A patio offers the perfect area to host parties, barbecues and other outdoor gatherings. Rather than staying cooped up indoors, you can go outside to enjoy the fresh air. But it’s difficult to fully enjoy your patio when it’s exposed to direct sunlight. Without some form of protection, the sun will beat down, creating an uncomfortably hot environment. Thankfully, there are ways to protect your patio from the sun’s glaring light, including the use of a patio cover.
An inexpensive and easy-to-install patio cover is lattice. Also known as latticework, it consists of a crossed patterns of wood that offer moderate cover with an emphasis on aesthetics. Some light will still shine through, so it’s not going to completely protect your patio. With that said, some homeowners prefer lattice because of this, as the light helps to illuminate the space without relying on artificial lighting.
You can buy lattice at most home improvement and gardening stores, though costs vary depending on the specific material from which it’s made (e.g. wood, metal, etc.). Before investing in lattice, compare prices at multiple stores to determine which one offers the best deal for your patio project.
Vinyl patio covers have become increasingly popular in recent years. Made of polyvinyl chloride — the same material used to make PVC piping — it’s strong, durable and able to withstand countless years of use. Like all vinyl materials, vinyl patio covers are completely waterproof and rustproof. So, you don’t have to worry about it succumbing to the elements after just a few months.
A disadvantage to using a vinyl patio cover, however, is its lackluster appearance. Many people believe it looks cheap and tacky, so they choose other patio covers instead. Of course, not all vinyl covers look the same; some definitely have a cheap look, whereas others are designed to look more high-end. If you’re worried about the cheap appearance of a vinyl cover, consider choosing one in a dark color. A premium gray or taupe-colored vinyl patio cover won’t look like vinyl at all.
A third patio cover option is wood, which is also the most common type. Wood covers offer an unmatched level of aesthetics, enhancing the home’s exterior decor while creating a more attractive patio in the process. Wood covers can also be painted and finished in just about any color, giving homeowners such as yourself more freedom over customization.
But wood is also susceptible to rot and decay. Unless it’s treated with a water-resistant finish, wood covers may rot away due to moisture exposure. Water particles seep into the wood’s pores, at which point they encourage the growth of mold and mildew. This, in turn, causes the wood to slowly decay — and that’s not particularly safe when it’s hanging over your patio. You can still use a wood patio cover, but make sure it’s coated with a water-resistant finish to prevent this from happening.
Metal is a popular alternative to wood patio covers, with the most common metal used for this purpose being aluminum. It’s strong, lightweight, doesn’t rot and highly effective at reflecting heat away from your patio.
Unfortunately, aluminum patio covers can become damaged due to falling debris. This isn’t limited strictly to aluminum, however; all patio covers can sustain damage from falling tree limbs. But aluminum is particularly prone to such damage because of its thin, lightweight construction. The bottom line is that if you’re going to choose an aluminum patio cover, make sure there are no overhanging tree limbs.
Another patio cover option is cloth. Typically made of a fabric blend containing both natural and synthetic materials, cloth covers are easy to install and look great over all patios. They are available in countless colors and styles to match your home’s exterior.
A benefit of cloth patio covers that’s not found elsewhere is the ability for them to retract. Granted, some cloth covers are fixed and stationary, meaning you can’t move them (not easily, at least). Others, however, are installed with a retractable device. If it’s warm and sunny outside and you want to get a tan, you can retract the cloth cover. But if you want to read a book without the sun glaring in your face, you can pull it back out.
If installing a patio cover sounds too difficult or expensive, you can always use an umbrella as a quick solution. There are free-standing patio umbrellas available as well as table-mounted umbrellas. Once installed, it creates a small but effective area of shade while enhancing your patio decor in the process.
As you can expect, an umbrella isn’t going to offer the same protection as an actual patio cover offers. The good news is that umbrellas are easy to set up, and they cost a fraction of the price of an actual cover.
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