Depending on the weather in your state, you may decide to cover your patio. We’re thinking this might be a good idea for ours, as we tend to get a reasonable amount of rain.
A patio does not need a roof, but covering your patio is a good idea as it’s a great way of extending your home and creating an all-weather outside area for relaxing and dining. You can cover your patio with anything from sailcloth fabric or polyethylene, to PVC or wood panels.
In this article we’re going to consider the reasons you may want to cover your patio, what to cover it with and how – and look at whether doing this will add any value to your home…
Can a Patio Be Covered? (Should it Be?)
Covering a patio can be a great idea, and it’s a perfectly possible project in most cases. It’s an excellent way of extending your home and creating an all-weather outside area for relaxing and dining.
By providing shelter and shade, a patio cover creates a safe space for your kids to play, a comfortable place for you to sit and chat with friends, and an outdoor eating area that won’t be affected by the weather.
However, before you get all excited and start drawing up plans, check whether covering your patio is permitted in your town or county. Always start by asking your local officials if your yard project requires a permit. Also, if HOAs (Home Owner’s Association) regulations apply to your area, you’ll need to find out about any restrictions. As we’ll discuss later, there are also temporary ways to cover your patio.
What is a Covered Patio Called?
Because a patio typically adjoins your home, a covered patio becomes a porch. A porch is a covered shelter that projects from the side of a building, and is outside the external walls. So, covering your patio turns it into a porch.
There are different types of porches. Front porch and back porch are straightforward; however, a longer porch that extends the length of the building or even wraps around it is a “farmer’s porch” (or a “verandah”, depending on your neighborhood). If you extend the covered area downwards for extra shelter, it’s a “screened porch”.
But what if you simply install a rain cover, like an awning? You can either call this a “rain porch” or stick with “covered patio”.
What is The Best Type of Patio Cover?
The big question when choosing a patio cover is, do I want it open or closed? This depends on how you plan to use the patio, and what your local climate is like.
You can build an open structure from wood, which creates an attractive, pergola-type effect, and you can grow vines and climbing plants up and across it. This creates pretty, dappled shade, and keeps the light and airy feel of an outdoor patio. However, if you need a porch to shelter from the rain, this isn’t the best idea.
A full cover will protect you from the rain and the sun’s rays – but, this can make it too hot. In warmer zones, roofed patios often have fans to try and get the air circulating.
Then there’s the middle way: a PVC roof. Transparent PVC panels will let in light while keeping out the rain, and most are treated to protect you from UV. It’s surprisingly easy to cover a porch with PVC panels – take a look at our article about PVC roofing to find out more.
What is The Cheapest Way To Cover a Patio?
The cheapest way to cover a patio is by stretching a sailcloth across it. You can buy a cloth for as little as thirty dollars on Amazon; and if you’re lucky enough to have an L-shaped patio space, you won’t even have to buy poles to fix it to.
Fabric covers come in a range of sizes, fabrics and colors, and look out for covers with polyester belts across the edges so they can easily be pulled taut. You can also buy installation kits for fabric covers.
Something like a UV-protected, high-density polyethylene cover will keep out most of the rays. These are aimed more at adding shade than shelter, as they’re designed to let water through rather than letting it pool on the top.
If you want a more solid structure, PVC panels on a wooden frame can be an easy and inexpensive solution. PVC will keep UV rays and rain out without compromising on a light and airy feel. Here’s a handy YouTube video that shows you how to install the PVC panels. (This film is from New Zealand, so ignore any mentions of planning regulations, and research your own local laws in the US.)
To give you a rough idea of costs, a 26 inches by 8 foot clear PVC roof panel can cost from as little as 16 dollars at Home Depot. You may already have a wooden structure in place to hold the panels, and if not, you’ll also need to buy the timber and treatment. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of gutters and pipes.
However,if you want a more solid structure (and local laws allow you to do this) PVC is a far cheaper option than going for a proper shingle roof, plus it lets in the light.
Another way to keep the costs down is just to shelter part of the patio. If you have a large area, you might decide just to cover a section. This can also be a good approach if you plan to have a grill or a fire pit on your patio, as it saves having to work out how to provide safe ventilation.
Another temporary option is to put up a gazebo on your patio when it’s needed. This is temporary, low-cost, and apart from securing it, won’t need any construction skills. We’ve already taken a look at how you can use a pop-up gazebo to create a porch.
How High Should a Patio Cover Be?
If you’re going for a fixed patio cover, you’ll need to decide how tall you want it to be. This depends on your structure and space; however we reckon between eight and eleven feet is about right.
There are a few things to take into account when deciding on the height of your patio cover. Firstly: second storey windows. Will you be blocking out light or spoiling a good view? Also (and it’s amazing how often people don’t think about this one), will you still be able to reach the outside of the windows to clean them? And of course, will your cover affect the view and light reaching your neighbors’ home?
If you want shade, a lower roof is better; however this can feel a bit cramped. It’s worth seeking advice about getting the proportions right, as a palatial ceiling will feel rather over-the-top for a smaller patio, but a lower one could create the ambience of a car port.
Does a Covered Patio Add Value To My Home?
Covering your patio won’t necessarily add value to your home. Realtors often use a home’s square footage to calculate its value; and because it’s not “livable space”, a patio or porch isn’t included in that calculation. (Find out more about the “Gross Living Area” calculation in our blog.)
However, an attractive, covered patio will still work in your favor, as it has “curb appeal”. If you have a purchaser looking for a lifestyle property, a weather-proof, comfortable-looking outside area will give you the edge over a neighboring property that simply has a few pavers down.
There’s big demand for outdoor living space at the moment, and if you have an outside area that is sheltered from the sun and the rain, this is a great competitive advantage when it comes to selling.
And above all else, you and your family will enjoy hanging out on the porch. By making it weather-resistant for most of the year, you’re giving yourselves an extra room.
After researching this article, I’m now of a mind to use PVC panels over a wooden frame to make a patio cover.
It will look pretty good (as in not cheap), whilst not being expensive or difficult to put up – and will certainly provide a more permanent option than the fabric based alternatives.
So with that all said, it looks like it’s time to get to work. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >