Building an Awning Over Patio: A Comprehensive Guide

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On a hot summer day, there’s nothing worse than sitting on your patio chair and feeling the hot sunlight beaming down on your body.

Of course, you want to enjoy the outdoors. However, it may be unbearable, and you may consider building an awning over patio.

While this may seem like a daunting task, it is simpler than it looks.

With the correct guidance, any homeowner can successfully build an awning to help block out sunlight and provide shade.

Building an Awning Over Patio: Important Reminders

Before you build your awning, you need to keep some things in mind to ensure safety and prevent any violations.

1. Check Local Codes

If you’re building an awning over an existing patio, you’ll first want to check your state and city’s local codes.

Local building laws may prohibit you from building on top of your deck.

If your local codes don’t allow you to build your own awning, you may need to create footings to help support the overhead.

Creating footings may be too complex for some homeowners, so it’s best to contact a professional contractor specializing in patio building.

2. Measure Concrete Thickness

You should also check the concrete’s thickness.

Once you determine if the concrete is thick enough to support a patio deck, you can move onto the planning phase.

Patio Awning Designing: Factors To Consider

Before you begin designing your awning, you’ll first want to consider a few factors.

1. Load

The load will refer to the “live” and “dead” weight that a roof can support.

Live and dead weight when building an awning refers to the specific elements contributing to the overall weight that may press down on the awning supports.

Live weight refers to the stress exerted by external factors such as people, wind, or even leaves.

Deadweight refers to the weight that is strictly the awning materials.

Most local codes require a support beam that can support a live and dead weight of up to 750 pounds.

2. Slope

The slope refers to the pitch required for the type of roofing you’ll be using.

You can usually determine this by contacting the roofing manufacturer.

3. Rafter Size, Length, or Spacing 

According to the American Wood Council website, you should calculate the size and length of your rafters using a Span Calculator.

Using measurements will help ensure that your awning is up to code and safe to use.

3. Beams or Posts

To determine the load that the beams and posts can hold, you’ll need to multiply the lbs/ft^2 by the length and width of your awning.

4. Footings

The footings will require different depths, depending on your environmental location.

Areas located in the north and south hemispheres will need deep footings to accommodate frost.

Building an Awning Over Patio: The Methods

Let’s discuss in detail the material you should use and the steps you need to take to accomplish this project successfully.

The Best Materials To Use

The materials selected for your awning play a crucial role in the structure.

An awning will need materials that can accommodate a slope.

So, you have to avoid specific roofing materials such as shingles.

The best awning materials tend to be:

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  • Vinyl

Vinyl is water-resistant and weather-resistant enough for outdoor awnings exposed to wind, rain, and sunlight.

  • Acrylic

Acrylic awnings are water-resistant and are ideal for three seasons. 

They are a good choice when the weather is inclement since you will be able to retract it.

  • Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic material that is known to be stronger than cotton.

However, it isn’t water-resistant and may be prone to weather conditions.

  • Cotton

Cotton is inexpensive and can look stunning, but it lacks durability.

Additionally, cotton is hard to clean and often lacks the weather-proof qualities you’d want.

The Procedure

Now that we’ve covered what you’ll need before you begin to build, we’ll now explain the steps you’ll need to take to build an outdoor awning over a patio.

Here is what we’ve found to be the most effective route:

Step #1: Take Measurements

Now that you’ve done the preliminary work, you can begin by taking measurements of your awning.

Measure the size of the patio to help determine how much of each material you will need to build your awning.

From there, you’ll need to add a few inches on each length if it’s a freestanding structure to ensure it fits around the patio support beams.

Additionally, you will need to measure the height you want the support system to be.

Lastly, you’ll want to add an extra inch or two to your awning measurements as the material will be at a slight slant.

So, make sure you calculate these additional measurements, or else you’ll find you won’t have enough space to connect your awning together fully.

Step #2: Buy Materials

Once you have your measurements, you can go ahead and purchase the materials from your local hardware store. 

We highly recommend getting professional’s help when choosing materials, as they will provide guidance.

That said, if you have experience building awnings, you can skip this step and grab the materials you need.

Step #3: Create Your Patio Cover

Take the material you chose for your awning, fold 5/8th-inch of the edge, and test to see if a PVC pipe will fit through.

If not, then keep folding a bit of fabric over until it can fit.

