How to Build an Outdoor Awning over Your Patio

Rain pours off of an attached awning covering a deck.
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Awning material
Sewing machine or needle
Matching thread
PVC pipes with 1/2 -inch diameter
PVC pipe cutter
Two-way PVC connectors
Post hole digger
Flagpole holders
Galvanized screws

An outdoor awning allows you to sit and enjoy your patio irrespective of heavy rainfall or strong sunlight. Patio awnings can be retractable or permanent, depending on personal choice. A retractable awning allows you to roll it up or fold it when you do not need it, while a permanent fixture installed over your patio remains in place all year round, except when you pull it off to clean, repair, or replace it. Both types of awnings extend the use of patios in all seasons.

Building an awning is easy and much cheaper than buying one. Follow these steps to build an outdoor awning or canopy over your patio.

Step 1 - Take Patio Measurements

Tape measure

Decide if you want the awning to be attached to the exterior of the house or a freestanding structure supported by vertical poles inserted into the ground. Then, measure the size of the patio to determine how much material you need to purchase. Take the correct length and width measurements, and note the final figures on a notepad.

For a freestanding structure, add a few inches onto these lengths for the pockets that will fit around your supports. You will also need to measure the height you want for the support system.

With an attached awning, you will have to add a little more extra material to your measurements, as the slant of an attached awning will require more fabric for the same amount of coverage as the fabric of the freestanding type, which will lay flat. If you're more mathematically inclined, you can use basic trigonometry to figure out your exact amount, but otherwise, you can probably make a good, educated guess.

Step 2 - Purchase Material

Purchase awning material from your local home department store or fabric store. There are a number of materials available such as vinyl opaque for all types of weather conditions, polycarb panels for extreme weather conditions, clear panels for milder weather conditions, and even tarp. These materials come in single bold colors, designs, or are transparent to match the surrounding landscape and exterior of the house.

Step 3 - Sew the Patio Cover

Sewing machine

Place the patio awning material on a flat, clean surface and fold about a 1 5/8-inch piece over to the wrong side. Pin it 5/8-inch from the end for a couple inches along the length and then take a piece of your PVC pipe and test the fit. If it's too snug, fold a little more fabric over. Then, when you're ready, pin the fabric in place as you sew with a machine or by hand 5/8-inch from raw fabric edge, leaving the ends of each side open to form a pocket to insert PVC pipes into.

Step 4 - Build a Freestanding Awning

Measure all four sides of the material and cut four PVC pipes accordingly with a PVC pipe cutter. Then, add two-way corner PVC connectors to close the frame, with their open ends facing downwards.

Use a posthole digger to dig four holes at least six inches deep into the ground at the appropriate distance and insert PVC pipes into them firmly. You can use gravel at the bottom of the hole and concrete around it to give the structure more firm support. Connect the free ends of each two-way PVC connector to the PVC poles to support the awning and you're finished!

Step 5 - Build an Attached Awning

For a patio awning that connects to your house, you will need two flagpole holders and three PVC pipes. Insert the three PVC pipes into the front and two side openings in the awning. Insert two connectors to both the ends of the side pipes to attach them to the flagpoles.

Attach flagpole brackets to the exterior of your house by drilling holes at the appropriate height. Make sure you use a sturdy ladder if drilling holes that are high. Slide the side poles carefully into the brackets, and connect them to PVC connectors installed at the ends of the two poles. WIth that, your awning is secured and complete.