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Outdoor Covers, Canopies, and Shades Buying Guide

Has the sun ever beat down on a hot day, driving you inside? How about a change in the weather unexpectedly changing your plans for a party? Mother Nature doesn't have to dictate your outdoor time anymore, thanks to patio covers, canopies, and shades.

Types of Covers, Canopies, and Shades

Types of Covers, Canopies, and Shades

Design continues to influence all things home-related, and that includes covers, canopies, and shades to protect you from the sun. Umbrellas -- once available in just a size or two, suspended from an immovable pole -- are now stylish accessories with flexible features that allow you to tilt, change, and direct the shade as needed. The same is true for all the other types of covers, canopies, and shades, including carport, shade sail, beach, gazebo, and grill/furniture. Choose the stylish, functional version that you need (and want) for you and your family.


Umbrellas can be freestanding or set in the middle of a table that has a hole for placement. Umbrella poles often have tilting mechanisms that enable them to be angled to provide more protection from the sun.


A carport is a lower umbrella that is long enough to shield a vehicle of some sort. These are generally left in place for longer periods of time and can be used instead of garages in more temperate climates.

Shade Sail

These covers are suspended from a structure at ceiling height to shade a larger area. They are generally semipermanent and offer flexibility in terms of shape.


A beach cover or canopy is a temporary structure that is set up with ease and used either in a backyard or on a beach for shade. These typically have a carrying case to make transport simpler.


A gazebo canopy is often shaped similarly to a permanent gazebo structure; it offers shelter or shade for larger gatherings and is a good item to have on hand for frequent entertaining.


Grill and furniture covers are designed to protect these pieces from the effects of inclement weather or prolonged exposure to sun. They are most often used in cold-weather months.

Product Features

Product Features

Choosing the right overs, canopies, and shades might seem like a simple decision, but there are factors that come into play that influence how easy it is for you to use yours. For example, if your canopy is designed to travel with you from spot to spot, a carrying case will be of paramount importance. If your canopy is more stationary, you may put more weight on lighting. Whatever the case, review these and additional product features, including sides and anchors/weights, as you choose the right canopy, cover, or shade for your needs.


Many covers, canopies, and shades have sides -- either screens or "solid" faux windows -- that offer additional protection from rain and bugs.


Anchors or weights are used keep the cover, canopy, or shade from tipping over or being caught by a gust of wind. These may come with the cover or be bought as supplements.

Carrying Case

Particularly for those covers, canopies, and shades that are designed to be temporary, a carrying case is a practical addition. These usually have some sort of a handle to make transport easier.


For those covers, canopies, or shades that may be used at multiple points during the day, accent lighting can be a welcome amenity. Lighting can be attached to poles, the roofline, or other key spots.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

From the smallest beach canopy to the largest gazebos for hosting a crowd, all the opportunities presented by covers, canopies, and shades can be intriguing. But before you grab whatever option seems best, it's helpful to review a few purchase considerations and put them into the decision mix. Those include color, size/capacity, permanent, and temporary/pop-up. Use our short overview to help sort through all the options and find a cover, canopy, or shade that will serve you well for years to come.


Canopies, covers, and shades come in all sorts of colors. For those that are more permanent, a neutral color may be a good choice to blend in with the surrounding landscape and architecture.


Before making a purchase, review how many people will likely be using the structure at once. For gazebos, you may desire a larger size to offer more flexibility for various-size parties.


Some covers, canopies, and shades are more permanent in nature than others. For example, a gazebo canopy may remain in place throughout warm-weather seasons; a sail canopy can stay as long as needed.


Many covers, canopies, and shades are designed to be temporary structures to accommodate specific activities -- a day at the beach, a graduation party -- rather than year-round needs.

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