DIY Retractable Pergola Canopy

If you want to make your backyard more enjoyable, then a pergola canopy may be the perfect addition. A retractable pergola canopy is one of the best options if you’re looking for something that will provide shade and protection without taking up too much space in your yard. This blog post discusses how to build a DIY retractable pergola canopy and what materials it requires.

A retractable pergola canopy is a structure that can be quickly and easily rolled down when you want it to protect your yard from the elements. When retracted, a cover will leave an open-air space for guests or family members to relax beneath. Retractable pergolas are often used in patios that have high ceilings since they won’t take up too much space when retracted.

Retractable Pergola Canopy Structure:

The parts of a retractable pergola canopy include:

Canopy Fabric

The fabric is used to cover and protect from the elements. This can be either water-resistant or waterproof depending on your needs. Waterproof fabrics will generally cost more than water-resistant fabrics, but they are easier to clean and maintain as well.

Canopy Frame

This is the frame of your canopy and includes a top rail, end caps, braces for support, and front arms.

End Frames

These are smaller frames that fit at each side of the structure to hold up one end when it’s in an open position. They can be made from wood or aluminum depending on the style you prefer.

Front Arms

These are the arms that attach to both end frames and help prop up one side of your retractable pergola when it’s in an open position. They can be made from wood or aluminum depending on the design you want for your canopy frame.

TIP: It is a good idea to decide how you want your pergola to open before choosing front arms. If you choose a design where the canopy is attached at both ends and opens away from the house, then the frame will need to be braced so it doesn’t fall or topple over when opened.

Materials You Need

Materials You Need

In order to build a DIY retractable pergola canopy, you’ll need the following materials:

Pipe or tubing

This will be used for your frame and can be either steel pipe or PVC piping depending on your preference. If using aluminum, make sure it’s corrosion-resistant since water may get trapped inside of it. You want to make sure the tubing is strong enough to carry the weight of your canopy fabric.

Pergola Fabric

You’ll need a water-resistant or waterproof cover for your pergola and it’s best if this can stand up to wind gusts and snow loads as well since these structures are often open on all sides. If using vinyl, it should be marine grade.


You’ll need a top rail for your canopy, end caps to fit around the tubing, and front arms that will prop up one side of your pergola when it’s open. You can choose wood or aluminum depending on preference and budget. Wood is less expensive but may require more upkeep while aluminum is more expensive but will require less upkeep.


You’ll need screws to attach your framing pieces together and make sure the screw size is appropriate for threading through metal or plastic piping. You can get by with regular steel screws if using PVC tubing since it’s flimsy enough that it won’t cause damage when being screwed into it.

TIP: Make sure to use screws that match the tubing on your frame and try to avoid using self-tapping screws since they can cause damage by drilling into metal or plastic piping when not fully screwed in all of the ways.


you’ll need some hooks for attaching one side of your canopy fabric so it can open and close. Double-sided hooks are ideal since they won’t damage your fabric by placing too much stress on it when opening or closing the pergola canopy.

Cord Ropes

You can use rope if desired, but make sure to choose a strong type of cord that will hold up well for supporting each end of your retractable pergola.


These are the pieces that will join your piping together and make sure to choose a size of fittings appropriate for threading through metal or plastic tubing.

TIP: These accessories can be purchased from any store that sells materials for DIY projects such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. It is also possible to go online and order them from a specialized store which will offer more options.

Equipment / Tools

In order to build your own DIY retractable pergola canopy, you’ll need some basic equipment and tools that include

  • A tape measure,
  • A saw,
  • A level,
  • Wire cutters
  • A drill with bits for drilling through metal or plastic piping.
  • Electric sander
  • Ladder

Building Retractable Pergola Canopy (Guide)

Building Retractable Pergola Canopy (Guide)

Decide on the design of your pergola canopy

You’ll need front arms that attach to either end frame, framing pieces for top rails, tubing for the structure’s body, connectors for joining the framing pieces together, pipe fittings to attach one piece of tubing to another, and cord ropes or cords that can be tightened so your pergola canopy fabric stays taut.

Tighten the cord ropes

You’ll need two hooks on either side of your retractable pergola frame in order to pull down an open canopy. Make sure the cords are tight enough so that your fabric can hold its shape when extended or retracted, but not too much otherwise it will be difficult to open and close your pergola covering.

Install top rail framing

Attach one end of the tubing for each side of your retractable roof’s frame together using fittings that should fit inside one end of the tubing.

Clampdown your canopy fabric

Attach each side of your canopy fabric to double-sided hooks by threading one hook through a cord rope and then attaching it to the other side before tightening both cords so that they can hold up their portion of the cover securely at all times.

TIP: Keep in mind that your canopy will need to be opened and closed using these cords, so make sure they are strong enough to safely support the weight of the fabric.

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