Choosing a Prefabricated Patio Cover Kit

There are three basic styles of patio covers manufactured, Flat pan, W-pan and Insulated. Each manufacturer has their own proprietary specifications with all the parts designed to fit together.

The design of the roof panels in combination with the thickness of the metal that the panels are made from will determine the spanning capability of the roof panel at a specific design load. Patio covers made from aluminum are rot and rust free providing decades of service at a reasonable cost. The prefabricated nature of the product makes them a good do-it-yourself project.

For example: a 3″ tall W-pan formed from.025 aluminum will give you a 20# snow load at a 10′ span. Each suppliers design will have different spanning capabilities so check with the supplier for exact numbers. Your local permit office can tell you the snow load for your area.

“W” or “V” Pan Style Covers are typically 2.5″ or 3″ tall and 8″ to 24″ wide. The name comes from the v or w shape of the pans. The panels interlock and are used with a “G” shaped exterior fascia/gutter frame work to complete the cover. This style cover is available formed from.020,.025,.032 and.040 thickness aluminum. A few companies offer a steel version. This style cover is popular because of the excellent shade and weather protection afforded at a reasonable cost. “W” pan styles are more difficult to keep free of leaves, hail damage dents will show, and they do radiate some heat from the sun.

Flat Pan Style Covers are most often 3″ tall, in a 8″ or 12″ wide pan. The lost common thickness is.030 aluminum. This style cover is popular because of the excellent shade and weather protection afforded at a reasonable cost. The covers are most often sold with an attaching channel, side fascias and a front gutter section to complete the top of the cover. Because of the flat style they can be used as a top for a screen room. They are subject to hail damage, the resulting dents will show, and they do radiate some heat from the sun.

Insulated Covers are made from two sheets of aluminum bonded to a closed cell foam core. The density and thickness of the foam core combined with the thickness of the aluminum all effect the spanning capability of the panels. Insulated panels carry greater loads, do a great job of blocking out heat from the sun,and make a very good roof for sun rooms and screen rooms. This type of cover gives you a ceiling, roof, and insulation in a low pitched compact area.

Eave attached or wall attached. Your cover can be installed on the eave or under the eave. If you are installing the cover in corner situation local code will require a wall mounted installation with gutters on the house above the cover.

With a few extra parts it is possible to work around fireplaces. For areas where you have a bay window or an angled wall you are attaching to the insulated panels are more accommodating.

The next consideration is the supporting post and beams. Set back beams support the roof panels and create an overhang. Typically, over hangs are 6″ up to 24″, an over hang of 18″ looks the best. The design of the beam, the thickness of the metal and the size of the beam will determine the beams spanning ability between post. Spans between post can be 6′ up to 20′ with 8′ between post the most common.

Post can be installed on the concrete slab or deck on a bracket or mounted in the ground in cement. The most common post are 3″ x 3″ x 8′ or 10′ lengths. Larger sizes and a host of post styles are available to accommodate most any architectural style. For screen rooms the screen wall framing eliminates the need for post and beams, as the screen walls act as supports for the roof.

Pre-fabricated Patio Covers offer a variety of solutions to providing shade and weather protection for your patio area. Covered patios get much more use then non covered decks and patios. They add value to your home and enhance your out door living environment. Options include ceiling fan accommodations, sky-lights, wall enclosures, custom arrangement of parts to accommodate your needs.

For example, arbor parts can be combined with a patio cover for a southwest look, or to provide partial shade.

Different Designs for Patio Cover

If you are thinking of having a patio cover installed in your home, it is a good idea to seek the services of licensed and professional companies which create shade solutions. You have to remember though that you also need to help them out when it comes to the design and structure. Yes, they can give you excellent suggestions but if you want to ensure that you will be satisfied, better have an input too on how you want things done. Open communication between you and the company will make things go much faster and smoother.

Where do you start when it comes to determining the design for your patio cover? What you need to do is to familiarize yourself with the different options first. It will make the decision process much easier to handle.

