Designing and Building a Patio Roof

A semi-shaded patio with a roof that provides partial cover.

A patio roof can make using your patio very comfortable in the summer months. Patio covers can be constructed of many different types of materials and designing one that will provide you with shelter from the sun can be a simple process.

Patio Roof Materials

Patio roof covers can be constructed of wood, plastic, vinyl, and fabric. For long-lasting results, choose a material that is sturdy and stable.

Wood roof covers are the easiest to build as you can easily find the materials needed at any home improvement center. With the help of a few friends, you can complete your project over the course of a weekend.

Plastic patio roofs are very inexpensive to construct and the materials can usually be found at a home improvement retailer. The disadvantage of a roof made from plastic is that it is not very sturdy and will need to be repaired or replaced frequently, particularly in areas with extreme weather.

Fabric is also an excellent patio roof material. Many retractable covers are made with fabric that is attached to an awning frame that swings out to extend over the patio. You will, however, need to make sure you take extra steps to care for your fabric to keep it from tearing, molding, or rotting.

Designing the Patio Roof

Once you have decided which material you want to use, your next step is to decide the desired dimensions of your patio roof. Many people choose to only cover part of their patio with a roof, allowing the rest of the patio space to be used for outdoor activities and features like a barbecue or hot tub.

Building the Patio Roof

Here are some step-by-step instructions for a basic patio roof design that is detached from the building beside your patio. Keep in mind that this is just one example provided to give you an idea of what you're dealing with.

Step 1 - Get Your Dimensions

Measure the area where you want to install the patio roof cover. Then, draw a chalk line along the outlined area for placement guidelines.

Step 2 - Construct the Vertical Posts

Put a cement footing at each corner of the intended patio roof space and attach anchors to each footing. Take four pieces of 4x4 lumber and cut them to the desired height of your patio cover, keeping in mind that the footings will add a little extra height to the final product. Then, take a drill with a 5/8-inch bit and put a hole in each end of the posts. Secure each post to an anchor on the cement footings before you finish off the posts by using a bolt to attach a post cap at the top of each.

Step 3 - Finish Frame

Next, cut four 4x8s to create horizontal posts. These posts will stretch between each vertical post, so they need to be cut to the exact length and width of your patio cover, based on your earlier measurements. Secure each horizontal piece with bolts to the 4x4s.

Step 4 - Attach Rafters

Using 2x6 lumber, cut rafter pieces to sit on top of the horizontal 4x8s. These cuts should be equal to the length these boards will be spanning, whether it is the length or the width of the cover. Place the rafter boards every 16 inches and secure them to horizontal posts with nails hammered in at an angle. This will prevent twisting.

Step 5 - Create a Top Cover

Finally, you'll need to cover the rafters. For this you can actually use a length of fabric, cut and sewn to the cover dimensions, or ship lap plywood. Nail the plywood into place by anchoring the pieces to the rafter boards every 12 inches. It is best to anchor the fabric as well, with nails or staples, so it doesn't blow away in the wind.

There are several options for customization with this basic design, including but not limited to paint, stain, and fabric choice for the top cover. Get creative to make something uniquely you!

Also, do not forget to use finishes and outdoor protectant on your wood and fabric for this type of patio cover to make sure it lasts as long as possible.