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Top Patio Cover Ideas: A Guide to Enhancing Your Outdoor Space

Do you love the outdoors and hate having to retreat back inside every time the weather takes a turn for the worse? Patio covers can provide you with the perfect solution for enjoying your outdoor space, no matter the conditions. Whether you are looking to add a touch of style to your home, protect your outdoor furniture, or create a comfortable outdoor living space, patio covers can provide you with the protection you need to make the most of your outdoor space.

What are Patio Covers?

Patio covers are structures that are attached to a building, typically a home, and used to provide shade and protection from the elements. They come in a range of materials, styles, and designs, allowing you to choose a patio cover that will complement the look and feel of your home. Some popular options include wood, aluminum, vinyl, and fabric.

Shade over paver patio on bright sunny day
This patio seating area benefits from full shade with the use of a patio cover pergola blocking overhead sun.

Why Do You Need a Patio Cover?

There are many reasons why you might want to consider adding a cover over your patio.

  • Protection from the sun: If you spend a lot of time outdoors, a patio shade structure can provide much-needed relief and protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
  • Protection from rain: No one wants to be caught in a sudden rainstorm without cover. Sitting and enjoying the calming sounds of rain or low rumbles of thunder are quite enjoyable when you have a dry place to enjoy them from. An overhead cover can keep you and your outdoor furniture dry, even on the wettest of days.
  • Protection from wind: If you live in an area that experiences strong winds, a patio cover can help to keep your outdoor space protected from the elements.
  • Increased living space: Transform your outdoor space into a comfortable living area that can be used all year round.
  • Increased property value: Adding the right patio cover to your home can increase its overall value, making it a great investment for your future.

Types of Patio Covers

There are several types of patio covers to choose from, each with its own unique benefits, pros and cons.

Solid roof covers:

Patio with large gable roof structure over outdoor living room area.
This large solid roof pavillion structure provides the most shade and rain coverage by Blue Hills Inc.

A solid roof cover will provide the most shade for patio enjoyment. They are typically made from wood, aluminum, or vinyl are typically a very permanent solution for your patio cover needs. Styles are often an Gable/A-Frame roof, flat roof, or lean-to style structure. The biggest disadvantage to a solid roof cover is often the cost. Because they are more permanent addition with more complex structural variables, it will take more money and time to build a solid roof patio cover over other types of covers. Another disadvantage can be the solid roof trapping heat above your structure making it not as comfortable to use in the hot summer as other options.

Retractable covers:

A retractable awning over a patio for shade.
A SunSetter retractable awning creates a small shade area for this deck.

Retractable awning covers are a great option if you want the flexibility to enjoy the sun or shade as you please. The cantilever shade structure can be easily opened and closed and come in a range of materials and designs. The downside to retractable patio awnings is it has a more limited lifespan. Motorized retractable covers are at the mercy of mechanical failure. While manual retractable covers require more effort to set up to actually enjoy your space. Most retractable covers will be made of fabric and that fabric will not hold up as well as more durable materials such as metal or vinyl. And if you live in a windy area, the force of wind can really cause a lot of damage to a retractable cover that was left open.

Sun Shade Canopy:

Sun Shade Sail over patio seating area for shade
This sun shade uses four posts to suspend the shade fabric above the outdoor seating area.

Sun Sail Canopies, like their retractable cover cousins, are typically made from a waterproof or weather resistant fabric. The fabric shade sail is attached to either freestanding posts or attached to the side of a structure through eye bolts or similar specialty hardware. This is a low-cost alternative to the more permanent structural options for patio covers. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes. In the cons category for overhead sunshades is that they donít last as long as a structural patio cover. Can rip or blow away in strong winds and need to be set at an angle to keep water from pooling on them.

