Planning a Winter Garden: Location, Material, Glazing and Cost

December 1, 2022
  1. Advantages: That is why a winter garden is worthwhile
  2. Cold winter garden or all-glass winter garden
  3. Partly isolated winter garden
  4. Warm winter garden or glazed living room
  5. The right location for your winter garden
  6. The right material for your winter garden
  7. The right glazing for your winter garden
  8. Do not forget sun protection!
  9. Think also about the indoor climate
  10. Make your life easier
  11. Winter garden light
  12. Do you need a building permit?
  13. Winter garden in condominium
  14. How much does a winter garden cost?

Do you miss the hot summer days and balmy summer evenings? Wouldn't it be wonderful to extend the summer? With a winter garden or glazed balcony, you can enjoy the sun, nature and tranquility in a relaxed way even in the winter months, without freezing or getting wet. What should you pay attention to and how much should you expect about?

Advantages: That is why a winter garden is worthwhile

With a winter garden you increase your house more than just a room. In winter you can sit outside, soak up the sun and read in the natural light, have a drink, work or do nothing. In summer, a winter garden balances the temperature in the adjacent rooms and ensures lower temperatures throughout the house. In addition, it protects the house facade from the weather and improves the energy balance of older houses as additional thermal insulation.

Cold winter garden or all-glass winter garden

A cold winter garden looks particularly light and transparent thanks to its frameless and mobile glass walls with aluminum profiles that are not thermally separated. It protects you from wind and weather in summer, but is not heated. Therefore, you can use it in winter only as long as the sun shines longer and the air in the winter garden heats up to room temperature. You cannot use it as an additional living space all year round. However, you can safely overwinter your frost-sensitive garden plants or potted plants in your winter garden.

Cold winter garden
A cold winter garden protects you from the wind and weather in the summer, but is not heated.

Partly isolated winter garden

Most partially insulated winter gardens today have framed sliding or folding wall wings with slightly thermally separated profiles and can be opened over a large area. You sit as if outside when the sun shines and you open the glass wings, but are safe from rain and storm as soon as the weather turns. The partially insulated winter garden is heated to a maximum of 10 degrees. This is enough for it to warm up to room temperature as soon as the sun shines in winter. Because the winter garden is heated only slightly, you do not need to comply with additional thermal insulation regulations.

Warm winter garden or glazed living room

A warm winter garden is additional living space. It is heated to 15 to 20 degrees in winter, often with underfloor heating, so you can use it as a dining room, home office or living room all year round. Because the room is heated, the winter garden must meet higher standards for glazing and sealing. Triple glazing with 0.4 to 0.8 W/m²K thermal insulation value and fully insulated profiles for living room glazing make sense. In addition, ground work and a foundation are often necessary. That is why warm winter gardens are more expensive than other winter gardens.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE advises against heating winter garden. This is the only way to stabilize or even reduce the energy consumption of a house with passively generated solar energy. This lasts from spring to autumn, but in winter it gets too cold in the unheated winter garden.

Winter garden from inside
Warm winter garden is a glazed living space that you can use all year round.

The right location for your winter garden

Especially in winter, the orientation is crucial. For optimal exposure to the sun, the winter garden should be oriented to the south. If it faces east, you will enjoy the sun and its warmth in the morning, if it faces west, in the evening. If you orient the winter garden to the south, because you want to store solar heat, you need enough storage mass in the winter garden. For example, solid walls or natural stone or ceramic floors, which are directly irradiated by the sun, warm up and store the sun's heat.

The right material for your winter garden

  • As a rule, glued laminated timber is used for wooden winter gardens. The beams glued from three boards are more resilient, heat-resistant and load-bearing than wooden beams. Wood insulates heat well and is environmentally friendly, but it is more expensive than plastic and sensitive to moisture. That is why wood requires regular maintenance.
  • Plastic is especially suitable for small winter gardens, because it loses stability with size, and is cheaper than all other materials. In addition, plastic is low maintenance and easy to clean. Because the material can expand in the heat, a plastic winter garden should be checked regularly.
  • Aluminum is weatherproof and very stable, which makes it suitable for large winter gardens. In addition, aluminum is easy to clean with little effort and requires little maintenance. But it costs more than other materials. Aluminum is sometimes combined with wood, because wood insulates better.
  • Steel is very durable and is sometimes used as an alternative to matte aluminum. Steel is less expensive than aluminum, but must first be hot-dip galvanized or electroplated because of its susceptibility to corrosion. Steel does not insulate and settles condensation. That is why it is used mainly for greenhouses.


