What Is a Lanai, Lanai Porch, Lanai Patio? [With Pictures]

What is a lanai? There is often confusion between the terms porch, patio, and lanai. In fact, many people outside of Hawaii or Florida haven’t even heard of the term lanai. In this article, I will explain what a lanai is, and how it compares to a porch and a patio.

So what exactly is a lanai? A lanai is a roofed outdoor space that often has screens or glass sides that you can open and close depending on the weather. It could also be open-sided. A lanai can also be raised like a porch or flat on the ground like a patio but is usually larger than a porch or patio.

The lanai originated from Hawaii in the 1920s and many homes in Hawaii are built with lanais. After Hawaii popularized the trend, many warmer-climate states, such as Florida, began including lanais in their homes.

A porch is a raised extension of the house, attached to the house, usually covered by a roof. A patio is flat on the ground, is not always attached to the home, and is often not covered by a roof. You can convert a porch or patio into a lanai by making it larger and/or putting a screen or glass sides around it.

Read on to learn more about lanais and how they are different from a porch or patio.

Also, take a look at an excellent rattan wicker chair set for any porch or patio – the Devoko Patio Porch Furniture Set. This sturdy, durable, and comfortable set includes two chairs and a glass-top table.

Click here to see this wicker set on Amazon.

What Is a Lanai, Lanai Porch, Lanai Patio?

The terms – lanai, porch, and patio – are used by different people for different structures. The English language evolves and can be confusing as some words become more common than others over time.

In Hawaii and Florida, the term lanai is commonly used; however, in other states, porch and patio will be more common. Below, I’ll explain the technical description of each term.

What Is a Lanai? 

A lanai is an open area like a porch or patio. Although a lanai has one or more open sides, it can also have a screen, plastic, or glass panels, which you can slide back on whenever necessary. Thus, you can enjoy the outdoors all year through if you have a lanai at home.

The below photo is an example of a “Lanai Patio”. It is like a patio because it is not raised up and attached to the house like a porch is. It can be classified as a lanai-patio because it has a screen around it.

lanai patio
Example of a “Lanai Patio”

The below photo is an example of a “Lanai Porch”. It is like a porch because it is raised up and attached to the home. It can be classified as a lanai-porch because it is so large, almost like another room of the house. Lanais are deeper or longer than a typical porch, with more livable space and more furniture.

lanai porch
Example of a “Lanai Porch”

Lanais can be appropriately set as a living room as it can have ample space for a set of furniture and some decors. It is sometimes even referred to as a lanai room. You can also fully furnish a lanai so that you can enjoy the full view of the outdoors during summer, even in winter.

A lanai is a peaceful haven you can create in your home, where you can relax and spend some ‘me’ time. You could decorate and furnish your private lanai with lush plants or with weatherproof furniture like the Walsunny Furniture Set to make the ambiance cozy and comfortable.

Click here to see this furniture set on Amazon.

You can call a lanai a porch or a patio, but not all porches and patios are lanais. Below is a great video explanation showing what a lanai is and how it is not quite the same as a porch or patio. In his video, he is showing a lanai-patio:

What Is a Porch?

A porch is typically found at the entrance of buildings. It is a projection of a building without sliding panels or screens like in lanais. It is typically roofed or covered, although it can also not have a roof.

A porch could also have some tables and chairs, but it does not have ample space for a living room setup similar to a lanai.

What Is a Patio?

A patio is not usually connected to the house or building. It is built adjacent or anywhere near the house or building instead. Patios are open spaces with or without roofing. They also have paved floors or concrete foundations.

It can have tables and chairs used for dining and entertainment. It’s more open than a lanai and porch and could be wider in space. The main difference is that it’s not attached to the house or building, just like the porch and lanai.

What’s the Difference Between a Lanai, Patio, and Porch?

what is a lanai porch and patio

A patio is a paved or cemented outdoor area that is built near the house but not part of the house, while a porch is part of the house. A porch is located at the front of the building and is roofed but without walls. A lanai is also connected to the house but may not be located in front of the house. A lanai is similar to a porch in the sense that they are both connected to the house.

Some houses have porches that simply cover the entrance to the house, and the space is so small that you may not be able to put some tables or chairs to enjoy the outdoors.

A patio is often bigger in space than a porch and can contain some tables and chairs. However, if it’s a fully furnished living room with some sliding doors or connecting doors to the inside of the house, you can call it a lanai patio (or lanai room).

Let’s tabulate the differences between a lanai, porch, and patio.

Table Comparison for Lanai, Porch, and Patio

LANAIPORCHPATIO
Location:Anywhere, as long as it’s attached to the house. It has sliding doors or sliding screens connected to the house for easy access from the inside.A small extension in front of the house and acts as a roof for the door. Not connected directly to the house but is found within the area near the house.
Size:Spacious and can serve as a living room.Most porches are not spacious.It could either be spacious or small.
Type of Furniture:Can be fully furnished.  May accommodate some chairs.Can accommodate tables and chairs. 
Walls:Can have one or two sides open to the outdoors. These sides can be closed using sliding glass panels or screens. The front is almost always open, without walls.Open sides
Roof:With roofWith roofUsually without a roof, but can have one sometimes.

Can a Porch or Patio Become a Lanai?

