Canopies are great; they produce shade, change the structural look of a building to make it mose aesthetic, and are functional above all else.
You can use them to cover just about anything, protect you from the rain, and increase the utility of outdoor spaces.
But how many different ways can you think to use them?
We’ve figured out the twelve best ways to use your canopy and get the most bang for your bucket. Whether you buy one or DIY it with our tarps and some canopy fittings, this is what you can do with it.
12 Ways to Use That Canopy
1. Backyard Shade Cover
Just want to beat the heat?
We all want to enjoy our outdoor spaces for more time throughout the year, but sometimes it gets too hot to justify sitting outside.
Plus, there are health concerns when you’re over-exposed to UV rays from the sun. To set one of these up properly, you need to make sure that your area is covered no matter where the sun is in the sky.
It’s always better to go with more canopy space for your backyard than you think you’re going to need. If this is attached to your house like an awning, that’s great; you have a point to anchor it to and make the most out of it.
You’ll need extra space for when your friends drop by unexpectedly, or when you host that Labor Day cookout you’ve always wanted to run.
2. Protecting Your RV or Boat
The sun brings down harsh UV rays, which can strip that thousand-dollar paint job off of your otherwise new-looking RV. Nobody wants that. Most canopies come with a natural UV resistance to them, and are sometimes even flame retardant if you select the right materials.
What this means is that it reflects the sunlight without allowing any UV rays to pass through the materials, effectively saving your paint job.
This can be difficult to replicate properly, because you’re going to have to make sure that sunlight doesn’t touch your RV at any point during the day. Your canopy will have to be large, mostly likely with a steeple-style roof to it.
You might consider valance tarps, which have an eight inch drop-off on all sides, helping to protect you against deterioration over time.
3. Building a Greenhouse
Did you know that a canopy can let in trace amounts of UV light and even moisture through condensation?
Just like a greenhouse. You’re trying to make a year-round planting solution so that you can enjoy whatever foods you want, whenever you want. Apart from that, you’re also able to protect your plants from debris more than you can with glass.
Glass panes break, shatter, and let debris in during a bad storm; canopies are rugged and durable, and as long as you secure them tightly and thoroughly, you can expect debris to bounce off of them and roll down the side instead.
We have an entire guide dedicated to choosing the right tarp for your DIY greenhouse project, so be sure to check that out for more information on this subject.
4. Wind Protection During a Hurricane
If you leave a canopy that produces shade, it’s going to come down when the wind gets under it during a hurricane. That canopy will be ripped from its supports, tear, or go flying over your roof and into the neighbor’s yard.
Nobody wants that. Instead, you can reposition your canopy to help your home with wind resistance. Patch these over your windows or over alcove openings at entryways to help prevent wind damage to the best of your ability.
5. Temporary Roof Covering
Roofs leak, and if they’re not taken care of right away, then the cost just keeps going up. A simple patch and a roof repair at a later date, when you have the funds, it siong to be your best bet.
Using some simple 2” x 4”s, screws, and a tarp, you can make a square patch on your roof that doesn’t allow water inside.
This gives the inside time to dry out and protects you from the next rainstorm. Depending on how you make these, they can last for three months, or up to two years, but they’re not a permanent solution.
6. Lining Your Truck
The bed of your pickup isn’t scratched up, and you want it to stay that way. You can use a canopy covering to line that truck, and give a shield between the items that you’re hauling and the pristine look of the bed.
If you’re going to do this properly, then you’re going to need some ball bungees or bungee cords to secure the tarp so it doesn’t move. This also helps to designate an area for where you’re going to haul things.
7. Collecting Rainwater
Do you water your container garden at home, or do you have crops on a homestead?
Whatever the case, you can collect rainwater to help cut down on your water bill.
Polyethylene tarps don’t harbor bacterial growth on them due to their natural water resistance, so as long as you’re privy to drain your tarp and put it in a container in a timely fashion, you should have perfectly clean rainwater to use on your plants.
8. Protecting Your Air Conditioner Fan and Compressor
If you have central air conditioning, first of all, I’m sorry – it’s the most expensive type of air conditioning to repair, and it can run into issues often.
One of the biggest problems with diagnosing your air conditioner is debris getting jammed in the fan, or rain filling up the fan compartment and growing mildew in the drainage lines faster than it already would.
Using a canopy fixture attached to your house and hoisted above your air conditioner compressor can actually help prolong the life of your AC, all for less than a hundred bucks and some setup time.
Just be sure that you don’t set it so high that rain ingress showers the unit anyways. A little water won’t hurt, but you want to protect it from that and debris as well.
9. Event Awning
A quality canopy can do more than just provide shade for your backyard. For this job, the best tarps you’re going to want are valance tarps, since they come with an eight inch drop-off point along the edges. This allows for better sun protection from numerous angles.
The biggest issue with using a canopy as a standalone event awning is that not only do you have to prop it up on poles, but you have to ensure it’s effective. You want to make sure there’s enough coverage regardless of what angle the sun is coming down.
Strategic positioning is going to be key here. You can use a canopy as an event awning for a baby shower, outdoor wedding reception, or a Fourth of July cookout where you’re getting the extended family back together.
These can be set up on standalone poles, or you can make a fixture in your backyard out of a pergola, connect fixtures to your home, or put up temporary frames in your backyard if that’s where you’re hosting the event.
All the comfort of shade and shelter from the rain without ever having to leave home.
10. Covering a Floor While Painting
Hey, your canopy might not look the same after, but it can be done. If you’re painting the inside of your home, but you don’t have the money for expensive single-use painting liners, you can use your canopy and stretch it out over the floor while you paint.
Droplets of paint might stick, but depending on the material of your canopy (usually polyethylene or polyester canvas), you can wipe it right off even after it dries.
We have a whole guide dedicated to painting your tarp, and it’s not as simple as taking latex-based paint, slapping it on, and calling it a day. Your canopy is practically paint-proof, so you can use it, clean it, and rehang it up in the backyard over the poles without it being a problem.
11. Porch Swing Cover
Porch swings offer a great way to actively engage in the outdoors, all while sitting down. Even if you just like to sit on one while you read your book or during family gatherings, you shouldn’t have to burn to a crisp in the sun just to sit there.
You can attach this right to the top of your porch swing without needing additional poles.
Swings are suspended from chains or ropes along the top of the bench frame, so you can either add wood onto the frame and pull the canopy nice and taut over that, or build a separate metal frame, attach the canopy, and then use ball bungees to attach it to your swing frame.
It’s a little DIY handiwork, but it can be done.
12. Branded Canopies
You’ve seen cars with magnets on them that advertise a business, right?
It’s like a one-time expense for a lifetime of advertisements. You can do the same with a canopy if you own a business. Using our guide on painting your canopy, you can brand it with your logo, slogan, and even contact information if that’s what you want to do.
You can purchase custom stencils of your own logo, as well as letter stencils, and do it all yourself. Once you know how to refinish a canopy, it’s easy. The only tricky part is going to be positioning it so that your logo or message is displayed properly.
This is where you consider getting a hexagonal canopy that can be positioned so that the center is higher than the edges. It not only looks aesthetic, but you can position a message much more clearly if that’s what you’re trying to do.
Get Creative with Your Canopy Uses
Canopies have more uses than you think, and this list just scratches the surface.
It’s time to figure out what canopy size you need, whether you’ll be buying it pre-made or doing it yourself, and move on from there. If you want to go the DIY route, take a look at our selection of tarps to use with your canopy fittings, and make something truly spectacular (and unique).