Retractable Pergola Shade Covers
Canopy awnings are permanently installed, but the fabric is removable.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VELA CANOPIES
Canopy awnings are fabric-roofed structures supported by a freestanding, rigid frame that's bolted to your deck. The frame becomes a permanent part of your deck, and you can either leave the fabric up year-round or remove it seasonally. The fabric should last about 15 years.
The awnings are available in two roof styles (a hip roof and a pyramid roof) and several colors. You can install outdoor lighting on the framework to illuminate your deck.
Pros: Canopy awnings are good for full shading of compact decks or partial shading of larger decks. The shade cloth is resistant to tears and won't sag. The fabric and structure can withstand rain, hail and strong winds (although the company recommends removing the shade cloth if a hurricane is imminent). Since it's a permanent structure that doesn't retract, the canopy has no moving parts that can jam or break.
Cons: Unlike retractable options, canopy awnings don't offer a convenient way to let in the sun (removing the fabric requires two people and takes a few minutes). Also, the columns may not blend well with the deck style and can become obstructions on some deck layouts.
For a partial-shade solution, build your own pergola and then train vines to grow over it.
For protection from sun and rain, cover a timber frame with awning fabric or roofing material.
If you want a shade structure that naturally blends both in size and style with your deck or patio, build your own pergola or awning structure. Cover the pergola with awning fabric, or plant vines to create a green, living shelter. Vines covering a trellis alongside the pergola will also block the rising or setting sun. A pergola made from inexpensive treated lumber and then stained can look great and still cost less than manufactured options.
Retractable awning with support arm
Large retractable awnings need a diagonal support arm.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SUNSETTER
Retractable awning with hidden supports
Some smaller awnings use hidden lateral arms for support.