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It only takes one spur-of-the-moment storm derailing your cookout plans before you start Googling questions like “Can I barbecue underneath an umbrella?” or “Is a rain-soaked pot roast still safe to eat?” But what you really need to ask is: How much does it cost to cover a patio

First, be prepared to budget based on the material (do you prefer aluminum or wood?) and the cover size (a basic 10-by-10-foot pergola, for instance), among other factors. For estimate breakdowns considering these specifications and more, we tapped professional DIYer and woodworker D’ondra Howard of Matriarchy Build. Read on for the details.

How much does it cost to cover a patio?

The average patio cover costs anywhere from $4,000 to $8,500. However, DIY projects or structures constructed with less expensive materials like aluminum or canvas can cost as little as $700. Other factors that influence the overall price include but aren’t limited to: cover type; materials; location (costs vary for freestanding or attached patios); permits; and accessories like retractability, outdoor ceiling fans, light installation, and electrical outlets.

Based on Materials

Vinyl is among the most cost-effective patio cover materials; it can range from $5 to $13 per square foot (or anywhere from $2,520 to $6,300, Howard notes) and is durable and low-maintenance.

A wood cover, such as a pergola, is also relatively affordable, costing anywhere between $15 and $35 per square foot, with the potential to add up to as much as $18,900, Howard says. But it can be subject to rotting, cracking, and peeling due to the elements, and you’ll need to factor in a fresh coat of paint or new stain application every couple of years.

Prepare to shell out from $16 to $39 per square foot on fiberglass, a relatively lightweight, UV-resistant surface that stands up to harsh weather. Want a transparent shield? Expect to spend between $25 and $45 per square foot on a glass-covered patio.

Howard suggests aluminum ($20 to $70 per square foot) because of its protective, durable properties—it won’t crack or warp—but recommends to use it in less sunnier settings since it conducts heat easily. If the rays are beating down on it, you can opt for an insulated cover for $26 to $59 per square foot; Howard estimates that an insulated aluminum patio cover can cost anywhere from $3,280 to $7,028, before factoring in size, location, and the condition of the patio space.  

Based on Type

An awning installation averages between $380 and $700, but that figure goes up to $3,400 depending on if the structure is retractable or fixed.

Pergolas are some of the more eye-catching patio covers—like gazebos, they can be either freestanding or attached to a main structure. They’re also fully open to the outside (no walls) and consist of a lattice grid of rafters and beams supported by columns. The price of owning one of these backyard beauties? Howard estimates that a 10-by-10-foot pergola with a retractable canvas patio cover comes in at between $1,746 and $2,870. Overall, depending on accessories, size, location, and labor, it’s safe to budget for $30 to $60 per square foot.

As the most intricate of the bunch, gazebos can be fully customized, but the bulk of the price boils down to size—anticipate a bill in the ballpark of $75 to $100 per square foot.

Based on Everything Else

Depending on your location, you may have to factor in the cost of a building permit, which averages between $60 and $150. The project total increases with add-ons. A fancy outdoor lighting setup might end up averaging between $2,000 and $4,000 (but you could easily slash this number by hanging string lights or adding a soft glow to your space with lanterns or torches). Planning to keep it cool beneath the cover? Add an extra $100 to $300 for a ceiling fan installation.

Then there’s custom sizing, mechanical retraction, and the list goes on. If you’re starting from scratch, tack on the price of cover installation to the overall cost of building a patio.

Should you DIY your patio cover?

“If the project is simple and straightforward, and you’re comfortable with basic woodworking, using a skill saw, measuring accurately, and climbing a ladder, you can probably install a simple patio cover,” Howard says. Another must-be-able-to-do? The ability to problem-solve on the fly, because as she notes, every project presents its own set of unforeseen challenges.

Above all else, Howard advises that patio cover shoppers base their decision on budget, needs, and personal preference, and take into account the strengths and weaknesses of each material. “None of the materials are perfect and all have flaws,” she explains. “You have to find a balance between functionality and aesthetics and what will serve you for a long time.”

After It’s Built: