A well-designed but cheap patio cover idea can enhance your outdoor living experience while boosting the time you spend outdoors without breaking the bank. For any large outdoor structure, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional, like a landscape architect or architect, to make sure you comply with building codes. A few other considerations to keep in mind when it comes to your cheap patio cover ideas include but are not limited to:
- Architectural style of your house
- Materials you want and what is regionally available
- Size and scale of the project
- Orientation of the patio to the sun
No matter what the climate is in your location, there are many reasons, ranging from function to style, to consider cheap patio cover ideas. Patio covers can be under a range of names, including canopies, trellises, and pergolas. They all fall into the patio cover category, with some being far more expensive than others. Some people prefer to make the cheap patio cover idea mimic the look of the existing home, and they create a roof that is complete with beams.
Others choose to be much more economical with their cheap patio cover idea, including fabric or plastic pergola covers or installing a bamboo screen that they drape over their patio. If you don’t already have a structure in place, it’s straightforward and cost-effective to build your own pergola too. Take a look at our roundup of the best cheap patio cover ideas (and some more high-end options) to help spark a little inspiration for your next project.
Patio covers don’t have to necessarily cover the entire patio. For those on a budget, getting a large umbrella is more than enough to cover parts of the space during the day to keep you cool.
For the best place to sit and relax, treat your already covered patio like you would any room inside. You want to get some of the best garden furniture, tactile textures, outdoor rugs, and bold patterns to create a fun space. You’ll get a nice indoor-outdoor feel, and you can complete the look with lamps to bright light to the space once night falls. Train your plants to climb up the patio cover structure to add a soothing green touch and soften up the whole look. Stringing up a hammock under the canopy gives you a laid-back spot to relax the afternoon away.
2. Acrylic or Polycarbonate
Instead of going for a more high-end glass cover, a cheap patio cover idea is to go with polycarbonate or acrylic. This will give you a semi-opaque finish without going way over your budget. You can easily create a rustic outdoor scene with it, and you can inject some additional flair and make it much more cozy by hanging up string lights.
3. Adjustable Gazebo
If you want to put up a sturdy shelter over your patio, this option features stunning designs. You can use gazebos for a huge range of purposes, including hot tub shelters, alfresco dining, or to create a pretty shaded area for outdoor kitchens, garden furniture, or bars. You can find ready-to-use and functional terrace coverings that don’t need any additional planning permissions or construction, and they go as a freestanding unit right over your patio or yard. They can come with louvered, flexible roofs that allow you to enjoy the sunshine when they’re open and avoid the rain when you close them.
Many gazebos come with drainage systems attached too so you don’t flood the area around your home’s foundation. The finished cheap patio cover idea gives you a contemporary and distinct look, along with a modern and intimate space for you to enjoy all summer long.
3. Attached Structure
If you have a little more money to spend and want to create a sheltered outdoor dining area right next to the house, pick a cheap patio cover idea that you can attach to the existing wall with secure fittings. They offer elegant detailing, and they’re very sleek canopies that suit traditional and modern home designs. The entire structure secures to the wall with fixing bolts, and it can be height-adjustable. They come with waterproof canopies that are easily retractable, and this allows you to pull them back and enjoy the sun on cooler days. You can have the canopy come completely away from the structure too during the winter months.
A cheap patio cover idea that allows you to have a small amount of shelter closer to the house is an awning. It makes it very easy and quick to go in and out for extra snacks or drinks when you’re entertaining outside. Plus, awnings can stop the sun from beating right into your windows on hotter days if you’re busy working inside. There are dozens of retractable awnings available to make them very versatile, and you can also get more permanent structures if you desire.
Awnings can come in a large range of sizes and shapes that makes them easy to match to your needs.
5. Bamboo Reeds
If you already have a pergola but you need a cover, this cheap patio cover idea can work well. You can buy bamboo reed garden fencing and repurpose it as a cover for your existing structure. It comes in at roughly $25.00 to $30.00 at your local home improvement or gardening store, and it’s a quick and easy way to give your whole yard a boho chic makeover. It’s a project you can take on by yourself, so you can save money on installation and permit costs.
