If you’re thinking of adding extra living space in outdoor areas; it’s imperative that you incorporate ways to protect your family and guests from harmful rays from the sun. You may think that you can’t afford to create shade structures because of cost. Having a contractor come and build something along the lines of a pavilion is not cheap. But there are some alternatives to big construction to add protected outdoor living space to your home. Regardless of how you provide shade to your outdoor areas the goal is to keep cool this summer!


You may think that a patio umbrella can only be used with a table and chairs. It’s true most patio dining comes with a receptacle for an umbrella, but there are lots of other styles and sizes of umbrellas that can provide big shade. Look for a large cantilevered umbrella to add shade to your outdoor seating without interfering with your living space. You may think that a few hundred dollars seems like a lot of money for an umbrella; but they come in sizes as large as 12′ round and larger! This can provide enough shade for a large patio.

Canvas Sails

Another stylish and less expensive way to create shade in your outdoor spaces it to use large canvas sails. It only takes a small amount of work to add the necessary shade for summer days. You can purchase most canvas shades for under $200 in most cases; less for smaller ones. You will need to set a few posts in concrete. You need to decide if part of your sail will attach to your house. You’ll need to decide how you’ll attach the sail to your posts. The sail will come with factory grommets that you can attach with eye lag screws and a turnbuckles. You could use snap hooks or s-hooks also. Configure your sail to maximize the shade you’ll create. There are online videos with detailed instructions for just about any configuration you’d want.

Pergolas or Pavilions

The most traditional way to create outdoor shade is a pergola or pavilion. Hiring a contractor to construct either of these, can run several thousand dollars. There are alternatives if you are truly handy. We purchased both, a pergola, and a pavilion kit from a big box store. It was about $1,400 for the pavilion and $1,200 for the pergola.

We did pay to have a concrete slab poured for each so we were sure about the foundation. The soil in Texas can be tricky. It took about two weeks for us to get both installed. It’s worth the work to save so much money. Sweat equity is the best definition of the effort.

To keep your outdoor furniture fabric from fading and more importantly to protect your health; you’ve got to limit exposure to the sun. Don’t think adding outdoor living is out of reach for you. If your desire is to have great outdoor living areas, you can make it happen.

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