9 Tips to Protect Your Deck or Patio from Summer Sun

Your deck or patio needs protection from the sun, just like you. Here are nine ways to protect outdoor spaces against excess heat, sun and humidity.

There’s no better time than summer to enjoy an outdoor living space, and a patio or deck is the perfect place to soak up beautiful weather with family and friends. But sometimes that summer sun comes with searing heat, blistering UV rays and tropical humidity levels. Here are nine ways to protect your deck or patio and ensure years of future enjoyment.

Built-In Sun Blockers

Pergolas and Trellises

Create instant shade by building a backyard pergola or overhead trellis. These structures protect your deck or patio from heat and direct sun without interfering with cooling breezes or making you feel blocked in.

Curtains and Shade Awnings

Often used in conjunction with a pergola or other structure, curtains and shade awnings are a retractable barrier that provide shade and privacy. Curtains and awnings are available in manual or automated formats, and in multiple styles, textures and patterns to fit your budget and preferences.


An umbrella is a terrific way to provide backyard shade and a little sun protection. They don’t provide constant relief from the sun like a permanent structure, but they cost a lot less. Deck and patio umbrellas can be straight or cantilevered, and come in lots of colors.

Your Number One Fan

A great add-on to a pergola or partial porch is a ceiling or wall-mounted fan. Moving air helps keep you cool as you enjoy the great outdoors. Fans pull pockets of hot air and humidity away from your deck or patio, allowing them to “breathe” and dry out. A little bit of breeze can go a long way, especially on a humid summer day.

Natural Ways to Block the Sun

Plant a Tree

Planting a tree is the most environmentally friendly way to shade your deck, but it also requires the most long-term planning. Still, fast growing trees and bushes can make a difference relatively quickly, especially if chosen wisely. Be sure to select a tree that thrives in your climate zone, and avoid those with overly aggressive root systems that may create issues with your foundation, patio or deck.

Other Shade Plants

Trees aren’t the only natural form of shade! By placing potted plants in strategic locations, or adding climbing plants or vines on trellises, you can create dappled, organic shade for your outdoor living space. Because these plants will block the sun from your relaxation area, it’s important you choose ones that can handle the heat and direct sunlight.

Some homeowners opt for vines and large potted plants as an immediate form of shade while the trees they have planted are becoming established.

Good Old-Fashioned Maintenance

Plan on Power Washing

Your patio or deck requires occasional maintenance, just like the rest of your home. Plan on pressure washing and painting or sealing your deck regularly; every three to five years is a good bet. But if you live in an area with especially high heat, sun exposure or humidity, adjust your schedule accordingly. You are way better off performing maintenance more often, given the alternative if you neglect it — tearing it out and installing a new deck or patio.

Beware of Mold

Humidity is another element of the summer environment to contend with. High humidity can warp outdoor furniture and encourage mold or moss growth. Outdoor furniture can be particularly prone to humidity damage, along with rust, mold and rot. Be sure to wash your furniture with a mildew fighting cleaner as needed, and maintain a clear topcoat for protection.

Invest in Stains and Sealers

If you’ve ever walked across black top in bare feet during the summer months, then you know just how hot dark colors can get. When you’re selecting a paint or stain for your deck or patio, take the reflectivity and heat index into account. In recent years, specialty paints, stains and sealers have been specifically designed to protect building materials and the bottoms of your feet from the sun’s rays.

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.