Outdoor Patio Covers – the main kinds of coverings

It’s the perfect time to be thinking about patio covers because it’s getting cooler and extending the use of your patio, deck, porch or garden area into fall and winter may require some added protection, perhaps a screen room, a sunroom or some kind of patio enclosure that allows the sunshine to still enter while keeping the wind and rain or snow out. There are some options for patio covers that may simply provide shade like the lattice patio covers and others that will offer more enclosed protection.

Here are the main kinds of coverings you can choose from:

Open Lattice Patio Cover

If you live in a region where it’s sunny all year you may simply need an open lattice patio cover to give a little shade, perhaps with a vine or some foliage growing through the lattice work. This open lattice patio cover design will give shade without cutting out too much light and they can be built from aluminum that looks like wood and is resistant to the elements and also maintenance free.

Solid Lattice Patio Cover

If you live in a cooler climate but one that does not get frequent snowfall or regular harsh inclement weather, then a solid lattice patio cover may give enough protection from rain and wind without totally enclosing the area. These solid patio cover designs may be ordered in cedar embossed aluminum that give a wood-like appearance but won’t require painting and will never chip or peel like wood that is painted.

Screen Rooms

In regions where there is sun and many months of warmth, screen rooms may the perfect choice because they offer protection from insects, provide shade, and give a general shelter from the elements, however the area remains open to the natural breeze and sunlight that will come in through the screened area.

Patio Enclosures

Total patio enclosures, perhaps using the newest aluminum patio covers may be the best solution to extending the use of your patio well into winter months in colder climates that receive snowfall. These solid enclosures can also be made from enamel finished frames and imitation wood that is actually aluminum and requires no maintenance. These types of patio enclosures offer 3″ insulated walls, horizontal sliding windows (and a good brand to keep in mind is Millennium Windows) and perhaps you may wish to add some French doors. Additionally you may have added protection with thermally broken extrusions and all the materials can be made from wind and rain resident materials that are aluminum. You can add a full gutter system with downspouts and even have a fully insulated roof. The windows could be screened so that they can be left open to offer air on warm days and be like a screen room, yet able to close and be sealed on cold winter days. Adding a screen room or complete enclosure to a deck can not only add value to your home but allow to have extra livable space, and perhaps even be an area for a bright home office or a place for plants and an indoor garden.

Aluminum Patio Covers

Aluminum patio covers have come a long way from the days when they looked like cold industrial metal framework additions to residential homes. They are now elegant and can match wood or other materials from which your home may have been constructed. Since it is important that any kind of aluminum patio cover not look like an afterthought, you may want to consult a contractor regarding how to build a patio cover from the newest alumawood patio covers that are on the market today. However, there are some good patio cover kits that are sold through home improvement centers that allow you to build a patio cover on your own if you are a handy type person.

Here are same popular styles and prices for a variety of patio cover options:

  • Classic 12 Ft. x 14 Ft. Attached Aluminum Open Lattice Patio Cover that is maintenance free for about $1,600 from The Home Depot
  • Arrow Buildings 10 x 20 ft. attached vinyl patio cover for about $1,600 from Sears (vinyl-coated and galvanized steel parts)
  • Classic 10 Ft. x 20 Ft. Attached Aluminum Solid Patio Cover for about $1,500 from The Home Depot
  • Classic 10 Ft. x 18 Ft. Attached Aluminum Solid Patio Cover for about $1,400 from The Home Depot
  • Classic 10 Ft. x 20 Ft. Attached Aluminum Open Lattice Patio Cover for about $2,200 from The Home Depot

Vinyl Patio Covers

Vinyl Pergola and vinyl patio covers are not what you might imagine. These lovely lattice patio covers look like metal or wood or can be pure white or painted or treated to have a variety of finishes. They are easy to install and usually come in vinyl patio kit packages that include galvanized steel inserts for beams and post bases, materials pre-cut lengths and all the instructions needed to erect in just a few days. These patio covers can be added to a deck or patio or can be made as freestanding pergolas near your house or even in a garden.

Vinyl patio covers are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that outlasts their wood patio cover counterparts because vinyl lasts a lifetime. Pergolas and vinyl patio covers are maintenance free and are only a little more expensive than wood, yet will never need to be replaced. Just to give you an idea of price, and 8X10 cover will cost about $2,000, an 20X14 will cost about $4,500. These are patio covers that are attached to the house. For ones that are freestanding pergolas, they will cost about $2600 for an 8X10 and almost $5,000 for a large 20X14. These patio cover kits include everything needed to finish your project.

Metal Patio Covers

Metal patio covers are not just for a patio or deck or porch but may also be useful as carport covers that double as a garage to provide shelter for cars and vehicles from rain, hail, snow and heat, or deck covers for country homes or even boat covers. Carport kits and patio cover kits (including the boat cover models) are usually prefabricated from aluminum or steel and come in single wide and double wide aluminum options. However, for deck covers you will probably need custom sizes to fit with your home, apartment or condominium.

There are two basic kinds of prefabricated models, the free standing carports and the attached models. You can hire a contractor to install these covers or if you are looking to do it yourself, there are metal carport kits and metal patio cover kits for handy do it yourself homeowners.

Alumawood shade structures come in two styles:

  • Laguna lattice patio cover
  • Newport solid roof patio cover

For paint, it is recommended to use the brand called Aluma-Shield which is considered the most durable paint of aluminum patio covers because it’s made with a Teflon protector and is made exclusively for Alumawood structures.

