Patio Canopies: Permanent, Free-Standing or Retractable?

Patio canopies can make a significant difference in comfort level on your patio. Deciding which type is the best to use can be quite a decision. Apart from the question of cost, the patio canopy will be with you a long time so use these tips to help you with your decision.

Local Planning Laws

Before you look at the various alternatives, check that there are no local planning laws that affect the type of canopy you can have. If you have close neighbors who would be affected, it would be polite to let them know what you are planning so you can work together to prevent acrimony.

Permanent Canopies

Permanent canopies will make a change to the appearance of your home and you should consider whether or not it will fit your home's decor. There are many different styles of permanent canopy to choose from and as many different materials.

The main purpose of a permanent canopy is to keep the glare and heat of the sun off of you and your guests when you're on your patio. It will also protect you from rain and snow. Building a permanent canopy could involve the installation of vertical supports which could impact the usable space of the patio area.

Free-Standing Canopies

Free-standing canopies usually take the form of large umbrellas. The main advantage of these types of canopies is that they are very mobile, so they can be moved when necessary to provide the needed shade anywhere in the yard.

Unfortunately, mobile canopies can take up a lot of space. They need to be on a fairly broad base to remain upright. Moving the base around could also entail moving the patio furniture around as well.

On windy days a free-standing canopy can be a hazard if it gets blown over. Although some free-standing canopies fold up to relatively small proportions, they are still fairly awkward to store and heavy to move about.

Retractable Canopies

Retractable canopies are a form of permanent canopy since they are fixed to a wall. The main advantage of a retractable canopy is that, when not in use, it can be retracted into the wall. A retractable canopy is perfect if storage space is limited.

The canopy can be extended to any desired length and can provide shade where and when it is required. On some patios the retractable canopy might not be long enough to shade the whole patio so 2 might be needed. A retractable canopy can also be used to protect the patio against rain and snow.

For cost, convenience and versatility the retractable canopy is probably the best choice for most patios. It solves the storage problem of the free-standing canopy and allows for warming sun during cooler days that the permanent canopy would restrict. At the same time it provides most of the benefits of both the free-standing and the permanent canopies.