-30ºF to 100+F: It’s in the Design

This custom gable conservatory in Woodbury, Minnesota was built for a talented homeowner who designed the interior to be a warm, relaxing space for their family and friends to enjoy all year round.

orchardridge-23The conservatory was the last piece of this outdoor renovation, with French doors leading out to the perennial gardens and a beautiful in ground pool. The vertical windows that create the walls of the conservatory feature arches, or as they are formally known, specialty muntins, which added a decorative touch to the space.

orchardridge-28The energy efficient polycarbonate roof was selected to let in all of the natural light and keep the conservatory bright, but still filter out the UV rays and heat from the sun. The new conservatory was attached to the home by using a cricket roof, and a stucco knee wall was added to match the home’s exterior. On the inside walls, the designer chose a natural stone. Wicker furniture and topiaries complete the room.

orchardridge-3A roof with a steep slope 12/12 pitch roof was chosen for the structure. The roof’s pitch is important to consider in cold regions of the country where, during the winter months, there are high volumes of snowfall. The steep slope helps to redirect the heavy weight of the snow from the glass roof. It is also important when adding any addition to a home to consider the existing architectural style of the house.
To ensure the new conservatory could be used as a year round sanctuary, we added a heated slate floor to add warmth on cold winter days and roll away screens on the windows and doors to allow bug free ventilation during pool parties in the summer.

Wood, Aluminum and Glass: The Three Amigos Of Building A Greenhouse

Throughout my years of work on a variety of different kinds of structures, I have learned that there are three main materials used for building a greenhouse: mahogany or other types of wood, aluminum, and glass. Each of these three materials has a specific purpose for those who are building a greenhouse or conservatory.


Mahogany is the most common type of wood used in the building of greenhouses and conservatories because of its durability and density. A large amount of the world’s mahogany currently comes from the Caribbean as well as parts of South America, especially Peru. Today, ethical tree harvesters are frequently certified by various forest protection groups. These harvesters source mahogany using tactics like reforestation, which will help keep the ecosystem of the local area in order. Mahogany is mostly desirable as a building material for greenhouses and conservatories because of its aesthetic. It is usually sealed with a moisture-resistant paint or finish that helps protect it from water damage.


Aluminum is another popular material for those who are building a greenhouse or conservatory because of its durability. Aluminum also does not rust, which makes it a great option for protecting a greenhouse from the weather. Aluminum can be painted over before it is used on a conservatory or greenhouse, but it is not the easiest material to paint, which is one of its main drawbacks. Aluminum might be used over PVC or wood on a greenhouse project where the frame needs to be as strong as possible.

Rounding out the top three materials used in greenhouses and conservatories, glass is something that comes to mind almost immediately when a person thinks about a greenhouse or conservatory. Today’s glass is much more sophisticated than glass used on buildings in decades past: you can choose various kinds of glass depending on your needs. Some glass is designed to block the sunlight to keep things inside the conservatory sufficiently shaded, while other glass is made to transmit as much heat and light as possible. Whether you decide to go with leaded glass, stained glass, or another kind, be sure to choose the type of glass that is appropriate for your application. You will usually use a different glass for a greenhouse than you would use for a pool enclosure.

Although these are the top three materials used in greenhouses and conservatories, each one has their own specific subtypes and characteristics. Make sure to do your homework about your materials so you can be sure they are in line with your goal for your conservatory or greenhouse.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Geothermal heating/cooling is one of the best ways to effectively cool or heat any given space because it uses the natural temperature variances of the earth to change the temperature in a certain area. While you may know that geothermal heating/cooling is beneficial, not everyone understands exactly why it is such an excellent technique.
Here are five things you might not know about geothermal heating/cooling.

1. Geothermal Heating/Cooling Systems are Safer
Since geothermal systems do not use any type of open flame or ignition process, they are often safer than traditional methods of heating or cooling. This is great for people who have pets or small children that they want to safeguard from dangerous heating or cooling systems.

2. Geothermal Systems are Less Expensive
Geothermal heating and cooling systems do not rely on traditional fossil fuels. By some estimates, they can be between 50 and 70% more efficient than more traditional forms of heating and cooling systems used in similar applications.

3. Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems are Environmentally Friendly
Using a geothermal system for heating and cooling can be very valuable for those who want to minimize their environmental footprint. These systems do not consume finite resources the way that heating and cooling systems that use electricity or gas do, which means they put much less strain on the environment.

4. Geothermal Systems Run Quietly
You are probably familiar with the loud humming and buzzing noises that most traditional heating and cooling systems emit. With geothermal systems, you can be confident that your system will not make loud noises, since they tend to run quieter than regular heating or cooling systems.

5. Geothermal Systems can be Consolidated
Some people who need both heating and cooling systems for a conservatory or greenhouse area have to go through the trouble of purchasing, installing, and maintaining two different systems for heating and cooling. With a geothermal system, you can heat and cool the desired area without having to invest money or time into setting up two different systems for each function.
Once you know the benefits of geothermal heating and cooling, it makes sense to look into your options for these kinds of systems in your greenhouse or conservatory area. If you are interested in a geothermal system for heating or cooling, make sure that you get in touch with a specialist that understands how they work and can give you the advice you need on getting a great geothermal system set up that satisfies your needs.

Winter Conservatory Maintenance Checklist

Winter weather brings some big challenges with it when it comes to keeping a conservatory-style roof in good condition. Winter ice and snow that builds up on roof windows or skylights can cause moisture damage to the wood parts of conservatories and rooftops. The weight of the snow and ice on the roof of a building, sometimes known as an ice dam, can also cause damage through sheer weight, especially if there are enough snow and ice to cause gutters to back up. When the snow and ice melt, moisture may damage the roof and condensation could seep inside the building through the windows.

To prevent this from happening, there are several steps that you can take. By following Winter Conservatory Maintenance Checklist for skylights and roof windows, you can minimize the impact of cold weather and prevent winter storms of ice and snow from wreaking havoc on your residential or commercial rooftop.

1. Repair Leaks. Even minor leaks that may not seem like a huge issue can be the first sign that the integrity of your roof or skylight has been compromised. If you see any kind of leaks or moisture building up inside of your home or building, it is a sign that the weather is impacting the integrity of the structure: you must repair the leak as soon as possible.

2. Keep Gutters Clear. Your home or conservatory’s gutters are critical for making sure that rain and melted ice can flow properly away from the building. If your gutters are backed up or clogged, rain and melting ice and snow can cause foundation damage to your home. Clear gutters will help make sure ice dams eventually melt safely off your roof or skylight.

3. Inspect Roof Window Seals. The seals around your roof windows are what determine whether or not moisture and snow enter the building. For this reason, it is important that your roof seals are strong enough to keep your building safe from ice and snow from melting down into your home or conservatory.

4. Keep Warm Air Flowing? Whether you have an ice dam built up on a home or other kind of building with space above the ceiling, it is important that warm air is allowed to move and does not become trapped right under the roof. This can cause snow and ice to melt, exacerbating the problems caused by an ice dam.

5. Remove Snow and Ice From the Roof. If it is feasible, another excellent solution for preventing damage to your roof during the winter is manually removing accumulations of ice and snow. This way, you will know for sure that the ice dam will not melt and cause moisture damage to your building.

6. Keep Paint and Varnish Fresh. All coatings of paint and varnish on your wood need to be in good condition to stop the wood on your roof or skylight from sustaining damage. If the wood gets compromised, ice and snow could leak into the building this way.

With the right steps taken and an understanding of the dangers of cold weather precipitation to conservatories, glass rooftops, and skylights, it is possible to protect your home or building from the elements by minimizing ice and snow damage.