DIY Tarp Awning: Tips and Tricks

DIY Tarp Awning: Tips and Tricks

It’s time to set up the backyard for the season.

An Igloo cooler next to your table and chairs isn’t going to be enough to cool you down – you want shade to block out up to fifteen degrees worth of heat on average, and keep you in comfort from morning until sundown.

Turning a tarp into an awning is involved, but with the right information to get you started, it doesn’t have to take as long as you’d think. We’ve got a step-by-step guide, along with tips and tricks to help you in your journey.


What Type of Tarp do You Need for an Awning?

What Type of Tarp do You Need for an Awning?

You can use any type of tarp that you’re comfortable with. Canvas, mesh, and polyethylene can all be great choices, but if you’re going for a long-term awning, you’ll want mid-grade polyethylene.

Poly is great for water resistance, tear resistance in strong winds, and it also doesn’t cost you a whole lot of money. Valance tarps end up being more expensive for awnings.

If you want to make a curved awning with the aesthetics to match the function, that’s totally possible, you just need to know what you’re doing with a sewing machine to make it happen.

Let’s go over how to make a basic rectangular tarp that can be used on an angle, and to slightly drop-off at the end of your awning to help with rain ingress.

DIY Tarp Awning Step-by-Step Guide

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To keep this short and sweet, we’re going to make an awning that basically covers a 10’ x 12’ area, and has a drop-off to allow the rain to run down without dripping into the safe area of your deck or porch.

1. Build a Materials List

Your awning is going to be tricky to make, and since I don’t have your exact dimensions, it’s not feasible to tell you 100% exactly what you need. Measure your area, and from there, you’ll know what you need in terms of pole length.

That’s for the quantity, but as for the items, you’re going to need aluminum or PVC piping. PVC is generally thicker than aluminum pipes, but less expensive, so weigh your options.

For the area we mentioned earlier, you should need a total of thirteen poles and the appropriate number of canopy fittings. This is just for the roof of the whole thing, so if you need to drive stakes into the ground, account for those fittings and poles as well.

2. Construct the Frame

For a solid tarp, you should create it at a 45°F angle. Cut pieces accordingly so you can make a steeple-style roof.

There should be two bars on either side, one at the top, and five on either side in a 45° angle connecting them together. This will produce a frame with supports in the center to help the tarp.

3. Protective Frame Coating

Your frame needs to be protected from the elements. While the tarp should do a good job at keeping the rain at bay, there’s still cause for concern when it comes to the materials. Use a waterproof coating to protect whatever you use for the frame.

4. Mount the Tarp

Take your tarp, and drag it over the completed roof. This is where you’re going to use ball bungees to attach the grommets to the edges of the frame. You want the tarp to be taut, but not overly stretched out.

5. Hang the Awning on Your Mounting Space

This could be your home, or onto poles that you’ve mounted to the home or in the ground. Either way, now that the tarp is done, it’s time to hang it up. While it seems counterintuitive to put the tarp on before you mount it, it would be a lot harder otherwise.

6. Inspection

Put this through the ringer.

You want to check out every potential angle that it could be messed with, so shake the poles, jiggle the ball bungees, and put a little bit of stress on the tarp. Make sure that some wind, debris, and a little bit of rain is going to be no match for this new awning.

DIY Tarp Awning Tips and Tricks

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I gave you a basic rundown of how to hang it up, but if you’re still green at this, that’s okay. These tips and tricks should help you out along the way.

1. Bring a Friend

Seriously, if you can have two sets of hands at your disposal, do it. When it comes to actually building the frame and attaching some pieces at the same time, it’s helpful to have that second person.

If possible, have them the entire way through so that they can help with mounting the roof. Whether it’s on poles or to your house, it can be a tough job.

2. Use Ladders

This sounds like common sense, but so many people assume that they don’t need ladders. The frame can get heavy, especially if you’re making it for a large deck or area to cover. Use your best judgment depending on the task, but I strongly recommend using a ladder.

3. Spray Sealant

When it comes to sealed off T junctions and elbow brackets, you can get it done quickly with a spray sealant.

This doesn’t bond pipes or fasteners together, but it can help eal off areas in between the pipes so that water can’t get in. You don’t want mildew growing inside of PVC piping. It’s not a good thing.

4. Curtain Ties

If you use a valance tarp for your canopy, you’re going to have strips of fabric that come down around the four corners. You can use a ball bungee or a tie to secure this to the pole. This not only helps with keeping your tarp secure, but it also gives more coverage against rain ingress.

5. Always Use Footpads

They seem redundant when you’re installing the awning onto your house, but they come in handy when you need them to be suspended with poles. If your poles are in the dirt, they can sink and make the awning uneven.

If they’re on concrete or wood, they’re going to slide and unevenly distribute the force of the roof.

Footpads are always a good idea, so be sure to use them. If you’re using a valance tarp for your awning, you can tie down the corner pieces with a bungee cable to the loops on your footpads.

How Effective is an Awning in the Rain?

If you hang them up right, rain will run right off of them and land on the ground, so they can be very effective. As long as the tarp on top is taut, you can expect heavy rain to just bounce right off of it (pooling water on top of your awning is a big problem).

It’s a good idea to revisit your tarp and ensure it’s still waterproofed and holding up well from time to time. You’ll be able to notice wear and tear on the top of the awning if there’s a problem. With proper maintenance, this should help to repel rain for years to come.