A gazebo with curtains and canopy of lights at night.

10 DIY Outdoor Canopy Ideas

Originally contributed by • last updated 5/12/2021

Randy Fath

Outdoor canopies are necessary elements to keep you comfortable from the searing sun or rain. At night, they can create a cozy and magical space surrounded by nature and illuminated with twinkling lights or candles.

DIY outdoor canopies come in all shapes and sizes and you're only limited to how much fabric you're willing to hang. Casually hang fabric on trees or poles, or create more permanent structure. You can even make transportable versions you can take to the beach or park and festively stake out your space.


A Billowy Outdoor Sail Canopy

The DIY Plan

Harsh and hot sun rays beaming down into your backyard can ruin a relaxing day on the deck or patio. That's why sun shade sails come in so handy. Sunshade sails work best for large areas of outdoor space that get so hot you can't even walk on the patio.

You can buy premade sails, or make them by cutting large triangular pieces of outdoor fabric, such as Sunbrella, that you can hem yourself and hang from trees or posts.

In the example image, each piece of fabric measures 20-feet on each side. The sails are attached to posts set in concrete. The project requires an intermediate skill level, but for under $300, this backyard is now cool, usable, and looks quite contemporary.


Outdoor Canopy Gazebo Offers Relief From Sun

Beauteeful Living

This homeowner already had a pergola built over her deck and eating area. But, it was way too sunny and hot. So she made her DIY outdoor canopy by hemming outdoor fabric and wrapping it taught around the pergola's sides and top for much needed shade and comfort.

It created a cozy cocoon that looks extra magical at night when she hangs lights and lanterns from the top.


Simple Fabric Outdoor Patio Canopy

DIY Morning

You'll get privacy and shade with this simple pergola canopy covering. Use a few yards of a quick-drying, light-filtering muslin, cotton fabric, or sheeting to create this summery look.

You'll need fabric that's the width of the pergola and almost twice the length of the structure to get enough to hang down the sides. Thick galvanized training wires creates the fabric's ability to billow and ruffle.


Brilliant Red DIY Outdoor Daybed With Canopy

Design By D9

To get that resort-style look of an outdoor daybed with a canopy, you may have to spend big bucks. But not if you tackle this complete DIY project from Design by D9, which includes a one-piece bench and canopy structure that holds a twin bed mattress.

There's an added curtain rod on the front top to hold mosquito screening for extra comfortable and cozy outdoor seating.


A Starry Display Of Outdoor Canopy Lights

Ruffled/Lighthouse Photography

No one does DIY outdoor canopies better than wedding planners and decorators. This stunning one is no exception, but it's also one you can adapt to your own yard for parties or just to have your own star-studded outdoor oasis.

A five-point star requires five poles, five lengths of wood to create the star, and lots of overlapping white icicle lights. To keep the lights buoyed up and laying flat, staple barely-there mesh to the wood star shape and drape the lights on top of it for stability.

Paint the wood a glittery silver or gold with outdoor spray paint for extra evening shimmer. If you require more shade, layer some billowy fabric above or below the lights.


Vintage-Style Small Outdoor Canopy

Karin Lidbeck-Brent
Your Cozy Home

This oh-so-simple DIY outdoor canopy is made with a piece of outdoor fabric attached to four wooden closet rods using grommets and cup hooks.

But what's so special about this particular awning is the way the rods are set. Instead of putting them directly into the ground, the homeowner used beautiful vintage milk jugs, filled them with sand for stability, and tucked each rod into the container.

To further stabilize the frame, there's twine held taut into tent stakes that are placed in the ground. Add greenery on the tops of the jugs to hide the sand, and you have one pint-size piece of backyard shade.


Colorful Kid's Outdoor Canopy For Party Time


Adapt this fun and colorful idea for your child's next outdoor birthday bash or garden party. It's a DIY outdoor canopy idea often used for wedding receptions.

Float a rainbow of umbrellas on wire or attach to the roof of a pergola to create the ultimate shade. Use regular umbrellas for more permanent canopies over an outdoor dining table, since paper would be ruined by bad weather. 

For a party, hang delicate paper parasols — available at various sources, including craft stores and wedding supply outlets —upside down and drape them with twinkling white lights for an eclectic look over your patio.

You can also adapt this idea and hang clusters of paper lanterns from your backyard trees, arbor, or pergola for the same colorful canopy effect.


DIY PVC Outdoor Canopy For Parties

Miss Party mom
Miss Party Mom

Here's another fun idea for a kid's DIY outdoor canopy perfect for parties or playhouses. This one is made from PVC pipe and fabric.

It's a design courtesy of an industrious mom who knows how to wield a piece of pipe. Use it for an adult party for a bar, too. Once the frame is made, you can switch out fabric to match any theme.


A White Outdoor Canopy Ikea Hack

Ikea Hackers

You can't beat Ikea for aisles filled with products that make great hacks, including this easy white pergola canopy. Curtain panels are sewn onto hooks that are threaded onto wire.

Other homeowners have been known to buy Ikea translucent and rugged floor protector panels and nail or glue them on top of pergolas for filtered light that creates the perfect amount of shade. (The panels make perfect vertical privacy panels for a deck or patio, too.)


DIY Outdoor Canopy Curtains For A Gazebo

From House to Home

It may look like a big project, but that's only because these outdoor DIY canopy curtains call for yards of fabric. Such curtains can be made from canvas drop cloths or any other outdoor and weather-resistant fabric.

But surprisingly, the curtains pictured are made from flat sheets. It was the cheapest option and it is easier to make and hang than it looks. Just install the flat sheets on curtain rods specifically made for outdoor use. You can use PVC piping to hang curtains, too.

The homeowners opted for sheeting so the curtains could be taken down and frequently washed to look fresh and airy all season long.