Portable GaragesWinter’s knocking once again at the doors of millions of American homeowners and business owners. With freezing rain, snow, and wind quickly on the way, it’s time to think about securing and safely storing equipment, vehicles, and other machinery.

Each fall, thousands of shoppers attempt to find a canopy, portable garage, or other portable shelter that will work as durable, reliant covering through harsh winter conditions. Snow load ratings and wind resistance qualifications present data that’s crucial to making an informed purchase.

Truly Snow- And Wind-Rated Shelters Are Clearly Identified

Any snow-load or wind-rated canopy or personal shelter will clearly advertise its qualifications within its item description. The features list or manual, or both, will display the wind rating in miles per hour, and any snow-load capacity in pounds per square foot. This measurement is also abbreviated as “psf.” It’s the most amount of weight a shelter can bear without risking damage to its frame.

True Weather Resistance Depends On Correct Operation

For portable garages and shelters to properly function, they must be properly used. In virtually all cases, portable shelters and canopies need anchoring and other precautions in order to reach their weather-resistance capacity. When purchasing a canopy, tent, or shelter, shoppers should look to see what anchors, weight sets, or other securing accessories are needed. They should also determine whether these implements are included with the shelter package.

What to Do Before Making A Purchase

Don’t buy a portable shelter, tent, or canopy until you’ve browsed its assembly instructions and/or operation manual. If you have further questions, talk to the customer service staff of the store or website (for example, at info@ecanopy.com) and clearly state your concerns and questions. Peace of mind, especially in winter’s chill, brings a warmth all its own.

Garage CanopiesThe portable garage makes the perfect way to keep your vehicles, lawn equipment, and other machinery sheltered from the elements. But it’s much more useful than just that important task! Check out some of the other, off-the-beaten-path uses we’ve found for these surprisingly versatile shelters, tents, and semi-rigid canopies.

Helping Your Community’s Charitable, Church, and Social Events

Your local church or your children’s school could probably use a strong, secure shelter for their next fundraiser, festival, or other outdoor gathering. By lending your portable garage for use as a booth, temporary storage place or other much-needed resource, you’ll deploy your portable garage to do a world of good where it’s sure to be appreciated. You’ll help keep volunteers out of the sun, and important sale items protected from the elements.

As A Holiday Centerpiece

Depending on the size of your portable garage canopy and the size of your front yard, the canopy can be the “blank slate” on which you load holiday decorations. Tube-shaped portable garages easily convert to a “tunnel of horrors” during Halloween. Later in the fall, they can shift to an enchanted “ice cave” to wow passers-by. (Remember to check your canopy or garage’s snow load capability before leaving it deployed in snow conditions.)

For Backyard Campouts and Cookouts

Garage CanopiesIf your kids are part of a scout troop, youth group, or just a gang of pals, the portable garage provides a place to play, camp out, and generally just enjoy being young. If you’re holding a backyard cookout, the portable garage can provide a place to store party supplies (ice chests, coolers, kegs, and cooking ingredients) out of the hot sun.

The tube-shaped portable garage can also be renovated into an “adventure tunnel” full of games, decorations, and fun activities for birthday party guests to enjoy. When it’s time to eat, children can picnic under the canopy shelter all afternoon long. Parents can watch from the edges of the canopy if the canopy has open sides, or join the kids if the canopy has sidewalls.

As Your Landscaping Headquarters

Also in springtime, your canopy or portable garage makes an excellent “base camp” for all your lawn and garden rejuvenation. Center your garden equipment and supplies, landscaping and gardening machinery, and all your other tools in one convenient, sheltered place. You’ll save time going back and forth to the garage, and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that supplies like mulch, topsoil, and other important lawn and garden ingredients are kept safe without taking up valuable space in your garage or carport.

For Tailgating and Other Sporting Events

CanopiesThe portable canopy is always popular as a protective shelter for tailgating outside the stadium. But you can also probably bring your canopy along to little league and high school athletic events. Use the canopy as a pavilion to host the team, or just to give families and other spectators a place to congregate. They’ll appreciate your generosity, and you’ll make a valuable contribution to the whole season.

To Provide Shade For Your Pets and Livestock

Especially during the warm and humid summer months, a place to relax in the shade can be a lifesaver for cats, dogs, and many different kinds of livestock. Emptying your portable garage or canopy for use as a bivouac or temporary shelter for animals gives them a safe, reliable place to wait out the brutal summer heat. Just remember to follow your portable garage or canopy’s instructions regarding severe and inclement weather.

As An Extension of Your Carport

A personal garage also works great to expand the storage space of your carport, especially when company comes to visit and can benefit from vehicle storage space of their own. Open-sided canopies also offer great shade and shelter when washing your car or other vehicle, too.

