Canopy Direction: This Way or That Way?

Now that an outdoor project is in the works and a retractable shade has been incorporated, homeowners need to understand the potentials. Whether it be selecting the design colors or understanding the technical elements, ShadeFX representatives have the right tools and resources to help.

The level of customization available for ShadeFX retractable solutions allows for application to even the most complex projects. As retractable shade requirements grow in outdoor design, ShadeFX continues to evolve, ensuring capability for simple and elaborate outdoor spaces, alike.

When specifying a retractable canopy, the first consideration is orientation. The shade extends and retracts in a single direction, which way works best is dependent on a few things.

Here is a breakdown of the most common canopy orientations.


Our retractable shades operate by moving forwards and backward on the single-track system. As the lead carrier travels the length of the track, the fabric follows. With the rear carrier locked in place, the fabric pulls taut once the lead carrier has traveled the entire length of the track. The standard option applies to our manual, rope, and motor drives.

When the structure is attached to a house, most elect to have the shade extend outwards, away from the building. This is simply for visual reasons, keeping the retracted, stacked fabric out of sight. Ease of deployment upon exiting the home is also a factor.

However, some homeowners prefer to run the shade parallel to the house to assist with rain management. As rain sheds, the stabilizer located closest to the house can be elevated, directing the rainwater away from the dwelling.

For irregularly shaped canopies, the only practical way it can operate is by extending from the widest side to the narrowest. A benefit to the single-track system is the canopies can be cut to have tapered edges and contour the shape of an asymmetrical pergola.

Kissing Canopies

Applicable to all three canopy drive types, this orientation works best when applied to long, narrow structures that require two canopies to cover the entire span. As suggested in the name, the two canopies will extend from the outer edges, meet in the middle and appear to be ‘kissing’.

This orientation is also a popular choice when a fan or light hangs in the center of the pergola. The canopies may not ‘kiss’, but they will extend towards the middle covering the majority of space below. For those who desire full coverage of the space, without removing the fan or hanging lights, our Retractable Roof solution should be considered.

Double Manual

Still indecisive between front to back or back to front? Consider the double-manual option. This versatile option has a lead carrier on both ends of the single track which allows the system to stack on either end of the structure. It provides maximum flexibility in opening and closing the system.

As noted in the name, this method can only be applied on a manually operated system. Just remember to lock one end before extending the other.

As the design phase begins to wrap up, the closer you are to your custom retractable shade. From different fabric options to mounting capabilities, we trust that we’re the right fit for your project.

Contact us today and start customizing your retractable shade.