Once you’ve found the correct size, you can sew alongside the raw fabric edge.

Step #4 (a): Build Over an Already-Built Slab

Note: Proceed to Step 4b if this isn’t what you plan on doing.

When building an awning, the overhead for a concrete slab should be at least 3.5 inches thick.

With each post being this thick, both can hold up to 750 pounds of weight.

Of course, you will need to factor in the live and dead weight.

Step #5(a): Secure Each Post To an Anchor

Now that you’ve determined if your patio can support an awning, it’s time to move to the next phase.

Put each post on your slab into a post anchor.

A post anchor provides support for a post but doesn’t require any digging or concrete.

Instead, a post anchor is a convenient little metal device that holds a post into place.

A standard anchor can support 4×4, 4×6, or 6×6 posts.

If you have a post that is any other size, you will need to order custom-made anchor support.

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Step #6(a): Install a Masonry Anchor

Now that you have both your masonry anchor and posts, you’ll need to learn how to install it.

For this step, you will need the following tools: a drill, a masonry-bit attachment, an anchor bolt, wrench, saw, and nails.

Here is a detailed step by step guide that can help you install it via drilling:

  1. Take a drill and attach a masonry-bit attachment to the drill bit.
  2. Use the drill to create a hold that’s half an inch wide; you’ll use this hole to install an anchor bit.
  3. Inset the anchor bit into the hole and secure the post using a washer and nut.
  4. Tighten the bolts with a wrench and ensure that the anchor bit is secured into place.
  5. Now, take a saw and cut the end of the post square.
  6. Take the post square and place it at the base.
  7. Drill holes into the post where you will insert the nails to the post.
  8. Once you have the nails drilled in, you’ve successfully attached the masonry anchor to the post.

Here is a detailed step by step guide that can help you install it via epoxy cement:

  1. Drill a hole that is slightly larger than a threaded rod into the deck.
  2. Next, blow out the dust and fill the hole with epoxy.
  3. After that, insert the rod into the hole you drilled and hold it in place for a few minutes.
  4. After a few minutes, you will need to let the epoxy set.
  5. For epoxy, you will want to let it set out overnight as this will ensure that the epoxy dries rock solid.
  6. After the epoxy is dried overnight, add the anchor bolt and anchor to the deck.
  7. Lastly, add the washer and nut and tighten.

Step #4 (b): Build on an Existing Deck

Depending on what area you live in and your local patio building codes, you can attach an awning to a patio overhead if there are already existing deck beams.

These structures make it easier than building your support beams.

That’s because you can skip having to install joists, beams, or other structural supports.

Here is a detailed step by step guide that can help you build over an existing deck:

  1. Match up your roof pitch angle and overhang.
  2. Install base connectors that help support your deck’s frame.
  3. Install support posts to the base connectors.
  4. Use temporary bracing to keep the supports in place while you install the header beams using bolts.
  5. Take your ledger board and install it to support the deck’s rafters.
  6. Now, mark and cut your rafter angle to match up with the roof’s pitch.
  7. Once you do that, nail the rafters into place on top of the ledger board.
  8. After that, attach the rafters to the heading using nails.
  9. Lastly, install a sunroof by installing the roof sheathing on top of the rafter.

At this point, all you will need to do is put your awning fabric, and you’re done.

FAQs About Building An Awning Over Patio

1. How much does it cost to build an awning over a patio?

Numerous factors go into calculating the total cost of installing an awning over your patio.

You’ll need to consider the materials, roof size, and fabric type for the most part.

The average cost of adding a roof over a patio will start at $2,000.

It can cost more depending on what other materials you need.

2. Can’t I just put a roof over my deck?

Yes, you can put a roof over your deck, but you won’t be able to retract it.

Plus, a roof will be more expensive to install.

You may also need to invest extra money into your project.

It will ensure the support beams are up to your local code and can support the load.

3. Should I cover my deck?

It’s always recommended to cover your deck whether or not you expect to block out sunlight.

Installing an awning can help provide shade, prevent water damage, and protect your deck, as well as your patio furniture from outdoor elements.

Conclusion

Building an awning over patio can be complicated.

Still, it is possible to DIY if you have the right materials and patience to figure out the math.

Otherwise, we recommend contacting a professional roofing company to help get a better idea of how to go about the project.

Of course, always remember to check your local codes as you don’t want a violation.

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