7 Types of Outdoor Sun Shade Decor Ideas

If you have a patio or deck space, you’ll probably need some sort of shading to protect you from those rays when the sun gets hot! While we all love sun exposure, it’s not always wise to be a complete sun worshipper. It’s generally smart to play it safe when it comes to direct UV ray exposure and to ensure that everyone stays safe when hanging out on the patio or on the deck.

With this goal in mind, we have put together a list of several ideas for outdoor shading. Some of these can be quite costly, while others are surprisingly inexpensive.

All will level up the style of your outdoor space.

For more information and inspiration on each of these outdoor shading setups, head on over to OutsideModern.com!


Natural Pergola sun shade ideas

Pergolas are among the most interesting outdoor shade structures, especially considering in their most pure form, they don’t really provide shade! These outdoor rooms typically are made of wood, but sometimes metal or vinyl. They usually consist of a frame and an open, rafter-ed roof.

Pergolas really come into their own when vines are grown along the top. Common favorites for pergola vines are Wisteria, with its beautiful flowers, and simple grapes, which you can use to make wine when the time comes.

Being shaded by nature feels so magical!

Hard Top Gazebos

Hardtop Gazebos Sun Shade Decor
Hard-top gazebos take the posted room design of a pergola, but instead of having an open roof, a hard top gazebo features a solid, typically steel, roof unit. These structures commonly have two roof tiers to allow for ventilation through the top, and often have mosquito netting and curtain systems that enable the room to be closed off as needed.

Soft Top Gazebos

Soft Top Gazebos Sun Shade Decor
Soft-top gazebos are a step down from hardtop models in quality, but also a huge step down in price. The frame on these outdoor structures is usually made of steel, but instead of having a solid steel roof, these structures feature canvas roofs, somewhat similar to a patio umbrella in design. They can be quite beautiful, and robust. Of course, a canvas top is certainly not going to last as long as a steel roof, so be prepared to occasionally replace the top should you choose a soft top gazebo.

Sun Sails

Sun Sails Sun Shade
If you happen to have a courtyard-like space, or an area that allows for multiple attachment points, a sun sail, or a sun shade sail, can be an extremely effective outdoor shading system.

These sails can look absolutely spectacular, and when multiple pieces are combined, can really elevate the design of the patio space skyward!


Awnings Sun Shade Decor
Awnings often bring to mind the old-timey Victorian semi-circular window structures, or the underside of the mid-century design ethos, with ugly green vinyl awnings peaking out from the tops of the windows of a ranch house.

But no longer!

Modern retractable awnings can be super stylish in design, and with remote controls, can be easily opened and closed as needed, providing shade when you need it, and sun when you want to feel those rays directly.

Cantilever Umbrellas

Cantilever Umbrellas Sun Shade Decor
Cantilever umbrellas are among our favorite outdoor shade systems and have many advantages over other outdoor shade designs. They bring the pole of the umbrella away from the center of the canopy, enabling the pole to sit behind an outdoor sofa or living set. This allows for conversation and circulation to flow naturally, without a pole blocking views and creating awkward spaces.

One major aspect to be aware of with a cantilever umbrella is that you must weight it down properly. Most cantilever umbrellas for sale do not include a base, and unless you’re going to be bolting it to a deck or concrete patio, you’ll need to get a weighted base capable of supporting the umbrella you’ve chosen. Ignoring this can lead to injury and damaged furniture!

Patio Umbrellas

Patio Umbrellas Sun Shade Decor
Patio umbrellas are the classic shade device for decks and garden spaces. Sure, they’re probably the most common outdoor shade device out there, but they can still be quite striking when employed in the right way. We especially love the old style wooden umbrellas like this one shown from This Old House, as well as modern style umbrellas with bright, contemporary colors on the canvas.

Choosing a patio umbrella with a Sunbrella canvas can significantly increase the useful life of the umbrella, as these materials are much higher quality than many other patio umbrella materials, and will last for years.

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