Patios can transform a backyard into an extension of your home. They allow for outdoor dining, relaxation, and entertainment.
Fabric Patio Cover Benefits
A fabric patio cover will make a backyard patio even more useful by providing several major benefits. The most obvious benefit is shade: in the heat of summer, a sunny patio can be uncomfortable or even unusable. Shade cools the patio during the day and shields eyes from the slanting rays of the sun in the mornings and evenings.
Secondly, a fabric cover made from the proper materials will provide protection from the weather. Fabric covers provide UV protection for those under it. These are the harmful rays of the sun that can cause sunburn and cancer. If the fabric is made from waterproof material you can even entertain outdoors during light rains. What’s more, these covers will help protect your patio furniture from fading or getting waterlogged.
While patio covers can be made from several different types of materials such as aluminum or wood, these options may not provide the durability, style, or affordability of fabric. Even within fabric covers, however, there are differences in materials such as canvas or poly.
If protection from the harmful effects of the sun is important, make sure you choose a fabric cover that is certified to stop UV rays.
Water and weather resistance are another factor to consider when choosing patio cover fabric. Covers that will be in place year-round must be heavy and durable enough to stand up to the elements in both summer and winter. Seasonal covers that will be taken down before any snow or ice can damage them can be more lightweight. But if you are intending for your fabric cover to keep the rain off your patio, the material must be relatively waterproof. However, keep in mind that since fabric is a woven or knitted material, it is nearly impossible for it to be completely waterproof.
Fabric Cover Shapes
The fabric of a patio cover can come in a variety of shapes. The simplest is a flat or slanting cover composed of one piece of fabric stretched over the frame. Flat covers can collect rainwater or snow, so care must be taken to remove standing water as necessary. Slanted covers will allow for drainage, and can also provide more shade coverage depending on the direction of the slant.
A dome or tented cover is tallest at its midpoint and tapers to the edges; these covers are generally freestanding and can be either rectangular or rounded. This shape allows for a taller patio area.
Another popular option is a sail shade: these consist of a piece of rectangular or triangular fabric, such as canvas, stretched between supports at the corners so that the fabric drapes stylishly between the supports. The support can be your home, a column, or even a tree. Sail shades are sturdy when properly attached, but because of the way they dip and curve there is the possibility of water collecting on the top.
Fabric Patio Cover Frames
Whether you choose to have a year-round or seasonal fabric patio cover, it will need some sort of frame to support it. Frames that are meant for year-round use, like the fabric covers themselves, are made from materials that will withstand freezing temperatures and strong winds. Usually they are metal and made with aluminum. These sturdy frames can also be adapted into walled, fully-enclosed structures for your patio, providing even more protection from wind and other inclement weather. A patio that is next to the house can have the frame for the cover attached to the house itself. But another option is setting up a completely freestanding fabric structure.
Like any patio cover, fabric must be properly maintained to provide long-term use. Seasonal covers should be removed when the weather starts turning colder and cleaned before being put away for storage. All fabric covers should be washed occasionally to clean off any dirt or debris the weather has left behind.
For fabric patio cover cleaning use diluted detergent; laundry detergent works well for general cleaning, while dish detergent is better for oil or grease spots. Bleach can discolor and may weaken the fabric material so should be avoided. Mildew or mold spots should be treated first with a scrub brush before cleaning the rest of the cover.
Dry the cover out thoroughly after any cleaning and before storing it. Taking the proper steps to care for your fabric patio cover helps ensure it will enhance the look of your patio for many seasons to come.