4 Types of Outdoor Shades

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If a part of your home gets blasted by the sun every day, shade can turn that unusable area into a lovely lounge. You've got plenty of options as far as how to shade your home garden or patio. Some prefer convenience, while others want style. Some are looking to create additional space in their yards, which act as extended indoor spaces for entertaining and relaxing, others just want to read a book outside without getting a sunburn.

What's the right shade for you? Your choices range from large to small, and flexible to fixed.

1. Patio Umbrellas

Patio umbrellas are among the most commonly used shades, both at home and on the go in sunny spots. They may not feel like permanent solutions, and they don't create much recreational space, but patio umbrellas are inexpensive, and they're great for popping up shaded space away from structural elements.

outdoor shade umbrella on patio near lounge chairs

Their portability makes them flexible—ideal for both a solo lounge or group entertaining, and ready to go anywhere, from the beach to the mountains. Umbrellas also require little maintenance, and can be cleaned and packed away at the end of the season, reducing the chances of damage from inclement weather.

2. Traditional Awnings

An awning is a more permanent fixture, and can add great entertainment value and curb appeal if installed properly. Awnings usually have a metal frame that connects to the house over windows or larger patios. The fabric is typically a canvas slipped over the frame and sealed to protect it from moisture.

deck with awning

Awnings are a good option for homeowners looking for an indoor feeling outside while being protected from the sun and the elements. They also work to shade the windows inside the home, keeping the house cooler without using excess energy.

3. Sun Sails

Outdoor sun sails are one of the most interesting architectural options for shading your garden or yard. When they first appeared on the scene, they were often installed professionally, as they take some design planning to get right. These days, commercial models are widely available to install yourself, and you might be able to make your own with some canvas or tarp.

sun sail porch deck awning shade

These shades can be any shape—many look like the sail of a ship. Their slim, stylish lines can split the difference between protecting a garden space from too much direct sun and allowing enough light for the plants to thrive.

4. Roll-Up Outdoor Shades

Roll-up outdoor shades are a great option for patio spots that sometimes receive intense sunlight. Retractable models look like traditional awnings, but they have the capacity to roll or fold in when not needed.

outdoor back porch awning shade extended

This option offers convenient flexibility, and can be achieved with either a mechanical or manual device. The roll-up also has the same function as the awning and protects the indoors as well, keeping your home cool during the hottest times of the day.

Adjustable shades also make sense as part of an RV or other mobile home setup, since they can tuck away neatly when it's time to move. This hip camper trailer, appropriately titled "The Awning," was designed entirely around the structure of unfolding shades.

Got a shade setup that has you tickled (but not sunburned) pink? Post it on our project page and inspire the world to stay as cool as you!