The following are simply recommendations. Please consult your local building codes for more information on foundation requirements in your area.
Conservatories under 200 square feet are commonly referred to as “hobby-sized.” In these cases pressure-treated lumber can be bolted together to form a foundation. Conservatories less than 6′ x 8′ can be constructed on a foundation of one tier of lumber. A 10′ x 12′ structure will require two tiers of lumber to create a solid foundation. For added strength, two foot sections of rebar should be inserted into the ground and be fastened to the lumber base.
If you have questions about if a wood foundation is right for you, please contact a professional. More information on wood foundations can be found here: wood foundations.
A stronger foundation is necessary with a conservatory larger than 200 square feet. Options include: a concrete slab, a continuous concrete footing around the perimeter, or a concrete block footing. The concrete slab can be reinforced with wire mesh and it is suggested the concrete floor be at least 4″ thick and should be thicker around the perimeter to handle the load of the building. Footings should extend below the frost line to prevent damage to the conservatory’s frame and glazing. If you are pouring concrete, the trench must be large enough to accommodate wooden forms. Remember to install necessary utility lines and be sure to excavate deep enough to bury plumbing and electrical conduit. A concrete block footing should extend a minimum of 6″ above grade to form a knee wall. Tying a conservatory to a foundation or footing is crucial and achieved by embedding anchor bolts into concrete.
Waterproofing can be achieved by coating the foundation in a waterproof compound or underlying the concrete slab with a polyethylene moisture barrier. Surrounding the foundation with insulation panels will aide in the retention of heat in the structure.
Learn how to properly waterproof your foundation at: ConcreteNetwork.com.
Knee walls (sometimes referred to as “base” or “pony” walls) are a common feature of conservatories. Incorporating a knee wall is typically more cost effective than extending glass walls entirely to the ground. Applying a stone or brick veneer directly to a concrete knee wall will provide a classic aesthetic.
Solar recommends insulating the knee wall to compliment heating and cooling systems. Knee walls are typically between 30″ and 36″ tall.
The flooring you select for your conservatory is very important, as it is needed to be appropriate for the room’s intended usage. Solar Innovations, Inc. does not supply materials or labor for flooring, but we can make suggestions based on the conservatory’s primary function.
Carpeting and area rugs can help warm a conservatory. This material is inviting and comfortable underfoot. Please note: Carpeting is not recommended in structures with high moisture, like greenhouses and pool enclosures.
Tile is durable, easy to clean, and has nearly limitless options. A slip resistant or textured tile should be used in moist environments to help avoid slips and falls.
Cork is a common conservatory flooring option. This soft material is an appropriate option for homes with children and for rooms where people may spend time sitting on the floor frequently. Cork flooring is relatively impact resistant and will resist scratching. In conservatories with heavy foot traffic, such as a kitchen, this option provides comfort while standing because of its cushioning effect. Cork comes in a variety of colors and numerous patterns. The bark from a cork tree can be repeatedly harvested every nine years and turned into flooring, making cork an environmentally conscious, sustainable option.
Hardwood flooring is the traditional choice for conservatories. Hardwoods are available in many species and stain finishes, along with wide and narrow plank options. Some hardwoods have a uniform color while others are variegated to provide a “high impact” visual effect. Wood flooring may seem like a large initial investment, but generally lasts longer when compared to a vinyl or laminate floor. Hardwood floors can be refinished after years of use and appear brand new.
Stone floors are hard underfoot but can act as thermal mass to store the day’s heat. That heat is then radiated back into the structure at night. This flooring is durable and resists impact. Marble tile is a classic flooring option, adding sophistication to any conservatory; however, marble is porous and stains easily, so it should not be used in high traffic areas. Slate flooring is another option that is durable, withstands wear and tear, is resistant to stains, and has texture. Granite flooring is a popular option with similar properties to slate, but has more color options available.
Concrete flooring is the most economical selection for conservatories and is growing in popularity. It can be stained or painted in various patterns and colors to create a more attractive appearance, because it is durable and easy to clean. Concrete is often used in raw form to provide a modern aesthetic. It is best to discuss flooring options with your builder before the foundation is poured.
For an in-depth look at how to choose the proper flooring for your conservatory you may find this article on CUS.net helpful.