By Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch, MBA
No matter how much you enjoy relaxing or eating on your patio during the summer, it’s just too hot to be outside most days.
The big joke around here, of course, is that we have just two months of patio weather: April and October. All the rest are either a bit too cool or way too hot.
But it’s a shame to leave your beautiful patio empty all summer. One way to make it more usable is to cover it with a roof.
Especially if your patio is concrete and located on the south or west side of your house, it’s a target for the summer sun. So what you need is a cover that will block the sunrays and also insulate the space a bit to ward off some of the heat.
If you’re ready to make your patio more of a year-round space, keep a few things in mind:
- An aluminum awning probably isn’t insulated or large enough to keep the heat away. In fact, that thin sheet of metal can heat up, too, and make your space feel even hotter. A better idea: A heavy-gauge steel roof over wood rafters provides insulation and a lot of shade, so it blocks sunrays and the heat. At my house, I painted the ceiling under the metal roof black, which looks great. And when it rains while my wife and I are sitting outside under it, we can hear the water hitting the roof, which is relaxing.
- A patio roof made of asphalt shingles like the ones on the roof of your house also provides insulation and will keep you and your guests more comfortable.
- Some homeowners choose to paint the ceiling under the roof light blue. The theory is that the color will ward off spiders and wasps. You’ll find plenty of these sky-blue porch ceilings in the South, and the homeowners who have them swear by the color.
- If you prefer a more decorative ceiling, consider making it from bead board or stained wood.
- Every roof needs a drainage system to direct rainwater to downspouts, so it doesn’t splash all over you or against your home’s foundation. When you add a roof to the patio, it could change the path of the water that lands on your house. Tie the two roofs together so both drain properly.
- The patio roof should extend 18 to 24 inches beyond the patio. Any shorter and the water that drains off it will get your walls, patio floor and party guests soaking wet.
- Look at the roof of your home before you select a roof for your patio. They don’t have to match, but they shouldn’t clash, either. Choose a complementary style and color. Even metal roofs come in colors that coordinate with shingles.
- Hire a contractor who knows how to size beams and rafters correctly, so your roof doesn’t fall down on you.
- Don’t expect a rush job. It takes a few weeks to design a roof, order the materials and build. Proper planning now will guarantee you years of enjoyable barbecues and watching football outside on Sundays.
- Once your patio is covered, consider installing a ceiling fan. It will circulate the air so it feels a couple of degrees cooler which will be more comfortable.
- Some of our neighbors have swamp coolers on the back porch or patio, which spray out a fine mist that makes anyone who comes in contact with it feel more comfortable.
- If a permanent roof is more than you want, you could install a large, retractable canvas awning to help keep you cool.
- If nothing else, run over to the store and buy a big patio umbrella. At least it will give you a little bit of shade on a sunny summer afternoon.
- Want more than a roof? About half of the time, after a porch roof is built, the homeowner eventually wants to convert the patio to a walled-in sunroom. Include wall-to-wall glass on the exterior walls, and it’s almost like being outside—only without the sun beating down on you.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, is the president of Re-Bath in Shreveport. You can contact him at 318-216-4525 or by visiting www.rebath.com/location/shreveport.