For A Yard Sale or Rummage Sale

If you’ve ever attended a garage sale, rummage sale, or yard sale, you know the importance of sheltering the merchandise. Canopies and portable garages are ideal temporary display space for clothes, electronics, electrically powered furniture and appliances, and anything that doesn’t need to sit out in the sun.

For a complete guide to throwing the perfect yard sale, check out our easy to read guide elsewhere on this blog.


To err is human, the saying goes, and everybody makes mistakes. But some mistakes are more common than others. And some are made by almost everyone!

Here are five of the most common misuses, misconceptions, and misunderstandings about owning and operating a canopy tent, popup canopy, or portable shelter. They’re arranged in no particular order of calamity or misadventure.

“The Rain Can’t Hurt It.”

Many first-time canopy owners confuse the terms “waterproof” with “water-resistant” – and end up soaking wet.

The truth is that only some canopy models, such as the one made by Vitabri, are completely and reliably waterproof. Most canopies, however, will resist water but cannot completely repel it. In fact, water pooling across the canopy can stretch the canopy material and even damage the trusses and frame.

As with most of the issues on this list, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of properly working canopy. Take the canopy down in the event of rain, taking care to wipe the frame and cover dry first.

”It’s Plastic. It Doesn’t Need Cleaning.”

Canopies Because most canopy tops are made from treated polyester, there’s a widespread misconception that they don’t need cleaning and preventative maintenance. But moisture, dampness, and normal wear and tear will take their toll on canopies that go too long without care and attention. The result? Mildew, rips and weak spots in the canopy covering.

Mildew happens when the canopy cover is folded up and put away while still wet. It actually grows in the dark and damp folds of the canopy material, spreading quicker if the canopy is stored in a warm place (like a garage or attic.) Mildew can be tough to remove, too, without using harmful and abrasive chemicals.

The sad, ironic fact is that canopies are built for a long life, and are actually simple to keep in top condition. If you need help with your canopy cleaning, check out our easy to read cleaning guide elsewhere on this blog.

”The Frame’s Weight Will Hold It In Place.”

In almost all cases, canopy frames will lack the structural weight to prevent the canopy from capsizing in the event of high and even moderate winds. And while some canopy tops are vented at their tops to reduce heat within the canopy’s interior, that venting will offer little egress for strong wind currents.

Capsizing presents numerous dangers for canopies: bent or broken legs and trusses, punctured and torn canopy covers, and broken locking and adjustment mechanisms. These malfunctions can be costly to replace and repair. In fact, many canopy warranties expressly exclude damage caused by inclement weather.

Some canopy owners often use weight bags and tie-downs to give their canopy tents better stability and grounding. However, these accessories are not designed and should not be used to anchor canopies through severe weather conditions.

“The Canopy’s Supposed to Stay On The Frame When You Pack It Away.”

CanopiesCanopy roller bags and carrying cases are convenient, easy to use ways to get your canopy top and frame from one place to another with a minimum of wear and tear. However, when incorrectly used the roller bag or carrying case presents its own dangers to your canopy top’s condition.

Leaving the canopy top on the frame when you store it in the carrying bag will save a few minutes when you take it out again, yes. It will also cause the canopy top to become pinched within the folded-up truss and frame supports. The pressure between the two metal frame or truss parts is enough to squeeze holes into the canopy top material.

Generally speaking, roller bags are very carefully and exactly designed. Straying from their directions and recommended use invites damage to the canopy top and frame alike.

”The Canopy’s Open, Right? Smoke Isn’t A Problem.”

This one seems obvious enough, but still confuses some canopy users. Never keep an open fire under a canopy cover, including vented canopies. Smoke, embers and ash can get caught against the canopy top’s underside or fall back to the ground, presenting fire and burning hazards. And even though some canopy tops are certified fire- and flame-resistant, some are not.

Accumulated smoke caught by the canopy also presents allergy and respiratory problems. Keep barbecue pits, fires, chimeneas, and other wood- and gas-burning heat sources well away from the canopy materials.

How to Get Help

Got a question about canopies, tents, or personal shelters? Contact our helpful customer service department.

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.

Custom GraphicsWhen you start to shop for custom graphics for your canopy purchase, you’re going to hear the terms “screen printing” (also known as silk screen printing), and “digital printing” used quite a bit. They’re two distinct means of imprinting your canopy material with your own custom graphics. But they also take very different approaches, have different price structures, and can result in much different final results.

