Welcome to Sunroom Installation Training by Craft-Bilt.
Sunrooms can require many types of expertise:
- water control/flashing techniques
You should possess all of these skills or employ contractors or employees with these skills.
We have tried to make this course generic in nature so that it would apply to many different systems, not just those made by Craft-Bilt. Use this course as a guide in best practices, but be sure to follow the specific installation guide, connection details and loading for your Craft-Bilt sunroom or other manufacturer’s sunroom.
This course consists of a total of 9 lessons:
Sunroom Construction Planning – Lesson 1
Sunrooms and patio covers are subject to the same loads as the buildings they are attached to, like wind and snow. A building permit is required.
A reputable manufacturer will have engineered their sunroom to meet these loads. They should be able to furnish:
- Standardized drawings to show how the product is connected to the existing structure
- Standardized drawings to show how its proprietary components are connected to each other
- Load Tables for proper product selection
Job-specific drawings outline the exact size of the sunroom, exactly where the sunroom will be installed on the building, how the deck will be built and other items unique to that particular project. Job-specific drawings are drawn by either:
- The homeowner
- A 3rd party drawing service that you hire. This could be a local designer of your choosing, or your manufacturer may offer this service.
Together, the standard details and job-specific drawings will be used for the building permit application. In Ontario, the person providing the drawings must have BCIN accreditation and will provide his Schedule 1 document to include with the permit package.
All sunroom manufacturers provide installation guides for their products. You must provide all the necessary documents in order for your installers to install the sunroom properly.
- Provide manufacturers installation guide
- Provide the manufacturer’s standard details, which include: fastener information (gauge/qty/spacing), load tables and other connection details
- Provide the job-specific drawings
Manufacturer documents contain proprietary information and must not be shared with any other parties other than what is necessary to obtain the building permit.
Homeowners who are installing or arranging their own installation should be aware that there is no labour warranty, and many aspects of a factory warranty will be based on proper installation.
Sunroom Product Selection – Lesson 2
Different components are required for different wind and snow loads. You must familiarize yourself with the loads in your area. Based on this knowledge, you can safely select the right components for your sunroom project:
Thicker roof panels will hold more snow
Higher snow loads will require more fasteners
In certain areas of Canada, wind may dictate increased fastener qty/spacing
The mullions (columns) or headers may need to be beefed up based on local snow load or column spacing
Column spacing (distance between the wall sections) may be limited by local snow load
Your manufacturer will provide load tables and connection details to assist with proper component selection.
It is your responsibility to purchase the proper components for your project. Your sales team should be familiar with these things so they can specify the right materials and properly price the jobs.
Sunroom Addition Building Permits & Codes – Lesson 3
A sunroom requires a building permit. You can provide the homeowner with all the necessary documentation so they can get the permit themselves, or you can act as their agent. You can hire a local drawing service, or your manufacturer may also provide this service. In Ontario, unless the drawings are done by the homeowner, the drawing service must have BCIN accreditation.
Whether the homeowner gets the permit or you do, you must do your best to ensure that the installed sunroom and deck comply with local building codes and manufacturers’ connections and load tables.
Your building permit package will include:
- Permit application (obtained from the building department)
- Job-specific drawings (deck, footers, location on the house, elevations, etc.)
- Designer Schedule 1 (Ontario only)
- Survey (you can make a copy of the homeowner’s survey and draw the location of the sunroom on it)
- Manufacturer’s standard details, including fastener information, connection details, and load tables
You should make a checklist of all the items required in a building permit application for your city. In addition, you may be using other products that require additional documentation, such as helical piers or SIP floor panels.
Your permit application will first be vetted by the Planning Department and checked for compliance with zoning bylaws. For example, You may need to make the sunroom smaller due to set-back limits from the front or rear lot lines. If the proposed sunroom is too close to the side lot line, it can be made narrower, moved over, or it may remain in the proposed location with a reduction in the amount of glass in that wall or no glass at all. In addition, that wall may require different construction to meet fire codes.
Health & Safety – Lesson 4
Each Province has its own health & safety legislation. Management and workers each have a part to play in providing a safe workplace, each has their own responsibilities.
Some of the things that management is responsible for include:
- Make sure all necessary safety equipment is available. i.e. safety glasses, harness etc.
- Make sure equipment has proper guards
- Make sure equipment is in proper working order
- Have an H & S policy in place
- Conduct regular H & S meetings with workers, supervisors & management
- Resolve issues in a timely manner
Workers have a responsibility for Health & Safety as well:
- Do not disable safety features. i.e. cut-off saw & grinder guards should not be removed, and do not pull the ground pin out of extension cords
- Wearing approved footwear, safety goggles, etc. and other items as directed
- Workers can refuse work if they believe it will result in immediate harm
This course should not be taken as your sole resource for Health & Safety. Provincial legislation requires that you be familiar with the rules & regulations for your particular province.