Can you convert a porch or patio into a lanai? Yes, you can convert a porch or patio to a lanai if you furnish it as a living room, where you can relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Some people use the terms ‘lanai porch‘ or ‘lanai patio’ to indicate that the area has been converted into a lanai. Thus, if the area can fulfill the following specific conditions, it can become a lanai:

  • It has one or more sides open.
  • These sides can be closed during inclement weather without obstructing the view of the outdoors by the use of sliding glass panels or screened walls.
  • You can have the option to expose yourself to the outdoors during any month of the year.
  • It is fully furnished or can be fully furnished. 
  • It has adequate space for pieces of furniture.
  • It can act as a living room. 
  • It provides comfort and convenience, and it’s a safe place to hang out any time of the year.

How to Convert a Porch to a Lanai Porch

what is a lanai porch

You can convert your porch into a lanai porch by following the four steps below.

Step #1 – Widen the Space of the Porch.

You have to add more floor area to the porch if you want to convert it into a lanai. A wider floor area is needed to create more space for pieces of furniture and decor.

Step #2 – Build Glass Walls or Screen Walls.

These walls should enclose the porch but should also allow easy access to open air. One or more of the walls must open to the outdoors. Sliding glass door panels and screen panels enable easy access to the outdoors while allowing you to retreat quickly to your house when you want to.

Step #3 Get Started with Interior Design.

You can start by adding verdant greens and a weatherproof, comfortable sofa or coffee table. You can also include a waterproof entertainment set, such as TV, stereo set, or a gaming section. It’s up to you. The idea is to have an outdoor haven to go to whenever you want to relax and be one with nature.

With a lanai, you could still be in touch with the beauty of the outdoors, even during winter, without having to change clothes, walk, or commute.

Step #4 – Include Plants to Emphasize Mother Nature.

Having plants in the lanai creates a tranquil and fresh environment, which could help emphasize the outdoors and Mother Nature.

There are some instances when lanais can be half porch, half lanai – meaning they may not have the option of walls that can be closed at certain times of the year. In this case, you may not be able to fully furnish it as not all furniture pieces are weatherproof, such as divans, bed cushions, and similar items.

What Are the Specific Uses of a Lanai, Porch, and Patio?

  • Lanai: A lanai is often used as a private haven for people who want to enjoy an open-air place and the outdoors in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Patio: A patio is useful for those who want to go out into an open area and hold events or activities, or just to sit and enjoy the outdoors alone.
  • Porch: A porch serves as an overhang roof in front of your house, so you won’t get wet in the rain or get sunburned under the sun when opening the front door.

Each area could provide the specific uses above. However, some people could use the terms interchangeably according to their own concepts. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide what you want to call that particular area in your house.

Furniture That Could Be Perfect for a Lanai

You will need weatherproof pieces of furniture to set up your lanai and make it a relaxing spot to enjoy the outdoors. Here are some furniture sets you can choose from:

1. Walsunny 5 Pcs Patio Outdoor Furniture Set

This Walsunny Furniture Set provides a rattan sectional sofa accompanied by a tea table.

Click here to see this set on Amazon.

The cushions are washable, and the low back sofa comes in blue and black colors. 

This 5-piece all-weather and durable rattan sofa can be easily assembled and cleaned. Since it’s weather-resistant, it’s ideal for a lanai deck or lanai room. You can quickly change the sofa’s cushions with new ones as well.

2. Tuoze 5 Pieces Patio Furniture Sectional Set

The Tuoze 5 Pieces Patio Furniture Sectional Set is a beautiful addition to your lanai.

Click here to see this patio furniture set on Amazon.

This set provides a cushioned sofa and a glass coffee table. It is a high-quality and all-weather garden sofa that offers a comfortable and durable addition to your lanai, porch, or patio. 

You’ll enjoy your tea or coffee in comfort and elegance with this intricately designed and water-resistant, durable set in your lanai patio.

3. Devoko Patio Porch Furniture Set

Excellent for your lanai porch, lanai patio, lanai room, or lanai deck, the Devoko Patio Porch Furniture Set has a sofa set with a durable and solid glass coffee table.

Click here to see this set on Amazon.

This rattan wicker sofa can withstand inclement weather, as the pieces of furniture are weather resistant. Its cushion and sofa are also made of high-quality materials. 

This furniture set could provide comfort and convenience when you want to relax and spend time outdoors while at home.

Tips For Creating a Lanai

  • Design the lanai based on your preferences. It’s you who would be spending time there, so make sure to satisfy your rest and relaxation preferences.
  • To experience that wonderful feeling of basking in the beauty of the outdoors, use sliding glass walls or big windows. 
  • You can never tell when you would want to open the walls or windows, so always pick durable and weatherproof living room sets or furniture for your lanai. 

Conclusion – What Is a Lanai? Lanai Porch? Lanai Patio?

So, to recap, what is a lanai room? What is a lanai deck? How are these different from a porch or patio? A lanai is a roofed outdoor space that typically has screens or glass sides that you can close and open, depending on the weather and your desire for outdoor exposure.

A porch is an attached outdoor area with a roof similar to a lanai. However, it is not that spacious and fully furnished compared to a lanai. It doesn’t have walls or big windows and is usually located at the entrance of a house or building.

A patio, on the other hand, is an outdoor area that is separated from the house. It’s commonly built without walls or roofs. But many homeowners have made their patios with roofs, along with tables and chairs, to cater to outdoor events.

Now that you know what a lanai correctly represents, you can create and have fun building your own lanai at home.