Equinox Louvered Roof is a very unique style of cover because it is in essence a lattice structure that allows you to open and close the lattices to have more of less lattice opening or select an angle for shade protection or totally close off the lattice to have a solid cover. It is all controlled by a button and so is very easy to use. These modern coverings can be had in almost any finish you desire like aluminum, steel, wood, stucco, or painted looks.

Maxx Panel Insulated Roof is a high-density thermal foam that gives covers insulation and strength and integrates a tongue-and-groove connection system with an internal gutter system and a thermal break protection with a cedar embossed durable coating on aluminim that comes in many colors. All this is designed for extreme climates, either very hot or for heavy snow areas. This patio roof cover system can be used for alumawood shade structures, sunrooms, patio enclosures and screen rooms. You can find these wonderful patio cover products from an Amerimax dealer in your region.

DIY Patio Covers

Building a patio cover on your own may require you to take some time to consider these problems: how and where to insulate, where are the gaps and crevices that may cause leakage, where to best place the gutters and eves troughs, where does the sun and best lighting will come, where does the wind hit the house and when there are rainstorms or snowstorms which sides are the hardest hit. These things you will probably know if you have been living in your home for a while. Try to cover the areas or sides that get the most direct wind and rain and snow and leave windows and doors to the sides that receive the most sunlight.

There are DIY Patio Cover kits that start from as little as $6.50 per square foot. Naturally there are many that are more expensive.

Patio Cover Plans

Patio cover plans are not universal, the one that may be right in a tropical setting will not work well in a cold northern one. So when selecting from patio cover designs, be they online or in magazines, be sure to focus on ones that are specifically designed for your climate and region. Also, consider the style of the home and decide if aluminum patio covers will look out of place, say for example your home is made of brick or have siding or is totally wood or has a stone finish. And weigh the pros and cons of wood patio covers carefully because some styles may require expensive yearly maintenance whereas some aluminium patio covers are totally maintenance free. Many contractors and engineers have written books about patio cover design and offer them for sale online. Some are very unique patented cover designs, while others are basic. Here are a few places to get such plans:

  • Black & Decker Complete Guide to Patios: Plan, Build and Maintain by Phil Schmidt
  • Ortho’s Patio Plans (Ortho’s All About Home Improvement) by Ortho Books
  • Patio Roofs & Gazebos: A Complete Guide to Planning, Design, and Construction by Editors of Sunset Books
  • The Black & Decker Complete Outdoor Builder: From Arbors to Walkways: 150 DIY Projects (Black & Decker Complete Guide) by Editors of creative Publishing
  • Walks, Walls & Patios: Plan, Design & Build by Editors of Creative Homeowner and Glee Barre
  • Complete Patio Book: The Latest Looks in Pavings, Great Outdoor Room Amenities…by Editors of Sunset Books
  • Design Ideas for Decks & Patios by Heidi King
  • Decks: Plan, Design, Build (Ultimate Guide) by Steve Cory and Glee Barre
  • Decks & Patios for Dummies by Robert Beckstrom & National Gardening Assoc.
  • Ideas For Great Patios & Decks by Editors of Sunset Books
  • Black & Decker Complete Guide to Porches & Patio Rooms: Sunrooms, Patio Enclosures, Breezeways & Screened Porches by Phil Schmidt
  • Building Screened Rooms: Creating Backyard Retreats, Screening in Existing Structures, A Complete How-to Guide by Editors of Sunset Books
  • Porches & Sunrooms: Your Guide to Planning and Remodeling (Better Homes and Gardens(R)) by Better Homes and Gardens and John Riha
  • How to Build Patio Roofs, a Sunset Book by Sunset Books Dream
  • Porches and Sunrooms: Designing the Perfect Retreat by Michael Snow
  • The Black & Decker Complete Outdoor Builder: From Arbors to Walkways: 150 DIY Projects (Black & Decker Complete Guide) by Editors of creative Publishing
  • Porches & Other Outdoor Spaces: A Design Guide for Living Outdoors by James Grayson Trulove and Connie Sprague

Glass Atrium Sunroom

Alternatively you can choose to make a total glass atrium style sunroom with panels of glass or clear plexi extending onto the roof. The key to these sunrooms is sealing the joints so there is so leakage. Also you must take into account that in regions with heavy snowfall, these types of glass or plexi roofs must be slanted so the snow can slide off easily and not accumulate and become heavy.

A patio cover roof must be designed keeping the local weather in mind for it to be a servable and practical home addition.

A solarium or sunroom is a large undertaking that will require a professional, and it will be expensive. They can be straight glass or curved glass styles, or even a cathedral roof which is pointed or conservatories Sunroom design that is round or octagonal in shape. All of them will be custom built to suite the space available. These may be aluminum sunrooms and patio rooms that are white, sandstone or bronze with glass or they may be aluminum exterior frames in white or bronze with wood interiors and glass roofs.

Remember that a sunroom can have a glass roof or a solid one, can have total glass windows or just screens, can be framed in wood, metal or aluminum and can be a small addition over a porch r a complete front or side or all around home addition or even a separate building in a garden or near a pool. Unlike a simple carport or lattice patio cover, this kind of sunroom patio involves major construction. Because of this, it is impossible to quote approximate prices because there are far too many variables involved. You will nee to get a personalized quote from a sunroom expert in your area.

Here are some more books regarding sunrooms you may find useful:

  • Porches and Sunrooms: Planning and Remodeling Ideas by Roger German
  • Porches & Sunrooms: Your Guide to Planning and Remodeling (Better Homes and Gardens) by Better Homes and Gardens and John Riha
  • Complete Patio & Deck Book: Creative Ideas & Fabulous Fix Ups (Lowe’s Home Improvement) by Sunset Books


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