - if you did this, it would make the air conditioning ineffective.
Ceiling fans are a cheaper option. These can cost between £50 and £200 or more, and can also incorporate a light fitting.
You may want to install blinds, which can help stop glare. Conservatory blinds can be expensive, especially if they're made bespoke, so it's worth getting some ideas on the cost of blinds for your conservatory before you decide if this is the right solution for you.
Blinds are an important investment - they can give you some much-needed privacy, help make your conservatory much cooler and protect your furnishings from sun damage.
You can choose window blinds and/or ceiling blinds, depending on how overlooked your conservatory is and how much sun it gets. Blinds can be made of fabric, plastic or wood.
If you want to splash out, you can also buy reflective blinds to minimise glare, or opt for electric blinds to save manually winding them up and down at different times of the day.
But whatever kind you get, conservatory blinds can be expensive, so factor in this cost early on.
A lot of people go for a tiled floor in their conservatory - they're easy to keep clean and hard to damage.
Other options for flooring in a conservatory are carpet, vinyl, laminate and wood flooring. Find out more about these last two options with our guide on how to buy wood flooring.
When deciding which type of flooring to choose, think about how you will use your conservatory. If it's primarily as a living space, carpet might be a decent option. Alternatively, if you want to keep the outside doors open regularly and will have pets and children running between inside and out, tiles, vinyl or laminate will probably be more practical and easier to clean.
Insulating your floor will stop the conservatory losing heat. You may also want to consider underfloor heating - especially if you're going to have a tiled floor.*(In March 2018, we surveyed 118 Which? members about their experiences of buying a conservatory in the past five years and experiences with cost in the past five years.)