With what should I cover my patio?
September 5, 2016 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Our house in Southern California needs a patio cover. We want something with a lattice top kind of like this. We don't want wood because our last one was made of wood and it got termites. There are multiple options for non-wood materials: faux-wood textured aluminum, vinyl, composite (i.e., Trex). What are people's experiences with these kinds of patio covers?

We're particularly curious about "Alumawood" patio covers; they seem nice in theory, but do they feel too cheap in real life? And wouldn't they get viciously hot in the sun?

Anyway, if you have any experiences with any of them (not just aluminum), we'd like to find out what you think.
posted by StrawberryPie to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What are the dimensions of the area you'd like covered? What's you're budget?
posted by whoiam at 1:34 PM on September 5, 2016

What you're looking for there is a pergola. They sell kits for either composite or fiberglass systems.

If you want to send me a message I can get you my work email and look over the stuff I have at work tomorrow when I get a second.

But until then check out what Trex has to offer in their kits and start from there.
posted by theichibun at 1:48 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Size: approx 9 feet wide by 22 feet long.
Budget: between 4k and 6k?
posted by StrawberryPie at 2:15 PM on September 5, 2016

Is that budget for material only or do you have labor in there?
posted by theichibun at 2:18 PM on September 5, 2016

Response by poster: To clarify: I do know what the options are (and can search for specific vendors in my area); what I'm looking for is actual experiences with patios or pergolas made from the different materials. Examples of experiences include (but are not limited to) the following. Do some of the materials feel or sound cheap (or not)? Are they sturdy when the wind blows or do they creak and flex? Do they get too hot in the sun? Do they wear well over the years? Are you happy with it? Would you buy it again or opt for something else?
posted by StrawberryPie at 2:20 PM on September 5, 2016

Response by poster: Is that budget for material only or do you have labor in there?
Ah, hmm, I guess I don't know what to expect for labor. Those are my ballpark amounts from searching and seeing some of the ready-made options in my area, but they don't mention installation labor, so I don't know.

But again, since I'm trying to find out about experiences and not actually trying to find specific things to buy, I kind of think this is tangential to the original question. (Thank you for asking, and I don't mean to be rude.)

I realize I'm thread-sitting. I'll stop.
posted by StrawberryPie at 2:24 PM on September 5, 2016

No, that's fine. I just go into "figure out what the customer really wants vs what they say they want" mode after some of the customers I've dealt with.

Just on a deck perspective, I've been a fan of Azek. It's the same material throughout as opposed to something like Trex that has a PVC cap over a center that's capped for a reason.

Having a 22 foot side means that from Azek you'd have to splice something together since they just make their deck boards in 12', 16', and 20' pieces. I'm pretty sure Trex is the same way.

The decks have held up. As long as you're not throwing bleach on them (or some similar cleaner) then you have a color warranty. I'm in Charleston, which probably has more coastal related problems than you'll have to deal with. That being said, the only composite deck problems I've heard about lately have been installer errors.
posted by theichibun at 2:40 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Have you considered a sun sail?
posted by LoveHam at 6:47 PM on September 5, 2016

We built a free-standing structure that's about 16' x 16'. The corner posts and all of the support beams are pressure treated wood. The roof of the structure is a solid, standard metal roof, like this.

It's been up for about 4 years now, and looks the same as the day it was installed. I love it. We wanted a solid roof because that provides us the best sun protection. We were able to install electricity into the structure, and add a ceiling light.

Some may not love the look of pressure-treated wood, but I really don't mind it, and it's built to last. The metal roof is loud, especially because there's no insulation or buffer under it, but I actually enjoy the sound of the rain on the metal roof. Our total cost was about $5k for labor and materials, but it was done by a friend, at (probably) a friend rate. Our friend had built a similar structure at his house, but had used those clear plastic roof tiles, which ends up with too much of a greenhouse effect.
posted by hydra77 at 7:13 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lived in a place with something that looked just like the lattice (trellis?) in your picture. It also rotted out from termites.

But the bigger problem was function -- as in, The Sun: they don't block enough of it, at most 50%.

The traditional shade cloth you can get at Lowes Depot only blocks 50% of the sun, too, and if you've spent time under either the lattice or the shade cloth, you'll realize it's hot and you will get sunburned (in SoCal, at least).

I would recommend a high quality sun sail (that blocks at least 90% of the UV/IR) or possibly a motorized awning something like this: http://www.costco.com/SunSetter-Motorized-Retractable-Awnings-.product.100017021.html
posted by soylent00FF00 at 7:36 PM on September 5, 2016

We built a Trex patio a month-ish ago. It's really nice (you can pound the material back in around screw holes, leaving a smooth surface--my favorite detail). It's expensive as all get out, but we (in the Bay Area) want it to last longer than wood.

We had a plain ol' pressure treated wood pergola at our place in Santa Monica and loved it. It didn't shield much sun, so we ended up nailing down sunscreen material over the top of it. You can do that with Trex, too.

Yes, metal will get painfully hot. We had a roof patio in Santa Monica that was resin-painted metal sheeting and good lord during Santa Anas... ouch. We made the mistake of leaving a citronella candle out on it one weekend and came home to a wax puddle lagoon.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:33 AM on September 6, 2016

Like hydra77, I built a pergola with my sons about 4-5 years ago. Using 6x6's as the pillars, and about 14x14 in size. I got the occasional carpenter bee setting up shop in the cross beams, since I used regular 2x10's.. pressure treated would have prevented that. But we stained it all cedar, and even the pressure treated takes stain well. (the 6x6's were pressure treated from the start)

For the top, I found the lattice to be an issue in the mid-atlantic; winter storms do a job on even the plastic stuff. But it's populat to have a vine grow up a post, and cover the top that way - very natural looking, and you can get hummingbirds - if you don't mind the bees, as well. But it's 10 feet up in the air, so it's not like bees are dive-bombing you.

Cross beams, with a natural sun covering like a clematis or other flowering vine (climbing hydrangea, etc), or even a mix of two different flowing vines. Good sun cover, natural feel, and pressure treated wood you shouldn't have to worry about termites.
posted by rich at 4:26 PM on September 6, 2016

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