The details of patio cover design can make you love what you did or have you regretting your oversights for years. Here are some best practices in patio cover design.

It’s not so important that you know exactly how you want to treat all these details. What’s important is that you consider each one. Some will make your patio cover function better. Others will make you feel better about your home improvement.

Buy what you can afford

You’ve heard of being “house poor”—with payments so high, you can’t afford furniture for the living room. Well, you’ll need furniture for the patio, too.  Buy a patio cover that fits your budget. You don’t want to exhaust savings, and if you borrow to pay for it, you don’t want payments that, along with your mortgage and other bills, leave you strapped. If you can’t afford any but a poor-quality patio cover, discipline yourself to save toward the purchase of a high-quality cover.

Make your patio cover work with your property

Do you have a garden? A pool? A yard where the kids play? Make sure you’ll see any or all of these areas from under your patio cover.

Make your patio convenient

Consider placing your covered patio adjacent to the kitchen and/or dining room. You’ll be near the food preparation area and near a table where you can spread out a buffet. If your covered patio is freestanding, seriously consider running electrical cables underground to power an outdoor refrigerator. (This a job for a pro.)

Respect second-story windows

This is especially critical in the snow belt. A roof that’s too close to a second-story window could cause serious leaks as snow accumulates. Even outside snowy areas, a patio roof that’s too close to a second-story window could allow splashing rain to cause a mess inside if the window is left open.

Pitch the roof slightly

Water, including from melting ice and snow, runs downhill, so you want a flat roof to angle downward slightly away from the house. A downward pitch of a quarter-inch for every foot of projection from the house is recommended.

Make screen mounts blend

If you prefer a screened patio cover, look for a manufacturer that makes the roof and the mounts for mesh. For example, Renaissance Patio Products makes screen framing that’s harmonious with the rest of the patio cover on its Moderno, Classico and Fresco patio roofs. All the framing is color-matched, has the same strong but attractive powder coat finish, and is made from durable aircraft-grade extruded aluminum.

Match window shape, proportions

Windows on an aluminum sunroom addition should be similar in proportion to those on the house. If the house has tall, narrow windows, look for similar windows for the sunroom. If the house has individual panes, or inserts that mimic panes, carry that design over, too. If the house has casements or sliders, avoid double-hung windows in the patio addition.

Be comfortable under your patio cover

You’ll look at your patio cover from the surface of your deck more than you’ll look at it from the yard or driveway, so make sure you like that view as much as you do the others.  Do you like the support columns? The ceiling? The patio surface? The wall of the house that’s under your patio roof?

Avoid styling fads

Look for classic design cues, not fads. Colors or appendages that are stylish for a year or two will lower value in the long term. Classic styles will add value.

Consider electrical service

Decide before you buy if you will want electrical service on your patio for ceiling lights, fans and outlets for charging laptops and phones. Caution: Some patio roofs are made to conceal wiring, but some are not.

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