Fire Resistant CanopiesMany brands and models of canopies and tents boast flame-retardant or flame resistant certifications as part of their features. But what do those seals of approval mean, and who grants them?

While there is no federal flame-retardant standard, the textiles industry relies on one of two certifications to demonstrate their products’ flame resistance to consumers. One is granted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA); the other, by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI.) Though neither certification is “official” in that it carries legal weight, both are important means of determining whether your canopy material is adequately tested to resist burning or catching fire.


The National Fire Protection Association is a non-profit trade organization that provides copyrighted fire resistance and flame retardation standards and codes to various governmental bodies. The NFPA grants its NFPA 701: Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films certification to fabrics, draperies, and textiles that have passed a series of rigorous tests.

In NFPA Small Scale Testing, samples of fabrics are held against an open flame for twelve seconds. The ignition resistance, or flame resistance, is recorded and scored along three separate criteria. Passing scores are given to fabrics that:

  1. - Have an after-flame of no more than two seconds.
  2. - Have a char length of no more than 6.5 seconds.
  3. - Do not continue to flame after reaching the test chamber floor.

Because NFPA-701 regulations allow for weathering of the fabric before testing, the certification presents a convenient and accurate means of determining fire resistance in fabrics intended for outdoor use.

The NFPA updates its standards every few years, with the most recent revisions published in 2010. As standards change, the canopy manufacturer may choose to include the updates into their fire-resistance treatments for their products. Manufacturers may choose which year’s certifications by which to abide when making their fabrics fire-resistant.

Despite its technically non-legal status, NFPA 701 certification’s influence remains broad and powerful. Many state and city governments nationwide have adopted NFPA 701 standards as their official legal threshold for textiles and fabrics used in public spaces. Their fire codes specify that fabrics and other textiles must meet NFPA 701 specifications.


Fire resistant canopiesThe CPAI-84 specification is awarded by the Industrial Fabrics Association International. It is a voluntary, industry-wide designation used primarily regarding the flame resistance of camping tents. However, the IFAI’s definition of camping tent extends to include recreational vehicle awnings, canopies, play tents, screen houses, and even ice fishing tents.

CPAI-84 testing measures char length, mass loss, and after-flame. It does not measure flame spread, a criteria more widely used for fabrics intended for indoor use. It also does not certify that the material in question will be fire retardant. IFAI officials (CPAI stands for Canvas Products Association International, the IFAI’s original name) are quick to stress that the 84 certification is both voluntary and non-committal.

Screen houses and other structures that use mesh fabric heavier than 50 grams per square meter (g/m2) are eligible for CPAI-84 certification.

Other Important Facts About Flammability and Fire Resistance

Obviously, the best defense against fire is avoidance. Don’t set up your canopy next to open flame sources, including bonfires, campfires, or open-flame stoves. Strong winds and gusts can blow burning embers atop the canopy top, where they can become trapped by the canopy’s shape.

Never burn fires beneath the canopy covering, including fires contained within barbecue pits and grills. Escaping smoke can lift burning embers and ash towards the canopy material. Burning fires underneath the canopy cover also drastically increases the dangers of smoke inhalation.

Local fire departments, as well as state fire codes and ordinances, may restrict where you can set your canopy up within closed spaces and even outside. Contact your local fire department to check these legally binding regulations.


A canopy protects your sale items while giving your shoppers a place to stand out of the sunlight

A yard sale – often interchangeably called a “garage sale” or “moving sale” – is a great way to shed outdated or used-up household clutter while picking up some extra spending money. Even in this era of online auction sites and resale message boards, the yard sale remains a favorite of bargain hunters everywhere.

Experts say that with the right setup your yard sale profits could grow two or three times what you might otherwise expect to make. Here’s what the pros and veterans advise:

Plan Early, and Get Ready Early

Early birds get the worms, and bargain hunters show up early – really early. Be prepared by making sure everything is ready to go just after daybreak. This will mean taking some special precautions to deal with morning dew and humidity, however, which can wreak havoc with sale items like books, magazines, clothing, and even electrical appliances.

