A canopy gazebo can last for many years if it is taken care of properly. It should be kept free of mold and mildew, for starters, but the worst damage comes from exposure to the elements, and special care needs to be taken against them. This article will present some tips for making repairs along with some suggestions to reduce the need for them.
Mold and Mildew
Canvas and vinyl are both common targets for the growth of mold and mildew. If allowed to grow, either of these can result in the material deteriorating, or even cracking and tearing outright. The simple way to avoid mold and mildew problems is to wash the canopy periodically with a solution of bleach, dish soap, and warm water. Use 1/4 cup bleach for every gallon of water and apply with a porous sponge. Allow the mixture to set for 5 to 10 minutes, and then wash it using the same solution. Rinse well with a garden hose. The reason bleach is a preferred cleaner is because it is one of the few chemicals registered with the EPA as safe for home anti-bacterial use. Not only will the bleach solution remove the mold and mildew, it will kill the spores that would otherwise allow more to grow.
The Best Protection
The best protection for a canopy gazebo is to take it down and store it away when it is not being used. The ultraviolet rays contained in sunlight will make the colors fade at first, but long term exposure to sun and rain, heat and cold will cause deterioration of the materials themselves. The only real defense is to set the gazebo up when it is needed, and store it away again when you are done.
Weather Resistant Sprays
To protect the vinyl and canvas of an outdoor gazebo, the local sporting goods store sells cans of spray-on weatherproofing. This delivers a light film coating to the surface, sealing it against moisture. Each manufacturer has a specific method of use, but the general application is to hold the can 6 to 8 inches from the surface and spray smooth, even strokes. Allow the spray to dry thoroughly before touching the area where it was applied, or natural oils in your skin can contaminate the protective layer and make it useless.
Repairing Frays and Tears
Over time, the seams in your backyard gazebo will begin to fray. Another scenario would be a small branch falling unexpectedly and creating a rip in the canopy. In both instances, repairing the problem as soon as possible can prevent having to replace the entire canopy. Use an approved thread, usually made of vinyl or canvas, and a large sewing needle. Sewing the seam all the way through or around the area being patched, and then backward over the same joint, creating a double stitched seam. If the tear is large, it may be a better idea to use a small patch of the same material as the canopy, and place it over the hole. Applying the patch to both sides of a tear prevents accidental snags and adds longer protection. If you have access to a suitable sewing machine, seams and tears can be repaired using it instead of hand-stitching.