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Patio Shades - Roofs and Canopies

Updated on August 1, 2018
viryabo profile image

Working as a professional interior designer for many decades, I've had cause to be involved in design & build residential building projects.

Patio shades are simple roof coverings installed over patios, that gives the household overhead protection from the elements, so they can use the patio for many more months of the year.

Adding a patio roof to your outdoor room gives welcome shade from the hot sun, and it will protect the patio deck from frequent rainfall during the rainy months. But if a patio cover ideas are not well planned or thought out carefully, it can turn an otherwise beautiful patio design idea into a wind funnel or an oven.

A patio awning, with a polyester cover
A patio awning, with a polyester cover | Source

Choosing a patio canopy will depend on the design of your patio, the style of the home, and the surrounding garden. Patio roofs must harmonise with the tones, character and structural features of these elements.

Shades may be temporary structures, permanent structures, adjustable or simply portable ones, but the most popular and classic patio roof materials include:

  • Translucent plastic overheads
  • Bamboo and Reed patio covers
  • Lath overheads
  • Canvas (fabric ) outdoor room covers
  • 'Eggcrate' patio canopies
  • Louvred roofs
  • Tempered glass roof covering
  • A combination of any of the above patio covers

Before Choosing Patio Shades - Things to Consider

Before making a choice, it's good to consider the properties of each patio overhead that’s available and its workability with your patio's theme.

  • What are its advantages and disadvantages?
  • Is this material durable enough for a patio roof?
  • How well can it be maintained?
  • Is it easy to install patio shade?
  • How affordable is it?
  • How long will it last?

Also consider the future of your patio, because many may evolve into enclosed outdoor rooms, and if this is the case, you may want to build a frame that will eventually serve the purpose of a retaining structural support for a more permanent or substantial patio roof.

Translucent Patio Roofs

Translucent roof materials are great for diffusing sunlight, intercepting direct heat and as covering against rain.

They are one of the quickest to install, and one of the most popular forms of classic patio covers. Do-it-yourself patio builders will find translucent canopies easy to handle and work with.

They are lightweight, shatterproof and quite durable. They are available in an assortment of colours, each transmitting varying amounts of heat and light.

They also come with a choice of textures, ranging from the smooth and flat, to the pebble-grained textured translucent panels.

Translucent patio roof covers have a disadvantage in that they cast their colour onto the patio and everything within it. And if care is not taken, a blue translucent canopy (for example), if installed close to a window in the house, will cast a permanent and unsightly blue tint into that part of the interior.

To avoid any heat trap in the patio, if the roof cover is attached to two or more walls of the house, adequate ventilation must be provided.

Bamboo and Reed Covers

Woven reed and bamboo strip overheads are one of the most appealing roof covers for patios.

They are eco-friendly lightweight materials, and make handsome and very effective patio shades. These form of patio canopies are easy to install and very affordable.

With this natural material, the patio roof appears soft and warm, and the patio occupants will easily feel it.

Many home-owners love the irregular shade patterns bamboo and reed patio covers provide on a nice and warm sunny afternoon, and it is splendid to lounge or read on a chair set under a bamboo and reed patio canopy .

They are lightweight enough to require minimum support and under structure, and being one of the most simple to attach patio covers, they are one of the easiest overhead shade materials to install.

The use of bamboo and reed comes with its disadvantages.

They are not very durable and can therefore not withstand harsh weather conditions.

And even though bamboo is longer lasting than reed, under normal weather circumstances, they will last for several seasons.

Bamboo Patio Shade
Bamboo Patio Shade

Lath (Lumber & Batten) Patio Canopy

Wood lath is a classic patio cover. It is one of the oldest and most versatile outdoor room covers that's simple to install, affordable, and adaptable enough to give minimum or maximum protection as many of the other patio covers.

It is easy to get creative with lath patio covers, and patterns and designs that can be created include:

  • Staggered spacing
  • Rustic trellis
  • Uniform spacing
  • Mixed sizes and spacing

Lath patio roofs materials can be used in their natural state, painted or stained. The popular ones come in sizes:

  • 1" by 1"
  • 1" by 2"
  • 2" by 2"

When making a choice of lath wood covers, plan to use rot-resistant wood. Woods like cedar, cypress and redwood resist decay, are unlikely to warp or twist with weather changes, and can be used in their natural form without painting or staining.

A disadvantage of this roof that during sunny periods, lath patio overheads will cast sharply defined shadow lines in dark and light. Many people may find this irritating especially when reading, but the classic beauty of lath patio roofs are clearly irresistible.

Lath Patio Overhead
Lath Patio Overhead

Canvas Patio Covers

Canvas covers can add cheerful colours to dull patios, but they serve more as temporary patio covers.

Canvas is a tightly woven textile that can be found in a variety of weaves and in an assortment of colours. Patterns and textile construction include checks, stripes, and plaid designs.

Various weights of canvas will provide (from a light to a dense) shade over a patio, but it is good to note that if its weight is too light, it will not withstand severe weather, and if too thick and heavy, will take 'forever' to dry after a heavy rainfall, and is likely to mildew.

Canvas patio covers can be made colour-fast and water repellent by applying acrylic or vinyl coatings, and they can be treated to resist fungus and fire.

Some synthetic textiles such as acrylic, fibreglass, and vinyl coated nylon also give pleasant results as patio shades.

Another form of classic canvas fabric called shade cloth, which comes in saran (green) and polypropylene (black), have a weave similar to those used for window screening.

The weave construction of shade cloth will give almost any degree of shade, from six per cent, and up to ninety-four per cent.

Egg-Crate Patio Roofs

The term 'egg-crate' is a name that is erroneously used, but one that refers to open-air patio canopies that's laced with flowering climbing vines which adds aesthetic value to any patio.

These forms of patio shades can serve as natural showcases for vines that send out fragrant scents at various times of the year.

Egg-crate patio 'roofs' allows for free vertical airflow whilst giving a feel of protection to a patio that needs a good amount of sunlight and breeze. And if the foliage becomes dense, will serve as protection against harsh sunlight or light drizzles of rain.

They make a fantastic roof canopy and can be constructed easily using any common softwood, but harder woods such as cypress or redwood are popularly used because they require no protective coatings.

'Eggcrate' Patio Canopy
'Eggcrate' Patio Canopy

Which Patio Cover Do You Feel Will Work Best For Your Patio Design?

See results

Louvred Patio Roofing

If you desire a look that appears tailored and airy, one that will block out the sun at certain times and let it filter through at others, then it's good to consider louvred patio covers. They are permanent, and just as the lath patio shades, constructed with a parallel arrangement of strips of board. Louvred slats though are set at an angle to make the most of their width to block out the sun.

Louvred patio covers may be adjustable or fixed, and whilst the adjustable types can be shifted to allow in almost any degree of light or shade during the course of the day, fixed louvres can be installed to block out the sun during the hours of the day that it's not needed.

Disadvantages of the fixed louvres include its expense. Also, if care is not taken during its construction, once nailed down, they become hard to change. Installation is tricky, so it's best to leave it to the experts.

Louvred Patio Roof
Louvred Patio Roof

Patio Shades On-line & Off-line

When it comes to patio shades, there are many choices to consider.

Whenever you are ready to buy your patio shade, check online shops or local home improvement stores to compare prices for the materials and their installations.

If online purchases are made outside your locality, you should find local companies that specialise in building and installing patio covers.

© 2011 viryabo

Comments Are Welcome

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    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR

      viryabo 

      6 years ago

      Thanks.

      Im glad to be of some help Better yourself.

      Thank you for visiting.

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub! We've been trying to decide on a patio covering and this has been very helpful.

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