Make sure any sprinkler systems are covered and sheltered. This will keep them from spraying the merchandise, and keep shoppers from tripping on them. Set up canopies to shield items from the heat of the sun, both out in the yard and as a “checkout stand” where you can preside over the sales area as well as conduct sales.

As much as possible, keep everything off the ground to prevent damage from morning dew, kicking, and jostling. Use card tables, picnic benches, relocated patio furniture – whatever’s necessary. Shoppers are more likely to pick something up if they don’t have to bend down to get it.

Run electrical cords and power strips to the electronics and appliance displays. Customers will appreciate the chance to “test drive” your items. Make sure the appliances are plugged into a grounded, insulated source.

Keep plenty of cash with you, in small bills: ones and fives. If you don’t want to accept personal checks, keep a sign clearly posted explaining as much.

Use Your Whole Front Lawn and Driveway, but Not Your Garage


Keep for-sale items atop tables and off the ground

Your front lawn and driveway make better exhibition space than your garage for several reasons. You get plenty of natural sunlight to show off your goods, you keep guests a safe distance away from your house (privacy, safety, etc) and you can keep the garage as a place to store items that aren’t actually for sale.

Make Your Garage Sale Like A Department Store

Just as department stores organize their products according to type, set all of your various goods together and apart from others. Make sure fragile or breakable items are on secure tables and under durable cover, where they’ll be better protected..

It’s vital to have everything that’s for sale in ready-to-go condition. Shoppers are less inclined to buy items that are dusty, mildewed, or seemingly neglected. If possible, wash any clothes you plan to sell, or at least air them out before setting them out for sale. Keep glass and crystal dust-free, and alphabetize your records, tapes, and DVD’s.

Advertise Before – And During – Your Sale

Just as department stores have window displays, remember to put your most interesting items closer to the street, to lure passersby. This includes the most glamorous or fashionable items including electronics (game systems, televisions, etc) and designer clothing as well as kitschy items you might have found in the back of an attic or closet (vintage clothing and bric-a-brac, conversation pieces, any object d’art.)

Make sure all prices tags are clearly visible and legible. Don’t be afraid to list what you paid for an item on the tag, too. Shoppers like to feel certain they’re getting a bargain, and a yard sale is no place for you to be modest.

Advertise in the newspaper, of course, but also online, especially Craig’s List. Set up signs and banners through your neighborhood, but remember to observe local posting ordinances. Many city and municipal government prohibit posting handbills or advertisements on public signs.

Not Everything Must Go – So Don’t Confuse Your Shoppers

Shade Sail Canopies

Shade sails make easy, affordable shade for almost any spot on your lawn or yard.

Shoppers will expect that everything they see is for sale, so if you’re not willing to part with it, don’t have it out. This applies to anything normally used to decorate your house and yard’s front exterior.

Welcome Your Shoppers, and Create a Wholesome, Family Atmosphere

Offer refreshments including snacks and beverages to your guests as an enticement to stay longer. In cold weather months, provide free hot chocolate or coffee. After all, guests are more likely to stay and browse when they’re getting something for free. Background music also helps create a relaxed, pleasant atmosphere.

Old toys and storybooks can make great entertainment for children waiting while their parents shop. For their part, parents will appreciate getting to browse without having to manage their kids at the same time. You’ll get shoppers to stay longer and browse more, boosting your chances of sales.

Finally, remember to take care of yourself, and to serve as a perfect host. Keep books and magazines with you to prevent boredom (which can lead to fussing over the displays) and drink plenty of water to stay cool. Stay under shade whenever possible, and use sunscreen. Take breaks if you’ve got help, and don’t be afraid to announce that the sale is closing at the end of the day. Good luck!


Three cheers for the red...

The Fourth of July is like the centerpiece of summer, so there’s no better time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Celebrating America’s independence is also the best time to enjoy some thoroughly American activities like barbecuing, picnicking, and putting in high-quality time with your backyard and patio.

