Easy Pergola Shade DIY from Canvas Drop Cloths

Hey I’m Jenny from Anything Pretty, I am so excited to be over on here today and am so excited to share you all my cheap and quick way add some shade to our pergola.

Our deck was hot and sunny….a combination that did not bode well for spending time out there.  Especially because I am not a fan of sweating. 

We had a rickety pergola that the previous owners had installed but the slats were so far apart that it did not do much in terms of providing shade.

Wood Pergola Rafters Before DIY Shade Cloth Made From Painters Drop Cloths, Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

Oh yeah we also installed lights when we moved in for some ambiance.  I still love the light set, but our installation method…..well let’s just say it was straight and rigid.  Not exactly evoking feelings of summer casual fun.  Behold the before-

Simple Pergola With Rafters, Before Shade Cloth Sails Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

But how could we get some shade without adding a roof or another layer the the questionably stable pergola? 

Ultimately we would like to have plants climb it and provide shade, but that will take years.  And patience is not one of my virtues.

And then when I was admiring the famous drop cloth curtains I had an idea. 

Why couldn’t we use cheap paint tarps as the canvas to cover the pergola with?  Brilliant!

So I head to the nearest home improvement store and bought two 4×15 drop cloths.

How To Make Pergola Shade Cloth From Painters Canvas Drop Cloth, Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

I worried that if I left them this size that rain and wind could have negative consequences.  So I sliced them in two and did a quick seam in heavy duty thread. 

No measuring or preciseness…..I cut where they were folded.  I am not fast on the sewing machine and got four done in in 35 minutes.

Then I added two grommets on each end to attach to the pergola.  Again this step did not take very long at all.

With the husbands help, we took down the lights and wove the four strips of drop cloth into the pergola all the way across.  They were attached with screws through the grommets that can easily be taken down in the winter.   An “above” pic from the window.

How To Attach Drop Cloth Shade Sails To A Pergola, Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

Again no measuring was involved….we just eyeballed the spacing.  Then we added the lights back in a more casual way to get this- 

DIY Pergola Shade Cloth From Canvas Drop Cloth, Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

And at night….

DIY Pergola Shade Cloth From Canvas Drop Cloth With Lights, Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

The table is now shady and we can pretend we are in a fun restaurant when we are just eating in our own backyard.  It would have been easy to add another two strips to bring the shade to the end of the pergola…..but you see that green tarp?

That would be the BBQ and I do not think flame and canvas are a good mix even in the name of style.

How To Add Drop Cloth Shade Sails To Pergola Rafters With Lights, Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

The entire project cost less than $50 and a 2 hours of time.  Will it fade…..yes but I do not care as a lighter color will still work.  Will it last 20 years….no but it was cheap and easily replaceable.

Simple Pergola With Shade Cloth Sails Made From Canvas Drop Cloths, Anything Pretty On Remodelaholic

Well worth it for some shade and ambience in my opinion.  And even if you do not have a pergola in your backyard, drop cloths could still be used on other structures or even between a couple of poles.  Who knew that they could be so multi-functional?

Be sure to also check out:

Build the perfect pergola! Learn to DIY this beautiful circular pergola with a central firepit, swings, and Adirondack chairs - Little White House Blog on @Remodelaholic
Website | + posts

Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. >how big is the pergola we are seeing? I would love to do this with a 10 by 10 pergola so how many drop cloths to purchase then? Thanks

  2. Hi, you don’t know me but I was very inspired by your pictures and wanted to show you what I came up with, but I am unsure how to send you a picture on this blog as I do not have a website.

  3. I did this last summer with the drop cloths for my pergola. Had to throw them away due to mildew. Couldn’t get it off even after washing in bleach.

  4. Love this idea! I’m going to do it. Our pergola looks nice it just doesn’t provide enough shade. What do you do about the water pooling in the drop cloths? Did the drop cloths mildew?

  5. How have these held up? I am interested in trying but wasn’t sure if they made it more than a season for you.