How we added shade to our patio

Patio CoverLately we’ve been having all our grown kids over for lunch on Sunday after church. Sometimes we eat outside, and now that the weather is getting warm, I’ve been reminded of just how hot our little back patio and deck area can be on a sunny day.

Our long-term hope is to someday cover the patio and deck with a roof, and perhaps even convert it to a sun-room/dining room. But the budget isn’t there at the moment, and so John and I have been noodling around some affordable temporary solutions.  After pinning a couple dozen patio ideas on Pinterest, we decided to add a couple posts to the end of our deck, and string some shadecloth on wire in a way that would allow us to open and close the cover as needed.  This video was very helpful, and goes into details about the hardware and wire needed for this project.

Here’s the space before we got going. The patio and deck combined are about 28 feet long, so it’s an ideal place to set up tables when we have a bunch of people over for a visit.  But as you can see from this picture taken midday, there’s almost no shade.
Patio with deck extension

Our patio needs shade!Here’s another picture taken from the yard looking into the patio area, complete with laundry hanging in the sun to dry. You may also see the volleyball net in the upper yard, and the new posts  lying on the deck.  Those 4×6 by 12 foot posts were the beginning of the framework that John built to support one end of the shadecloth support system.

John mounted the two posts in concrete at the end of the deck, and then bolted them to the deck framing.  Then he sandwiched the two posts between two 2×6’s, and added some decorative pieces across the tops of the 2×6 cross-members.

Then it was time to string three long wire cables from there to the fascia of the house just above the gutters.  Since John’s post-and-beam framework is taller than the gutter area of the house, the cable angles upward from the gutter area to the new bean, which causes the cover to hang just above the gutters, not in them.

Wire on which we suspended the shadeclothHere’s a closeup view of the wire cable.  We secured the loop at the ends of the wire by pounding ferrels with a hammer and added turnbuckles on one end of each cable so that we could make the cable nice and tight.  (Again, check this video for hardware details.) I ordered this 24ft x12ft shadecloth from  the Greenhouse Mega-Store.  It comes with reinforced edges and grommets every couple feet around the edges.  Overwhelmed by fabric!

What it doesn’t have is a way to attach the center of the shade cloth to the center wire.  We knew we didn’t want to simply rest the shade cloth on top of the wire, as we were afraid the wind and the weight of the fabric would wear it out.  I also had to fold over the middle of the shade cloth to narrow the width from 12 feet to 10 feet, which was the proper width for our patio, then sew it down so it would stay put.  You don’t know fun til you’ve tried to keep 24 feet of fabric straight in your sewing machine, sewing lines as straight as possible, trying not to break needles or thread too often.

Loops in the reinforcing tape into which we threaded keychains.

A trip to the fabric store produced some sturdy polyester reinforcing ‘tape’.  Tape is a misnomer– I actually had to sew it down the whole 24 foot length of the fabric  (down the center where the fabric was triple-layered) folding over bits of reinforcing tape every couple feet so we could hook in key rings.

Shade4To the left you can see how I sewed down the reinforcing tape and made loops where the key rings could hook in, and to the right you can see how the key rings looped onto the cable.  Key rings also got threaded into every grommet on the long sides of the shade cloth.  We threaded the key rings onto both side cables.  Then it was time to hook the ends of the cables to the eye bolts that were attached to the framework at the end of the deck.


On most of the connections we used carabiner clips, but one cable ended up being too long, so we opted not to use a snap clip there. Instead John opened the end of the eye bolt just enough to thread the cable into the eye, then screwed the eye bolt back tight against the beam.Shade6

We also hooked the key rings at the corners of the shade cloth into the loops at the ends of the cables to keep the corners of the shade cloth from sliding down the wire to the center of the patio.

Finally below you can see the finished shade stretched out over the patio.  It is not deep shade– if we need to replace it in the future, I’ll probably opt for 80% shade cloth instead of 60%.  But it cools the patio down beautifully and is a welcome relief from the blazing noon sun.

Shadecloth at noon

Above is a picture taken around 110:30 AM today, and you can see that the picnic table and the patio walls are already in the shade.  The shade gets deeper as the sun rises in the sky, covering the whole wood deck by 1PM or so.  You can see the swings that John also mounted on the framework. Now we can sit and visit while also swinging little children in the shade.  Fun!

Later in the afternoon

To the right is a photo taken in late afternoon.  By this point the house shades the patio, but the sunshade continues to provide deck shade, as well as some shade in the rocks where we usually have other seating.  It even keeps sun off those house windows, which should keep the house cooler.

Still on my list is to reseal the deck.  I’d also like to sew some cushions for our wire and our wicker patio seating, probably something yellow and bright green to tie in with the house paint and with our bright green doors.  I’m also thinking about adding some more potted plants back here.  Altogether with wood and wire and shade cloth, the whole project cost us about $350.  We’re thrilled with the way the shade makes the patio a nicer place to be, even in warm weather.



 Shade-loving cat

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  1. This looks like a good fix for you guys. We used to have a gorgeous maple tree in our backyard near the back patio (people even came and took pictures of it) but had a tornado go through two years ago and it was destroyed along with other trees in yard. No coverage at all by the house anymore so we cleaned out the garage, painted the walls, and put stuff in the loft and now eat in there when have a barbecue or just want to be out of the sun but outdoors. We put picnic table and highchairs in there for the summer with the grill right outside the garage. Works wonderful and the yard can be used for horseshoes, boccee ball, badmitton and volleyball games. I will sit on the patio in the early morning or late afternoon with a cup of tea and cross stitch but we don’t want to be there in the heat of the day.

  2. My sister does big family gatherings in her (very nice) garage too! Works well.

  3. It looks lovely and definitely cheaper than ones I’ve seen in stores.