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Porch enclosures are often built as an enhancement or addition to an existing porch, though others are planned during the initial construction of a home, which means they will fit in seamlessly with the overall structure. Several types of porch enclosures exist, varying mostly in materials and design. Screen enclosures feature mesh screens that offer protection from bugs and some debris; other enclosures may feature windows that can be raised or lowered, or even removed from the frame to offer an open-air feel. Modular enclosures exist as well, allowing a user to change the layout or features of that enclosure.
Some porch enclosures are less permanent and offer flexibility in use. An awning, for example, will overhang the porch but will not enclose it entirely. Some awnings are even retractable, allowing the user to control how much cover and shade affects the porch space at any given time. A user can, for example, retract the awning when more sunlight is desired, and then feed it out when more shade is desired or when protection from light rain is necessary. Awnings are usually made from a durable fabric such as canvas or nylon to ensure strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal.
Pergolas are types of porch enclosures that offer some protection from the sun, but generally not much protection from the weather. They are open-air structures that feature strategically positioned slats that act as a roof. The roof is open between the slats; when the sun is shining at the right angle, the slats will provide shade to users sitting on the porch. Such a structure is useful for allowing creeping vines, thereby adding even more shade and protection.
Sunrooms tend to have a significant amount of windows set into a rigid frame. Such porch enclosures may be made from wood, vinyl, aluminum, or even steel, and the frames will accept windows of varying sizes. In many cases, the windows can be opened and closed as necessary, though overhead windows are likely to be fixed in the frame. The purpose of such rooms is to allow plenty of sunlight to reach the space while protecting inhabitants from the weather outside. The room can be heated naturally from the sunlight, providing a comfortable sitting space in winter months. An indoor garden will most likely thrive in such a space as well. Sometimes the windows can be replaced with screens to improve circulation of fresh air.