Pool Shade Ideas: 8 Ways to Cover Your Swimming Pool

When you think of a pool, it’s natural to think of sunshine. Pools are a hallmark of the summer months, keeping families and homeowners outdoors and entertained during hot and sunny weather. For more and more pool lovers, grabbing a bit of shade is becoming a priority. Whether it’s from concern over UV exposure, a need to find some respite from the hot midday sun, or simply to avoid a sunburn, many pool owners are turning to shade solutions for their pools.

Installing a shade structure over the pool can deliver a range of benefits beyond UV protection and relief from the rays. Today’s shade structures can be great aesthetic additions to a pool, giving you a bit of ambiance and style. And with well-structured, large-scale permanent structures, you’ll also be adding value to your home. Let’s take a look at the eight best pool shade ideas:

1. Shade Sails
Pool Shade Ideas Shade Sails

Shade sails are increasingly popular options that give a truly modern look to a pool. These interestingly shaped sails can be placed in an array of unique angles, giving a pool a very edgy and modern look. The downside of shade sails is that they can give inconsistent shade (requiring several shades to cover an entire section of a pool) and because they have to resist high winds, can be surprisingly expensive.

2. Pergolas
Pool Shade Ideas Pergola
Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes

A pergola can provide ambient shade with just the right amount of filtered light over a pool. Placing a pergola over one end of a pool can also create a great, visual centerpiece. Today’s pergolas are made from quality woods and add value to your home, provided you know what to specify. Read our guide on pergola building materials for more information.

3. Retractable Shade Canopies
Pool Shade Ideas Retractable Canopies
ShadeFX by Wizard Industries

Retractable shade canopies are probably the most comprehensive shade solution for a pool, capable of delivering reliable sun protection to an entire section of a pool with ease. These large canopies run across the pool along beams spanned between support posts on each side of the pool, giving homeowners an easy and very stylish way to shade a pool. The retractable option is a necessity. Otherwise, you might as well have an indoor pool. See more photos of the project above.

4. Umbrellas
Pool Shade Ideas Umbrellas
Los Angeles Times Home of the Week in Topanga

Sometimes the traditional answers are the best. Freestanding umbrellas, such as the ones that have provided shade by pools for decades now, are a great option for those who want flexible and moveable shade. An umbrella placed on the side of the pool can provide a modicum of shade for those in the water and out and homeowners can place them wherever they like, adjusting them with the movement of the sun throughout the day. The downside is they look unseemly when closed.

5. Cantilevers
Pool Shade Ideas Cantilevered

Cantilevers are shade structures similar to canopies that use just a single support structure on one side. Support posts are driven into the cement around the pool; horizontal, with a canopy, extend over the pool from these vertical support posts, providing shade for poolside guests and those in the water.

6. Retractable Enclosures
Pool Shade Ideas Enclosures
Endless Summer

A large-scale solution that offers a good deal of flexibility and that might have appeal for many homeowners is a retractable enclosure. These enclosures are skeletal structures constructed from a series of arched trusses that nest into each other when retracted. Retractable shades run between each section of the enclosure, providing as much or as little shade as homeowners want any moment of the day.

7. Freestanding Canopies
freestanding retractable canopy
Freestanding Canopies

Freestanding retractable canopies add a sleek, modern look as a poolside shade solution. The two-post system pairs a retractable canopy with a commercial-grade aluminum frame. This design allows the system to be installed over or next to the pool, providing rain and sun protection where and when needed. Adding to its flexibility, the freestanding canopy gives homeowners the option of retracting the shade on either side, leaving it even partially opened or closed.

8. Shade Pergolas
Pool Shade Ideas Structures
Gerrick Carpentry

For those who don’t want to shade the pool itself but still want a refuge from the sun, a shade pergola can be a good option. You can erect one right next to a pool, placing lounge chairs and other outdoor accessories under it to create a relaxing enclave. Enjoy as much sun as you like on the water, then retreat to this comfortable and shady spot to enjoy conversation, relaxation, and even drinks with family and friends.

Whether you are looking for a lightweight answer such as a shade sail or a more permanent option such as a pergola, you have a wide array of options available to you today. Look for shade options that use the latest technology in terms of material, so that you get the greatest value and a shade solution that protects you from harmful UV rays well into the future.

Do you have your own shade ideas for the pool? Let us know your own creative solutions to pool shade in the comments below.

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