Pergolas and arbors are designed with open tops that let light pass through. If this extra light becomes a problem, such as when the hot sun overheats your patio, a pergola or awning can be covered in shade cloth. Shade is made by companies like Coolaroo and is designed to block the sun while allowing the breeze to pass through. It comes in rolls and can be easily attached to the top of any wooden structure to create your own shade cloth awnings.
Step 1: Buy the Cloth
Before selecting a roll of cloth, measure the square footage of the top of your awning or pergola. Since the roll will be cut, purchase about 25% more fabric than you need to account for errors and adjustments. Selecting a color and material is the easy part.
Step 2: Unroll the Cloth
The next step is to take the roll of patio shade cloth and roll it across the top of the structure. It may be necessary to make two or more passes. If you must do this on a breezy day, use small rocks to hold the cloth down. Cut the cloth so that it hangs off the sides of the awning/pergola by about 1 foot.
Step 3: Attach
Working on a ladder, use a staple gun to staple one of the corners closest to the house. If working with a freestanding pergola, simply pick a corner. Then, work your way across the edge to the next corner, applying a staple every 12 inches or more if desired. After each staple, pull the cloth by hand to remove the wrinkles. Pull just a bit more than needed to remove the wrinkles and then staple it down. Repeat these steps around the edges of the structure.
Step 4: Connecting Multiple Sections
If two edges of shade cloth need to be joined, try to avoid overlapping them. Instead, alternate the fixed points as you run along the seam. Do not staple the two pieces together. If you want to ensure a strong connection, try using a pinch pleat to bond them together.
Step 5: Additional Connections
Now you can use your staple gun to fasten down the center of the cloth to the various pergola/arbor beams.
Step 6: Trim Edges
Use a box cutter or razor blade to trim the excess cloth around the edges. Try to make the cuts as straight as possible for the sleekest look.