Things You'll Need
Patio design books
Backyard landscaping magazines
Build in one wall to enclose a section of the patio awning. Use this wall system for shelving or storage to make the outdoor space more efficient for entertaining. Consider using standard porch railing around the perimeter of a patio covered space, if the framing is a wooden structure. Buy balusters, hand rails and other components pre-made at a local home improvement store.
Outdoor living space can enhance the overall value of a house. By investing in a patio awning, you can use the patio on more days of the year. Plan an awning cover that is appropriate for a given neighborhood. When in doubt, drive around the immediate area to see styles of awnings used on most houses. Design a patio awning that looks well-proportioned to the overall size of the house, and use roofing materials that complement the home's existing roof. Otherwise, a patio awning can detract from the home's value.
Buy or borrow patio design books and backyard landscaping magazines. Review styles of patio awnings online. Make sketches of particular designs that might work on a given house. Draw the basic shape of the roof area and decide whether it will be free-standing or attached to the home's roof rafters. Check with local authorities to learn about required building codes or the need for a building permit.
Sketch the roof angles in detail. Consider an A-frame, flat roof or hip roof for the roof rafters, for example. Use the home's roof shape to determine a patio awning roof that complements the architectural style of the house. Plan to use a more creative roof if the backyard has a swimming pool, for example. Use a more conservative roof for a colonial home with a small backyard.
Design the roof covering materials. Review many possibilities before making a decision. Consider a fabric awning if the house is near a beach. Plan to build wooden framework to support a fabric awning ordered from a manufacturer. Sketch the awning with other choices, such as a roof covering of asphalt shingles to match the house, cedar shakes or metal sheeting.
Plan the framework support system carefully. Lay out the skeleton of the patio awning cover by sketching roof rafters on 16-inch centers. Use large support posts to hold the weight of the roof trusses or rafters. Plan to use support posts that are at least 8 inches square, but consider using columns of steel or concrete as an alternative.
Check the foundation that will hold the patio awning. Make sure the concrete is reinforced with metal. Never build a heavy awning over a concrete base that has no reinforcement, since the added weight will crack the concrete. Plan to install the awning over the patio before adding porcelain ceramic tiles or other flooring materials. Install all aspects of the awning, including angle-iron reinforcement at the floor level, before adding decorative flooring to the space.
Judi Light Hopson
Judi Light Hopson is a national stress management expert and psychology issues writer. Her column on relationships, co-written with a nurse and a psychologist, is distributed by McClatchy Newspapers to over 300 major publications worldwide. Ms. Hopson has written for employee assistance programs that serve over 15% of America’s Fortune 500 companies. links provided below.