Creating a Solarium

Reference Number: KB-00454
Last Modified: July 16, 2021

The information in this article applies to:



I would like to design a solarium. How can I do this?  

Solarium letting in light to a brighten the room


There are various approaches to designing a solarium, greenhouse, or sunroom. As this article explains, you can create a solarium using metal framing, windows, and skylights.

To create a solarium wall type

  1. Select Build> Wall> Define Wall Types  from the menu.

  2. In the Wall Type Definitions dialog, click the New button to create a new wall type.

    Wall Type Definitions dialog with a custom wall type

    • Give your new wall type a short, descriptive, unique name so that it can be easily identified later.

    • Specify the desired Thickness of your steel wall.

      For the purposes of this example, a Thickness of 1 1/2" is specified.

    • You may find it helpful to specify a line Weight that is less than the By Layer value.

      To do this, select the wall layer, then specify a Line Weight value.

    • Click the Material column to the right of layer 1, browse to Materials> Framing, select a steel stud material for your walls, then click OK.

    • Make any changes you would like to the Line Style or Fill Style, but bear in mind that your steel wall will be thin, so these changes may not be visible when you are zoomed out.

    • Click OK to close the dialog and apply your changes.

  3. The new steel wall type is now available to replace existing walls in your plan.

    • Click on a wall to select it, then click the Open Object  edit button. 

    • On the Wall Types panel, select the newly created type from the Wall Type drop-down list.

    • In this example, three exterior walls of the attached structure are changed to the newly created steel wall type. This solarium room has also been opened to specification and the flat ceiling has been removed by unchecking the Flat Ceiling Over This Room box on the Structure panel.

      Floor plan with 3 walls connected to the main structure

      Note: After changing a wall's wall type, it is important to make sure the new wall type still connects to nearby walls correctly, especially if the new wall type is a different thickness than it was before. If there are any gaps between walls, make sure to extend wall sections as necessary to reconnect your walls and preserve room definition.

  4. If you wish to draw new walls using this wall type, you can do so by specifying it as the default for your Exterior Wall  or Interior Wall  tool.

    • Select Edit> Default Settings  from the menu, and in the Default Settings dialog, expand the Walls category, click on Exterior Wall or Interior Wall and click the Edit button.

    • In the Exterior/Interior Wall Defaults dialog, specify your steel wall type on the Wall Types panel, then click OK.

To create a solarium roof system

  1. Before building the roof planes, we'll adjust our roof settings in the Build Roof dialog. For this example, the following settings will be used:

    • On the Roof panel:

      Set the pitch and overhang for the roof

      • The Pitch is set to 8".

      • The Eave and Roof overhang are both set to 1/2".

    • On the Options panel:

      Set the roof eaves to be square cut

      • Eaves are set to be Square cut.

    • On the Structure panel:

      Make adjustments on the Structure panel of the Build Roof dialog

      • Remove the check mark from Lookout.

      • Excluding the Width of the Gable and Eave Fascias, set all the Roof Size measurements to 1 1/2" to match the wall structure.

      • Remove the checkmark from Use Room Ceiling Finish and click Edit to remove any finish layers.

      • Edit the roof Surface to clear out existing materials and add a steel framing material. In this example, a Thickness of 1/8" is used.

        Edit the roof surface layers

      • Edit the roof Structure to clear out existing materials and add our steel framing material. In this example, a Thickness of 1 1/2" is used.

        Edit the roof structure layers

    • Make any other desired changes to the roof such as adding/removing Ridge Caps and Gutters.

  2. Now that the roof settings are adjusted, the roof can be generated using the Build Roof  dialog or by building it manually using the Roof Plane  tool. In this example, a gable roof was generated by using the Build Roof dialog.

    Roof planes created above the solarium

    For more information on creating different roof styles automatically, please see the Related Articles section below.

To add skylights to a solarium roof

With the roof placed over the solarium room, skylights can now be added to create the finished glass solarium roof. We'll make use of Multiple Copy and the Reflect About Object edit tools option to replicate a skylight and duplicate them across the roof.

  1. Select Build> Roof> Skylight  from the menu and place a skylight. After placing the skylight, make any necessary adjustments to the size and the frame. In this example, the Frame has been adjusted to a Width of 1" and a Height of 1/4" on the General panel.

    Editing skylight properties

  2. Select the skylight and use the Multiple Copy edit button located on your edit toolbar to create several copies of the skylight as shown below.

    Create several copies of skylights across the solarium roof

  3. Select the skylights in the roof plane and use the Copy/Paste  edit button with the secondary edit button, Reflect About Object , to copy the design over to the neighboring roof plane.

    Creating and reflecting skylights

    Objects can be group selected by holding the Ctrl or Command key and left clicking on objects us creating a selection marquee. For more information on group selecting objects, see the Related Articles section below.

To add glass to solarium walls

With the steel walls and roof in place, it's time to place windows in the steel walls to create our glass solarium walls. We'll follow a process similar to the previous steps replicating the skylights.

  1. Select 3D> Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation  to create an exterior elevation of either the north or south wall of the solarium.

  2. Select Build> Window> Window  to place a window in the solarium wall and make any necessary modifications. For this example, the following settings are used:

    • On the Casing panel, the Interior and Exterior Casing are removed.

    • On the Lintel panel, the Interior and Exterior Lintel are removed.

    • On the Sill panel, the Interior and Exterior Sill are removed.

    • On the Sash panel, the Sash is removed.

    • On the Frame panel:

      Adjust the frame properties of the window

      • Sides, Top, and Bottom Width are set to 1/2".

      • Fit Frame to Wall is unchecked.

      • The Depth is set to 1 1/2" and the Inset is set to -1/4".

    • On the Framing panel, the Rough Opening values for Each Side, Top, and Bottom are all 0".

    • On the Materials panel, all components of the Window are using the Steel Stud 16" OC material, apart from the Glass.

  3. Select the window placed in the solarium wall and use the Multiple Copy  edit button to replicate the window across the wall at your desired interval.

  4. Group select the windows. To do this, navigate to Build> Window> Window from the menu, hold down the Shift key on the keyboard, and using the left mouse button, click and drag a selection marquee. With the windows selected, use the Copy/Paste edit button to create copies and paste them on the adjacent walls.

    Group selecting windows

To create a glass gable end

Due to the slope of the roof on a gable end, we'll want to shape the windows in this wall to match the slope.

  1. Select 3D> Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation to create an exterior elevation of the solarium wall with the gable end.

  2. Select Build> Window> Window to place a window into the gable end wall and make any necessary adjustments.

  3. Select the window, click on the Open Object  edit button, and access the Shape panel.

    Adjusting the shape of windows

    • Use the Match Roof button to change the window to match the pitch of the roof.

    Creating corner windows

    • The Height of the Left and Right Sides can be manually adjusted to fit windows in the corner ends of the gable end wall.

  4. The Arch panel or Top Inside Corners on the Shape panel can be used to shape a window for the center of our gable end wall, under the ridge line.

    Adjust the Arch of a window on the Arch panel

    • In this example, the Tudor Arch Type is used.