Patio Cover Buying Guide: What Essentials Do You Need to Know?

Mar 06, 2018

 Building an outdoor living space for your home can be a huge investment. Because it takes a considerable amount of your time and money, you’ll want to make sure you can keep it lovely and sturdy for many years to come. There is one easy and effective way to do this–installing a shade structure to better protect your outdoor living space from the harsh elements, especially from extreme sunlight. Additionally, this will help you fully enjoy the beauty of the outdoors in relative comfort.

Patio Cover Buying Guide: What Essentials Do You Need to Know?

Which Shade Structure Should You Choose for Your Home?

Shade structures are available in different types, each one offering something distinctive than the other. However, all provide the superior shading and comfort. Some of the most popular options include:

1. Awnings. Does it bring to mind those cheerful striped shades? While awnings are a traditional shading option, design advancements have paved the way for sleeker, more modern-looking ones. There are even awnings that raise automatically or retract depending on the weather. Another bonus–awnings can help shade your windows, helping prevent passive heating to keep your home cool.

2. Pergolas. This freestanding shading option is a commonly seen in landscapes. Pergolas serve as a cover to patios, decks and walkways. However, they also provide other useful functions, allowing for a lovely and comfortable space for dining and reading. Pergolas come in a variety of designs, including traditional columns, rafters and purlins. These provide your outdoor space with a real sense of openness to the air and sky, while still being connected with your home. In addition, you can use your pergola as a support for growing vines and other plants so you can get the most of your garden space.

A pro-tip: they are a built structure, so you’ll likely need a permit to have one made. If you want to keep your pergola sturdy and looking great, however, good maintenance is required. You can also just have pergola built using low-maintenance materials, like wood and fiberglass. This helps reduce the chance of frequent cleaning, scraping and painting.

3. Umbrella. This is probably the most basic shading structure available. Umbrellas are light, casual and cost-effective. They can be grouped with tables and chairs to provide you shade while spending time outdoors. Not only that, they come in a wide selection of designs and colors, helping add vibrancy to your outdoor space. What makes umbrellas so useful, however, is their mobility. You can just arrange them so they block sunlight, no matter where the sun’s rays are coming from.

4. Lattice. If you own a Modern or Contemporary home, lattice shade structures are perfect for you. They have thinner, simpler pieces, and form a more rectangular shape. Wood is usually used in this structure but you can expect a more durable, longer-lasting performance with Alumawood® lattice covers. You can even add fabric to your lattice structure for flexibility in shade control, or just to soften its overall appearance.

5. Solid Patio Cover. The last, but certainly not the least, is solid patio covers. This exceptional shading option offers complete shade and weather protection to your outdoor space. However, that’s not the only thing that makes it stand out. If you’re looking for the best shade structure available today, solid patio covers are it. They offer:

  • Sun Control. They are designed to provide shade from the harsh sunlight, allowing you to fully enjoy the outdoors without the uncomfortable heat. Because your patio furniture isn’t constantly exposed to the sun, there’s less potential for fading and damage. allowing you to keep outdoor items intact for longer.

  • Water Damage Protection. Solid patio covers are also handy during rainy days. Because they keep your patio dry, they stop mold or rot from forming in wooden furniture and rust in metal ones.

  • Extended Square Footage. Getting a solid patio cover helps add space to your home, while creating a more seamless connection between your interiors and the outdoors. This provides more spots for bonding with your family or entertaining guests.

  • Improved Outdoor Living. The best patio covers offer a good spot for both fun activities and relaxation–and a solid shade structure further improves the time you spend there. It helps keep the space cooler and more comfortable, while still allowing plenty of light for any outdoor activity.

  • Enhanced Visual Appeal. There are different types of patio covers, so choose the design that adds better visual impact to your outdoor space. You can, for example, choose from a range of end cut options, including Scallop, Bevel, Miter, and Corberl. Some premier remodelers even offer lovely choices that gives the ideal combination of open lattice and solid cover.

  • Increased Home Value. The improved comfort, beauty, and sun protection a solid patio cover can provide makes it easy for you to increase your home’s value.

Choosing the Best Patio Cover Material

How well your patio cover performs and how long it lasts will depend on your choice of material. That’s why you need to make sure you weigh each option’s pros and relate them to your specific needs. This way, you can get the patio cover that can deliver the exceptional performance you expect. Here are the best patio cover materials available today:

1. Vinyl. Lightweight and cost-effective, vinyl patio covers are a big hit for homeowners on a budget. They also stand out because of their maintenance-free performance, meaning you won’t have to worry as much about sanding or painting with a vinyl patio cover. As mentioned, vinyl is cost-effective–and it shows.

2. Wood. There’s nothing quite like wood when it comes to providing a timeless and natural look to your patio cover. It is durable and long-lasting, plus it’s available in a wide selection of types, colors and finishes. These make it easy for you to match your new patio cover with your home’s architectural style and exterior palette.

3. Aluminum. This material is a champion in durability, ensuring superb protection from the sun and other elements, requiring little to almost no maintenance. This means no possibility of warping, cracking or rotting.

4. Alumawood®. If you want a material that combines the best features of the three previous options, go for Alumawood. It is strong and lightweight much like aluminum panels, without the heat retention. It also emulates the rich look of authentic wood grain while offering better resistance against water and moisture damage. Additionally, Alumawood can provide the maintenance-free performance vinyl is known for.

