Buying Patio Covers (guide)

A patio cover is a covering over a patio space that can be constructed from a variety of different materials, such as aluminum, vinyl, metal or wood, to provide shade and protection from the rain, wind and even snow.  It is similar to a porch awning or other type of awning, although most awnings are made from canvas.  Patio covers offer homeowners the opportunity to enjoy their patio more often (and possibly even year round) by providing protection from the weather.


What is sometimes confusing is the reference to patio covers for use as a covering for furniture and other objects that can be found outdoors.  These covers also offer protection but are a completely different product.

Patio furniture covers, patio table covers, patio chair covers, and even patio heater covers are typically vinyl covers made to fit over furniture (or heaters) when not in use in order to protect the furniture and prolong the life of the objects.  But these are different than the types of patio covers we are referring to here.


A patio cover offers protection by covering up all or part of the overhead space above a patio area.  This can be accomplished as a fully enclosed or a partially enclosed cover.  Patio covers are constructed by setting up support beams or poles on all four sides of the patio (there may need to be additional supports depending on the size of the space) with a covering overhead.    The covering can be made from wood, aluminum, metal or vinyl.

  • Some covered patio designs offer full protection since they completely cover the space, such as is the case with metal patio covers or aluminum patio covers.  Attached to the support poles in these designs is a solid section of material that spans the length and width of the patio.
  • Other covers can be more open, such as lattice patio covers, which provide some sunlight and other weather elements to penetrate through to the patio below but still offer limited protection from the sun, as well as providing a more intimate space and an attractive visual element.
  • Wood patio covers or vinyl patio covers are often available as lattice coverings, but can also be full enclosures as well.


There are many different types of patio cover designs available, so choosing the type that is right for your home is simply a matter of personal preference.   There are also multiple options to choose from when you decide you want to install a cover.

Local companies can professionally install patio covers, so you can check with your local garden center to find a recommended contractor, or find one that also installs carportsor sunroom enclosures, since they will typically also construct patio covers.   An all around general contractor can also install one with ease.


There are also patio cover kits that are available for homeowners to install on their own.  Kits can be ordered online or can be purchased locally in garden centers, home improvement stores or lumber yards.  These kits contain everything that is needed to install the cover, along with instructions, and can be completed in a day or weekend by someone with minimal carpentry skills.


For the real do-it-yourselfer, you can find patio cover plans online or in books and can then purchase the materials and construct the cover on your own.  This, of course, takes more carpentry expertise than using a kit, but can still be tackled over a weekend if you are a decent carpenter.