For those of us who squeeze the last moments out of the summer weather or love the outdoors no matter the season, a screened porch or a sunroom is a must. The chief differences between the two are in the materials and the finishing. Sunrooms are typically finished on the inside and outside with the same materials as the rest of the house (siding, drywall, glass windows) despite the fact that they are rarely insulated or heated. Screened porches can be as humble as a glorified porch or deck with a roof. Both will connect the indoors with the outdoors, increase the value of your home and add new living space. Deciding which to build relies mostly on how you plan to use the space and the portion of the year for which you would like to be able to use it.
A screened porch is a perfect way to be close to nature with protection from rain, hot sun and insects. A screened porch lets you feel the breeze and listen to the sounds of your backyard. Most find that they are functional during spring, summer and fall, and to extend the use as long as possible into late fall and early spring, you can add a gas chimney and fireplace. (Expect the neighbors to join you, often.)
If you expect to use your porch frequently as an extension of your home, a sunroom is a better choice, since it can be a three-season source of additional square footage that accommodates traditional indoor furniture. Sunrooms are often built adjacent to the kitchen or family room to create a breakfast nook or seating area, but some homeowners prefer to build with one or more doors between the sunroom and the rest of the home to give the sunroom a more private, room-like feel.
Screened porches are clearly more affordable to build than sunrooms, but are not as versatile and will require some maintenance. Once you decide which better suits your home and your lifestyle, you will be on your way to an enjoyable new way of experiencing your own backyard.