6. Brick and Wood
This cheap patio cover idea is slightly more high-end and involved than others on the list, but the finished product is very gorgeous and glamorous. You can make it a tuscan style structure with darker wood ceiling beams, brick elements, and earthy, rich colors. You can easily deck it out in seasonal colors as they change, or you can go with an Italian-inspired decor that fits the Tuscan feel. Adding cast-iron touches or even a brick pizza oven ties the whole look and feel together.
7. Build a Pergola
It’s possible to build an adjustable, chic pergola as a cheap patio cover idea that is more permanent. They can connect seamlessly with the existing wall, and it gives you shelter to add more modern seating. When you combine all of this with an outdoor fireplace, you get a very nice living room feel that tempts people to go outside in any weather. Pale shades for the floor of the patio set up a restful feel to the space.
8. Corner Arbor
When it comes to your plot, maybe you’re short on space. If so, you don’t have room to put in a full cheap patio cover idea. However, a corner garden arbor is a great way to give you an effective but simple cover. You can paint it a refreshing but gentle green and set it in the corner of your terrace, balcony, or courtyard patio. The trellis gives you many ways to make it your own. You can train roses or jasmine to grow up and surround it, or you can hang lanterns to give an atmospheric glow.
9. Corrugated Aluminum
If you’re after a DIY route that is very cost-effective, this chepa patio cover idea may be just the thing you need. You can salvage corrugated aluminum to create this cover. To dress up the metal roofing once you get it in place (or before), you can paint it a matte black before tying everything together to create a chic, boho space that is perfect to lounge in.
10. Garden Netting
Anyone who wants a light, occasional cheap patio cover idea should consider garden net. It’s one of the cheapest, quickest, and easiest ways to create the atmosphere of a covered patio without having to invest in a more expensive permanent option or sharpen your DIY skills. You should note that this net won’t protect you from heavy rains, but on a chilly, calm evening with some pretty lights and a heater or fire going, it can help bring out a very enchanting atmosphere. It can block mosquitoes too!
Some patios don’t get direct sunlight due to their position, and this is the perfect opportunity to have a glass patio cover that offers some protection from the elements. There are many cheap patio cover ideas that involve glass, and glass offers different levels of UV protection and opacity. So, it allows you to create an outdoor paradise right in your backyard.
Glass is a more high-end option, and it’s best to use it on north-facing patios so the glass doesn’t magnify the sun’s rays and make it hot.
12. Green Roof
It’s common to add a green roof to an outdoor structure to act like a decorative waterproofing membrane. It may not be possible to pull off this cheap patio cover idea unless it’s part of an extension, but you could still incorporate it as vertical gardening elements to create a haven for wildlife. As a bonus, it works to create a much more private and enclosed space to relax or entertain.
13. Floating Roof
A floating roof works with more modern home designs, and it simply extends from the side of the house without using any visible support beams. It works well for organic, minimalist architecture. It offers functional benefits if you decide to add recessed lights and fans to keep you cool.
14. Hanging Plants
Huge pergolas are nice choices for bigger gardens and people who love to have gatherings or entertain outside. The wooden designs are very striking, and the height keeps the space feeling airy and welcoming. It gives you a cool place to sit away from the hot sun, and you can make it even cooler by hanging a plethora of hanging plants along the ceiling and edges. Putting them in matching pots and allowing them to cascade down or grow over the top of the structure is a very cheap patio cover idea that will surround you in greenery and offer more visual interest as they start to bloom.
15. Laser Cut Metal
Chances are, if you’re after cheap patio cover ideas, you will skip this one. However, there’s no denying that laser cut metal screens are one of the most visually-interesting and creative ways you can cover your whole patio. Not only is the screen beautiful all by itself, but they can cast pretty shadows as the sunlight changes. Due to the craftsmanship involved in creating this choice, it’s at the higher price point for the average roof for your patio. Still, it’s something to consider on a larger budget.
16. Light Canopy
Using small twinkle lights en masse is one of the easiest ways to bring ambience to a space. They add a romantic feel to any cheap patio cover idea, no matter if it’s a rustic gazebo or a small awning. The combination of glowly lights and the wooden beams give you a pretty spot to entertain after the sun goes down. You can get a more contemporary feel by using festoon lights too.
