Who doesn’t love the outdoors?

Even those of us with a chilled temperature paralysis or insect phobia cherish those beautiful moments in the sun.

And that’s why a sunroom is a heaven-sent option for any homeowner.

But what about a lanai?

Are they ultimately the same thing?

Buckle in, and I’ll tell you why there are significant differences between a sunroom and a lanai.

Here’s the Difference

Here's the Difference

Before you discover the details of each type of outdoor room, I’ll first answer your question.

The main difference between a sunroom and a lanai is that the latter allows air to flow freely through the room while still protecting you from pests and undesirable weather.

But honestly, there’s more to it than that.

So, if you want to know the difference and make the right decision for your home, keep reading.

What Is a Lanai in A House?

A lanai is a functional room in a house that opens up to the outside elements.

The term lanai originates in Hawaii and means porch or veranda.

What Is a Lanai in A House originates in hawaii

The point of a lanai was originally for gatherings where friends and families would enjoy the outdoor island breeze while protected from tropical rain.

Today, lanais serve the same purpose. But they’ve adopted a more modern design and sometimes come enclosed with an option to open at least one wall to the outdoors.

What Does a Lanai Look Like?

A lanai looks much like a screened patio. Traditionally, they have a roof and at least one wall open to the elements.

The enclosed portion of a lanai connects to the existing home and acts as an entrance or extra living space.

Many homeowners will choose to furnish their outdoor space like any other room in the house.

What Does a Lanai Look Like

These days, lanais can look vastly different from another. Some are built with rough timber materials and a minimally visible screen to keep insects out.

Others are simple structures with foundational posts erected from a concrete floor and no screen or other barrier separating you from nature.

But no matter the style of a lanai, they don’t have one of the key benefits a sunroom offers.

Lanais aren’t year-round living spaces in their traditional form unless you reside in a tropical environment.

Sunrooms are built to allow the home’s electricity and HVAC to provide all the modern comforts of technology.

A lanai doesn’t have electricity, air-conditioning, heating, or even insulation.

Where Are Lanais Popular?

Where Are Lanais Popular

Where are they most prevalent if lanais can’t offer a year-round space to a seasonal climate?

Lanais are popular in Hawaii, Florida, and to a lesser extent, Southern California.

This is where it makes the most sense to use a lanai. 

As they originated in Hawaii’s tropical climate, it’s no surprise you find them all over the islands.

But Florida is no different in terms of popularity.

Let me fill you in as someone with family in Florida and a frequent Disney vacationer.

Sometimes, the weight of the sun’s heat makes you feel like you’re walking through mud.

And if it’s not scorching hot, it’s a sudden appearance of a hurricane-like rain.

But hey, if you can manage that, then all you have to worry about are the bugs.

pool cage and bugs

Speaking of bugs, most lanais you’ll find in Florida use the screened-in approach, especially if there’s a pool.

Some homes use large enclosures, also called pool cages, which are ideal for keeping the swell of insects from setting up shop.

Plus, they provide excellent cover from the tropical sun and heat.

Although, pool cages aren’t necessarily lanais.

While the purpose is similar, the unique architectural design isn’t there.

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

What's the Difference Between a Lanai and Florida Room

You might have heard of the term Florida room. It’s relevant to our conversation, so I’ll tell you a secret.

A Florida room is just another word for a sunroom.

So, don’t worry about having to research and examine another option for your home addition.

The differences between the two are the same that we’ve already covered.


I hope I could clear up some of the mystery for you.

Lanais can be a beautiful and creative space for your outdoor experiences.

Just be sure if you decide to go that way, you’re in the proper climate to get the most use of it.

Otherwise, a sunroom may be the best option for you.

If you aren’t sure, reach out, and we’ll be happy to help you!