There’s no overall, one-size-fits-all option when selecting whether to use silk screening or digital printing processes for your custom canopy graphics.The method you should choose depends upon several factors unique to your needs. Careful research and consideration are the only universal requirement when making a decision.

Screen Printing: Less Expensive – But Fewer Options

Screen printing uses chemically mixed ink and a special mesh screen that acts much like a stencil. The ink is pushed through the stencil screen in a wiping motion onto the canopy surface, where it soaks into the material’s porous fabric.The part or area of the canopy material set off for printing is kept carefully cordoned off and isolated from the rest of the canopy. This process is done for almost every color in the design, with custom technicians using a different screen for every color applied. Background colors that match the color of the canopy material itself do not receive screen printing. Instead, technicians incorporate the canopy material color into the design.

The greatest disadvantages to screen printing are comparative lack of sophistication and clarity (compared to digital printing) and inflexibility. Because the screens cannot bend, designs must remain within one side of the canopy area – it cannot wrap around corners. Additionally, screen printing can only be performed on one side of the canopy material.

Screen printing works best for custom canopy shoppers who have relatively simple designs – usually only two or three colors – and need several or more custom canopies printed. The screens must be printed first, incurring start-up costs, and fees are charged for every “pass,” or application of a different color. However, the screens can be used many times on different canopy units, increasing cost-effectiveness per unit ordered.

Digital Printing: More Expensive – But More Sophisticated

Custom GraphicsDigital custom canopy printing, also known as digital dye sublimation printing, uses machines that are essentially giant inkjet printers to cover the canopy material with ink. Because the printers are computer controlled, they are capable of much greater clarity and resolution than human-operated screen printers. The printing machinery themselves are also capable of much greater color gradation and shading, and can print around corners or across the entirety of the material surface.

Digital printers can print at resolutions up to 1440 dots per inch (dpi), allowing them to print very complicated designs and even photographs with amazing clarity. However, their benefits also make the process more expensive than screen printing. Because each canopy order must be run separately through the printers, price per unit does not diminish as order size increases.

What Else Can Receive Custom Printing, Besides The Canopy Top?

Printing techniques allow for custom graphics application on headbands (the strip of material around the top of the frame and beneath the canopy top), valences, sidewalls, awnings, and banners. Remember that with screen printing, technicians can only print on one side of the material. However, in some cases they can print designs on two pieces of same-sized fabric and affix them together back-to-back, approximating a two-sided appearance.

How To Order A Custom Canopy

Custom GraphicsCanopy shoppers can obtain a custom printing quote by filling out the online request form, providing all the basic order information and a JPEG image of the design to be printed. When filling out the information, it’s best to be as specific as possible, giving your preferences and expectations in the fields provided. A customer service representative will contact you within two business days, providing a price quote and a rendering (or rough sketch) of how the completed custom canopy will look. The first rendering is free, with additional renderings available for $50. For the sake of timeliness and accuracy, price quotes and estimates are not available by phone.

Once the quote and rendering are approved, shoppers can submit their design in a high-definition file format such as Adobe Illustrator or EPS Vector. The image is forwarded to Caravan Canopy, who typically complete orders within two weeks. Rush orders (taking five to seven business days) are sometimes available, and accepted on a case-by-case basis. Finally, shipping times and schedules from Caravan’s facilities, located outside Los Angeles, may add to delivery times.


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!


Sail shades and canopies can help block UV radiation.

The summer of 2012 will likely go down as one of the harshest seasons in recent memory, thanks to record heat waves and droughts across much of the United States. And though the summer sun may seem punishing, the same techniques for preventing and treating sunburns still hold true. But avoiding sunburns effectively comes from knowing their causes.

What Is Ultraviolet B? Is It Helpful or Harmful to the Body?

The answer is actually more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” response can provide.

Sunburns are caused by exposure to the ultraviolet radiation classified by scientists as Ultraviolet B (UVB.) Though possessing a smaller wavelength and remaining much less pervasive in our atmosphere than Ultraviolet A radiation (UVA), overexposure to UVB rays can cook the uppermost layers of skin tissue, producing reddening and sunburns. Prolonged overexposure to UVB rays can cause skin cancer, premature aging, and possibly contribute to even more serious health issues.

However, UVB intake helps the body synthesize Vitamin D from cholesterol. Vitamin D is a vital nutritional supplement that is shown to benefit the immune system and to help produce bone mass, among other important benefits.

What is Ultraviolet A? What Are Its Potential Risks?

Ultraviolet A radiation has a longer wavelength than UVB rays, and strikes in much greater amounts: UVA accounts for fully 95 percent of all ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface. UVA rays can penetrate windows and clouds, and are prevalent during daytime hours all year round.