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The right glazing for your winter garden

  • Single glazing is a layer of glass and hardly insulates. That's why it is suitable only for simple winter gardens, which protect from wind and weather in summer. When you heat your winter garden, most of the heat is lost. Besides, single glass breaks quickly with sharp breakage edges.
  • Insulating glazing is several panes of glass. The space between them, 20 to 30 millimeters wide, is filled with air and sealed so that the glass insulates heat and protects against sound. Today there are similar, but more efficient technologies, that's why insulating glass is hardly used.
  • Thermal insulation glazing is two or three panes of glass. The space between them is filled with krypton or argon and sealed. In addition, at least one pane is coated with metal oxide, which minimizes heat loss. Inert gas and metal oxide combined insulate well.
  • Triple glazing is three panes of glass. All the gaps are filled with inert gas, as in thermal glazing, and two panes are coated with metal oxide. This minimizes heat loss, provides excellent insulation and prevents the air in the winter garden from heating up in the summer. Triple glazing is the current technological standard.

Glazing Use for winter gardens Insulation performance Insulation value*
Single glazing rare Very bad greater than 5 W/m²K
Insulating glazing rare bad 2.5 to 3 W/m²K
Thermal insulation glazing frequent good 1.1 to 1.3 W/m²K
Triple glazing frequent very good 0.4 to 0.8 W/m²K

*The lower the insulation value or U-value, the better the thermal insulation of the glazing.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

Triple glazing is ideal for warm conservatories, which are heated in the winter. The panes are very heavy, it is important to take into account in the construction.

Do not forget sun protection!

In summer, the winter garden can get hot. That is why a winter garden needs a sunscreen, which is sensibly placed in front of the glass. For example, blinds or sun blinds. Or trees and shrubs that provide natural shade. Inside, you can additionally shade a winter garden with slat blinds, light roller blinds or fabric curtains. If you want to glaze the roof, it is worth considering solar control glass, which slows the temperature rise in summer. On the other hand, it also takes longer to get comfortably warm in the winter garden in winter. That is why it makes sense to at least partially cover the roof with other building materials that insulate well.

Winter garden with awnings
Without sunscreen in the summer in the winter garden becomes extremely hot

Think also about the indoor climate

In a winter garden, the heat accumulates. This can lead to condensation, which damages the floor, the construction, the furniture or the plants. That is why you need a ventilation concept. The winter garden should be able to be opened extensively on two or better more sides. With flaps in the glass roof, ventilation slides in the side walls or a gap and frame ventilation, you ensure a regular exchange of air and a pleasant indoor climate in the winter garden.

Make your life easier

An electric motor for sun protection is particularly useful for larger winter gardens. Today, there are controls that, for example, extend and retract the blinds or awnings depending on the brightness and temperature, retract them immediately in the event of strong wind, or optimally adjust the slat angle depending on the incidence of light. Many of these functions can be easily programmed and automated with scenarios or controlled via a smartphone app, even remotely.


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Winter garden light

LED spotlights have proven themselves as lighting. It makes sense to use lamps made of sturdy and brushed aluminum, which you can swivel and, if necessary, dim. LED spots are energy efficient, unlike low-voltage tension systems, which are also often used in winter gardens, because they are light and easier to install. If you want to light your winter garden with floor lamps, you should think about the placement of sockets when planning.

Do you need a building permit?

All structures that are firmly connected to the ground require a permit. So you need a building permit for your winter garden. In addition, you must take into account the border distances and building line distances. It is best to inquire at the building authority of the municipality and ask whether a simplified procedure is possible without public notice and disclosure. For this, you usually need a written declaration of consent from the neighbors.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

If you connect the winter garden to the heating system of the house, it will count as living space and will be counted towards the usage figure. Remember, if you have already used the maximum possible living area for your plot.

Winter garden in condominium

Do you own a condominium and want to build a winter garden in the garden or glaze your balcony? You need the consent of the condominium owners' association because a winter garden or glazed balcony changes the overall appearance of the house and therefore affects the interests of the other co-owners. For this, you must submit a request to the condominium owners' meeting.

How much does a winter garden cost?

The cost depends on the size, material and finishing. For most winter gardens you need a foundation, glazing, at least one sliding door, a sunshade and, if necessary, a railing. A small winter garden without extras will cost at least 20,000 francs. The foundation alone for 15 square meters of area costs plus or minus 6000 francs. Per square meter of glass area you should expect 1200 francs or more. In addition, there are costs for the sliding door(s), the sunshade and the control system. The price scale is open at the top.

Houzy Hint


Also consider the ancillary costs. These include the costs of operation, heating and maintenance. The heating costs depend on the size and the energy upgrade.

A winter garden is a project for professionals. Our winter garden experts will advise you, plan the winter garden, coordinate all the work, lay a solid foundation, build a stable winter garden, install heating and shade the winter garden. Request quotes from certified winter garden experts in your region with one click.

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