17. Louvered Canopy
If you have a larger backyard and you want more substantial cheap patio covered ideas, a louvered canopy is a very versatile option to consider that you can attach to your home like a mini-extension. They also work well as a freestanding structure, and many have adjustable blades that allow you to choose how much coverage you want. It’s cheaper than a full extension, but it can still run you a few thousand dollars from start to finish, and it gives you the room to build an outdoor kitchen or other space. You can create very simple and straightforward structures for less money too.
18. Mixing Materials
If you’ve got the budget and the space and you want to go big with your patio cover idea, check out this option. The durable aluminum materials on the structure gives you a very bold feel, and it has weather-resistant panels covering it that make it a smart choice to have over or around your pool. You also won’t have to worry about keeping everything comfortable as you can add lighting and heating to the build. It’s a great way to create a space that you can use all year round.
19. Multi-Layered Cover
For a fun twist on traditional cheap patio cover ideas that involve wood, this is a colorful, fun way to add some texture or more unique touches to your patio. The bottom layer will be thick wood beams in a darker color to lend a rustic, classic feeling, and the second layer will be colored, stretched fabric squares that add a hint of style. Hang up some lights on the beams and you get three layers to create a wonderfully unique look in your yard.
20. Narrow Slats
While this cheap patio cover idea won’t protect you from the sleet, snow, or rain, it does count as a covered patio with narrow slats. It’s perfect for anyone who likes sitting out in the sun’s rays while still getting a small amount of shade to keep you from getting too hot. Lattice is popular here, and it gives you a semi-private cabana feel if you add a wraparound screen. Framing in a patio roof is a nice DIY project that shouldn’t be too difficult or time-consuming to take on when you use this idea.
While the narrow slats won’t give you 110% protection from the sun, they do offer some shade as the sun moves.
21. Outdoor Curtains
If you already have a pergola waiting for a cheap patio cover idea, you’re in luck. You can pick up ready-made fabric patio covers and use them. If you want to increase your privacy and create a very dramatic effect, you can also use outdoor curtains. They drape down the sides and allow you to open and close them at will to block the view.
This cheap patio cover idea brings a unique look to your yard. If you’re intrigued by Asian cultures, you can create them in your yard using a pagoda-style patio covering from different materials, including bold red tiles. You also want to get some Asian statuary, consider putting in a small zen garden, and add a koi pond to complete the Asian flair in the space. If you really love the look, you can go all in and create a Japanese garden with fountains, tabletop bonsai trees, and other small touches.
You may not have a lush tropical view in your backyard, but you can still invite that tropical feel in with this cheap patio cover idea. All you have to do is build a palapa or thatched roof for your patio. You can plant tropical or semi-tropical plants, use beach-themed decor, and put in some wicker furniture to bring out that coastal feel. If you have the interest and space, it makes an excellent hot tub enclosure with a cover.
24. Pallet Boards
If you’re planning on having a covered patio that acts like an extension of your home, you can turn the ceiling into a pretty design moment. You can do this using pallet boards, and the more imperfections and knots, the better it’ll look.
A neutral-toned parasol can add the perfect finishing touches to your contemporary and calm yard. Several of them have clever designs where the support doesn’t block the view when you’re sitting outside, and it’s perfect for a smaller patio. You can pair it with eye-catching furniture and pale wasl to create a sleek and chic final look.
If you’re building a patio cover for your home, a frameless glass structure is a nice choice. They come designed to give you a free-flowing sightline while offering protection from the rain, wind, and excess sun. A freestanding glass pavilion can give you all of the creature comforts an indoor living area will give you right in the middle of your yard or garden. They also allow you to add the popular bi-fold doors, and you can use infra-red heating to keep the inside warm.
A standalone pavilion or pergola is a great way to create a nice gathering area in your yard that is sheltered from the elements.
27. Permanent Roof
Adding a permanent roof isn’t a cheap patio cover idea, but it’s nice as an investment in your home. You can have it up against the house using solid pillars with a solid roof and low walls that you can step over to give you the feeling of the living room outside. It’s perfect for hobbies like knitting, stargazing, or spending time with friends and family with a good bottle of wine. You will want to add outdoor furniture or rugs to tie in the look.