Recent research suggests that UVA rays can suppress the immune system and even initiate some forms of skin cancer. UVA rays cause tanning, and the cumulative effects of tanning – itself the body’s flawed attempt to counteract exposure to UV radiation – produce mutations that can lead to skin cancer.

When Is the Risk of Sunburn Greatest?

The Earth’s surface experiences the most exposure to UVB rays between 10 AM and 4 PM each day, especially during the months of April through October. Snow and ice, especially at high elevations, can reflect up to 80% of UVB rays back into the atmosphere. Sand can also reflect ultraviolet light. Unlike UVA rays, Ultraviolet B radiation cannot penetrate glass. Canopies and tents that are treated against ultraviolet exposure can also help to deflect the rays from passing through their material.

Who Faces The Greatest Risks From UV Exposure?


Snow can reflect up to 80% of UVB rays back towards the atmosphere.

Everyone. The World Health Organization reports that, despite a common misconception that only fair-skinned people are at danger of damage from UV radiation exposure, people of all races are at risk for skin cancer. Skin problems among darker-skinned people are also often diagnosed much later, when the health risks have grown more serious.

Sunburns can often happen quite quickly. SunSmart, the Australian skin cancer education effort, reports that very fair-skinned people can burn in less than eleven minutes.

How Can I Monitor Ultraviolet Radiation Levels?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency publishes a daily index of ultraviolet radiation in local areas. It’s available at their UV Index Web page.

How Can I Protect Against Sunburn And Other Health Risks?

Skin care experts recommend wearing clothing and UV-blocking sunglasses, especially during the high-exposure times described above, and staying in shaded areas as much as possible. Bright-colored and more lustrous clothing better reflects sunlight, and loose-fitting, tightly woven clothes provide a better barrier between skin and sunlight.

Which Sunscreens Work Best?


Avoid direct sunlight during peak daylight hours.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using water-resistant sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater. SPF classifications measure only UVB blockage; as yet, there’s no way to measure blockage of UVA rays. Nevertheless, the sunscreen should provide broad-spectrum protection, meaning it shields against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should even be applied on cloudy or semi-cloudy days, and when standing under shade or on sand.

Fair- and sensitive-skinned people should look for sunscreens with higher SPFs. They may also wish to use “inorganic sunscreens” that contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide; these mineral-based sunscreens protect the skin without penetrating it, which may cause irritation.

How Often Should Sunscreen Be Applied?

Apply liberal doses of sunscreen every two hours, beginning about fifteen minutes before going outdoors. Parents should consult a pediatrician before applying sunscreen to children under six months.

Extra sunscreen should be applied for prolonged periods of exposure. As a general guideline, sunscreens have a “shelf life” of three years.

How Can I Safely Treat Sunburn and Its Symptoms?

Most first-degree sunburns heal themselves within a few weeks; as the skin regenerates, old skin shells are shed off in flakes. Pain and discomfort from the burning can be managed with cold showers, aspirin and ibuprofen, lotions and ointments containing aloe vera, and by applying hydrocortisone cream. Experts also recommend drinking extra water to help the skin rehydrate.

CanopiesCanopies are versatile, convenient, and durable enough to last for years. But canopies that are left unsupervised, or left to stand without proper ballast, can sometimes present a safety hazard for children and adults alike.

For parents who own canopies, making sure the canopy is secure enough to avoid injury is not an overly complicated matter. Still, it’s a task that’s absolutely necessary.

Canopy Safety Basics

In most cases, canopies are at their least safe at their very top and their very bottom. Rainwater and trash that can accumulate on top a canopy tarp can become dangerous when it falls off. At the other end, canopies that are not securely fastened run the risk of toppling over.

Make sure your canopy is kept clear of debris at the top, and use proper weight bags or other ballast to keep the canopy rooted firmly in place. Obviously, do not leave small children unsupervised around the canopy frame. Securely fasten all sidewalls, valences and headbands to make sure children cannot tear them loose. When standing the canopy on uneven ground, make sure weight bags are used wherever the canopy frame wobbles or tilts.

Although canopy frames are made from durable aluminum and steel, children should not hang from frame or truss bars as bending or twisting can result. Canopies tarps and sail shades are not toys and shouldn’t be used to make tents, forts, or for other playtime construction projects.

Dismantle Your Canopy In Severe Weather

CanopiesCanopies should not be left deployed (set up) in severe weather. Strong winds and rain can damage the canopy tarp and frame, and leave branches, twigs, and other debris atop the canopy tarp. Very strong winds can even cause unsecured canopies to capsize, potentially tearing the tarp and possibly bending the frame or truss.

