How to Cover an Existing Patio Arbor


Though an arbor is quite helpful with diffusing the sun's rays hitting your patio, the searing summer sun will have you running for more substantial cover. The addition of a cover, such as acrylic awning fabric, blocks the sun more efficiently while cooling your patio down a bit. Additionally, fabrics that carry the "Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation" have been proven to aid in the prevention of sun-induced skin damage. Available in many colors and patterns, this simple addition will allow you and your guests to enjoy the patio in relative comfort during those warm, sunny days.

Things You'll Need

  • Scaffolding or ladders
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Awning fabric
  • Chalk line
  • Power drill
  • 2-inch screw eyes
  • Drill bit sized 1/16 inch smaller than the diameter of the screw eye threads
  • Heavy-duty nylon cord


  • Set up scaffolding or ladders.

  • Measure the length and width of the entire area to be covered. Subtract 2 inches from all sides and make note of the final dimensions; this gap between the fabric and arbor frame will allow hot air to escape.

  • Order your choice of fabric in the finished size of the dimensions obtained in Step 1. Request reinforced sides and the installation of a brass grommet at each corner and at 6-inch intervals along the perimeter.


  • Drill a pilot hole, using a power drill and chosen bit, at each corner of the top of the arbor. Insert a screw eye in each hole and tighten firmly.

  • Snap a chalk line between the corner screw eyes along each side of the top of the arbor.

  • Stretch the fabric out across the top of the arbor. Thread one end of the cord through a corner grommet on the cover and through a corner screw eye. Tie the cord tightly and cut off the excess. Repeat this step for all four corners, stretching the fabric taut as you go.

  • Align a screw eye with each remaining grommet hole and mark the locations with a pencil along the chalk lines. Drill a pilot hole for each screw eye. Insert a screw eye in each hole and tighten firmly.

  • Tie one end of the remaining cord to a corner screw eye. Begin lacing the other end of the cord through the next grommet and then through the corresponding screw eye. Continue lacing in this manner along one side, pulling the cord taught as you go to remove any slack. Tie the cord tightly after inserting it through the final screw eye in the row and cut off any excess.

    Repeat this process with the remaining sides, ensuring that the fabric stays centered and taught over the arbor as you lace with the remaining cord.

Tips & Warnings

  • To extend the life of your fabric cover, hose it down at least twice a year and scrub it clean to remove any built-up dirt. Allow the fabric to dry completely before you store it to prevent mildew.
  • Opt for the highest quality awning fabric you can afford; it can last for 10-plus years under average wear and proper care.
  • Heavy snow and ice can damage your awning. Remove and store it until the weather improves to lengthen its lifespan.

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  • Photo Credit windows,arbor image by Greg Pickens from
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