New Floridians

What’s up with a Lanai?

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What’s up with a Lanai?


Potential Florida residents, people considering moving to Florida, are often greeted with a new term: lanai. Many TV viewers were introduced to the word lanai on the “Golden Girls” program, broadcast in the mid-80s.  Still, many people outside of Florida do not know what they were talking about.

Just what is a lanai and do you need one?

The word lanai is used to describe a covered porch or veranda in tropical locations. It is a great space for a container garden.

A lanai in Florida can be any covered area outside of the house, usually screened, that is used as a living space. Most of the time, the lanai is furnished with casual tables, chairs, benches and chaise lounges.

Many swimming pools are contained within the lanai, along with additional pool type furnishings and toys. The screen enclosure is referred to as the pool cage.

We were on an airplane landing in Orlando a few years ago; sitting in front of us were two teenage girls. As the plane descended over a residential area, the girls remarked, “Look, all of those homes have batting cages in the back”. Obviously, it was their first visit to Florida.

A ceiling fan, installed in the lanai, makes sitting outside comfortable, even on hot days. We use our lanai just about every day. In the summer, we start the days with coffee on the lanai and at noon, we eat lunch there as well. We often eat dinner at the lanai table in the fall and spring. Winter use depends on the temperatures; more often than not, we eat at least one meal outside.

If you have been reading our articles, you know we face wooded wetlands in our backyard. We have a good variety of wildlife visiting. So, anytime we are relaxing on the lanai, we keep an eye out for any of Mother Nature’s critters walking by.

The direction your lanai faces makes a big difference.

When we were looking at houses to purchase, we really never gave any thought about where the sun was located in relation to the house. Our lanai faces north; I consider that to be perfect. We never get sun directly into the lanai; the pool, however, does get direct sun most of the year. Lanais that face east or west get either direct morning or evening sun, making it somewhat difficult to use during those times. Friends have a west facing lanai and it is almost impossible to sit out there on a hot summer evening. They had to have large blinds installed to block the sun from shining into their interior living area. South facing lanais have sun shining in almost all day long.

After living in Florida for over 10 years, a north facing lanai would be on my list of “must haves” for my home. You may not agree, but if you are considering moving to Florida, keep the orientation of the house in mind; it does affect your outdoor living.



FOG Sez:

Lanai, another place to take a nap!


  1. nancy wasser04-01-2014

    We have lived in Melbourne Beach, Florida for 26 years. Last year was the first time we ever heard either our screened in porch or balcony called a lanai.

  2. Ricardo08-21-2014

    Thank you for the article, very informative. We are thinking on moving to Florida and trying to gather as much info as possible.

    Thanks again.

  3. JAK10-12-2014

    We live in an HOA- governed community and they made one horrible rule for lanais which were extended on two particular models of homes: One third of the extended lanai must be vinyl/plastic for the sake of some lonely guy’s privacy. We were tricked into this new rule and were lied to as the president of the HOA told us that air would pass through “Florida Window” material. We would love our lanai except for this huge flaw. The tough plastic acts as a sail against the breeze and has pulled screws out of the frame. Even with our ceiling fan in the covered section our lanai is stuffy on hot days due to no air passing through.

    • FOG10-12-2014

      HOAs can be very trying. I have had some issues with mine, but not that bad. Sorry to hear about your experience.

  4. RAY12-02-2015

    I have a south facing lanai, I like it a lot better than north facing. I get to see the sun rise every morning. I do get the sun in the afternoon, however, it is not direct.

    I think a west facing lanai would be the worst. Putting in blinds to block the sun is like putting in wall, miss all the beautiful sights.

    Ray from the Tampa area

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