roomoutsideuk Room Outside Admin
13th May, 2020

What is the difference between a conservatory, orangery, glass box and extension and which is the right option for you?

We love spending time in our homes and the garden in the UK and with more people than ever looking to improve rather than move, a glass or solid extension is a great way to extend your space and add style and value to your home. In order to achieve the look you want, there are a few routes that you can take; Conservatory, Orangery, Frameless Glass Box or a solid Extension.  Each has its own distinct style features and offers many designs and finish possibilities to help you achieve the addition to your home you always wanted. 

Glass Extension Options

What is the difference between a conservatory or orangery?

The main difference between an orangey and a conservatory is the roof. A conservatory has at least 75% of the structure covered in a glass roof, but more usually the entire roof is made of glass.  An orangery traditionally has a flat solid roof with a glass lantern in the centre to let in light. Although there are other features that distinguish between the two types, the roof is the deciding factor when categorising glass extensions. A traditional extension will have a solid roof, sometimes with skylight windows included to lighten the room.

What is the difference, and which one is right for you?


Inside a grey timber framed lean-to conservatory with roof light windows

The conservatory has traditionally been a favourite for homeowners looking to add an extra Room Outside.  They offer mostly glass or full glass sides and a glass roof and attach to the side or back of your home.  Perfect to create an extra light-filled room to dine in or relax and enjoy your garden while in the comfort of being indoors.  Often people still think of the older style glass conservatories, which were always boiling in summer and freezing in winter, making them almost unusable in our changeable British climate.  This is no longer the case with the introduction of temperature-controlled glass, which keeps your glass extension at a more constant and comfortable temperature. Conservatories offer lots of styles and finish options including hardwood, aluminium or PVCu frames in a multitude of colours. Generally planning permission is not required for a conservatory as long as you stick within the sizing guidelines, but it’s always best to check with the experts first. The build of a Conservatory can often be a much simpler and quicker way of adding space and value to your home.


Assurance of quality and peace of mind for your investment in a glass room extension

Orangeries were originally built in the 17th Century to be used in the same way as a greenhouse, to grow plants in the winter months. They were often referred to as the “hot house” due to the heat they generated in the sun, but since the adoption of the Orangery as a popular contemporary extension for the modern home, the introduction of temperature-controlled glass has made them a comfortable space to enjoy all-year-round. Orangeries have a solid brick structure with large windows and doors often with pelmets and lantern roofs that let in lots of light.  They can be attached to your home to increase your living space, such as extending your kitchen and dining area.  Or they can even be built as a standalone structure within your garden to be used as a summer house or perhaps even guest accommodation. Again, there are lots of design and finish options, so you can get the look and feel that is in keeping with your home and vision. The Orangery will feel more like a part of the house as there is less glass used, but you can also add features such as bi-fold doors to open the Orangery up to the garden. There is more construction involved in building an Orangery but will result in a structure that feels much more integral to the aesthetic of your home.

Frameless Glass Box Extensions

A glass box extension is a structure completely made out of structural glass, including the roof.  There is no frame holding the glass giving you an almost uninterrupted view of the outside and of course a room filled with natural light. Whilst invariably the most expensive option, this is the ultimate in modern luxury extensions, giving you a contemporary space to enjoy the outdoors whilst still being inside.  The use of a specialist glass option that is fully temperature-controlled means that, like the Orangery and Conservatory, you can enjoy your space in comfort no matter the weather. These extensions have the real wow factor and are great as entertaining and creative spaces. They can also be used to bridge the gap between buildings or to make an outside space like a courtyard usable all year round by giving permanent coverage.  They can be attached to the back or side of a building, in between buildings or even built on a balcony. Like the conservatory, you are less likely to need planning permission for a frameless glass structure, but it really will depend on what size and design you want to achieve. With the majority of the structure being glass, depending on the design, the main construction works are the foundations that the glass will sit on, far less messy and generally quicker to complete, so you can enjoy your show-stopping Room Outside within weeks.

Traditional Extensions

Traditional home extension

A full extension can be used to extend your property on the ground and upper floors and there is no limit to the use of the room. Perfect for extending the kitchen, and living area, creating a studio space or adding in more bedrooms or an additional bathroom. It will require full construction with fully insulated walls and either a solid roof or a roof with skylight windows if appropriate. You will likely need planning permission and building regulation sign-off to add this kind of structure, but it can add a whole new dimension to your home. Obviously, the possibilities with an extension are huge, but it is likely to be much more of a full-scale build, possibly rendering some of your home unusable until the work is completed. Costs for a full extension can also be quite high and you are likely to need several different contractors to come in to complete the work, meaning that you will have multiple people to deal with to get your project delivered. In general, a solid extension will be more complex and take longer to get to the finished building but is worthwhile if you need to add a lot more space or another storey to your home.

Which option is right for you?

Which option is best for you is down to your reasons for adding to your home, the look and style you want and what you want to achieve. Your budget, timeframes and the extent of the building project will likely impact which kind of extension would be right for you too.

Write down exactly what you want from your extension, and your budget and get together some examples of styles you like from magazines or Pinterest to give you a good starting point and then begin reaching out to companies to get quotes and discuss the options.

Don’t try and navigate the options on your own, book a no-obligation cost-free virtual or socially distanced meeting with one of our specialist designers for more advice, inspiration, and a quotation.

Contact our team for more information

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