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Details

Choosing a sun shelter

Outdoor living spaces have evolved into proper extensions of the home. This buying guide will walk you through the different models available and their various features.

Sun Shelter Models

Sun shelters include all types of yard structures that create shade and provide protection from the sun during the summer: gazebos, pergolas, parasols and awnings.  

By “gazebo” we usually mean a sun shelter whose main function is to protect the garden furniture, which can be a simple table and chairs or a whole outdoor living room set. A gazebo may also protect an outdoor spa or a barbecue. Relatively easy to install, they should be set up on wood patios, on a concrete surface, or on concrete slabs. It is not advisable to install the shelter directly on the lawn, because you won’t be able to secure it firmly enough to the ground.

Gazebos constructed entirely of wood also exist. They harmonize well with all types of outdoor decor, but the wood must be treated to protect it from moisture and insects.

  • Sun Shelter
  • Wall shelter
  • Outdoor changing cabana
  • Barbecue shelter

Components of a sun shelter

Structure

Before you decide on the shelter you want, check that the structure is robust so that you will be able to enjoy it for many years to come. Generally speaking, the larger the posts supporting the structure, the more solid it will be. Posts installed to form a triangle enhance stability, whereas square posts are much more robust. Certain structures are equipped with hooks to hang a lantern or electric lighting.

  • Aluminum possesses great durability. It is very weather and corrosion-resistant, which has made it the number one choice among consumers.
  • Steel is very resistant, but its susceptibility to rust makes it less popular.

Roof

Since it is vulnerable to all weather conditions, the roof is the component most likely to suffer damage. Wind, rain and sun all conspire against the roof; it has to be solid, flame-resistant, waterproof and colourfast.

  • Fabric is the more common and least expensive option. Before you buy canopy fabric, make sure it is waterproof and has good UV resistance. UV-resistant fabrics generally have a longer life. You should also make sure you can purchase a replacement canopy.
  • Polycarbonate is an excellent choice but more expensive. Polycarbonate is an ultra-resistant plastic that lets natural light through and filters UV rays at the same time. It is 100% waterproof and colourfast.

Vent

This is an opening made in the roof to let the wind through. If the shelter is located in an area vulnerable to strong winds, choose a model with a more resilient vent with a raised metal structure.

Curtain

Including one, two, or three panels, the pavilion shelter may have a privacy curtain, mosquito netting or vinyl panel.

  • The privacy curtain should have the same features as the roof: flame-resistant, fade-resistant and waterproof. The curtain shields occupants from prying eyes and serves as a wind and UV barrier.
  • The mosquito netting works as an insect screen, which can be crucial in the summer.
  • The vinyl panel is transparent and provides protection from the wind and rain while letting in natural light.

Curtain hanging system

Certain fabric shelters do not have a track for hanging curtains. Like a tent, the curtains are secured directly over the entire area, which is to say from the centre of the structure to the four support posts. Even though these models are less expensive, they hide more of the view and are not as practical as models with at least one track.

Other models are equipped with a track, or even two or three tracks, depending on the number of curtains. You are then able to open the curtain panels independently and adjust them according to the wind, sun or privacy desired.

Sizes

To determine the size, establish your available space and the furniture you want to put there. Some models are square, and others are rectangular.

  • The standard 10' x 10' model is ideal for a round table with four chairs, or a rectangular table with six standard-size chairs.
  • Sizes 10' x 12', 10' x 13' and 12' x 12' are more popular; they can accommodate rectangular tables with comfortable chairs as well as a coffee set if you want, with a sofa, end table and two comfortable armchairs.
  • The larger 12' x 16' size is more like another room in the house and you have a great deal of flexibility when it comes to layout and use. Very spacious, they do, however, require a very stable base to maintain and anchor them to the ground.

Pergolas

Pergolas are garden structures intended to hold and support climbing plants. The material is the main feature to consider when you make your choice.

  • Wood has a natural look which suits all types of garden decor. The wood must be treated against humidity and insects approximately every three years in order to extend the life of the structure.
  • Aluminum provides a more modern look; although more expensive, it will last forever and doesn’t require specific maintenance.
  • Iron lends itself to a more old-fashioned style. Available in an infinite choice of colours, the black iron pergola remains the most popular. It is a very solid material, when treated against humidity, discolouration and deformation. You need to paint it regularly to ensure optimum protection.
  • PVC is lightweight, solid and doesn’t require specific maintenance. Pergolas are rarely made entirely of PVC; often, the roof will be made of PVC over an aluminum or iron frame.

Awnings and solar shades

Awnings are attached to an exterior wall of the house.

  • There is no cumbersome mechanism so they are easy to open and close.
  • Equipped with a crank arm, you can roll them up or out according to your needs. They’re usually made of polyester and are easy to maintain.

Balcony solar shade screens are ideal for apartments and condos.

  • Create shaded areas on the patio.
  • Installed on the guard rail of the balcony, they are affordable and don’t require special maintenance.

Maintenance

The sun shelter needs to withstand wind, sun and rain. A few simple actions will enable you to preserve it for a longer time and most importantly, ensure occupants’ safety.

Regular maintenance:

  • Regularly check that the base is firmly secured to the ground and that the construction is solid.
  • If your roof is made of fabric, examine the corners carefully and repair any tears immediately before they have a chance to get bigger.
  • If the roof is not stretched properly, or during a heavy rainfall, it is possible that water can accumulate; remove accumulated water as soon as possible.
  • When it’s not in use, always leave panels and curtains open. Attach corners to the posts with stake loops; this prevents the wind from rushing into the shelter and being

Winter storage:

Few structures can withstand the weight of snow.

  • Before the winter sets in, put away the shelter to avoid any possibility of damage due to cold weather conditions.
  • Certain models with an aluminum frame and polycarbonate roof may remain outdoors over the winter.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  • Put away curtains and mosquito netting.

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