Here’s five ideas to get your Fourth of July party planning up and running, including some tips on how to throw a party without throwing your budget out of whack.

America is the land of plenty – of food.

The main attraction at any Fourth of July party – besides the fireworks, of course – is always the food. Serve traditional American fare like hamburgers and fried chicken with plenty of sides – potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, and anything else – along with plenty of dessert: ice cream, pies, cupcakes and pastries, and Jell-O.

But America’s also a land of many different places. If the classic American menu seems too broad, celebrate your state or your region: seafood for the Gulf Coast and Atlantic states, Barbecue for Texas and  the Southwest, steaks and fresh vegetables for the Midwest. (We’re painting in broad strokes, here, but you get the picture.) Make sure your family and friends know they’re welcome to bring their own family recipes, too.

If you’re looking to save money, invite your family and friends, but let them know you’re planning that great American tradition – the potluck. Set up everyone’s dishes under the canopy or tent and let everybody help themselves.

Raise a Red, White, Or Blue Beverage


... white...

Refresh and revive the celebration by offering your guests red fruit bunch, “white” lemon-lime soda, and blue lemonade. For extra fun, use plastic ice molds to freeze different colored ice cubes, or freeze the juices and colas themselves. For the kids, remember that drink mixes also work with milk to create red, white, and blue milk drinks. And remember to get plenty of ice if you’re serving drinks outside!

Raise Your Flags – And Your Banners and Bunting

You can’t celebrate America without saluting The Stars and Stripes. Bedeck your patio, backyard, canopy or portable shelter, and even your back deck with red white and blue bunting, banners, and other decorations to set a patriotic mood. If you have an appropriately-sized flag, carefully hang it from the overhang of your patio or pergola, or from the side of your canopy. Be sure to follow all due flag etiquette when flying Old Glory, too.

For a slightly more mature ambiance, string light chains around your patio, backyard, or canopy to set a more romantic or more sophisticated mood.

See Fireworks Everywhere

Traditionally the grand finale of the Fourth of July bash, fireworks are an event all by themselves. To help spread their glittering cheer, pass out sparklers and party favors, then treat your guests to a few fireworks at the close of the evening yourself. Just remember to check local laws to make sure firecrackers are legal in your area, and to follow all safety precautions.

For the frugal patriot, keep in mind that cities and municipalities usually have fireworks shows that everyone can enjoy, so it’s not necessary to sink a lot of money into creating your own event.

Leave The Television On – And Out!


... and blue!

Let’s face it – Americans love their television, and whether to watch the big game, the fireworks from Washington, D.C., or just a favorite program, a television is a welcome guest at any Independence Day bash. Bring the television to the patio if you can, stretching extra connecting wire or letting the antenna do the reception work for the duration. Just make sure to keep the set covered in case of unwelcome weather. If you take it into the backyard, cover it with a canopy or tarp.

A stereo system playing classic American music – old-time rock and roll, smooth jazz, or musical showtunes – also makes a great alternative. Happy Fourth of July!




Garden CanopiesIt’s an open secret among brides around the world: planning the perfect wedding reception is just as hard as planning the right wedding ceremony. In fact, planning  the reception is a bigger challenge in so many ways! There’s hundreds of details that brides-to-be and their helpers have to oversee on a limited timetable.

But the outdoor wedding reception’s benefits pay off in ways that are nothing short of spectacular. As you put your event together, remember these ways of keeping all your guests cool and happy no matter how warm the weather.

Keep Cool By Serving Frozen Drinks

Even if you’re planning a formal wedding reception, serving frozen drinks offers your guests a way to keep cool as they mingle outside. The frozen drink station can stand under a small canopy off to one side of the reception grounds, or adjacent to the reception bar. Guests can serve themselves, of course, but having a wait staff member serve the drinks will make things flow smoother. Offer at least several different kinds of fruit flavor drinks, and give your guests the choice of juices or slushy drinks.

