Choosing the best canopy to buy
A canopy buying guide
Whether you need shelter from the elements in your backyard or on the go, matching a canopy design to the occasion is the easiest way to determine the best canopy to buy. Consider how you'll use the canopy, what canopy sizes and types might be best for you and which features will provide the level of protection and portability you desire as you figure out the best canopy to buy.
>> How will you use the canopy?
To determine the best canopy to buy, first consider whether you'll be using it as a temporary structure, as a semi-permanent structure or for a specific purpose such as vehicle storage.
If you'll be using the canopy for activities such as overnight camping, day camping or tailgating, all you need is a temporary structure. Events such as a farmer's market booth, picnics and outdoor festivals are other occasions that might call for a temporary structure. Look for canopy designs that feature lightweight construction, collapsible frames and a pleasing color scheme.
A canopy might serve as a semi-permanent structure if you set it up in your yard for several months or longer. Although it is possible to use a pop-up or other portable canopy design for this purpose, you'll probably be happiest with a gazebo-style canopy that offers better protection and sturdier construction.
If you need a canopy to protect a vehicle or equipment from the elements, pay close attention to the canopy size to make sure that it is large enough to cover everything yet leaves you room to walk around inside. You might also want to consider specialized canopy designs for vehicles that include walls for additional protection.
>> What canopy style is right for you?
To decide on the best canopy to buy, consider which of the following styles will best meet your needs:
- Pop-up canopies: These types of canopies usually expand to 10 x 10 feet, but also come in a variety of canopy sizes. This is probably the most common style available because it is easy to set up and break down. When you unpack it, you simply stretch out the frame and "pop" the attached canopy up.
- Shade canopy: This canopy design looks a bit like a tent and is popular for use on a beach. In addition to providing shelter from the sun, this style can also provide limited shelter from rain and wind. Typically, there is one open side and the structure is dome-like.
- Netted canopy: This is usually a pop-up design, but might also resemble a tent. There is netting on all sides to protect occupants from insects yet provide full ventilation. These are popular camping supplies and might be the best canopy to buy if you need shelter over a camp kitchen.
- Gazebo-style canopy: Built on a sturdier frame than most canopies, a gazebo-style canopy is suitable for setting up as a semi-permanent outdoor structure. You can find these gazebo replacement canopies in many shapes, with common canopy sizes ranging from 10 to 16 feet.
- Storage canopy: A carport canopy might be ideal if you need a semi-permanent structure to store a vehicle or other equipment such as a smoker, tractor or garden equipment. There are many canopy designs to choose from, such as four walled, netted, roof only and drive-through.
>> Consider the canopy's construction
Think about the frame and materials. An instant or collapsible frame is lightweight and features locking tube construction. Most canopies include a wheeled carrying case and stakes to drive through the feet that help prevent the canopy from becoming airborne.
A pole-based frame is common for larger canopy sizes such as a storage canopy, and is also the most common frame for a shade canopy. Depending on canopy design, the poles might be lightweight like a tent or made of heavy-duty materials such as steel. Generally, the sturdier the poles, the more durable the structure. For the ultimate in stability, look for a type of canopy with riveted flaps so you can stake it down.
Galvanized steel, iron and aluminum are common in gazebo canopies. In addition to being sturdy, these materials tend to be aesthetically pleasing, which is why they are ideal for use in your backyard. Usually, you assemble these frames with included nuts and bolts; for additional stability in inclement weather, you can tie it down.
>> Consider canopy cover materials and designs
When you're choosing the best canopy to buy, remember that canopy styles and materials can affect the function and longevity of your canopy.
Polyester is the most common canopy cover, but you'll also find polyethylene, tarp-like materials, canvas and more. Polyester is usually the only choice for a pop-up canopy or shade canopy, and it might withstand a year or two of continual use, but it will last for years if used occasionally. Gazebo-style canopies also typically use polyester, but it is usually a much thicker material than a pop-up canopy, so it might last for several years.
Car canopies often use thick polyethylene or canvas, both of which might last for several years. Tarp materials are most often associated with netted canopies, and tend to be the least durable.
If you'll be using the canopy as a shelter from the elements for an extended period, you'll probably want waterproof material. Tarp materials and polyethylene are naturally waterproof, while polyester and canvas shed water when stretched over a frame.
Most pop-up designs are simple, single-layer canopies. You might find patterned covers, such as an American flag or the mascot representing your favorite team, but most designs are a solid color. For storage canopies, most designs feature a sleek, sturdy, white or beige canopy cover. Gazebo canopies can feature fun design touches like decorative edges, vented covers, multiple colors and attractive curtains you can use to provide additional shelter or privacy.
Designs featuring a vented cover tend to be best suited to inclement weather because the vent prevents pressure from building up beneath the canopy and lifting it off the ground.
>> Consider canopy accessories
Depending on how you'll use the canopy, you might want to consider accessories such as leg weights and tie downs to make it more stable and extend its life. Leg weights and stakes can be a good option for temporary setups because you can pack them in and out with the canopy. For a semi-permanent type of canopy, consider using both tie downs and leg weights for the ultimate in stability.
Pop-up canopies can be more private and offer additional protection from the elements with the addition of side panels. Look for panels fitted to your canopy or universal panels that use Velcro loops to attach to a frame.
You might want to consider replacement canopy tops. For pop-up styles, these are relatively easy to find. For gazebo canopies, you might want to order a replacement when you purchase the canopy, as styles and canopy sizes change constantly and many designs are unique.
To customize the look of the canopy, consider hanging outdoor lights from the inside, especially if your canopy will be a semi-permanent structure for storage or outdoor recreation. For utility, consider basic clip-on lamps. For decoration, consider string lights in various designs.