You buy a canopy with all the pieces, unpackage it, and then you see all these differently angled pieces with hook circles and screw holes for fastening.
It’s a lot to take in, especially if you’ve never built a canopy before.
Most major canopy manufacturers give you instructions, but they don’t tell you why you need to set up your canopy the right way. They also charge you an arm and a leg, which is why a lot of people look to buy their own canopy fittings, and a quality tarp instead.
It saves money and allows for customizations, but if you don’t know how to use the canopy fittings, it’s all for naught. This is what you need to know about it.
What Are Canopy Fittings?
Canopy fittings are the hardware that allow you to structure your frame to actually position your tarp or canopy cover on top of. Think of canopy fittings as the joints; without them, the limbs cannot move into place.
In between each pole, canopy fittings supply slots for the poles to fit into and become secured to. Canopy fittings hold onto the frame to keep it sturdy, and as such, they are required to be extremely strong.
Canopy fittings can come in the form of footholds, T brackets, elbow brackets, and many others. For a full list of the different types of fittings ,ook below.
Different Types of Canopy Fittings
There are upwards of a dozen different canopy fittings that you can find on the market. You don’t need every one of them, but these are the few that you should know about.
- Footpads: These circular stands attach to the bottom of the poles that your canopy stands on. These help provide balance for the poles, as well as prevent sliding, which could set your poles the wrong way and add stress to your canopy.
- T Brackets: With three slots for poles to go into, these often connect two shorter poles on the bottom of a canopy frame with the 45° angle poles that run up to create the steeple of the roof.
- Elbow Brackets: Used to connect two poles together on a horizontal 45° angle, commonly utilized for corners on larger canopy frame constructions. Elbow brackets may also be used to help connect standing poles to the canopy frame.
- Low Peak Fittings: As you might imagine, these help create a low peak that’s less than 45°.
- Flat Roof Fittings: These fittings allow you to connect the tarp to your roof, but do not elevate the tarp whatsoever. These are designed to make flat roofs.
- Slope Fittings: These fitts are unique, because they allow the top of the canopy to slope down into a canopy or awning style.
How to Use Them the Right Way
You use them to make a frame for your canopy to rest upon. This consists of the poles on the edges, as well as the roof where the actual canopy sits.
It’s so easy to misuse your fittings and end up with a lopsided, weak structure that barely holds your canopy up. Let’s avoid that with these helpful tips.
Whether you’re dealing with corner pieces or T brackets, you have to make sure that they’re fitted for the right pole size.
If the pole is wiggling at all while fitted inside of these brackets, then it’s a no-go. You can’t just make them work for you anyway; you’re going to end up with a weak structure.
Instead, just consider replacing the poles. If you purchased fittings that don’t apply to these poles, that’s okay; they’re not the most expensive things in the world, and you can definitely replace them without issue. Get poles and fittings that feel snug when you put them together.
You should also always seal your fittings after you’ve used them to make your awning or canopy. Whether you’re using PVC piping or aluminum poles, you need to seal everything off.
Moisture can get into just about anywhere, even if it’s not immediately hit with rain coming directly at it.
Water can seep down and get into the poles, creating mildew and a nasty smell that you can’t get rid of. Use a sealing spray on your canopy frame when it’s done before you hang the actual tarp up.
Your fittings are there to create the frame for the roof portions, but they’re also something you can secure to the side of your home if you want to make a permanent canopy. Utilize 2” x 4”s and secure them in place, vertically, along the sides of your home where the canopy frame is going to rest.
Use bendable aluminum strips to wrap around the edges of the boards, around the pipes/poles in your frame, and secure the canopy in place.
T brackets can be an absolute pain to work with, especially when you’re connecting poles into the inserts. To make it a little easier to handle them, wear gloves with grips on the palm to prevent slipping while attaching poles.
Last but not least, it’s important to know that footpads aren’t a suggestion; they should always be used. Even if you’re just doing this on a wooden or concrete area that already has decent traction. All it takes is the wind to blow by and knock it over just a bit to send the frame out of whack.
Without the footpads, it could move to the side and make the roof portion of the frame weaker. Use the footpads, and if possible secure them to your deck or into the concrete with the eyelets on the bottom of each footpad.
How to Set Up a Canopy With Canopy Fittings?
The main way to actually hang the tarp/canopy up on top of your fittings is going to be by using a set of ball bungees.
These are extremely cheap and easy to use; you can get bundles of them for a very low cost. We offer a variety of ball bungees on our site, as well as this guide outlining how they’re one of the most versatile tools you’ll ever own in your life.
- Drape your canopy over the top of your completed frame/fittings. If you measured everything out properly, it should be about one or two inches short of meeting the edges.
- Position the peak so that you have an even amount of tarp on either side. Press it into place as if it were secured, so you can get a feel for how it’s going to look and feel when all is said and done.
- Tie everything down with ball bungees. Run the ball bungee cable through the grommet, pull it around the pole/fittings on the edge of the canopy frame, and then pull that cord back over the ball bungee. Let go, and it should all snap into place and remain still. Once you do this on every grommet, it should be nice and taut.
Can Canopy Fittings Rust in the Rain?
Over time, yes, but initially they should be okay. Most canopy fittings are made out of rust-resistant aluminum, galvanized steel, or even PVC piping.
Out of all those, PVC is technically the better choice because it can’t rust, but it’s nowhere near as aesthetic as aluminum or galvanized steel.
Your fittings should be designed with some form of corrosion prevention, but even with that, it doesn’t last forever. A good set of canopy fittings can withstand about five years of continuous outdoor exposure to the elements before you might spot some rust cropping up.
This comes down to two things: rain causing oxidation in the metal, and temperature changes throughout the year. If you live in a place that has harsh winters and decently hot summers, then you’re putting this metal through so many different temperature ranges.
Alone, a cold winter day doesn’t do any damage, but over repeated occasions of extreme weather, it starts to wear down the anti-corrosive coating or properties located on the surface of the metal.
One option you have if you really want to DIY this whole thing is to use PVC piping, and when each piece is cut to the size it’s supposed to be, you can use adhesive paint and a waterproof layer at the end to make aesthetically pleasing, long-lasting frames for your canopy out of the fittings.
Now You Know
Canopy fittings, from low peak corners to connectors, foot pads to high slope corner fittings and everything in between, all need to be placed correctly to get the most use out of your canopy.
The wind is powerful, and without your canopy being set up in a structural, sturdy fashion, it could all quite literally come down on you or collapse from a single gust. It’s time to set it up the right way, and now you know how.