We often use arbors as a way to extend the indoors to the outside. They create a sense of place, giving us an outdoor room where we can gather with friends and family to have a meal, read a book, or simply enjoy lounging about outside. Arbors provide shade making it comfortable for us on hot summer days and depending on the canopy (top) it is also possible to be entirely protected from rain too.
The most common type of arbor canopy that we use is a wood top consisting of beams, cross joists, and shade boards. The shade boards can be spaced accordingly to give differing degrees of shade protection. You can stylize the beams, joists, and shade boards by doing custom end cuts which is highly decorative.
We also use canvas (fabric) tops that can be retracted manually or automatically using tracks attached to the beams. These canvas shades come in a variety of colors and patterns that can add a fun punch of whimsy to any space. We recommend Sunbrella fabrics since they are rated for outdoor use and can be color coordinated with your outdoor cushion fabrics.
A third canopy option that specialize in is called the louvered systems. The “ceiling” consists of motorized (or manual) aluminum blades that pivot to provided up to 100% sun and rain protection. While this system is highly effective, it is also the most expensive of your options.
Arbor tops are not the only thing you can be customized. The posts, which support the entire structure, can also be changes with: paint, stain, or wraped with wood/stone. A post boot adds visual weight to the base of the post and conceals the brackets. You can add a stucco or stone veneer to a boot if you want a contrasting material to the wood on the arbor. If wood is not the look you desire, there are fiberglass columns that are precast with hallow centers to hide the wood posts. These columns have decorative capitals (tops) and bases- great if you desire a classical element to your arbor. Lastly, if you have a generous budget, you could consider steel posts for a clean, modern effect.
Don’t forget to accessorize your arbor to make it feel like a real outdoor room. You can add heat lamps to keep you warm in winter or a ceiling fan and misters to cool you off during summer. Down lights can be added to have gatherings late into the evening. If you are really interested you can even connect a TV and sound system to your arbor if you want to watch sporting events while grilling or have a movie night outdoors.
Or consider a “T-Arbor” for a whimsical swing area. The possibilities are endless!