Ideally, for medium- and large-sized events you should plan to have two frozen drink stations, one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic. If your wedding has a lot of children in attendance, offer milkshakes at the non-alcoholic drink station.

Make Your Wedding Party Comfortable

Keep your groomsmen and bridesmaids cool by inviting them to shed their ceremonial jackets and heels once the reception begins. White shirts with tuxedo vests will still look elegant in an outdoor garden setting, and your bridesmaids will have an easier time navigating across the reception area’s lawn (some wedding boutiques even offer specially-decorated bridesmaids footwear). And of course both groups will understand that shedding of formal trappings is your go-ahead signal to cut loose and party.

Provide A Sheltered Party Area

Not everyone – especially your older guests – will necessarily relish the idea of spending hours in the summer sun. Install a canopy or party tent along one side of the reception grounds, and make sure there’s enough tables and seating to accommodate at least a third of your guests. Remember that the canopy should be big enough that guests can move around freely, much as they would indoors.

Treat Yourself To Some Comfort

There’s no strict rule that says the bride must wear her wedding gown for the entire reception. After you and the groom are presented and all pictures are taken, feel free to change into the travelling clothes you’ll wear later that day. Your guests won’t mind, and you’ll be free of your dress’ (stifling) constraints.

Use Different Kinds of Flowers and Installations To Create A Garden Effect

Garden Canopies One of the great advantages of the outdoor wedding reception is that your design scheme isn’t limited to traditional floral arrangements. Accentuate the garden motif by using arbors, latticework, gazebos and vines and climbing plants throughout the dining and party area. Arbors and trellis work especially convey a garden theme to guests, as do table centerpieces of wildflowers and other less traditional (but more carefree) floral arrangements.

For an environmentally-conscious twist, make sure the flowers are locally grown (to reduce pollution in their transport) and rent reusable glass vases instead of plastic. Recycle the flowers at the wedding ceremony for use at the reception, and arrange to donate unused, untouched reception food to a shelter and the flowers to a retirement community.

Install Misters and Fans Throughout The Reception Area

When it comes to cooling off outdoors, the outdoor mister is probably the greatest invention since the garden hose. Set up several mister stations at different locations around the reception area, and install low-noise area fans around its edges.

Remember these ideas are only some of the strategies you can use to make sure you outdoor reception isn’t bogged down by heat. Your guests will appreciate the effort you made to keep them cool, and they’ll feel more inclined to help you celebrate for as long as you like. Good luck!


Party TentsHow much do you love your favorite team? For millions of American fans, going to their team’s home games wouldn’t be the same without a lively tailgate party. Whether you love racing, football or baseball (or even basketball or hockey), tailgating isn’t just a way of celebrating; it’s an expression of loyalty, and of excitement for the game to come.

When you’re throwing the tailgate party, of course you want to go all-out. But turning it up to eleven doesn’t mean emptying your wallet, either.

A Reserved Space Is Worth The Investment

If your team will let you reserve parking lot space in advance (and you can afford it), go ahead and grab that prime game day real estate. Find out in advance (the beginning of the season, at least) if there are parking spaces near what you want most: the shade of a tree, public restrooms, exit thoroughfares, whatever. On game day, you’ll save yourself a lot of walking around. If you’ve got a canopy or tent, figure out the best spot to set it up within your area: away from your vehicle works best, and out from under tree cover so leaves and branches don’t accumulate on its tarp.

Pack Early, Pack Extra

Party TentsYou know supplies are a crucial part of successful tailgating, but don’t forget that there’s more to packing than getting your food and drinks ready to go. Make a list of everything you want to bring. If you can, start it a few days beforehand, so you have time to remember the odds and ends that always seem to come to mind later.

When preparing the food, especially the side items (beans, potato chips, jambalaya, et cetera) do as much prep work as you can for the food and pack everything in seal-tight plastic containers. This will make your food easier to serve but also helps you clean-up after the game (no trash to throw away.)

