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Retractable Waterproof Canopies, Water Resistant Canopies

Mechanics, Fabric Choices

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Picture of pergola with retractable shade canopy. Pergolas near pools can provide shade.

Picture of covered pergola near pool.

Shade Pergolas

Now Steve and I treat a couple of issues you've probably been wondering about: just how do his pergolas' retractable coverings work? And are these waterproof canopies (and if so, is the fabric truly waterproof or just a water-resistant material)?

Q. Steve, since the shade canopy is retractable, I’m wondering what the mechanism is that controls it. Do you retract it manually or is the mechanism powered?

A. ShadeFX canopies are available in three operating versions: No drive, rope drive, and motor drive. There is a big price jump to the motor drive; it has enough power to operate a 30’ long by 20’ wide canopy. Canopies up to about 150 square feet operate easily with our rope drive. The rope drive extends and retracts the canopy the same way you would open and close the drapes in a hotel room.

Q. I see from your Web site that the shade canopies come in either a waterproof fabric or a water resistant fabric. Is there a difference in cost or durability between these two types of shade canopy materials?

A. The durability of both canopy fabrics is the same in terms of color fastness, resistance to rotting and mildew, etc. However the resistance to rain and "drip through" is where the products differ. Water resistant fabrics will protect from light rain and light rain that even lasts for a few days. It is entirely suitable for most homeowners. Waterproof fabrics will protect from heavy rain, for three seasons of the year. So, just like homeowners, restaurants and clubs prefer to have the knowledge that drip points won’t develop over their dining tables even in wet locations like Portland, Oregon.

Q. As a New Englander, I have to ask how well the product would hold up to a New England winter. Do you just retract the shade canopy for the winter and let it be, or would you have to remove the shade canopy altogether for the winter?

A. The canopy fabric is very durable and resistant to weather. We have never had a failure due to weather exposure. However, care must be taken to ensure the heavy winds of winter don’t blow the fabric against any abrasive surfaces. With that being said, we have customers that prefer to remove the canopy for the winter, while others leave the canopy retracted. Keep wildlife in mind: We have seen squirrel damage in canopies left out over the winter that were retracted against the wall of a home. Also, leaves can build up in the folds of the canopy fabric in the fall; unless this is removed it can stain the canopy fabric -– and probably attract those squirrels! Removal is very fast and easy and does not require tools.

On the fifth and final page of this interview, I query Steve about such matters as pergola styles....

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