If you hire a subcontractor, you must obtain a clearance certificate.
Homeowners who are installing or arranging their own installation should be aware that they are responsible for health and safety on the job site and will be liable for injury to workers.
Sunroom Deck – Lesson 5
The sunroom must be built on a deck that is level and square and built to code. Building your deck & footings to support conventional framing will suffice since sunroom components are lighter.
Steps should be taken if the house wall is not plumb. Slight variations could involve simple shimming of the sunroom wall track. Larger variations may require 2×4 or 2×6 fixed to the wall and shimmed plumb. Some retailers may order the wall system with fill panels at the wall tracks, which can be trimmed on-site to allow for out-of-plumb situations.
Bear in mind that out of plumb situations, adding 2x’s or trimming filler panels may change the size of the room and subsequently the deck. If the deck is already built and now the wall is too long, this can be addressed by adding plywood or 2x’s to the front of the deck.
The deck must have a minimum of double thickness rim joist on all sides. For sunroom walls thicker than 3″, use a triple rim joist.
A sunroom can also be built on a concrete slab built to code. This means the slab has a minimum four-foot deep footing or deeper as required by code. Be careful to pour the slab level, as most concrete contractors will assume the slab needs to slope away from the house.
Flashing The Deck – Lesson 6
Proper flashing prior to building the sunroom walls is a critical part of a water-tight installation. In addition to the techniques shown here, you should be familiar with the concepts of flashing and how it is used to direct rain away from the structure.
Begin by applying waterproof membrane (blue skin, ice/water shield, or equivalent) to the top and face of the deck.
Apply a flashing that will sit underneath the sunroom wall system and extend down the face of the deck approximately 2″. The flashing should extend inside the room and inch or two to allow the placement of nails to tack it in place. These nails will be removed after the floor tracks are installed.
Seal flashing overlaps well.
Finish off the face of the deck with an ‘L’ flash that slips underneath the top flashing. It is a good idea to apply this lower cap towards the end of the project. This will avoid the cap being scratched or scuffed during the sunroom installation.
Concrete slabs will be flashed similarly, however, the lower ‘L’ flash will not be used. Sometimes it is impractical to use flashing on concrete, for instance, if the slab is larger than the sunroom there is no practical way to apply the flashing that will help control the water. In this case, the floor channel will be sealed directly to the slab. The customer should be made aware that due to the porous nature of concrete, water outside the sunroom will be absorbed and could appear as a damp spot inside the sunroom which will go away with the wet weather. This is not a structural issue.
Floor Connections – Lesson 7
The floor channel is a continuous tray that collects moisture and directs it out the weep holes. It must be properly installed to ensure a dry room.
If the floor channels provided do not already have weep holes along the outside, drill or punch them as directed in the manufacturer’s installation guide.
Apply 3/8” via continuous bead of sealant along bottom of channel. The sealant should be located between the fasteners and the outside edge of the channel. The sealant stops rain from getting in the room AND getting in the fastener hole. Make sure to also seal the bottom of channels at any butt joints and along the mitre at the corners.
The minimum fastener requirements are 16” OC with 1/4” x 3” lag bolts. Always consult the manufacturer’s details for proper fastener gauge/spacing. Drill holes in the floor channel for the fasteners. Use stainless or galvanized lags (or other approved plating) when fastening into pressure-treated wood.
Where the floor track stops for a door opening, dam the end of the track with sealant so water cannot escape (water should only be allowed to escape through the weep holes). Make sure the floor track is sealed to the flashing.
Seal all butt joints thoroughly underneath and from inside the track.
Seal Corners thoroughly underneath and from inside the track.
Seal all fastener heads to the floor track so no moisture can get through. For best adhesion, clean surfaces with clean white rags and isopropyl alcohol before applying sealant.
N.B. Sealing underneath and inside butt joints and mitres is critically important. The only way to fix leaks that may occur at the floor track is by disassembling the sunroom.
Wall Connections – Lesson 8
The sunroom manufacturer will supply aluminum wall tracks to connect the sunroom wall system to the house.
Brick or Similar Surfaces:
Fasten wall channel to the existing structure with 1/4″ wood or masonry anchor with minimum 2″ embedment into solid wood framing or masonry, spaced 16″ to 24″ as per manufacturers instructions. Add blocking as required.
Dam the area where the wall channel and floor channel meet with sealant so water does not leave the end of the floor channel. Any moisture in the floor track must only be allowed to escape through the weep holes.
Attaching 2×4 or 2×6 To The Wall:
When is a 2x required?
- The wall may be so rough or out of plumb that you need to start with a 2×4 or 2×6 on the wall and shim it plumb.
- Sometimes the roof receiver channel is supported by a wood ledger, usually in the case of brick veneer, for instance. The veneer is not load bearing so the receiver channel will be supported by (or attached to) an engineered wood beam. The load carried by the beam will be transferred to the foundation via the 2×6’s on the wall, which are supported by the deck, which is supported by the foundation of the house.
