Building Canopies and Awnings for Your Deck

Canopies and awnings are two types of deck additions that add both shade and add visual interest. They are a simple solution to keeping out harmful UV rays while enjoying your outdoor area in the warmer months. Canopies are structures with fabric roofs, supported by a rigid framed structure. Awnings are available in retractable models, making them easier to take down when not in use. Both are fairly easy to install as a DIY project; the key step is deciding the type of canopy or awning fits best with your outdoor deck.

What You Will Need:

  • Canopy kit
  • 2 4x4 posts
  • 5 1x8 boards
  • 2 2x4 boards
  • 5 2x6 boards
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Cordless drill
  • Level
  • Jigsaw
  • Handsaw
  • Circular saw
  • Forstner drill bit
  • Spade bit
  • Carriage bolts 
  • Tape measure
  • Metal screw brackets 
  • Framing square
  • Clamps
  • Chisel 
  • Hammer

Step 1 -- Determine Your Deck Area

Canopies can cover the entire area of a small deck, or one section of a larger one. Plan how much of it you want the canopy to cover, and how much you want it to project outward from the house. If you are planning on an awning that retracts, you need to make sure it has enough room to both retract and open. Use the tape measure to figure out these dimensions and use them as a guide in selecting your canopy installation kit.

Step 2 -- Construct Supports

You will need to build rectangular support boxes for the canopy base posts. Nail together your 2x6 and 1x8 boards accordingly, and attach them at the top of the kickplate and deck stringers at the top of the first deck step.

Step 3 -- Attach Deck Posts

Carve out a notch in your decking plank where you will be installing the 4x4 posts. The notches should be big enough for the posts to fit securely. Use your hand saw to cut them, then smooth out each notch cut with the chisel.

Step 4 --Create Notches for Canopy Header

Attach the canopy posts together with the clamps, then create a series of notches where you will attach the headers to the posts. Make a series of parallel cuts with the hammer and chisel; make sure you keep the chisel sharp and always cut parallel to the grain of the wood.

Step 5 -- Install Front Canopy Posts 

Attach front posts in place, in the cut notches, and use the level to make sure they are even. Use long screws and your cordless drill to secure each post to the support boxes. When attaching the posts to the deck itself, use carriage bolts.

Step 6 -- Install Headers

Cut each header to fit on top of the posts. Fit each notched header board in place, in its notch on each post. Secure them in place with another set of bolts.

Step 7 -- Add Return Boards

Raise the return boards on top of the headers and cut them each so they are square to one another and to your house exterior. Use metal brackets with screw to secure these in place.

Step 8 -- Install Canopy Fabric

One end of the canopy fabric has a track cut to fit the header of the frame structure, and the other end has a track that attaches to the side of the house. The kit includes a set of brackets that attach to each of these points as well as to the return boards.