Best Pool Shade Ideas

Best Pool Shade Ideas for Rooftop Swimming Pools

A rooftop swimming pool is the ultimate way to bring some luxury into your life during those hot summer months. As nice as it is to take a dip while getting great views and catching some rays, you’ll also want some shade for when things get too steamy. That’s why coming up with the best pool shade ideas for your rooftop oasis is key.

I found from experience that the right shading allows me to better enjoy my rooftop retreat. It lets me lounge poolside without turning into a lobster after just 10 minutes. It also keeps the water from becoming bath-like, allowing it to stay cool and refreshing.

I’ll walk through everything you need to set up some prime pool shade ideas. I’ll go over which shade styles work best for rooftops and ways to maximize coverage and comfort. You’ll find tips on materials, positioning, and even how to make your shade as stylish as your pool landscape. Let’s take the sweat out of enjoying those hot summer days!

Best Fixed Pool Shade Ideas for Rooftops

When trying to find the best shade for your rooftop pool, you’ll first want to decide whether you want something permanent or removable. Fixed shade structures tend to provide fuller coverage and are built to seamlessly blend into your designed landscape. Here are some of the best fixed shade options for elevated pools:


Pergolas are one of the most attractive ways to establish fixed shade over your rooftop pool. These structures consist of crisscrossed beams that allow an open, aired feel while still offering coverage from the harsh summer rays. They also lend a classic elegance that jives perfectly with a poolside oasis.

For our roof, we chose a large cedarwood pergola with a slate tile roof that covers half the length of our pool. It offers the perfect balance between sun and shade! We often swim under it in the morning before reclining on the lounge chairs beneath it in the afternoon when the exposure increases.


Pavilions Pool Shade Ideas

Pool pavilions are very similar to pergolas but feature closed-in roofing instead of crisscrossed beams. This allows them to offer fuller shade coverage to completely block out the sun. Pavilions are great for establishing an entertaining area right next to your rooftop pool – think couches, dining sets, barbecue areas, etc.

We actually added a small pavilion along with our pergola, covering the other half of the pool for when we want to escape the sunlight entirely. My wife and I will relax under it on scorching 90+ degree days when even the pergola leaves us feeling cooked!

Poolside Structures

For the ultimate shade, you can build full structures right against the edge of your rooftop pool. This allows you to basically swim in the shade by ducking under covered overhangs spanning the water’s edge.

A family friend actually constructed an entire pool house – complete with bar, lounge chairs and a sound system – along one whole side of their rooftop pool. Talk about luxury! It does provide full shade and protection from the environment while still enjoying the water features.


Stationary umbrellas offer a quick and affordable way to establish poolside shade without undergoing full construction projects. They come in all sizes, colors and designs to seamlessly blend with your rooftop landscape. Their mobility also allows you to easily adjust shade coverage depending on the movement of the sun.

I’d recommend large aluminum umbrellas built specifically for pool placement. Make sure to look for ones made to withstand all weather conditions so they don’t bend or budge in strong winds and downpours, which we get plenty of up on the roof!

Maximizing Shade Coverage

Once you choose your shade structures, proper placement is key to blocking out those intense summer UV rays. Here are some useful pool shade ideas for covering as much pool area as possible:

Shade Until Afternoon Sun

Figure out what parts of your rooftop pool get sun coverage first and last. Our pool mostly avoids morning sun but gets full southern exposure in the afternoon. So we focused on placing structures to block out those later day rays.

You’ll want to shade areas that still get sunlight even in the early hours, so all sections have some relief. But definitely concentrate on where that movement of sunlight leaves you fully exposed as the day heats up.

Extend Past The Water Line

Don’t just shade the pool itself but also the surrounding patio area to establish ample room for lounging undercover. That way you and your guests can relax poolside out of the sunlight.

We made sure our pergola covers both the jacuzzi area of our pool along with room for a full outdoor couch, two lounge chairs and side tables. This allows us to enjoy the water while having enough shaded space to entertain.

Incorporate Temporary Elements

Incorporate Temporary Elements

Fill shade gaps by incorporating removable elements like privacy screens, large planters and lattice fencing. These let you further block sunlight in any openings left between fixed structures.

I love lush greenery so I added movable planter boxes filled with birch trees around our patio area. Their long spreading branches offer extra afternoon coverage when the sun beams between our pergola and pavilion. Talk about blending form with function!

Picking Shade Materials

When designing shade structures for your rooftop oasis, you’ll want to choose materials that can withstand the elements. Look for options that will protect both you and your space from any intense weather conditions.