Pergolas:

Large white pergola spans the length of a patio seating area providing shade
This attached traditional style pergola helps bring shade to the large patio and creates a beautiful architectural look to the space.
A Pergola is a classic patio cover option that can add a touch of style and elegance to your outdoor space. They are made from wood, aluminum or vinyl typically and can be customized to suit your needs. The amount of shade will vary with the style of pergola you install. An open pergola will not offer much shade protection but a pergola with angled louvres or retractable roof can increase the amount of shade your pergola gives. A quality pergola rated for wind and made with low maintenance materials like vinyl and aluminum can give you a lifetime of enjoyment from one structure! The vented roof of a pergola also doesnít trap heat like a solid roof will. The biggest downside to a pergola structure is that is doesnít protect from the rain without additional solid roofing sheets, like a polycarbonate or having louvres that fully close to block the rain.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Patio Cover Material

Materials

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a patio cover is the material. Patio covers can be made from a variety of materials, including aluminum, wood, vinyl, and steel, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. When choosing a material, consider the climate in your area, your budget, and the overall look you want to achieve.

Style

Another factor to consider when choosing a patio cover is the style. There are many different styles of patio covers to choose from, including traditional, contemporary, and custom designs. Consider the style of your home and the overall look you want to achieve when choosing a style for your patio cover.

Cost

The cost of a patio cover can vary greatly depending on the material, style, and size. When choosing a patio cover, be sure to consider both your budget and expectations for the longevity of your structure. Choosing a solution that fits within that budget while still providing the level of protection and style you want.

Maintenance

Another factor to consider when choosing a patio cover is the level of maintenance required. Some materials, such as aluminum and vinyl, require very little maintenance, while others, such as wood or fabric materials, may require more frequent upkeep. Consider your lifestyle and the amount of time and effort you are willing to put into maintaining your patio cover when making your decision.

Climate

The climate in your area can also have a significant impact on the type of patio cover you choose. For example, if you live in an area with high winds or heavy rainfall, you may want to choose a material that is more durable and resistant to weather damage, such as vinyl or aluminum. On the other hand, if you live in a warmer climate, you may want to choose a material that is more lightweight and breathable, such as fabric.

Local Building Codes

Finally, be sure to consider any local building codes and regulations for your area before making your final decision. Some municipalities have specific requirements for the type and size of patio covers that are allowed.

FAQs

How much does a patio cover cost?

The cost of a patio cover can vary greatly depending on the material, style, and design you choose. On average, a basic patio cover can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, while a high-end solution can cost upwards and over $10,000. When taking in the cost, remember that some solutions will require replacement every couple of seasons while others may never need to be replaced!

How do I care for my patio cover?

The care required for your patio cover will depend on the material you choose. Wood patio covers should be stained or painted every few years to protect against weather damage, while aluminum and vinyl patio covers require little to no maintenance. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for care and maintenance.

Can I install a patio cover myself?

Installing a patio cover can be a challenging and time-consuming task. If you have the skills and tools to do the job, you can definitely install your own patio cover. If you don't have any experience in building structures or just don't want the extra work, it would be best to work with a professional to ensure a high-quality and long-lasting solution. If you do choose to install the patio cover yourself, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and have all necessary tools and materials on hand.

Can a patio cover be added to an existing patio?

Yes, a patio cover can be added to an existing patio! Depending on the type of cover or structure it may need to be anchored securly to your patio, secured with footings around your patio or properly fastened to your strucutre. For some patio covers it may be best to work with a professional to ensure a seamless and functional solution. An experienced professional will be able to assess the structure of your existing patio to design a patio cover that will provide the necessary support and protection.

Are patio covers customizable?

Yes, patio covers can be customized to fit your style and preferences. From the material and style to the design and lighting, there are many options to choose from to create the perfect patio cover solution for your home.


Patio covers are a great investment for any outdoor living space, providing shade, protection from the elements, and enhancing the overall aesthetic of your patio. With so many materials, styles, and designs to choose from, there is sure to be a solution to fit your style and preferences. When choosing a patio cover, consider the material, style, and design, and be sure to work with a professional to ensure a high-quality and long-lasting solution.

Start your patio cover search with the features and pricing of a pergola with our online custom pergola builder!


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