Pergola Design: Custom Canopy Ideas from ShadeFX

In a perfect world we get a call from a soon to be customer asking about how to make sure their pergola can accommodate a ShadeFX retractable canopy. Although ShadeFX can be applied to any existing overhead structure, consider the retractable canopy in the early stages of pergola design to ensure the smoothest of integrations. Here is a short list of some of the neat things we can do when we get included in the pergola design.

Hiding the track between rafters

Our track is only 1-7/8” wide, a little wider than a typical rafter. With a bit of shimming at the ends, it fits nicely between the two rafters and recesses to almost disappear. This works best when the track is running parallel to the rafters (note the image below).

Hide Pergola Canopy Track

Recessing the track into the rafters

Sometimes the height of the pergola is limited due to an overhang from the house or for aesthetic reasons (line up with an architectural feature). To prevent cramping headroom when the retractable canopy is added, consider notching the rafters to eliminate headroom lost to the track.

Recessed Pergola Canopy Track

Covering the retracted canopy

The northern climes have winter to deal with. Although our canopies are tough enough to be left alone and retracted in the winter, there are those that want the finishing touch of a cover to protect their canopies from the elements when retracted. This is easily done with any flat surface to fit between the top of the wings and the bottom of the rafters. This feature is a tighter fit if combined with the recessed tracks described above. Most often, the track occupies the 3” between the bottom of the rafters and the top of the canopy wings creating a perfect gap for a cover. The cover is made in two pieces, one for either side of the drive beam.

Pergola Canopy Cover

Extended Valances

If your canopy retracts toward the fence with the neighbor, or if you need wind protection on that side, an extended valance could be for you. Below is an example in Toronto where the brownstones have second floor balconies. The rear valance is extended to about 48” and we put an extra wing at the bottom of it to anchor it to the outside face of the railing. It adds privacy and reduces the side winds across the balcony. Extended valances are available for the asking at $25 plus $5 per square foot of extra fabric.

Extended Canopy Valence

Arched Wings

The graceful style of an arched pergola doesn’t have to be compromised to accept a ShadeFX retractable canopy system. To our knowledge, this is another feature totally unique to ShadeFX. We start with the dimension called the ‘rise’ which is the width the wings fit between and the height of the middle relative to the wing tips. Using those dimensions, we put the wings into a roller that is set to match the profile specified by the rise. The result is a perfectly fitted canopy that extends into a barrel vaulted ceiling for your pergola.

Arched Pergola Canopy

Tension Cable Stabilizers

Sometimes you want the canopy to float with minimum frame support. This was the goal of a project in Beverly Hills. The architect worked with ShadeFX to minimize the structure using cables in tension instead of our typical stabilizers, which use a frame element for support. Cable stabilization works great with steel structures and should be carefully planned in cases where wood is used. The high tension could bend or bow the wood over time. In this case, the ¼” stainless steel architectural cable gives the canopies the appearance of “floating in the air.”

Cable Tension Stabilizers for ShadeFX

Covering areas beyond the pergola

With ShadeFX you can extend (cantilever) the wingtips beyond the pergola frame to cover a larger area than the pergola does. This is often done to extend the drip line beyond the privacy screen or railing that usually lines up between the posts. Putting the drip line outside the pergola adds to its usable dry area in the rain significantly. If you are in the northwest, this is a valuable feature. To read more about cantilevered canopies click here.

Cantilevered Retractable Canopy

Combining ShadeFX with other pergola accessories

Ceiling fans or speakers mounted to the pergola can get in the way of a ShadeFX underside mounted canopy, or vice versa. To get the best of both worlds, mount the canopy system above the pergola with our topside mounting option. The feature allows the canopy to cover the pergola like a lid on a pot. Just place the cover on top and what goes on underneath is unaffected. This is a very popular option and makes fully accessorizing your pergola a breeze.

Topside Pergola Canopy

Covering Gaps

When more than one canopy is being used to cover an area it usually means one of a few things. Either the area to be covered is so big multiple canopies are required, or there are kissing canopies or side by side canopies to go around a light fixture or fan shaft. It is hard to show these features in pictures because they are so integrated you can’t really see anything. But take my word for it, if you have multiple canopies or canopy edges in need of being protected from allowing rain to fall through, we can deal with it.

ShadeFX can fit any pergola, but when full integration is considered at the pergola design stage, the possibilities are endless. Send us your drawings and photos, tell us where you want to go with your outdoor living plans, and we’ll take you there!

Retractable Solutions for Outdoor Spaces

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