Generally, any roofing material that is appropriate for a house can be used on an outdoor structure. Even though the area to be covered is much less than the average home, unless you have roofing experience, it is best to call in a professional to do the installation. Following are popular materials for patio roofs and gazebo roofing:

Asphalt Shingles

The most common roofing material in the country, asphalt shingles have achieved their popularity by being affordable, long-lasting, and virtually maintenance-free. Because of their popularity, they are manufactured in a vast array of colors, patterns, and dimensions, though the most common is 12 by 36 inches.

Plastic & Glass

If natural light and views of starry, starry nights are on your wish list, plastic or glass panels fill the bill.

Plastic has a number of features to recommend it: It will not shatter. It is relatively lightweight, making installation a fairly easy process. It comes in a range of styles, from translucent to opaque, and in a rainbow of colors (though the light shed will be the color of the plastic). It comes in a range of thicknesses, from 1/8 to 1/2 inch—the thicker the more expensive—but the thicker the material the less likely it will be to crack.

Last but not least, acrylic sheets can be easily cut and fastened with standard tools used for woodworking. The only real downside to plastic is that it can scratch, which does not make it a practical material if your outdoor structure is sited underneath tree limbs.

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While plastic cannot compete with glass for sheer aesthetics and long-lastingness, glass is costlier, heavier, making installation trickier, and it can shatter. Because of this, most building codes dictate what kinds of glass are acceptable, and what type of support it requires. Installation is best left to a professional who is current on local building codes.

Polyester Resin & Vinyl

More commonly known as “fiberglass,” these materials are actually a blend of acrylic and fiberglass, which has been added to give the plastic increased strength. Polyester resin and vinyl panels come transparent or opaque in corrugated, flat, crimped, shiplap, and board-and-batten patterns. Panels come 24 to 50 1/2 inches wide and 8 to 20 feet long in varying thicknesses. Corrugated styles come in rolls that are 40 inches wide, flat styles in rolls 36 inches wide.


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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort