Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space With a Patio Cover

Without the shelter of a patio cover, a patio is just a slab of concrete in your backyard. Building a patio cover can transform your backyard into an alluring outdoor living space that will not only increase the value of your home, but will add to your enjoyment of the outdoors.

Here’s a look at some of the decisions you’ll need to make when considering a patio cover:

Types of Patio Covers

Patio covers can come in a variety of materials, but fiberglass, plastic, aluminum and wood are the most common. When deciding which type of cover you want to install, it’s important to choose a material based on your needs.

Aluminum, plastic and fiberglass. These materials are relatively inexpensive, which makes them a popular choice for many homeowners, and they come in a variety of colors so you can match them to your home. Solid covers made from aluminum, plastic or fiberglass are also lightweight, easy to install and require little maintenance. Plastic and fiberglass offer durability but can split or break over time, especially in snowy areas, whereas aluminum is more likely to hold up. For extra protection from heat, homeowners can choose an insulated aluminum cover, which consists of foam insulation sandwiched between pieces of aluminum.

Wood. The advantages of wood include strength, design versatility and a more natural appearance. On the other hand, wood is susceptible splintering and rotting. Wood covers are more challenging to install, but they are available for a wide range of budgets. To create an outdoor living space with full, year-round protection from the elements, install a solid patio cover made of wood beams or slats. If you prefer a more airy, spacious feel, consider a pergola-style cover on which you can grown vines such as Japanese wisteria to create natural shade.

Patio Cover Design Ideas

When designing your patio cover, first consider the function of your outdoor living space. Are you a cocktail party type, or a backyard grilling type? Do you want an elegant place to entertain guests, or a comfortable spot for the family to relax outside? Are you looking for a little shade or full protection from the rain and sun?

Once you decide how you want to use your patio, consider what type of design will best suit the style of your home. Here are a few simple patio themes you can create in your backyard without hiring a decorator.

Outdoor oasis. Hang weatherproof curtains around the sides of your patio to create a luxurious, private space. Complete the look with a standing rock-wall water fountain, bamboo reeds and patio furniture with big, fluffy cushions.

Rustic theme. Hang flameless lanterns from the posts of your cover to give your patio a rustic charm. Include a wooden outdoor dining set, outdoor speakers and a weatherproof sectional facing a fire pit.

Wine country. Place lattice at each post of your cover and train grapevines up the lattice and over the beams of the cover. Install outdoor lighting at each corner of your patio and use wrought-iron furniture outdoor furniture bring the look of an outdoor winery to your home.

~Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2010