What is a Gazebo Canopy?

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We’re admittedly biased but we believe that enjoying time with family and friends in the shade of your gazebo is truly the best way to spend a day. We get a lot of questions about gazebos and many of them stem from a confusion around terms. One of these questions is what is a gazebo canopy?  

It’s a good question because it allows us to clarify the terminology of different types of gazebos and also an opportunity to dig into the structure itself. 

Short Answer: What is a Gazebo Canopy?

A gazebo canopy is the canvas or polyester roof of a soft top gazebo. The canopy is supported by 4+ columns plus cross beams that constitute the frame of a gazebo. The frame of a soft top gazebo is usually made of either powder-coated aluminum or galvanized (zinc-coated) steel. 

A hardtop gazebo is the other type of permanent gazebo that people set up in their yard. While their frames are nearly identical, hardtops have a roof made of a hard material like aluminum, steel, wood, iron, or vinyl. 

When you swap out a wood or steel roof with a gazebo canopy, you get a soft top gazebo. Stated differently, soft top gazebos have canopies, hardtops do not. 

How Long Does a Gazebo Canopy Last?

How long will a gazebo canopy last

How long a gazebo canopy will last depends on the fabric used to make it and how well you take care of it. 

A soft top gazebo made with a weather-resistant aluminum, iron or steel frame can last 12+ years. But the gazebo canopy will last only 2-3 years at the most.

If you purchase a high-quality soft top with a canopy that weighs the standard fabric weight of 150 to 200 denier (unit of measurement for textile density), you’ll get at least 2 years out of your canopy. 

On the other hand, if you opt for a low-quality gazebo with a lower density canopy, you’ll be lucky to get 6 months of use from it. Remember that your canopy is taking the brunt of the elements on your behalf. Sitting in the hot sun and hard rain for months will tear a cheaply-made product.

How long the gazebo frame will last also depends on the materials used in its construction and its lifetime care. Depending on the material, it’s possible for some gazebos to last 20+ years

For example, a hardtop gazebo made of wood can last decades as long as it’s built with sealed and pre-treated wood, and as long as you reseal and potentially repaint it every 7-10 years. 

On the other hand, there are soft top gazebos made with an aluminum frame that’s not powder coated to resist corrosion and rust. These cheaply-built gazebos should not be considered weather-resistant.

Gazebo canopy in rain

Any good quality hardtop gazebo or soft top with a canopy is intended to remain outside year round. That might sound counterintuitive if any of you are, like me, enjoying summer in my gazebo right now. But there are many excellent hardtop gazebos that are specifically designed for high snow load capacities

If you own a soft top gazebo, we strongly recommend that you remove the canopy from the frame and store it inside for the winter/rainy season. If you live in a climate that is especially snowy, we recommend that you purchase a hardtop gazebo over a model with a gazebo canopy. 

How Do You Put a Canopy on a Gazebo?

Unless you build your own, soft tops will arrive at your home as a gazebo kit that you (and ideally a friend) will need to at least partially assemble. More likely than not, you’ll need to fully assemble it.

If you’ve ever put up a tent or a pop-up gazebo, you’ll be familiar with how to put a canopy on a soft top. After you get the frame set up, you’ll stretch the fabric over it one piece at a time and insert the ends of the frame into pockets sewn into the corners of the fabric. 

Our friends at Sunjoy show you how to set up a large gazebo canopy. 

While not all canopies go on the frame in the exact same way, Sunjoy demonstrates the most common assembly procedure. Be sure to note that you’ll also need to take down your canopy in the same way. 

How Do You Keep a Gazebo Canopy From Tearing?

If you heed our advice, purchase a high quality gazebo, and store your fabric canopy inside during acclimate weather, you’re off to a good start in getting the most out of your gazebo canopy. But there’s always that surprise thunderstorm or random wind storm that will ruin your canopy’s day.

You can protect your gazebo further from tearing by periodically wiping it down with a solution of bleach, dish soap and warm water. Aim for a ratio of ¼ cup of bleach for every gallon of soapy water. 

Let the solution sit for 10-15 minutes and then apply with a porous sponge. Be sure to use a sturdy ladder and wipe down the canopy while it’s on the frame. 

Simply by cleaning your canopy every few weeks, you’re removing mold and mildew that inevitably grows on the surface. Mold and mildew breaks down fabric over time, weakening the warp and weft of the textile. 

Keep your gazebo canopy strong (and clean!) with an occasional quick wipe down. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that we’ve answered and expanded on the question of what is a gazebo canopy. It is simply the fabric roof of a soft top gazebo. We especially love soft top gazebos if you’re looking for an  economic alternative to hardtops.

Just be sure to purchase one with a canopy made of a heavier fabric and exercise due diligence when caring for it. Always store it inside during the winter and give it a good wipe down with bleach to protect against mold and mildew.

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