Pergola Canopy v. Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms = New Pergola Canopy

 We spend a lot of time in our backyard, especially in the summer. Our backyard patio needed architectural definition and additional seating for entertaining.


Two summers ago, my brilliant husband designed and built our lovely and simple large pergola.

Douley & Phoebe Photo Bomb

It measures 12′ wide x 22′ long, with four outside and two middle posts and a middle beam support.

12’W by 22’L

With the middle crossbeam and post supports our pergola is sort of divided into quarters – if that makes sense?

not to scale
not to scale

Large rods and bolts secure the pressure treated wood.

pergola_top edges

Not bad for amateurs!



We Need a Canopy!

Even with the top crossbeam slats, there isn’t much protection from the midday sun. I liked the idea of a retracting or removable canopy.


But, the price for one of these babies was a real downer: $2,500.00. So, I decided to make a canopy. 😉  We cut out a total of 32 U-shaped ‘brackets’ from pieces of scrap wood. We screwed 16 brackets onto one 22′ long side of the pergola crossbeam and then the other 16 to the opposite side, spacing them 36″ apart.

U-shaped Bracket
U-shaped Bracket


 Then, my saw man cut galvanized tubing to fit between each set of brackets – sort of like a curtain rod.

Galvanized Tubing
Galvanized Tubing
Get the idea?
Get the idea?


Rain, Rain Go Away

 A series of spring storms ripped through our area (and canopy).


So….. back to the DIY drawing board. How could I make the canopy stronger? 
I purchased canvas from Hancock Fabrics. The canvas was 40% off and I had an additional 20% off coupon. Score! I made four separate canopy sheets – one for each quarter section of the pergola. For each canopy section, I turned the ends over and sewed curtain rod pocket/hems. In the middle I folded the canvas and sewed two additional rod pockets. It was really a very simple procedure. (Pardon my crappy drawing) 🙂

not to scale
sooooo obviously not to scale

My sewing partner, Señor Don el Gato: Puff

Loco Kat
Loco Kat – there’s a story I’ll tell one day….

The galvanized tubes were slid inside each pocket…


…and then placed back into the brackets.  I saved us $2,300.00!


Now, if it would just stop raining…

Have a great week! – – Joanne

A reader posed an excellent question (Thank you Kylie!). “Does the canopy hold back the rain?” To answer: yes and no. The canvas fabric is not repellent treated, so I can’t confirm that a treatment would even help. Slight showers are not a problem, but heavy rain comes through. Outdoor fabric, such as Sunbrella or (maybe) a water-repellent treatment would work better.

Also, with use, we noticed the first canopy (made of twill) did not have shrinkage, held color and didn’t turn ‘greenish’ with age. The untreated canvas shrunk a little and has a green tint. That was surprising as I thought canvas would be a better choice. So, when it’s time for a new canopy, I’ll probably use a pre-washed outdoor fabric or twill again.
Hope this updated info helps!! – – Joanne


6 thoughts on “Pergola Canopy v. Thunderstorms

  1. How well does the canvas hold back the rain. I’m wanting to do something similar b/c i like to sit outside when it rains and well i don’t want to be rained on.

    1. Hi Kylie,
      Thanks for stopping by! The canvas fabric is not water-repellent treated, so I can’t confirm that a treatment would even help. It does hold back slight showers. However, down pouring rain will start to drip through after some time. I imagine you’d probably be more interested in using an outdoor (Sunbrella?) fabric.

      Two thoughts:(1) A difference we noticed was the first canopy (made of twill) did not have shrinkage, held color and didn’t turn ‘greenish’ with age. The canvas (again, not treated) shrunk a little bit and has a green tint. We’re keeping it as is, but when it’s time for a new canopy, I’ll probably use an outdoor fabric or twill again . . . (2) I’ll pre-wash and machine dry the next fabric to avoid any possible shrinkage.

      Hope this info helps. -Joanne

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