Why Work with a Professional?

Patio covers, no matter how beautiful or sturdy, will require a professional to install them. This way, you can ensure the work will go smoothly, from start to finish. Proper installation also allows this home upgrade to deliver the exceptional sun protection and long-lasting performance you expect.

If you were considering taking the DIY route for this project, you’ll find that’s not the best idea because:

1. Patio cover installation is complex work. Being handy with tools and having pure determination certainly are admirable, but this home improvement project may prove difficult to the untrained homeowner. Working with a pro, however, helps ensure all the bases are covered. They’re already deeply familiar with the structural and design aspects of your patio cover, so they should have no trouble installing it to exact specifications.

2. You’ll need to have all the right tools and equipment. It’s good if you actually have the necessary tools for a patio cover installation lying around your shed. If not, the DIY-er will have to a trip to the hardware store to get them. This means higher costs, and that’s only for the tools! How about the materials you’ll need for the actual patio cover? Again, you no longer have to worry about this when you work with a pro. They have all the right tools and equipment to install your patio cover. Because they also know to use them properly, there’s no potential for mistakes and unnecessary damage to your home.

3. Patio installation mistakes can be costly and time-consuming. You’ll want to be honest about your time, money, and skill set if you’re looking to try DIY work. It’s very easy for the untrained homeowner to make mistakes, which may prove expensive to fix. Hiring a professional installer, however, takes care of this. They eliminate the potential for mistakes and ensure the work is done in a timely and efficient manner.

4. Familiarity with safety standards is vital. You want a lovely and functional patio cover, but you’ll also want it to remain sturdy and safe when spending time under it. This is where a pro comes in. They know local codes and regulations like the back of their hands, so you can rest easy knowing your new patio cover is installed to safety specifications.

Hiring a Reliable Patio Cover Installer

Choosing a reliable home remodeling company to handle your patio cover installation is crucial. After all, you’ll be depending greatly on them to ensure the project goes on without a hitch. That’s why you need to pick the right one for the job. There might be a large number of contractors operating in your area, but only a few of them can provide the superior workmanship and client satisfaction you expect.

So how do you narrow down your selection and make the most of your patio cover project? Check out these tips:

1. Get local referrals. 

Before looking up names online or on print ads, you should consider getting leads the old-fashioned way—asking friends and neighbors for good referrals. You may find that they can provide you with a clearer idea on how a prospective contractor handles business. Curious about how your experience will turn out? Referrals will give you the answers you need.

2. Start crossing names off the list. 

Once you’ve gotten a couple of likely names, it will start to feel like everything is going into reality television territory, where you eliminate one prospective contractor every episode. However, most of the work can be done through the phone. Call up the names on your list one by one. You should generally avoid the ones that:

  • Take forever to get back to you. Customer service is an important factor in a remodeling project. Being unresponsive speaks volumes about the way they handle business.

  • Refuse to give references. This is a red flag. Reluctance in providing references makes it seem like they’re hiding something.

  • Sound like they don’t know what they’re doing. This is another red flag. It reeks of “unprofessional” if they’re unsure of what to do about the work, or the choices they offer. A HUGE red flag if they actually ask YOU what they should do.

  • Can “maybe” fit you into their schedule. To avoid the risk of sloppy workmanship, you’ll want to hire a contractor that can give your project their full attention.

3. Check their credentials. 

Maybe that list has gotten shorter after all those phone calls? Now here’s the next step—making sure your remaining candidates have the right credentials to ensure a safe, stress-free experience.

Here’s quick rundown of the qualities you should look for in your prospective installer:

  • Licensed. This means they are eligible to provide remodeling work in your area. A licensed contractor has knowledge of local codes to ensure your project adheres to safety standards. They won’t have qualms about applying for the necessary building permits should the project need it, as well.

  • Insured and Bonded. They should have proof of insurance, including workers’ compensation and liability coverage. This helps you avoid the subsequent problems should anything go wrong during the project, such as worker injuries or property damage. Hiring a bonded contractor also means you’ll get compensated if they don’t follow through with the work as written in the contract. If you work with someone without coverage, you’ll be on your own.

  • Certified. This means they have met the stringent requirements set by the manufacturers they represent. Hiring a certified contractor also gives you access to a range of higher quality materials, plus the solid warranties included with them. You’re also sure your patio cover will be installed to quality specifications.

4. Interview our prospect face-to-face. 

This allows you to see if you and your contractor will get along. Establishing confidence and clear communication can positively affect your investment and the work process. Choose a contractor who can answer questions and address concerns in a polite and professional manner. Additionally, make sure you’re both on the same page about protecting your home during the installation and how you should be updated regarding the progress of your patio cover project.

5. Get a detailed contract. 

Your contract should cover all the phases involved in the project, including the timeline, budget, change orders, material purchases and payment options and schedules. Verbal agreement and a firm handshake aren’t enough when it comes to a remodeling project like patio cover installation. You are investing in your home, after all, and a contract will guarantee you get what you pay for exactly.

Getting a patio cover to protect and improve the look your outdoor living space can be worry-free, especially when you know which essentials to consider. With proper planning and by hiring a trusted remodeling contractor, you’re sure to get the most out of the home improvement project.

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