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Why Do Homes in Florida Have Lanais?

Florida homes mostly all have covered porch and pool areas called lanais. But why do they have them?

Florida homes have lanais to keep out the tropical heat and sun, and the heavy rains and winds associated with tropical storms. Lanais also help to keep out debris, leaves, and insects, which is especially important for covered eating areas and swimming pools.

Let’s dive down into the subject of Florida lanais in more detail, and discover everything you’ve ever wanted to know about them – and more 🙂

Why Do Homes in Florida Have Lanais?

What Are Lanais?

A lanai is an open-sided, roofed patio, veranda, or porch that is extremely popular in Hawaii. Many restaurants, homes, hotels, and apartment buildings in Hawaii are built with one or more lānais.

The exotic word “lanai” simply means a covered, outdoor porch area on the outside of Florida homes and condominiums. Lanais give inhabitants a place to relax and unwind from the comfort of their homes while enjoying the beauty of their surroundings.

Lanais protect more than a traditional porch because they usually have windows or screens. They give homeowners that coveted feeling of bringing the outdoors inside.

Why Do Homes in Florida Have Lanais or Covered Porches?

A tropical climate means that most days in Florida are hot and sunny, but unpredictable tropical storms or heavy rains come with that. During these days, residents want a cover while relaxing in an outdoor setting. That is what they get from their lanai.

Because a lanai is enclosed, it keeps out debris, leaves, insects, and other unwanted guests. It’s critical to have this protection if there’s a pool inside the lanai.

Because of pool safety requirements in Florida, screen enclosures are quite common while providing an excellent barrier to bugs and harsh sunlight. A plus on hot Florida days! Also, it keeps the pool cooler.

Generally, all lanai screens will block some of the sun’s rays. However, additional materials keep porches much cooler by eliminating up to 90% of the heat radiated from the sun.

When you enclose your lanai with windows, you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without bugs, leaves, and inclement weather. In addition, your lanai furniture is protected from the weather too.

If you decide to make a protected enclosure from an existing porch, a permit is needed. Because it is an extension of the “indoor” space of the home, enclosing a porch is considered an additional living space and subject to the same setback limitations as the house itself. A permit is required to complete this work.

Do You Have to Have a Screened Porch in Florida?

Most residents of Florida enjoy their lanais almost every day of the year. So the answer to the question is, you do need a lanai!

Any home without one is viewed as less desirable and hard to sell if you ever want to sell your home. Also, the direction your lanai faces also makes a difference, with pros and cons to each one.

Screen enclosures in Florida can last anywhere from five to twenty years. The different materials, weather, construction, and maintenance make a huge difference in determining if your enclosure will last a few years or many decades.

What’s The Difference Between a Lanai and a Florida Room?

A lanai is a roofed, outdoor area with open sides.

A Florida room is a living space addition built on the back or side of a home. The Florida room design usually consists of one or more glass walls and many windows, allowing for natural light and the best possible view of the landscape.

What’s The Difference Between a Lanai and a Veranda?

Verandas are roofed and wrap around the front of a home and can extend around the sides. Unlike the Hawaiian lanai, a veranda is used primarily in the South. Unlike a balcony that is elevated, a veranda is built as an addition on the ground floor.

How Much Are Lanais in Florida?

You can spend anywhere from $1,600 to $3,000 or so for a new screened-in lanai, and it can be customized according to the homeowner’s specifications. The average cost of a lanai can range from $22 to $75 per square foot installed.

The three different types of enclosures determine the cost:

Under-Truss Screen Enclosures

The enclosures are constructed within openings under the existing roof truss of a home and constructed on the existing footprint.  The framing, made of aluminum, is fabricated to accommodate the opening with a screen door.  Any screen type from polyester to fiberglass can be used. 

In most places, no permit is needed for an under-truss screen enclosure.  In terms of cost, they generally start at $1000 for a small opening that is perfectly square, and the cost increases from there. Most of them are under a $3000 price point, but for some large openings, complicated designs, or many architectural features, the price can go significantly higher.

Screen Enclosures Having a Screened Roof

These screened enclosures have a roof, made of screen, like a pool cage.  They also have an aluminum roof, with screen mesh over the top of it, projecting out from the footprint of the home.  They keep bothersome bugs out, leaves out of the pool drain, and you get the beautiful sunlight. 

For these enclosures, a permit is always needed to build a new one or replace an existing structure.  It is recommended that your screen enclosure have a high-quality screen. The finish on the aluminum extrusions should have a powder coating.  The frames can also be engineered in most areas of Florida for maximum viewing with spans at least 30 feet wide—and occasionally wider based on the local wind code.

The builder’s grade screen only lasts a few years, so it is suggested that a high-quality fiberglass screen be used, which gets you 7-9 years of life.  If you plan to retain the home for a while, a polyester screen is best.  There is also a polyester screen available if smaller bugs are a problem where you live.

A single story 20 × 40 screen enclosure with high-quality materials including permit in engineering, expect to spend around $12,000 for the structure only, not including the concrete foundation.

Screen Enclosures With Solid Roof

A screened enclosure with a solid roof is also called a screen room.  They are usually built where there is not enough patio space, adding a solid roof that can be used all the time. 

You want to make sure the roof is constructed of aluminum composite panels, or panels with an aluminum shell, and a high-density foam core for a stable and well-sealed structure. These panels provide insulation, maximum life and are optimized for minimal leakage with seams every 4 feet.

The most common size of screen room is a 12′ x 24′.  This size provides enough space for tables, chairs, and moving around.  Any size smaller than those dimensions is rather tight and somewhat limiting. For a 12′ x 24′ screen room, you could expect to pay an average of $10,000, including permit and engineering, but excluding concrete and foundation work, adding several thousand dollars to the price.

Florida lanai

Summary: Do Lanais Add Value to Your Home?

A screened-in lanai adds additional space to your home, increases its curb appeal, and adds value to your home. If you decide to sell your home, adding a lanai can increase its appeal to potential buyers, who may consider your home over another. Here are some other ways a lanai can add value to your property.

Extends Your Home

One of the main uses of a lanai is to offer Florida homeowners an extension of their home. With this useful addition, you do not need deckchairs outside your home. Instead, people can furnish their lanai with the same decor as inside.

With the addition of a lanai enclosure, you feel like you’ve extended your home with an extra room. You can enjoy your outdoor space the same as your indoor space if you install one of these enclosures—without losing the beautiful Florida views.

Raise Your Property Value

The benefits are immeasurable, so lanais have become a key point for many Florida home buyers looking for a property. Especially where there are beautiful views, home buyers expect lanai enclosures to be present in the outdoor space.

If you do not have a lanai, prior to listing your home for sale, invest in a lanai enclosure to increase the value of your home—then reap the benefits.

Add Privacy

A lanai will not block your scenic views, but it still adds a sense of privacy to the outdoor space. Screens can be challenging to see through from a distance, so an added layer will help to add a sense of privacy to your area.

Keeps Bugs Out

The mood outside can be dampened quickly by mosquitos or other pests. But you can keep them out by constructing a lanai enclosure.

Screening your outdoor space allows you to utilize your property entirely without worrying about insect-transmitted diseases.

Protect your property

These enclosures keep your patio furniture and other outdoor items clean and safe. Your furniture will not wind up down the block or become covered in dirt even during high winds.

Your lanai keeps everything contained and protected from the elements. A lanai also reduces cleaning by protecting enclosures from bugs, dirt, leaves, and more.

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >