Enjoy relaxing or entertaining outdoors except for the heat and relentless UV rays of the sun? If you have been looking for options to create a shaded patio, deck, or backyard area then keep reading. I hope to inspire you by sharing how we created a DIY deck shade structure.
Aside from the dangers of suns, we are also a fair-skinned family for the most part and predisposed to sunburns. So we tend to always seek the shade whenever we’re outside. The deck on the house we bought a year ago was an okay size…about 175 sqft with about 115 of it being covered. Even still, it didn’t give the space or shady outdoor entertainment area we were looking for.
The first part in our deck makeover project involved completing a DIY deck extension and adding about 100 sqft to our existing deck. We added cable railing to the new deck which gave us the idea of using cables for the shade structure to go above it.
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DIY Deck Shade Structure
Supplies & Tools
1) Creating the Structure
When we did the deck extension, we bolted tall 4×4 posts along the outer edge of the new deck in preparation for adding shade. We cut 2×4’s with the circular saw to span between the posts at their highest point and used the Kreg Jig to make pocket holes to attach them with screws to the posts. You can learn more about how to use a Kreg Jig here.
This created a surface to extend and secure the cables to and acted as a ledge to pull our fabric over and create additional shade and privacy on the outside edge of the deck.
2) Prepping the Shade Fabric
We purchased the Easy Gardener Shade Fabric after recommendations from people we know and some online reviews. It’s a lock-stitch fabric which makes it sturdy but breathable. It protects against UV rays and helps lower the temperature by about 15 degrees, making sitting on the deck in the middle of a hot sunny day much more tolerable and pleasant.
The fabric comes in a handful of color options and we chose Saddle Tan. It also comes in 6ft wide rolls of either 15 or 40 ft lengths (at least those are the options at our local Lowe’s) and has its own accessories to create your shade structure in a variety of ways.
We started by unrolling the fabric to span the length between the house and the 2×4’s and left it intact. We hammered our first Easy Gardener grommet at the corner about and inch or two in from the edge of the fabric. These are plastic grommets made to go along with the shade fabric.
We continued down the length of fabric placing grommets roughly every 12 inches, making sure we placed them about an inch in from the edge. I used the scissors to cut the fabric away from the center of the grommets. We did the same on the other side of the fabric.
3) Creating Anchor Points
Starting on one far side of the deck, we screwed an O-ring with plate into the wooden eave of the house, which is tucked back under the gutter system. Then we pre-drilled a hole through the 2×4 we mounted up between the tall posts at the other end of the deck, put the J bolts through the board, and used a nut to tighten it in place.
We did this again with 3 more O-rings and 3 more J bolts, but we did them as we went instead of all at once. We wanted to make sure we placed them properly as we stretched each panel of fabric.
4) Running the Cable
We looped one end of our wire cable through a turnbuckle and using a swaging tool, we crimped a ferrule on the cable to hold it in place. The turnbuckle was hooked to the O-ring. Then we ran the cable through the grommets in the fabric…alternating under and over out to the J bolt where we looped the other end of the cable and crimped another ferrule on it to hook to the J bolt. We were then able to tighten the turnbuckle to pull the cable taut.
We were able to stretch the fabric width-wise to find our placement for the next O-ring with plate and J bolt. Then we ran a length of the cable in the same fashion through the grommets on the other side of the shade fabric with ferrules and turnbuckle and tightened it too. We used the small zip ties through the grommets nearest the O-rings to hold the shade in place so we could stretch it down the cables to cover the expanse.
5) Extending the Shade Fabric
Once we ran the first shade panel and had it extended in place over the deck, we pushed the remainder of the roll of fabric up over the 2×4 and allowed it to drape down to the handrail. We pulled it taut and cut it loose from the roll. We added 3 grommets at the far end of the draped fabric. We also screwed 3 small J hooks under the handrail so we could hook the grommets on them and keep the fabric tight.
We continued the above process with 2 more panels to completely cover our deck. As a bonus, we had some extra fabric. We added a grommet near each of the 4 corners and some more small J hooks on the west side of the deck so we could easily put up the extra shade fabric if we wanted to enjoy the deck in the late afternoon when the sun is streaming in from the side.
There are various methods for creating shade…even with this particular shade fabric. The nice thing about using the cable and grommet method is that we can unhook the panels from the J hooks and slide the fabric back along the cables to secure under the gutter system in the off-season or if we are scheduled for heavy storms. We can also choose to open a panel or two if we want and only shade a portion of the deck.
I like the versatility of this method and I think it will help the shade fabric last longer if we can easily tuck it away. The shade fabric and deck extension have made a huge difference to our outdoor space and I hope you can take inspiration from our projects. Feel free to share other tips/methods you’ve learned to create a shaded outdoor space.
Until next time,
P.S. – This is part 2 of a 5 part series for our overall deck project.
Part 1 was the DIY Deck Extension
Part 3 – DIY Hinged Deck Rail Dining
Part 5 – How to stain a deck