- It may be appropriate when the existing structure has siding, see “Siding” below.
Apply water proof membrane all the way to the wall and up the 2×4 or 2×6 a couple of inches. Extend flashing to the wall and up the 2x as well.
Cap the 2x. Be sure to seal the inside corner where the flashings meet, and seal the flashings to the existing wall.
Install the floor track and wall channel as described earlier. Be sure to seal the wall channel to the flashing on the 2x.
Remember that adding a 2x to the wall may change the projection of your sunroom, so the deck may need to be extended 1½” or so, unless your sunroom has filler panels that can be site trimmed.
Make sure the 2x is fastened into sound structural material at least every 24″ using ¼” screws with 2″ minimum embedment.
When the existing structure has siding, the best practise is to cut the siding away. If there is nothing under the siding to fasten the wall channel, like plywood, then sufficient blocking must be installed so that the wall channel can be fastened every 24″. You might also consider using a 2×4 or 2×6 as stated in the previous section.
Leave a gap between the cut siding and the location of the wall channel (or 2×4) of ¼”. The siding will be sealed directly to the wall channel or the capped 2×4. Optionally you can cover the siding with ‘J’ trim, and seal the ‘J’ trim to the wall channel or capped 2×4.
N.B. Sealing the wall channel and/or the capping around 2x’s is critically important to prevent leaks. When flashing use accepted building practise, installers should have experience and knowledge of proper flashing techniques.
Roof Connections – Lesson 9
The panel hanger (AKA receiver channel) must be installed properly to withstand local snow & wind loads. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for fastening the panel hanger and/or wood ledger to the existing structure. Note: receiver channel depicted below is a two piece hinge, other receivers are one piece.
Attaching Panel Hanger to Wood Ledger (Brick Veneer)
Affix ledger to brick or studs, following manufacturer’s or designers instructions. Note that brick veneer is not load bearing, the ledger will be supported periodically by dimensional lumber supports that transfer the snow load to the deck, and in turn to the foundation. Fasten Panel Hanger (aka Receiver Channel) to ledger using anchor size and spacing provided by the designer or manufacturer.
Connect roof panels to receiver channel with min #8 self drilling screws spaced 12″ OC, in the top and bottom.
After the gutter fascia and side fascia are installed, the roof can be flashed. Use industry accepted flashing techniques, i.e flashing under siding (studs), flashing into mortar line (brick veneer). The flashing should extend just past the receiver channel. It can be held in place on the roof panels with dabs of sealant. Where screws are used the heads must be sealed.
Attaching Panel Hanger to Wood Ledger (Studs)
Nail dimensional lumber or LVL to studs as per manufacturer’s or designers instructions. Fasten receiver channel to ledger using anchor size and spacing provided by the manufacturer or designer. Flash between siding and house wrap as shown and per industry accepted flashing techniques.
Attaching Panel Hanger to Fascia Cut-Back
Fascia board is rarely able to withstand the additional loads imposed by an attached roof. Typical roof trusses only have a 2×4 extending past the house.
On rare occasions you might be able to attach to the fascia with the right combination of short roof span, rafters larger than 2×4 or rafters spaced closer than 24″. In these rare instances you should make sure the design has been carried out by a qualified designer, architect or engineer.
Best practices would be to remove the overhang so that the load is transferred directly to the supporting wall of the existing structure. The rafter tails are cut off, blocking is fitted between the trusses and finally the ledger is nailed. Make sure to install a water resistant barrier, i.e. Blueskin® or equivalent, 12″ minimum under the shingles and on to the Panel Hanger. Then flash 6″ minimum under the shingles extending just past the Panel Hanger.
Attaching Panel Hanger to Ridge Beam
The ridge beam will typically be a double or triple beam comprised of dimensional lumber or LVL boards and a wood support post as per designers or manufacturers specifications. There are two connection methods shown below, make sure you use the correct one based on your manufacturer’s drawings.
1. Hangers mounted to side of beam. Mounting is very similar to shed roof style connection. In the photos below we show two placement methods of the hinge strip (wall hanger). Apply water resistant membrane as mentioned earlier and flash as shown.
2. Hangers mounted to top of beam. A wooden wedge is required on the top of the beam to create a good load bearing surface for the roof. Long screws pass the roof hangers into the ridge beam. The void between the hangers is filled with insulation, and the entire assembly flashed as shown.
Attaching the Roof to the Supporting Wall
Proper fastening is required at the eaves to ensure resistance to lateral load and uplift from wind. Your manufacturer will specify the size and spacing of the screws that go through the roof panels into the supporting wall. Make sure the screw heads are sealed from weather to ensure no moisture will enter the panels.
N.B. Proper flashing is required to prevent leaks. The flashing scenarios provided here will not address all situations. When flashing use accepted building practise, installers should have experience and knowledge of proper flashing techniques.