Your Guide to Buying Outdoor Canopies

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Outdoor canopies are more than the pretty face of a summer party. They are the lifeblood of traveling craftspeople, who depend on these shelters to protect them from heat and rain. They spare the life blood of families who want to enjoy backyard picnics in those parts of the country where, it is said, the mosquito is the state bird. They can help keep a backyard pool from becoming a sunburn spot and keep the baby from burning at the beach. And then, of course, a lighted tent is alluring and comfortable for guests during outdoor parties.

There is an outdoor canopy for every need and we’ll review some of the most popular here. We’ll look at what kinds of canopies are useful for what purposes; what sizes and types of construction are valuable; what issues are important to consider when purchasing outdoor canopies; and then discuss how to go about shopping for the right outdoor canopy.

Why Buy an Outdoor Canopy?

People who buy outdoor canopies are usually seeking protection from weather or insects. In warm climates, canopies extend the time of year when the outdoors can be pleasantly enjoyed by creating additional shady space in the yard. Where insects are a problem, a canopy with net sides can create a sanctuary more secure than simply lighting torches or wearing repellent fans. When infants and toddlers are being corralled at the beach, a canopy helps not only to set the boundaries but to protect their delicate skin from the sun.

Canopies come in a wide range of sizes and styles to meet these and other needs.

Canopy Type



Fixed location garden gazebo canopy

Replaceable fabric canopy, side curtains

Turns what would otherwise be an open-air structure into a somewhat weatherproofed shelter

Square canopy on four legs

Typically 10 feet by 10 feet; some have 8 foot by 8 foot canopies with feet splaying to a total 10 foot square size

Convenient backyard shelter; popular among crafters and others who need temporary outdoor displays; vary in ease of setup and in portability of cases

Triangular " sail " canopy

These are often used over a restaurant patio or a pool

This canopy placement is considered seasonal, since it is fastened with rope onto locations that are often difficult to reach

Garage canopy

A range of sizes are designed for up to 3 vehicles

Often less like canopies than heavy duty fabric Quonset huts for cars, trucks, boats, and agricultural equipment

Beach cabana canopy

Like a supersized beach umbrella for one or more

These "pop up" conveniences may have reflective surfaces or ventilation to reduce heat inside and may be rated for sun screening

Baby canopy or tent

Typically about 3 feet square

Convenient "pop up tents" for baby; just as helpful in the backyard as at the beach

Party canopy

From small to huge, depending on the event or events being hosted

With or without sides; ready for electricity or not; often measured in terms of guests accommodated as well as by square footage

Outdoor canopies are available to meet a wide range of home and business needs.

Considerations for Selecting Outdoor Canopies

A number of considerations will help identify the best outdoor canopy for your needs.

What Size Canopy Is Needed?

The largest temporary outdoor canopy to date may have been the one created for a Millennium Eve party that hosted 32,000 people. The largest permanent tent structure is believed to be the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center in Kazakhstan, with its interior space of 100,000 square meters (more than 1 million square feet) providing space for cinemas, shops, restaurants, and a water park.

The canopies needed for most activities are likely to be somewhat smaller than these. A 10 foot by 10 footcanopy provides space for eight people to be seated comfortably. The tiniest outdoor canopies are the 3- foot - square pop - up tents that shelter babies and keep toddlers under control at the beach.

If you are planning to purchase a canopy for parties or special events, it may be wise to consult with specialists who are familiar with how space is used for these activities. A table-served dinner requires different space for the same number of people than a buffet; a wedding ceremony requires different space than a quinceanera. The wisest choice in these situations will be made by consulting with experienced personnel.

Is the Canopy Easy to Assemble?

How important this will be depends in part on how frequently the canopy will be set up and taken down. If it will travel to many family gatherings or craft fairs, a canopy that is easy to set up, with few parts that can be lost, is a good choice. Some " pop - up " canopies can be set up by a single person.

How Portable is the Outdoor Canopy?