Before even having the construction done, you need to have the right plan first. Decide whether you want the patio to have an enclosure or just a wide open space with roofing. You can even have it designed such that the roofing will still allow you to see the sky because the covering used is translucent. You can actually choose different materials like wood, metal, vinyl, water resistant fabric or a combination of these. Another aspect to consider is whether you want it to be free standing or permanently attached to the wall or structure.

Attached roof patio will allow you to save some money. That is because you no longer need to spend on additional posts. It is directly connected to the front wall of your home and roof. It would actually look like an extension of the house.

Awnings are also popular shade solutions that can serve as patio cover. It can be a built-in structure which is attached to the main house or a semi-portable shade which has a separate stand. You can even opt for a retractable awning which can be folded and set up easily because of the mechanism in it.

If you want a really sturdy and permanent shade, consider having rigid roofing panels installed. Vinyl and metals are used for creating this. There are a lot of different vinyl panels that you can choose from. Among the popular ones are opaque, translucent and ultraviolet protected panels.

Once you have set your preferences when it comes to the patio cover that you want for your home, make sure to discuss this with the company who will install it. Ask them if they can construct it according to your desire.

Pros and Cons of Aluminum Carport and Patio Covers

Aluminum carports and patio covers have become a popular and attractive home improvement. The product itself has been in use for years. As a light weight and durable material, aluminum can be a great alternative to stick built or steel structures. Features, colors, and styles have evolved over the years to give homeowners many choices. Today we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these popular aluminum structures.


1) Durability – My parents have been living in the same house for over 30 years. Their patio cover was installed in the late 1960s, and is still standing and functional. This product will stand the test of time with little more than a cleaning once a year. Most companies engineer their units to withstand wind and snow loads. As a result, baring natural weather disasters, your patio cover or carport should give you years of use.

2) Attractive – As stated above with a little maintenance your carport or patio cover will stay looking good for years. The aluminum pans will never rust. There are a variety of colors to choose from and several styles of framework that should satisfy any homeowner.

3) Structural simplicity – Because of the light weight nature of aluminum, a patio cover can be attached directly to your patio slab, and carports can be attached directly to your driveway. Also attachment to the house requires minimal anchoring. Note: some areas may require posts to be set in concrete, check with the codes department in your area. One of the best advantages of Aluminum structures is the minimum fall required for installation. Aluminum carports and patio covers require only ΒΌ” of fall /ft. spanned. A shingled roof requires a minimum of 4″ of fall /ft spanned, which often creates problems with head room on the outside.

4) Functionality – Very few home improvement projects can provide the quality usefulness that an aluminum patio cover or carport can. Patio covers over decks and patios offer escape from direct sun and weather, and can make them much more useful and enjoyable. Aluminum carports (free standing or attached) can provide great shelter for your vehicles when a garage is not available .


1) Bird Nests – The W-pan aluminum is notorious for attracting birds. There are several plugs that manufacturers offer and it is highly recommended you insist on these at the time of installation. They do add cost but will save you from the endless hassle of cleaning out the pans.

2) Trees – All Aluminum carports and patio covers come with built in gutters and downspouts, in the fall if you live in a wooded area leaves are a constant problem. Since aluminum structures do not require as much slope on the roof, leaves and debris is much more likely to accumulate. The most common problem I see is where this accumulation of leaves is left unattended, stopping up gutters, backing up water and ultimately causing the panels to bow and leak.

3) Rust on framework – Most aluminum patio covers and carports are installed with steel bar joists, and posts, and while painted before installation, the natural exposure to the elements will eventually cause the parts to show rust (especially at ground contact)

4) Hail – The single most, problem with aluminum carports and patio covers is hail. We replace several of these each year. Because of the light weight nature of aluminum a hail storm can leave small unattractive dings in the panels. Most homeowners insurance cover this and in most cases if hail is hard enough you will have other damage to your home

As a contractor for many years, I have learned to appreciate the functional beauty of aluminum carports and patio covers. The advantages of these products far out weigh the disadvantages. Almost all the disadvantages can be prevented with simple maintenance.