7 Ways to Create Shelter in your backyard or rooftop

It just takes one good awning, sail-away, pergola, curtain or umbrella to turn your rooftop into a tiny paradise.

In order to keep our sanity amidst months of lockdowns, quarantines and various social distancing measures, lots of Maltese households have started spending a lot of time on their backyard or rooftop to enjoy the outdoors.

Now Summer’s here and distancing measures are being relaxed, but we know that not everyone is a big fan of joining the hordes at the beach. Moreover, who doesn’t want to appreciate Malta’s glorious sun without having to pack up and go to the beach?

With some shading, your rooftop can be an excellent place to enjoy the sun, relax, and also gather and socialise with your friends and family.

You’ll have a hard time finding a Maltese person who doesn’t look forward to Malta’s summer; mainly because locals who don’t like Malta’s summer often opt to just spend it abroad (often somewhere cooler). But, whether it’s going to the beach and tanning up, taking a swim to wind down, or chilling on your rooftop, we wish you all a great start to this year’s warmer days!

1. Sail-Away

A sail shade is among the easiest sun-blockers you can make and get for your rooftop. All it takes is a rectangular or triangular-cut piece of fabric with eyelets punched in the corners. Use strong twine or rope to attach the shade to poles, the side of the house, or nearby trees.

2. A touch of tropical tastes with a tiki thatched roof

Add a little vacation flair to your backyard or rooftop with a tiki thatched roof. Opt for weather proof artificial palm and reed thatch. You can place it on top of most structures made from vinyl or wood.

Reed thatch is a versatile product and can be cut using scissors to any shape between the knots without unraveling akin to cutting a fishnet.

Apply to a plywood deck with staples or on horizontal 1/2″ x 1/2″ batten boards to create a more authentic looking thatched roof.

3. Classy Pergola

A classic pergola offers some protection without completely blocking the sun. The thin wood slates are usually arranged in a lattice structure to let the rays poke through. This can be quite nice as you get to feel the warmth of the sun without it beating down on you. On the other hand, sun in Malta can be brutally hot, so you may want to grow verdant vines to create more shelter on your pergola or complement your structure with a curtain.

Hiring someone to build a pergola is going to cost you thousands, so if you have a friend or relative who’s handy with tools, you may want to consider trying to DIY it. Here’s our favourite video on building a pergola.

4. Canopy or Pavillion

Terms get confused all the time, but as we understand it, the main difference between a pergola and a canopy or Pavillion is roofing. A canopy or a pavillion usually refers to a structure that is completely roofed. The main advantage here is that you’ll get to enjoy your rooftop even if it’s raining!

5. Curtains

You don’t need to invest in expensive outdoor curtains to add a little shade to your pergola or pavillion. It’s very easy to get blasted by sunlight from the sides without any curtains; moreover, if you intend on using your outdoor space both in winter and in summer, then we suggest getting curtains. Materials vary vastly from plastics and polyester to fabric to bamboo.

Tip: Bamboo curtains may be a little costly, but the atmosphere they create is priceless.

This video offers a simple tutorial to creating a roll-up sun shade outdoors; it doesn’t use bamboo, but this mechanism will work with bamboo curtains as well.

6. Umbrella

One of the easiest and quickest options, just remember sun direction and seek out an extra large patio umbrella! An umbrella is an easy way to add shelter to your rooftop very quickly, but we definitely recommend you spend some money on getting a good, sturdy one. Our island can get very windy and temperamental, and you generally want an umbrella to last more than one summer.

7. Retractable shading

Not everyone has the space for a complete pergola or giant sail-away, moreover, if you’re looking at creating shelter for a small space or a rooftop, you’ll likely want a) your shelter attached to an existing wall b) the flexibility of uncovering your outdoor space.

You have two options here, buy a retractable awning or build one. We suggest you compare local options before deciding to do it on your own, as it’s likely you’ll find affordable options.

This video by home improvement expert Ron Hazelton gives you a super budget-friendly guide to building a retractable awning.

Are you doing up your rooftop?

We like to feature photos straight from our locals, so we’d love to hear from you! Every rooftop renovation counts: whether you’re adding a chair and an umbrella, an elaborate patio, or building a greenhouse! Send us a message, or leave a comment below. Don’t forget pictures!