Are Outdoor Shades Right For You?

Natasha Ero | 20 Mar 2023 | Outdoor

Patio season is finally here! The flowers are starting to bloom, the temperature is warming up, and people are eager to get outside. But with extended time in the sun comes intense heat. This time of year can be brutal for porches, patios, and sunrooms. But don't worry! Outdoor solar shades can easily solve that.

A remote operating Heavy Duty Outdoor Shades in an outdoor dining area

Pictured: Heavy Duty Outdoor Solar Shades in Capri 8% with a Motorized Lift. Photo via: @lgqueenhomedecor.

Outdoor shades are helpful, because they allow you to control the amount of sun exposure your porch or patio gets. But how do you know if outdoor shades are the right fit for your home? We’re answering 7 of your burning outdoor shade questions.

A dark brown outdoor shade partially lowered in a window of a covered patio area.

Pictured: Coolaroo Outdoor Solar Shade in 5% Bronze.

What Is An Outdoor Shade?

An outdoor shade (also known as an exterior shade) is very similar to a traditional roller shade. The difference is that an outdoor shade is typically woven from PVC or HDPE material, creating a mesh-like fabric that allows more light to pass through. The internal mechanisms are typically made with heavier duty materials than indoor shades for withstanding the elements. They also resist fading, warping and mold.

White house with sprawling front porch. White outdoor solar shades are installed near the seating areas.

Pictured: Outdoor Solar Shades in 1% Palermo Frost. Photo via @vintagewhitefarmhouse.

Which Outdoor Shades are Best for Porches and Patios?

The beauty of outdoor shades is they are customizable to fit a number of different lifestyles. The best outdoor shade option really depends on the features you find the most important. If you entertain a lot or have kids or pets, an exterior motorized shade would be great. You can easily have privacy with the touch of a button and there also aren't any exposed cords that could potentially be harmful to a child or pet.

A man adjusting his outdoor solar shades on his front porch

front porch with outdoor solar shades in a warm beige fabric color

Pictured: Outdoor Solar Shades in Muse 5% Alaska Sky. Photos via: @therenovationhusbands.

If you don't need a motorized outdoor shade, but still spend a great deal of time outside, an exterior roller shade might be your best option. They're made of a breathable, knitted fabric that's weather-resistant, so they'll preserve their look over the years.

Can You See Through Outdoor Shades?

Yes, you can see through outdoor solar shades. However, the level of privacy they provide depends on the openness rating of the fabric you choose. The smaller the percentage, the less you can see through. For example, a 1% solar shade blocks 99% of light while a 14% percent only blocks 86% of light. This means you'll be able to see through a 14% solar shade much easier than a 1%. This makes outdoor solar shades great for cutting down on sun exposure while still preserving the view.

Five windows each with a different opacity solar shade (1%, 3%, 5%, 14%) and a Light Filtering Roller Shade for comparison.

Pictured: Solar shade opacity percentages from left to right: 1%, 3%, 5%, 14% and a Light Filtering Roller Shade for comparison.

In general, a darker colored shade will be easier to see through than a light colored shade, as they do not reflect as much light. Also, be aware that others may be able to see through at night if you have patio lights turned on behind the shade.

Pictured: Premium Solar Shades in Verona Black (shown in the 10%, 5%, 3% and 1% opacities). Via @helmick_hacienda.

Do Outdoor Shades Keep Rain Out?

Outdoor solar shades may deflect rain water if it's only a light drizzle. However, due to their woven nature, there are small holes that can let rain through, so they won't keep out the rain entirely. Additionally, outdoor shades should always be rolled up during extreme weather events like hurricanes.

Wood pergola over a patio table and chairs that is shielded by a black, lowered outdoor solar shade.

Pictured: Heavy Duty Outdoor Solar Shade in Kona 10%.

How Do You Keep Outdoor Shades From Blowing In The Wind?

Most outdoor shades are available with optional tie-downs than will stop the shade from flapping in the wind. Tie-downs may look like bungee cables looped on each side of the shade's bottom hem bar that attach to hooks on the wall. Tie downs are automatically included in some outdoor shades while others offer it as an optional add-on. If you need tie-downs, be sure to check your specific shade's configuration options and specs prior to finalizing your order.

close up of a tie down being used to anchor the bottom of an outdoor solar shade.

How Do You Clean Outdoor Shades?

Outdoor shades are easy to clean. Since they are designed to hold up in rainy conditions you can gently hose them down to rinse off pollen, dust and minor debris. For tougher spots, a bit of diluted, mild dish soap and a soft sponge should do the trick. Do not use a power washer as this may cause the shade to rip or tear.

How Do You Install Outdoor Shades?

Each brand of outdoor shades will have its own installation hardware and instructions, but most installs are very simple. Brackets and wood screws are included. However, depending on the type of surface you will be installing on (such as brick, stone or metal), you may need alternative screws like masonry or self-tapping screws. For large shades, you may also need an extra set of hands to help support the shade during installation.

You can always preview the installation instructions prior to ordering by clicking "Measure and Install Instructions" on the specific product's page. You can also check out our YouTube channel for helpful installation videos.

Want More Outdoor Shade Inspiration?

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Have More Questions?

Our Design Consultants are available to help answers all your questions, walk you through measuring and help you decide on a color or opacity level. Their help is always free: 844-551-3769.

  • About Author

    Natasha Ero is a Social Media Marketer for She is a native Houstonian and proud graduate of the University of Houston and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In her free time, she enjoys trying out the latest workout classes and the newest restaurants in town. Follow her on Twitter + Instagram at @nicetrynatasha.