How To Add Shade To A Porch? [15 Solutions]

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Outdoor living spaces can be one of the most attractive features of a home. An excellent way to take advantage of your outdoor living space is by adding shade to your existing porch. Whether you are looking to utilize natural sources for shading your front porch or opting for a backyard makeover with a new covered porch or patio, we have done the research to help you narrow down the options. We will also discuss details related to those options for adding shade to your space.

Some options available to shade a porch are:

  • trees
  • vines 
  • plants and other greenery
  • curtains 
  • outdoor shades
  • covered/enclosed patios
  • pavillions
  • trellis’
  • pergolas
  • gazebos
  • arbors
  • awnings
  • canopies
  • shade sails
  • umbrellas

Now that you know the options, how can you best incorporate shade on your porch? You might be wondering how to do this naturally, with landscaping, or structurally with a home built porch cover. For answers to these questions, and more, just keep reading! We’ll discuss each shade cover option in detail, including how to factor your budget into this project and grow, build, or affix a shade cover for various style porches.

Wooden relaxing chairs in a shaded porch, How To Add Shade To A Porch

Why should I shade my porch?

Sitting outside on a sunny day will be much more enjoyable with a shade over your porch. Not only does it block the sun and keep you cooler, but it also serves as protection from sun and heat to your porch furniture and decorations. Covered porches are also more attractive to potential buyers when selling your home.

Natural Shade

Trees

Trees are great for natural shading, but research is key for planning when deciding on the perfect tree for your space. Some considerations include the size of a mature tree and whether any falling berries, seeds, or leaves will litter your porch. Once they are fully grown, trees will require pruning and trimming to keep them from growing beyond the desired area.

Unless you plan on having a grown tree transplanted to your desired location, you may have a long wait for the end result. Evergreens and maple trees, along with crape myrtle bushes, are good options for fast-growing and low maintenance shade trees. 

A porch graced with a shade by a tree

Vines

Vines can be a beautiful addition to existing structures such as pergolas and trellis’ already surrounding your porch. Flowering vines can be especially decorative, but dry falling flowers can be an undesirable result.

Some vines can also dry and shrink in the winter, so they will not provide full shade year-round. For year-round shade, consider evergreen vines such as purple wintercreeper, trumpet honeysuckle, or winter jasmine.

Potted Plants 

Large planters filled with small trees and large plants can provide shade and privacy for porches, decks, and other outdoor structures. Plants can also be planted directly into the ground around your outdoor space for shading.

One disadvantage of plants is that they may die in the winter months but offer a beautiful, natural choice for shading throughout the warm seasons. Evergreen plants such as pine or juniper are good choices for shade plants that will stay green all year.

Covered Structures

What is the covering over a porch called? The word porch itself implies a covered shelter attached to either the front or back of a house. A veranda is sometimes used when referring to an extended and/or enclosed porch. 

Covered porch

Covering your porch can be an expensive choice, but offers permanent, full coverage shading and shelter for furniture to create a perfect outdoor living space. There are several design options for covering existing porches, whether front or back. Make sure to check out “29 Covered Front Porch Designs (Inc. Colonial, Rustic, and Modern)” for more covered porch ideas. Covering an existing porch or patio usually requires a professional unless you are experienced in similarly sized, DIY projects. 

Covered patio

Patio space, like porch space, is expensive to cover but can be well worth the cost. Covered patios usually offer more outdoor covered space than a covered porch. Once covered with a roof (usually by a professional), additions like lighting, cooling, and even misting systems are available for installation to customize your patio space. 

Gazebo

If a free-standing structure with a breezy feel is what you desire, a gazebo may be the option for you. While on the more expensive side of porch shading options, gazebos can offer great outdoor space with shelter and shade. Gazebos have eight open sides and have a signature fully covered pitched roof. Screened options are also available for a partially covered feel. This is a job either for professionals or pre-built and installed.

Pavillion

Pavillions are free-standing structures, similar to gazebos that are not attached to a house or other buildings. A common trait of pavilions is hitched roofs without covered sides, making pavilions resemble large tents. Pavillions can accommodate large groups and are popular for hosting events such as weddings and other parties. 

Partial Shade

Trellis

A trellis can be an affordable, easy to do yourself project. Usually placed on the sides of standing structures such as your house, a trellis can offer partial shade, especially when the sun is lower in the sky. Trellis’ can be purchased already made at most home improvement stores and hung using screws in the desired location.

When a vine or other greenery is added to a trellis, the amount of shade can be significantly increased. Planter boxes can be combined with your trellis for a decorative touch.

Pergola

Pergolas are free-standing, four-columned structures without a solid roof. Pergolas can be built yourself in your own backyard or over your porch. Wood beams or lattice on top can be covered in greenery or vines for extra shading.

Columns within a pergola are a perfect place for hanging fabric panels. Rolling bamboo shades are also a popular addition to pergolas if a more outdoor feel is what you desire. 

Click here to see on Amazon.

Arbor

An arbor is made up of trellises usually adjacent to or parallel from each other, with a trellis or lattice top, creating a partially covered structure, perfect for covering your porch. Seating and planters are a common addition to arbors, making arbors both functional and decorative. Arbors can also be filled with vines to offer additional shade or draped with fabric curtains or shades, making personalization opportunities endless. 

Fabric Options

Curtains 

Curtains can be added to several different free-standing structures, such as stretching them between beams on a deck or patio for extra shading or a more private feel to your outdoor space or porch. While outdoor versions of curtains are available, high winds may damage or even pull down curtains. Make sure to read “How To Keep Outdoor Curtains From Blowing” for helpful tips on wind and curtains.

Click here to see waterproof indoor/outdoor curtains on Amazon.

Shades

Shades are also a great alternative to curtains, offering a more outdoor feel. While the concept is similar, shades roll up and down, while curtains are pulled from side to side. Much like curtains, shades can be added to existing structures to offer additional shade to your porch area. 

For more details, see this product on Amazon.

Canopy

Temporary shading, such as a pop-up canopy, can be great for outdoor entertaining. Easy to set up and take down and can be placed anywhere you choose, including over your porch. Folds up nicely for portability and easy storage. Canopies can be handy but offer limited durability, especially in high winds.

Click here to see on Amazon.

Sail Shade

Shade sails are large, durable pieces of fabric attached on one side of the sail to standing structures such as trees or poles and then attached to your home, over the porch in this case. Shade sails are usually attached to structures with hooks for easy removal. They can also be installed permanently for long term use.

Click here to see on Amazon.

Umbrellas

Table Umbrella

Table umbrellas can come separately or in combination with a patio table. If buying your table umbrella separately, about two feet of the umbrella should extend beyond the table for proper coverage and shade. Vented umbrellas are available for windy conditions, but umbrellas are usually removed in high winds and during the winter for storage.

Click here to see on Amazon.

Offset/cantilever umbrellas 

Offset or cantilever umbrellas are free-standing umbrellas attached to a stand on the side of the umbrella for use without a table. The offset stand can come in handy when a center pole is not desired.  When looking for an umbrella, make sure that you try it out to test the ease and functionality of putting it up and down, and not purchase only for looks.

For more details, see this product on Amazon.

Awning

Awnings are permanent structures attached to your home with removable fabric. Fabric can be taken down during the winter or left up all year. Durable enough to withstand wind and rain, most awnings last over 10-years. While the fabric is removable, keep in mind that this may require two people. 

DIY awning

An awning can be custom made with few materials. Awning frames can be assembled using PVC and durable fabric. A quick makeshift awning can also be made using a tarp for the fabric and placing hooks in desired locations to clip the tarp to. This easy DIY awning can be easily put up and taken down for temporary shade. 

Retractable awning

With one side attached to the house and made from a durable fabric that can be opened and retracted as needed, retractable awnings are perfect for those homeowners who don’t want to commit to a permanent version. Retractable awnings can be motorized or manual, with the motorized version being the more expensive but very convenient option.

Benefits of a retractable awning are the flexibility of placement and easy addition of side shades for rising and setting sunlight, in addition to the fact that there is no need for storage. However, with convenience, you may sacrifice some durability. Retractable awnings can become damaged with high winds.

Click here to see a motorized awning on Amazon.

What is the cheapest way to cover a porch?

Natural sources of shade are usually the cheapest ways to cover your porch area. If structures are available around your porch, such as columns, poles, or trellis’, adding vines can add the perfect amount of shade to your porch. Fabric shades are also usually a budget-friendly option for shading your porch. 

Can I cover my balcony?

Covering a balcony can be accomplished in many of the same ways as covering your porch. Fully covered roofs are a great choice for covering your balcony, although more expensive than simpler fabric shades. A trellis would also be a practical option for covering your balcony, with or without added vines. 

Final words

Adding shade to your porch can be an easy, inexpensive weekend DIY project or maybe handed off to the professionals for bigger projects. Whether you decide that natural shading or a completely covered patio is right for your home and family, any outdoor space can become a cool, shady space for a nice day outside.

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