What are Wire Hung Canopies?
Canopies: Canopies are lengths of fabric extended from overhead structures that provide shelter from the elements. The can be mounted in a fixed position. Such canopies are often used with pergola structures like the one illustrated here.
Wire Hung: Wire hung canopies, in contrast to fixed ones, are suspended below the structure on taught wires with metal clips. These canopies can be extended or retracted on their supporting wires. When a canopy is retracted the folds will deepen. Indeed, at full retraction, they will hang down a distance equal to half the span length. For this reason, the wire runners should be mounted at least 97 inches or so high.
Pulley System: To make the adjustment of wire hung canopies possible, a pulley system is often rigged. There are, of course, many ways to do this but we will assume a system similar to that illustrated below.
Using one line it is possible to open or close or adjust several canopies. This is the canopy system for which instructions will be provided in what follows.
Fabric: Sunbrella Marine Grade fabric or Phifertex Plus mesh fabric is commonly used for wire hung canopies. Sunbrella is excellent at providing long lasting shade in the most extreme heat and sun and it is highly water resistant. Phifertex Plus cuts light by 90 to 95% and funnels off most rain which can make for a very comfortable shelter — it, too, is remarkably durable. Other upholstery fabrics are certainly acceptable, but their resistance to Ultraviolet light will be more limited leading to more rapid deterioration. For indoor applications you may want to consider Sunbrella, Covington, Geobella, P/K Lifestyles, P/Kaufman, Ultrafabrics, or Waverly upholstery fabric.
Fabric Width: The width of the fabric chosen is important since canopies are constructed of multiple panels with small gaps (usually 3 inches) between each pair. There are several advantages to this system. First, it is possible to adjust each panel separately from the others regulating coverage (although the single line closure system that we prefer obviates this advantage). Second, the panels open and close more easily and accurately when they are of limited width. Third, rain water will not collect in a narrow width. Fourth, and perhaps most important, the segmented canopy looks great!
Using the calculator it will be noticed that changing the fabric width will greatly effect the number of panels. When possible pick a fabric with a width that reduces the the extent of scrap material. At the same time, keep the number of panels to a minimum since each additional one requires more labor and hardware. Use the calculator to experiment with different fabric widths.
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Use the Sailrite Fabric Calculator to provide a detailed materials list catered to your specific measurements. Slide-On Wire Hung Canopies Calculator Link