The most annoying boss in the world probably once told you, “Well, I don’t know what I want, but when I see it, I’ll know it.” Gee, thanks, you thought, I’ll just do it 10 times until you’re happy.

Well, you can’t build 10 patio roofs until you find one you like. You’re going to have to be more decisive than your old boss, and you’ll need to be able to communicate to a contractor what you want.

That means you’ll have to do some homework, although it will be pleasant enough.

The Patio Roof You Want

Choosing a patio roof style that suits not just on your own personal sense of style, but also on the style of your home. You don’t want a patio roof that looks as if it was just tacked onto your home. You want it to blend in while it functions as you need it to, keeping you shaded, cool and dry. A patio roof that looks like it belongs will add more value than one that clashes with your home.

You’ll sit on your patio more than you’ll look at it, so you want to be sure you like the view from where you sit: Is the ceiling attractive and not too industrial-looking? Are the columns and support beam, if not decorative, at least unobtrusive? Would you feel good sitting on a patio covered buy a particular roof?

The Patio Roof You Need

You need a no-maintenance patio roof. After all, a patio roof should help you relax, not make you work. That means your roof will be aluminum and have a durable factory finish that requires only occasional hosing off. For example, Renaissance Patio Products applies a heat-cured 3-mil powder coat at the factory. It retains its good looks year after year without cracking, fading or chalking. That means no repainting.

You also need strength. You don’t want a patio roof that looks like a fortress, but you need one that is just as strong. Don’t worry: Some of the strongest patio roofs are some of the best-looking. Make sure it can handle anticipated wind loads in your area, and snow loads if you’re in the snow belt. Renaissance is a good example here, too. Every patio cover it makes, including its least expensive, is engineered to withstand 175 mph winds, the strictest standard in the U.S. And Renaissance patio roofs can handle Colorado snow loads—also the country’s toughest standard.

Where To Look for Patio Roof Styles

So, where do you look for what you’ll like? It’s really not so hard, but it will take a little time. You’ll enjoy yourself.

Remember, you’re looking for ideas. If you find a product that has even one thing that appeals to you, save it. More than likely, you’ll find function here, attractive trim there, a finish someplace else. That’s OK.

Here’s where to look:

Friends, neighbors. If someone you know has a patio cover you like, ask about it. Is the roof free of leaks? Is the finish holding up? Do they have enough air circulation, or do they wish they had gotten a fan or more than one? Do they use the built-in lights? Is the structure easy to clean? Does it require any other maintenance? Does it get hot under the roof even though it’s shaded?

Magazines. Look in those colorful, well-illustrated paper publications, such as Better Homes & Gardens and House Beautiful. The editors look for prime, attractive examples—in all price ranges. What’s really great is that they offer a glimpse of what a patio will look like after it’s well decorated. Tear out the examples you like and put them in a folder. Check the resources section, which will include key suppliers, manufacturers, addresses, websites and phone numbers.

Online. The Web has some terrific photo-oriented sites. In addition to those published by the ink-and-paper magazines, Pinterest and Google searches will yield scores of good photos. Try a Google search such as patio roof images. It will post hundreds of photos, and with a click you can go to the sites where the photos are posted. Some will be manufacturer or installer sites. Create a new folder in your browser and bookmark the pages with the images you like.

One other note: You may want the fanciest patio roof you’ve ever seen, but you need one that fits your budget. Look around, and you’ll find a patio roof that’s well made, beautiful and affordable. And check Renaissance Patio Products for examples of quality patio covers, including insulated patio roofs, translucent polycarbonate roofing and pergolas, all at competitive prices.

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