Once the storm has passed, uprooted or upended canopies present a danger to playing children: frame legs can trip or poke, and trusses can snare and twist ankles. To avoid risk of injury and damage to the canopy, dismantle the canopy at the first severe weather alert and store it in its box or storage bag.

Canopy Safety Around The Pool and Patio

Prevent your canopy from falling into the swimming pool by using weight bags to secure it firmly in place. Additional weight plates that affix to the canopy legs will help the weight bags exert maximum pressure on the canopy frame, increasing stability. Canopy tarps that fall into the pool present a potent safety hazard, so remove the canopy from the pool as soon as possible.

Sail shade canopies hang beautifully over patios, but make sure children don’t hang from its material or from its support cables. Besides the risk of falling, collapsing sail shades can block children’s eyesight and trip them up. The child’s weight can also distort or strain the cables, making the canopy sag and bulge out of place.

Other Safety Tips

CanopiesCanopy frames with adjustable legs often use a telescoping mechanism that works much like the legs of a camera tripod. Though simple and convenient, its pinch-and-release operation can pinch small and uncoordinated fingers.

Storage bags are not toys; children shouldn’t try to hide in them, or remove the canopy from them unless an adult is present.

Cleaning and maintaining the canopy is a great chance to spend time with your child while teaching them the values of preservation and cleanliness. Though children should remain supervised, setting up and taking down the canopy is also a fun activity that parents can enjoy with their kids. Kids especially will relish the chance to “build” the canopy, and to pack it away when it’s time to leave.


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!





A 10' by 10' canopy with sidewalls pinned to its legs

It goes without saying that you don’t want a canopy that’s too small, but you also probably don’t want to invest in a canopy or tent that’s too big or too heavy. Finding the right canopy for your own needs – and keeping within your budget – doesn’t have to be tricky. It’s important to ask yourself these questions before and during the time you spend browsing various canopy types and models.

How Will The Canopy Be Used? Who Will Use It Most?

We’ll be honest: not all canopies are created equal. Different types and models meet different specifications in weight, durability, weather and water resistance, and stability. If you’re planning to use your canopy in your backyard or patio, and to keep it standing for long periods of time, you should invest in a heavier frame that will provide greater stability. On the other hand, if you plan to bring your canopy to different places (games, meetings, fairs, et cetera), it’s probably best that you select a canopy with a more portable, lightweight – such as aluminum – frame.

Canopy frames – the metal legs and overhead truss – are typically manufactured using steel, aluminum, or some mixture of the two; for example, a steel truss built atop aluminum legs. Some models features a special powder coating that helps the metal resist rust and other wear and tear. Prices vary, sometimes dramatically, so weigh portability vs. durability before buying.

Who Will Carry It? Who Will Set It Up?

Most canopy owners say that carrying convenience and portability are two of the most important factors when buying a canopy tent wit. If you’re uncomfortable carrying heavy weight or transporting the folded-down canopy from place to place, look for the most lightweight canopy possible. (By the way, the canopy in the picture above weighs 68 pounds total, including cover, sidewalls, and frame.)

One way to boost portability involves making sure your canopy comes with a roller bag or carrying case. This will help you avoid laborious carrying chores and also help you to keep the canopy’s several components together.

What Accessories Will I Need?

Canopies of all makes and models come with a variety of accessories, ranging from sidewalls that help provide additional shelter and privacy to weight bags that increase the canopy tent’s stability. Rain gutters that help channel water away from the tent’s roof and sides are also available. Other accessories include replacement parts, stake kits to help anchor the canopy to soft sod and ground, and extra or upgraded sidewalls.

Sidewalls make great accessories especially for small business owners who plan to use their canopy as display space for their products. Weight bags and stake kits are recommended for teams and groups that include children, to help keep the tent stabilized and secured in place despite a lot of “in and out” from beneath the canopy cover.

How Often Will I Use It?

CanopiesSimilar to the question of how the canopy will be used, the frequency of use should play another important role in your canopy-choice criteria. Canopy owners who anticipate constant or frequent use should consider investing in a canopy with heavier-weight materials: steel frames, thick-gauge canopy tarps, as well as stake kits and similar accessories. A carrying bag will also help to contain and protect the canopy frame and tarp from damage while in use and transport. The bags can also protect from dampness and dust while the canopy sits in storage.

Canopy owners who expect to use their canopy tents very often – setting it up at least twice a week – should also take care to consider buying canopy tent models that feature quick, easy deployment. This simple but welcome convenience can prevent a lot of frustration and boredom. Owners should also remember to wash and dry their canopy tents frequently, using directions and tips found both in the canopy tent’s instructions and guides found online.