How to Make a Canvas Patio Cover
Patio covers are an affordable and attractive alternative to hard-scope roofing materials over a deck or other outdoor area. The coverage area of the shade sail is entirely flexible so long as you follow basic design principles.
This is a good project for almost anyone who has access to a few power tools and a sewing machine with a heavy-duty needle.
Determine the anchor points. A triangular-shaped shade sail must be flown from at least three opposing anchor points. A square or rectangular sun sail needs four anchor points. Very large covers may need additional anchor points to keep the canvas from sagging. Locate anchor points seven feet or more in height so the cover's height is taller than most visitors are while standing.
Install the anchors. The most wind-proof method is to drill all the way through a wooden beam or stud and install an eyebolt through the stud. Use eye screws if bolting through materials is not possible. Drill pilot holes into the material. Use anchor mollies for holes made in stone, brick, concrete, or thinner materials like siding veneers. Apply a dab of construction adhesive on the mollies. Twist 3/8ths inch thick, 4" long eye screws into the mollies securely.
Prepare the canvas cover. Use heavy duck canvas material purchased from a local fabric shop or on the Internet. Measure the area inside the anchor points and deduct 6” inches overall. Cut the canvas to this size. Fold the edges over 1” and sew them to form a long pocket with the ends left open.
Measure the distance between any two anchors. Use a bolt cutter to cut a 1/4th inch diameter aircraft cable into the proper length plus six inches to spare. Insert one end of the cable through an anchor eyebolt. Form a small loop at the end of the cable and press a short 3” long tail end against the long part of the cable. Close this loop with u-shaped cable clamps to create a strong bond. Thread the correct side of the canvas sun sail onto this cable.Measure the distance between any two anchors. Use a bolt cutter to cut a 1/4th inch diameter aircraft cable into the proper length plus six inches to spare. Insert one end of the cable through an anchor eyebolt. Form a small loop at the end of the cable and press a short 3” long tail end against the long part of the cable. Close this loop with u-shaped cable clamps to create a strong bond. Thread the correct side of the canvas sun sail onto this cable.
Thread the free end of the cable through a turnbuckle. This hardware item will have a closed eye at one end, a twisting screw mechanism in the middle, and an open hook at the other end. Unscrew the middle part of the turnbuckle to its maximum size. Close up the end of the aircraft cable around the eye of the turnbuckle using two cable clamps. Insert the hook end of the device into the opposite anchor point bolt eye. Remove any slack in the cable by twisting the turnbuckle closed in the middle. If there is still too much slack in the line, disassemble the cable clamps and make the cable shorter. Repeat Step 4 and 5 until all sides of the canvas sail are in place.
Things You Will Need
- Power Drill with 3/8" inch drill bits
- 4" x 3/8ths inch eye bolts and/or eyescrews
- 4" x 3/8ths inch anchor mollies
- Construction adhesive
- Bolt cutter
- 1/4" aircraft cable
- 1/4" cable clamps
- Socket wrench
- 6" turnbuckles (eye and hook)
- Heavy-duty sewing machine
- Heavy-duty canvas duck fabric
Avoid using dark-colored canvas: it will fade and absorb heat, reducing its lifespan.
Canvas that is not water-resistant will leak during rainy weather, especially if touched. Sun sails will also collect water: empty any puddles as necessary.
A writer and entrepreneur for over 40 years, J.E. Myers has a broad and eclectic range of expertise in personal computer maintenance and design, home improvement and design, and visual and performing arts. Myers is a self-taught computer expert and owned a computer sales and service company for five years. She currently serves as Director of Elections for McLean County, Illinois government.