If the canopy will be used in more than one place, its portability matters. This issue references not just whether the canopy can be moved but whether, once it’s been folded down and packaged, that package is easy to move. Does the case have wheels? Is the handle in a convenient location for rolling and lifting? How heavy is the case when fully loaded? Does it fit in the regularly used vehicle? All of these affect the portability of the canopy.

Does the Outdoor Canopy Need Side Walls?

For the home user, side walls can create an atmosphere of privacy and enchantment in a lighted gazebo, keep insects away from diners, or, conversely, make unwanted heat build up. Various designs may allow side walls to be tied back to the corner posts or rolled up.

For the business user of an outdoor canopy, side walls are often a necessity. They create essential separation from adjacent businesses at an event and keep wind-blown rain from damaging product. Many businesses like having a front wall as well to "close off" the booth in the evening during multi-day events.

Will a Replacement Canopy Fit the Existing Frame?

If you have an existing gazebo for which you need a replacement canopy, be sure to choose a canopy that will fit it properly. Replacement canopies are made even for gazebos that are no longer on the market.

Does the Canopy Look Attractive?

Whether a canopy will be used in a business or home setting, it should look good.

Some business uses face specific regulations, such as the white canopies that are required at some juried craft shows. Some homeowners and businesses may also face appearance regulations in neighborhood association or business district compacts. Be sure to check these out before making a purchase.

How Safe Is the Canopy in Weather, Wind, and Fire?

A canopy selected for rain protection needs to have seams properly sealed so they will not leak. Canopies used in business, including the craft show business, should be fire retardant to meet any relevant regulations.

Keeping a canopy in place on a windy day generally requires the owner to weight its sidewalls as well as the corners. Each corner needs at least 40 pounds of weights fastened to its posts, while the sidewalls must also be weighted to keep them from blowing around.

Will the Canopy Last?

The aluminum poles and supports used in making most contemporary canopies are highly weather resistant. Canopies with fewer parts are less likely to lose critical pieces. Fabrics, too, are durable and many are fibers that dry quickly after a rain. It is important never to put a portable canopy away when wet. If it must be packed wet after a show, both the canopy and case should be dried thoroughly as soon as possible afterward.

Shopping for Outdoor Canopies

Outdoor canopies are available at stores that focus on recreational goods, those that specialize in parties and special events, and discount stores. Garage-style canopies are available from industrial supply companies. All of these are also available from the online equivalents and other online marketplaces including eBay.

Buying Outdoor Canopies on eBay

You can find a full range of outdoor canopies on eBay. Depending on the kind you want, you may want to check one or more of these categories and some of the suggested links that will come up:

  •     Party tent
  •     Beach tent
  •     10 x 10 canopy
  •     Garage canopy

    Some of these may be bulky or heavy to ship, so you may prefer to choose a vendor near you. You may sort the available canopies by Distance : Nearest First, for example. This might allow you to locate a vendor close enough that the two of you could agree that you could pick up the canopy, instead of paying a shipping fee. You may also sort canopies by Price to see whether any vendor is offering a discounted price.

    Research the eBay Seller

    You can make sure you have found a quality vendor on eBay by checking the feedback left by prior customers or by choosing to purchase from top rated sellers. These vendors have demonstrated an ongoing history of quality client service and excellent merchandise over many transactions.


    Outdoor canopies make warm weather more accommodating and allow the arts and crafts show to go on even on damp days. During seasons when insect pests make the outdoors less than pleasant, a canopy with net sidewalls can make dinner al fresco a delight once again.

    Canopies are designed to meet a range of needs: for space, for portability, for ease of assembly, and for permanence. Businesses such as restaurants will find semi-permanent installations for their patios; craft businesses find portable installations for their show travel; and people enjoy canopies in their yards, at the beach, for special events, or wherever a little extra shade or a special gathering place is of value.

    Various colors and designs make today’s outdoor canopies a value for anyone and you can find the canopy that meets your needs with a little research.

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