By September 9, 2013 2 Comments Read More →

Which to Choose? Wood, Aluminum, or Fabric Patio Cover?

A patio cover should protect your outdoor patio area from rain and the harmful effects of the sun. The most common patio roofing options are wood, aluminum, and fabric or poly material.  Read on to help decide which option you should choose for your patio roofing.

Wood patio cover

Natural appearance: To create a patio cover with beauty and style, natural wood is a perfect choice. If you own a wood-frame home, a wood patio cover will blend in with the design. It will make your patio look like a solid structure that fits in naturally as part of your house.

If your back yard has trees and bushes, the wood-covered patio will also fit right in with its surrounding environment.

Choice: Another advantage of wood is that you can choose different materials that will provide different colors and textures, making the patio roof more interesting to look at. And by choosing the right grade you can help minimize damage from termites and the weather.

Lumber can also be cut to meet your size requirements so that with careful planning, the wood can fit together perfectly, adding to its visual appeal.


The main disadvantage of a wood patio cover is the maintenance required.

When first building the patio roof, the wood should be treated to resist termites as well as inclement weather. But then you will need to take care of the wood patio covering yearly.

If your summers are very sunny, the sun can begin to change the color of the wood. And especially in humid or salty conditions, the wood will start to absorb water. That means re-sealing and repainting your wood patio cover every year. This can be time consuming, depending on the size of your roof and how many nooks and crannies you will need to reach.

Synthetic Wood

If you still want the look of wood, with much less maintenance, you may want to consider synthetic wood. This type roof is made of acrylic or a similar type material. The pieces are manufactured to look like real wood so you can still have a look that is similar to the natural beauty that wood provides. But because of the acrylic material, maintenance is usually just a matter of cleaning, rather than re-sealing or painting.

This convenience, however, will come at a cost. Synthetic materials often cost more than even wood. And for durability and strength you may have to add some real wood beams to the patio cover during construction. The initial cost, however, can eventually be overcome by the decreased long-term maintenance cost.



Durability: The polycarbonates used to make an aluminum patio cover means it will provide long-lasting strength. It will offer protection from the sun’s UV rays, but will also be corrosion resistant. That means the sun’s heat, insects, and rust will not wear out an aluminum patio roof.  And, of course, it will not rot as wood can do.

Easy Maintenance: Unlike the constant care that wood needs, aluminum patio covers don’t need a lot of upkeep once they are in place. Usually, you can hose it down with water and remove dirt with a soft sponge.  If an aluminum patio cover is a color it is usually baked into the product so you don’t have to worry about repainting it.

Appealing: Aluminum patio covers are offered in many shapes and designs. You can have a smooth, flat finish or ones with aluminum pieces of different heights forming the roof. Many different colors are available. Most people choose a lighter color to let more light in. Choosing the right color also means the patio cover can compliment the overall look of your home.

Different kits offer different styles including combinations that include different style rafters and combination designs that combine solid and lattice pieces. Even covers with insulation are available.

Easy Installation: Using panels with pre-cut sizes and pre-cut holes will allow some people to put up their patio cover as a DIY project. Some kits also come with roof panels that click together to stay in place.

But even if you hire a pro to put it up, the simple design of an aluminum patio cover means it can be done in less time than a wood patio cover.

Cost: Unless you are using a complex design and have a very large patio, an aluminum patio cover will usually be less expensive than a custom wood patio cover.


The main disadvantage is that some people find aluminum patio covers unattractive.  They don’t believe it has the same solid and substantial feel as wood. There are also some houses, because of their design or age, on which an aluminum patio cover would look out of place.


This type patio cover consists of a canvas or poly material that goes over an aluminum or metal support structure to hold it in place.


Choice: Fabric patio covers are offered in a wide variety of colors and patterns. This means you can more easily find a color that matches or contrasts nicely with your home. Or you can choose different combinations of stripes to make a bolder statement.

Styles also vary including the more modern triangular sail shades to standard square covers. These can be freestanding – not connected to your home – or attached to the side of your house.

Retractable: A retractable patio cover can be attached to the side of your home and retracted when you don’t need to shade your patio.  This means the cover is there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t.

Both manual and motorized retractable covers are available. Sun and wind detectors are also available so the canvas patio cover can close or open automatically depending on weather conditions.

Easy maintenance: These covers can be hosed down occasionally to remove dirt that collects on them.


Wear and Tear. If your canvas patio cover is open all the time it must be made of heavy-duty, waterproof fabric that can handle year-round weather. Even so, these type covers may not be as durable as well-maintained wood or aluminum covers.  And if there are any low spots in your awning, water can accumulate and start dripping through.

Discoloration: If you use the fabric type patio cover, you will have to check to make sure that no mildew or mold gets into the fabric.  Also, look for oil or grease spots. Any of these can quickly ruin the overall look of the cover. And using bleach to clean any of these discolorations can result in your weakening the fabric material.

For more detailed information, read Why You Need a Fabric Patio Cover.

2 Comments on "Which to Choose? Wood, Aluminum, or Fabric Patio Cover?"

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  1. Thanks for the informative post. I agree that wood patios require a lot of maintenance. I think that if anyone wants to get that natural look and feel of wood, there are some composite materials that mimic wood but do not come with the maintenance requirements.

  2. Cindy Tesler says:

    Thanks for the tip that wood patio covers give a nice natural look. You also mention that you can choose different types of wood to better suite your house. I think it’s a good idea to choose a patio cover that will require little maintenance.

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