What are the Different Types of Patio Covers?

T. L. Childree

Several different types of patio covers provide shade and shelter for outdoor activities. Wooden covers may be designed in many different ways, but require frequent maintenance. Metal variants such as steel, wrought iron, and aluminum are more durable than wood, but usually less attractive. Vinyl patio covers are virtually maintenance-free and come in several styles and colors. Synthetic wood coverings have a natural appearance and also require very little upkeep.

Asphalt shingles can be used for patio covers that have peaked roofs.
Asphalt shingles can be used for patio covers that have peaked roofs.

Wooden patio covers are the traditional choice for many homeowners because of their natural beauty. This material blends well into almost any landscape and may be painted or stained to further enhance its attractiveness. Homeowners often choose this type of patio cover to match the appearance of their home’s natural wood siding. Wooden patio covers can sometimes be designed to match the architectural design of a home. Some wooden coverings employ a colored canvas roof that matches the home’s paint scheme.

Vinyl patio covers typically feature a simulated wood grain finish.
Vinyl patio covers typically feature a simulated wood grain finish.

Wooden covers may utilize asphalt shingles for shelter from rain showers or have lattice panels for shade. Many wooden patio coverings are partially enclosed on one or two sides for privacy. Other styles feature large overhead beams with decorative vines or hanging plants. This material requires frequent maintenance to prevent rot and insect infestations. Cedar, maple, and redwood are often chosen for their natural weather and insect resistance.

A variety of different metals may be utilized to construct patio covers. Steel patio coverings are sold in many modern designs and can be painted to look like other metals. Many of these covers use lightweight, steel panels or color-coordinated canvas for the roofing material. Wrought iron coverings can be ornate structures designed in the shape of a gazebo or tent. They are usually covered with canvas or a high-impact, transparent material.

Aluminum patio covers hold up well in all types of weather and require very little maintenance. They are sometimes fabricated to resemble a gazebo or tent and may be powder coated in a wide variety of colors. This type of patio covering is typically equipped with a metal, fiberglass, or canvas roof. Although metal patio coverings usually offer less visual appeal than wood, they cannot rot or be attacked by insects.

Vinyl patio covers are lightweight and colorful structures that are virtually maintenance-free. This durable material will not fade, rust, or rot and typically features a simulated wood grain finish. Synthetic wood patio coverings are available in many of the same designs as natural wood. They are typically composed of a metal alloy and have a wood-colored finish. Synthetic wood is usually more expensive than other materials but provides a more natural-looking appearance.

Patio cover can provide shade.
Patio cover can provide shade.

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Discussion Comments


@heavanet- You are correct about retractable patio covers being convenient. I recently had one installed, and it is great to be able to use your awning when you need it and close it when you don't. This is also a great feature when bad weather hits, because you do not have to expose this type of patio cover to wind, rain, snow, or hail.

I have found the mechanism that opens and closes the awning to be durable and easy to use. There is a warranty period that came with my awning, which I would recommend to anyone who purchases this type of patio cover. Having a warranty gives you peace of mind if you do run into any problems with the operating mechanism.

As for the price, I don't think that retractable awnings are that much more costly than any other type of patio cover. If you shop around and compare prices, you should be able to get a good deal if a retractable patio cover is the type you want for your patio.


Does anyone have any opinions about retractable patio covers? These awnings look like they would be very convenient and practical, but I'm concerned about how much they cost and if they have the tendency to break easily.

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