28. Reclaimed Wood
Reclaimed or distressed wood is a stunning but cheap patio cover idea that adds a warm character burst to any location. When it comes to an outdoor space, it’s the perfect item to seamlessly blend into the surrounding elements. You can build a whole roof using reclaimed wood to save on material costs, and it offers a very weathered, elegant look that is very rustic.
29. Roman Shade Sail
Covering your patio with a Roman sail or wave may tempt you to lounge around outside on a warm, sunny day with a glass or two of good wine. You can get retractable options that allow you to control how much sunlight streams in for you to enjoy, or you can get fixed options. They work best in environments that aren’t extremely windy as no one wants to see their cheap patio cover idea fly away or tear with a strong gust of wind.
30. Rustic Vines
Maybe you need a really cheap patio cover idea and you don’t have the DIY skills to build something. If this is the case, you can easily go to your local garden center and pick out a few lush flowering vines. When you bring them back, you have to train them to climb up the sides of your structure. You may need to help them along when they get to the top to ensure they cover the whole thing, and getting flowering vines will surround the space with pops of color and fragrance all season long.
31. Shade Cloth
If you have a more industrial look and feel to your home like corrugated steel on the house and treated concrete floors, you can easily anchor shade cloth to the house by tying them to the roof trusses under the eaves to give it a neat and finished look. Shade sails are usually a more cost-effective option than mortar, brick, or built-ins, and they don’t necessarily require a construction crew and architect to complete.
32. Standalone Structure
Cheap patio cover ideas don’t all have to involve an attached patio. Sometimes, having a standalone structure is the best look. A more modern structure requires the mix of materials, usually steel and wood to create smooth angles and lines. It works very well if you have an open-air first floor on your home, and it’s totally open to the elements due to retractable windows.
33. Steel Roof Panels
It’s possible to buy patio cover kits that feature steel roof panels that are very DIY friendly and straightforward to put up. The cheap patio cover idea removes the hassle of having to design the patio by leaving it up to the company that created the kit. All you have to do is follow the included instructions without any guesswork. They pre-made kits with steel roof panels come in a range of sizes, budget needs, and style options too. Some kits do require that you purchase the materials while others come with everything, just like some greenhouse kits do.
It’s possible to bring a contemporary garden to life by adding a section of sneaky patio planting ideas. The right shrubs or trees can easily provide enough shade and privacy for your sitting area. You can parasol prune plane trees to help them grow a very full but flat canopy to cast a lot of shade on the area. Both umbrella and parasol trees will have central lateral branches that you cut back to get the shape you want, and you can train the canopy over a frame to give the trees more support.
Smaller trees are a nice way to shade in the yard, and they can also increase your privacy as they get larger.
Finally, vinyl can be a cheap patio cover idea to traditional options. If you want to get the feel and look of a minimalist patio, you could consider adding a weather-resistant vinyl structure to the space. It’s a nice choice as it’ll never rust and it’s easy to maintain all year-round.
Deciding the Best Cheap Patio Cover Idea
The best cheap patio cover idea for your space depends on several factors, and these include your own personal tastes with your budget and the size of the area. Larger structures make great choices for bigger yards, and they help to create permanent outdoor rooms you can use in any weather. They’re not really a viable option if you’re on a tight budget, but they can transform how you use your garden while being made to last.
A smaller solution like a parasol also comes with many benefits. Many designs on the list are low-cost and low-commitment while making a very nice style statement. You can be very bold with an array of colors, and this will make your space much more vibrant.
A cheap patio cover idea can be anything from a 100% separate cabana building to a very simple and straightforward fabric cover. There are dozens of options available, and it comes down to what you want in your backyard, the budget, and where you live.
Our 35 cheap patio cover ideas will give you starting points to deciding which design and plan will work best for your needs. What’s the most important aspect of your patio? Are you looking for a plant-covered porch, privacy, or a simple but modern look? When you have these answers, you can narrow down your choices and create a stunning backyard.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.