Patio Shade Structure Ideas for Your Outdoor Living Space

Patio Shade Structure Ideas for Your Outdoor Living Space

Additions and Remodels
Decoration and Design
Outdoor Additions
By Alex Mikayelyan February 04, 2022

Outdoor living is one of the best benefits of owning a house. In case you weren’t aware, there are a lot of benefits to spending time outside. The sun is our main source of vitamin D, a nutrient responsible for keeping our body structurally sound and our regenerative abilities at their peak. So, catching a few rays (without overdoing it, of course) is a major health benefit. Same with outdoor air, which can help to clean out the lungs.

But during the summer, when the sun is at its strongest, you need some shade to prevent sunburns and the discomfort that comes with the scorching summer heat. Large patio shade structures are the best solution to protecting you from the summer heat and making the landscape more liveable even during the hottest summers. There are a variety of backyard shade structures you can pick from that will fit your landscape, both in terms of space and visual aesthetics. 

Pergola

How the Partial Shade of a Pergola Creates a Cozy Outdoor Living Space

How the Partial Shade of a Pergola Creates a Cozy Outdoor Living Space

You’ve likely seen pergolas in a large number of backyards. They are commonly used with patios or decks that require a bit of shade from the harsh summer sun. One very important thing to note about the pergola is that it is not a complete shade from the sun. It does have slits between the planks of wood that allow for limited sunlight to protrude through them. Sure, it’s nowhere near as hot as having the sun shining directly down onto you without any cover whatsoever, but it’s not the complete shade you’re looking for.

Pergolas either stand on four legs or two if they are built against an exterior wall. You’ll find them mostly made of wood, though some stronger designs of the pergola have masonry at the base of the posts. Modern iterations of the pergola may utilize an aluminum frame with wooden planks at the top or even fiberglass. You can also opt for a retractable pergola with sides that can be opened and closed depending on when you need it.

Other than providing limited shade, pergolas are mostly there to create an outdoor living space. While the pergola may not fully shield the area below from sunlight, rain, and other weather conditions, it can create air circulation through the slits between the roofing boards. This air circulation is focused on the area below, making the outdoor space more comfortable to sit in. The pergola is also good for keeping the landscape visually clear. Other types of shades may limit the view of your backyard, as they have a solid surface acting as the shade. Pergola allows for light to protrude through the slits of the shade boards, so it is far less of an eyesore.

The downside of the pergola is that it does not make your outdoor living space usable all throughout the year. If it is too hot outside, raining, or snowing, you will not be able to make use of your outdoor living space as the pergola is not designed to protect the area from these weather conditions. The additional comfort it provides is noticeable but far more subtle than a solid shade. 

Pavilion

The Outdoor Living Space Pavilion

The Outdoor Living Space Pavilion

In case you’re looking to host cookouts and barbeques, having a partially covered shade may not be enough. Staying under the scorching sun for hours as you cook or eat is not healthy at all. So, if you’re looking for a shade that will give you full protection from the sunlight, the pavilion is what you need.

Pavilions are structures that involve posts and a roof, and in some cases, even half walls. However, most of the time, the pavilion stands on four posts with all four sides open. This provides plenty of shade for the outdoor space, as the roof is much like a traditional roof, made of either shingles or solid wooden planks.

Decks and patios can really benefit from a pavilion as it makes these outdoor spaces usable even in harsher weather conditions, such as during the rain or when it’s very sunny outside. But with this solid shade comes the downside of having it be obstructive and take up a lot of visual space in your landscape. 

Gazebo

The Elegance of the Classy Gazebo

The Elegance of the Classy Gazebo

Many have trouble differentiating gazebos and pavilions. After all, both are outdoor structures separate from the main swelling unit with posts that hold up a solid roof. Both are used to provide shade and roofing over an outdoor living space such as a deck or patio. Additionally, both are usually made of similar materials, such as wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. So the question arises of what makes them different and why they have two separate names.

The answer is simple: the difference in their shapes. Pavilions tend to be square or rectangular, whereas gazebos are usually hexagonal or octagonal. The patio gazebo shade is at somewhat of a disadvantage in this case, as it’s much easier to engineer a square or rectangular roof, meaning pavilions can be much larger in size than the gazebo. However, if you already have a small outdoor living space, such as an island deck, then size shouldn’t be a problem for you.

Other than using your gazebo for shade, it can also be used to have a gorgeous 360-degree view of your landscape. Hence why they are most effective in backyards with a lot of space. There is very little reason to have a gazebo in a small backyard where the 360-degree view cannot be utilized to its fullest extent. Gazebos are great for hosting cookouts and picnics, as well as special occasions and gatherings. You’ll find a lot of weddings where the couple reads their vows inside a gazebo. This is a very classic way of utilizing the gazebo, but in reality, there is a lot more you can do with it. From birthday parties to pleasant outdoor dinners, to simply lounging around and enjoying the fresh air.

Portico

What Makes the Portico a Unique Shade Structure

What Makes the Portico a Unique Shade Structure

Unlike most of the other shade options listed, the portico differentiates itself by being associated with the front of a home. If you have a porch with a roof, that roof is referred to as a portico. However, a portico can also be the roofing above the front door itself or even the columns you’ll find in homes that take inspiration from Classical Greek architecture.

However, the main difference between the portico and other types of shade is how they need to be attached to the main structure itself. The portico is never a free-standing shade and at least one side must be attached to the house. In the summer, porticos are most effective at providing shade for the front porch or the dack in the backyard. Porticos make these outdoor living spaces pleasant, as it shields them from direct sunlight or the rain.

Because they are attached to the main structure, porticos are structurally sound, though they will require the same amount of maintenance as the roof. Usually, the roofing material for porticos is oftentimes the same as the ones used for the roof itself, although depending on the design of your portico, it may use different roofing materials if they don’t conflict with the roof’s aesthetic. 

Patio Umbrellas

The Practical Benefits of Patio Umbrellas

The Practical Benefits of Patio Umbrellas

If you don’t want to spend time, money, and energy on building a stationary shade for your landscape, the next best option is the patio umbrella. This isn’t a shade structure per se, but it does accomplish exactly what any traditional shade structure would: providing a refuge from the weather for anyone who’s enjoying their time in the outdoor living space.

There are several types of patio umbrellas you can purchase. There are the very basic patio cover fabric shades, with a wooden or plastic shaft that comes with a base weight to keep it in place. But modern portable patio shade structures come with a mechanism that allows you to easily control the direction and height of the umbrella, making the setup process seamless.

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Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan

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