Remember to pack plenty of bottled water! You’ll need it to put out your barbecue fire but also for drinking and helping clean up spills. Tailgating experts recommend bringing at least two gallons.

Pack more drinks than you need. A good rule of thumb is to imagine how many cans of soft drink, beer, or other beverages you expect to need and then pack 20% more than that. Better to take some home than run out!

Prepare for Accidents and Emergencies

Nobody likes to think about accidents or other calamities happening during a party, but it’s still best to stay prepared. Put together a tool kit to help you make basic repairs to tables, chairs, cushions and other tailgating furniture. The tool kit should include pliers, extra screws and screwdrivers, electrical or other heavy tape, spare batteries, and a first aid kit. Stay prepared for bad weather with an umbrella and plastic ponchos.

Keep your tickets safe by putting them in an unmarked envelope and locked in your car’s glove compartment.

Don’t forget cleaning supplies!. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer, and two rolls of toilet paper just in case your tailgating area has less-than-comfortable restrooms or portable toilets. A couple of dry towels also have plenty of uses around the tailgate area, too. If there’s room in your vehicle, a broom and dustpan will help clean up spilled food and ice.

Get Seen By Your Guests and Everybody Else

Sports Team Logo Canopies

Click here to find your team's canopy!

Once you’ve set up your canopy or tent, make it show your team spirit with banners, flags, and any other decorations you want. This will make it easier for your guests to find you – and everybody else to see your devotion. Some canopies come pre-printed with your team’s name and logo printed along the sides and top.

Don’t forget to anchor your canopy with some weight bags to hold it firmly in place; once the party starts, you don’t want it getting bumped around and knocked out of place. If and when bad weather comes, pull everything under the shelter of the canopy or tent at once. Packing up is a lot less tedious if your supplies aren’t wet.

Sail Shade Canopies Putting the intense visual appeal of the sail shade canopy into words is a little tricky. The sail shade’s (or shade sail, depending on who you ask) remains, at heart, only a piece of fabric stretched over a certain area and connected to a pole or post. Nevertheless, the whole is definitely bigger than the sum of the parts.

Sail shade canopies imbue their areas with a sense of movement and elegance unlike any other kind of covering. There’s a sleekness to them, an exotic ambiance more reminiscent of a marketplace in the Kasbah as much as a suburban backyard. They are not complicated, and really any sheet could serve as a sail shade canopy if conditions were necessary.

The modern, professionally designed and built sail shade canopy offers the sail shade’s timeless, austere beauty combined with modern engineering and constructions.

Understanding Shade Sail Size and Shape

Shade sails usually either come in one of two shape varieties. Think back to your grade school geometry. Remember the parallelogram? It’s a four sided shape with two sets of parallel sides. It’s (not quite a square, in which all the sides are equal. )Many models of shade sails use the parallelogram shape to offer a choice of use. By keeping the sides not entirely equal all the way around, the canopy user gets more choice in hanging location options.

In a very similar way, some shade sails are roughly isosceles triangles. Revisiting math class again, these are triangles with only two equal sides. Other models are measured and fitted to be scalene; they have no equal sides.

Of course, there are no absolutes and some triangles are perfect squares and rectangles. When determining the shade sail that’s right for your area, it helps to sketch the patio or deck (or lawn area) as seen from above.

Once you’ve got a rough sketch, draw lines between the most obvious sail shade canopy anchor points. The shape of the canopy you need will reveal itself.

Canopy Construction and Composition

Sail Shade CanopiesLike the shape itself, the composition of a shade sail canopy varies according to model and manufacturer. Some are made from breathable fabric, while others are made from heavy-duty, weather resistant polyester or polyethylene.
In some cases, the sail fabric is coated or sheathed in additional protectants to add to their rain resistance.

What to Look For When Purchasing

Make sure the canopy includes installation hardware if you’re planning to permanently attach it on your property. Also, be sure to check what accessories are sold along with the sail shade canopy itself or that must be purchased separately. This will prevent delays in installation once your sail shade canopy arrives.