What Are the Different Materials for Patio Roofs?

Even though a patio is often hidden in the back of the house, its design and roof should coordinate with the home's exterior color for a cohesive, unified look. The patio's roof can make an architectural statement, coordinate with the home's existing roof or be entirely different. The materials used on it should correspond to the overall design and use of the patio.

Also take into consideration how much maintenance you want to do on the patio itself. For example, a wood patio and lattice-type work will require more maintenance that a roof outfitted with shingles.

The materials you can choose for a patio roof include:

  • Lattice wood
  • Metal panels or aluminum
  • Translucent fiberglass
  • Boards and netting
  • Canvas shade sails
  • Wood and shingles

The Right Material

Because there really is no "right" material for a patio roof, select the one that matches your outdoor decor scheme, works with the climate and fits your lifestyle. When you want the patio roof to be an extension of your existing roof, build it over a sturdy frame to support an underlayment of plywood, tar paper and shingles that match the home's roofing shingles.

Do not cover a patio roof with just plywood, as it won't last long during inclement weather -- and it's not that attractive. If you add plywood, add metal panels or shingle it, and coat the plywood that faces the patio with paint that matches the home's exterior to protect against moisture penetration.

Trellis Patio

In climates that don't have a brutal sun during the summer months, a trellis patio cover offers both sun and shade. You can use a series of boards on edge or lattice-work 4-by-8-foot sheets made from wood lathing to cover the roof. If you want more shade, you can opt for a netting material over the wood or metal frame.

Canvas Sails

For a modern option, you can string a series of canvas shade sails pulled taut from the roof to poles set in the ground. Many of these shade sails offer 97 percent protection from harmful ultraviolet rays without blocking out all the light. These types of roofs can be left up the entire year or removed seasonally, as needed. For best results, have them professionally installed.

Metal or Plastic Patio Kits

Some patios can go up pretty quickly, especially if you opt for the patio with a metal or heavy-duty polyvinyl chloride-type plastic frame and panels for the roof. Metal or PVC-type patio kits require less maintenance than wood. For the do-it-yourselfer, you could essentially install this kind of patio in a weekend. Some of these kits come with multiple options for roofs or combo kits that include solid panels and lattice work.

Translucent Fiberglass

The same material that used to grace the top of old-fashioned greenhouses not made from glass serves just as well as a patio cover. Installed directly to a wood or metal frame and sealed around the fasteners to prevent leakage, translucent fiberglass lets the light in but not the harmful ultraviolet rays. You can find translucent fiberglass -- and all the other patio roof materials -- at your local home improvement store or garden center.