10 deck shade ideas for stylish protection from the elements

These deck shade ideas will help you get more use out of your deck and enhance your backyard design

An outdoor kitchen with deck, dining area, and fabric shade
(Image credit: Bawtree Design)

These deck shade ideas will take your backyard to the next level. If you live anywhere with strong lunchtime sun (or unexpected lunchtime rain, for that matter), you'll want a robust shade in order to be able to use your deck on summer afternoons. Fortunately, there are plenty of options, from inexpensive fabric deck shades to permanent structures that will help you zone your backyard as well as give you shade. 

Make your deck ideas go further by installing a decking shade idea – you won't regret the initial investment. 

1. Start with a shade sail

A shade sail used on a decked terrace

(Image credit: Wayfair)

If you're not sure where to start with adding a deck shade, or you can't have a permanent shade structure, a shade sail should always be your first option. Shade sails are cheap, very easy to install, and come in a variety of fabric types, shapes, and sizes. Look out for those that will give you UV protection. 

The Sail Sun Canopy is from Wayfair.

2. Pick a bright-colored shade for a ceiling effect

A small decked courtyard patio with a blue deck sail shade

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Deck shades don't have to be white or neutral-colored. If you're after a more dramatic look, why not go for a sail shade in a bright color? 

We really like the cobalt blue Yunni sun shade from Wayfair – the color is very harmonious with the white color scheme of the rest of the courtyard.   

3. Go natural for a softer look

A deck shade natural pergola on a Paris roof terrace

(Image credit: Kevin Clare)

If you prefer a more natural look, then a textile deck shade might not look quite right. It may be time to explore pergola ideas – pergolas, especially those made from natural wood, look more organic and will blend into your backyard scheme easily.

This gorgeous pergola created by Parisian landscape designer Kevin Clare takes the natural theme even further, using natural tree branches instead of traditional wood planks. Understated and romantic.

4. Choose a bistro-style awning for a cute European look

A classic stripe awning used as a deck shade

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Awnings have a ton of benefits when used as deck shades. Most importantly, they are retractable, which means you don't have to be in the shade when you don't want to. 

They're also water-repellent and will protect you from the rain as much as from the sun and UV radiation. Oh, and did we mention that they look super cute and remind us of Parisian cafes? The Outsunny retractable patio awning is from Wayfair

5. Add curtains to create an outdoor room feel

A white painted front porch with decking, shade, and curtains

(Image credit: Debra Yates)

Whether your deck shade is a permanent structure (e.g. a porch) or something a little lighter like a pergola, you can enhance the shade even further by adding curtains. Porch ideas especially benefit from including nicely draping curtains both for privacy, increased shade, and the outdoor room vibe that's so big right now. 

This beautiful porch in Florida's Key West has been designed by Debra Yates

6. Invest in a gazebo

Ready for something a little more permanent, but can't add anything onto your existing home exterior? Garden gazebos as well worth looking into. These structures typically offer a lot more protection from the elements than a fabric shade and are perfect for windy areas. 

There's a range of materials to choose from. The Cogswell Solid Wood Patio Gazebo from Wayfair is a brilliant option for a country backyard – and you can have it assembled for you.  

7. Cover an outdoor kitchen with a full-size canvas shade

An decked outdoor kitchen with a canvas shade

(Image credit: Bawtree Design)

If your deck has become an outdoor kitchen or outdoor dining area and it's in a sunny position, you'll need to think about protecting you and your guests from harsh lunchtime sun. A UV-rated canvas shade will do the job perfectly – just make sure it covers the entire deck. 

This beautiful outdoor kitchen was created by Bawtree Design

8. Small space? Try a parasol

A pool deck with parasol and fairy lights

(Image credit: KooPower)

If your deck is small, or you only want to shade a small area, a garden parasol is your best bet. As with the other deck shade option, the best garden parasols will offer UV protection and be water-resistant. 

Some are freestanding while others will require a separate stand or will need to be inserted into a patio dining table. 

9. Or try a half-pergola design

Covered sitting area accessible through living room sliding glass door with hardwood floor and potted plants

(Image credit: xavierarnau / Getty)

Have a small decked terrace or balcony and aren't convinced by any of the deck shade options you've seen? If you feel that textile shades are too flimsy but don't quite have the room for a full gazebo or pergola, a half-pergola roof extension design may work. 

It looks exactly as you'd imagine – like half a pergola, beginning right where your balcony roof ends. It's best to have this built by a professional to make sure the structure is sound. 

10. Go for natural materials for a rustic look

Wicker patio sofa and furniture sitting outside on a rustic wooden balcony on a sunny afternoon

(Image credit: AJ_Watt / Getty)

While we've seen that decks can look great with all kinds of shade options, if you want to really honor a beautiful wooden deck, it's best to surround it with other natural materials. 

Rattan garden furniture and a wooden pergola are just perfect matches for decks, whatever the setting. We also really like that there's a vine growing up this rustic-style pergola, adding even more character. 

What can be used as a deck shade on a budget?

Don't have the budget for a gazebo or pergola? Not a problem. Volodymyr Barabakh, Co-Founder and Project Director of Structural Beam, recommends Retractable canopies: they are 'more affordable than pergolas and can be installed easier than permanent patio awning. 

They remove the hassle of adjusting the shade as you can simply wind and unwind it to your needs. Though people would usually hire someone to make the initial installment this can also be done as a DIY job for anyone who has basic carpentry knowledge.'

What's the best material for deck shades?

According to Barabakh, 'you want a slightly translucent, lightweight material that will offer shade and UV protection without completely blocking out the sun. Opt for a polyester fabric that is vinyl coating as this will protect you from rain as well as sun with minimal maintenance.'

If you are considering a gazebo, Grace Baena, Interiors Curator of Kaiyo, strongly recommends choosing aluminum: 'metal shades are much stronger and more durable-- meaning they can withstand harsh winters, heavy snowfalls, and strong winds. You also don't have to worry about taking them down. Aluminum is rust-proof and resistant to corrosion, which makes it a great choice for those looking for a deck shade that can be easily maintained.'

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.