How to Add a Track for a Shade Cloth to a Pergola

Adding a retractable shade cloth to a pergola creates a shady spot to relax. While some companies offer special shade cloth made specifically for pergolas that come with fancy hardware, anyone can make their own pergola shade cloth using a few basic tools.

Preparing the Cloth

  1. Measure the section of pergola to be covered with fabric. Cut a piece of cloth 4 inches wider and 12 inches longer than the space.

  2. Hem all four sides. Make a 2-inch hem along the longer sides, and a 1-inch hem across the shorter ends.

  3. Place a grommet on each side of the fabric about every 10 inches, starting at one end. Leave 8 to 10 inches without grommets on one end. This will hang down on the front end of the pergola.

Hanging the Shade Cloth

  1. Place a pair of eye bolts at the front and back of each section, just inside of the long beams running from front to back.

  2. Cut a length of cable about a foot longer than the pergola is deep. Use crimp fasteners to attach the cable to one of the eye bolts at the back of the pergola.

  3. Weave the cable through all of the grommets along one side of the fabric. Make sure the flap that hangs down is toward the front. Continue until all sections are fitted with fabric.

  4. Pull tight and use a crimp fastener to attach the cable to the front eye bolt.


Look for cloth made specifically for outdoor applications. Use the flap at the front of each section to pull it forward and back, creating shade or allowing sun as desired.