Cedar and redwood are naturally weather-resistance woods perfect for poolside use, although they do require periodic maintenance like re-staining. Their ability to stand up to outdoor exposure makes them ideal roofing and beam materials for structures like pergolas and pavilions.

As mentioned, our pergola consists of rustic cedarwood beams supporting slate tile roofing that fits wonderfully with our poolscape design. Just make sure any wood you choose has been properly treated to handle environmental factors like moisture, heat and UV exposure.


For a sturdier alternative to wood, aluminum shade structures are built to last with practically no maintenance required. Aluminum pergolas, pavilions and screens come in various colors and designs to meld with your poolside style. And brands use durable, marine-grade aluminum able to withstand even the harshest rooftop conditions.

Our stationary umbrella is specifically an aluminum market style awning. Its thick double ribs feel indestructible, while still blending nicely within our designed landscape. Sturdy aluminum sheets connect the ribs to fully block sunlight from penetrating the umbrella’s canopy as well.

All-Weather Fabrics

For a lighter approach, shade sails and canopies made from durable all-weather fabrics help establish coverage while allowing more airflow. These custom designed shades can stretch from building structures across open areas where supported beams would be difficult. And their dynamic shapes and coloring lend some modern artistry!

I’m currently looking into installing a triangle canopy fabric between our pavilion and pergola. This would provide extra shade in that walkway area while also enhancing the geometric elements of our space. And the breathable material will allow for ventilation beneath.

Growing Plants & Vegetation

Growing Plants & Vegetation

For natural, built-in shade elements, incorporate climbing vines and plants within structures. Options like Jasmine and Passionflower offer vertical greenery along with horizontal protection across beams as they spread. And planting deciduous vegetation that loses leaves in winter ensures summer shade while still allowing winter light.

I just ordered a Black Lace Jasmine that I’m going to train across our pergola beams horizontally. This should help filter some of the afternoon rays shining through the open roofing. And I love the idea of fluid, natural shapes contrasting against the rigid lines of wood and stone!

Shade Style Tips & Pool Placement

Properly incorporating shade elements into your rooftop poolscape both protects guests and enhances overall site design. Use these tips on style and placement to get the most function and beauty out of your covered structures:

Compliment Construction Design

Choose shade materials and styles that blend with the existing architecture and landscape. Use colors, textures and shapes already found throughout your space for cohesion.

Our pool uses cream limestone coping so we made sure to get an umbrella with matching canvas and aluminum tones. It pulls everything together!

Contrast With Bold Elements

While matching existing features, don’t be afraid to contrast fixed structures and removable accessories with bold patterns, shapes and colors. This adds striking visual flair against subdued backgrounds.

Hanging orange and pink paisley printed curtains around our pavilion injects fun pops of tropical flair amidst neutral stonework and greenery. It really livens up the vibe!

Zone Off Areas

Design your shade setup to zone off distinct activity areas within your overall poolscape. Use pergolas or pavilions to differentiate lounge spaces from dining and entertainment set-ups. This allows for intimate yet open flow.

Our pergola marks off the low-key relaxation zone while the pavilion establishes the party area, complete with bar cart and sound system! Guests can easily gravitate between moods.

Incorporate Water Elements

Take advantage of shade placement to accentuate integrated water features like fountains, jets and waterfalls in your swimming pool. Highlight the sparkling movement and soothing sounds by encouraging guests to view underneath fixed structures or while lounging below umbrellas.

The gentle cascade from our infinity edge spillway sounds divine while resting beneath the shade of the palms. It’s my favorite spot to enjoy a spritzer on scorching summer days!

Movable Shading Options

Movable Shading Options

For supreme flexibility, you can complement permanent shade structures with removable accessories offering adjustable coverage. This allows you to follow the sunlight’s path and customize protection. Here are some of my top choices for mobile pool shade ideas:

Retractable Awnings

Retractable awnings offer versatile coverage you can extend and withdraw as needed. Calibrated shade positioning blocks sunlight at all the right angles while folding away easily for open daytime tanning.

We installed a waterproof retractable awning along one whole side of our pool. I simply crank it out to block westerly sun in the early evening after the umbrella’s useless!

Drop Curtains

For quick shade, hang customized drop curtains anywhere around your designed poolscape. Just open the pulley or snap system to unroll sun blocking or transparent screens filtering in diffuse light. Close them up to keep the open concept feeling.

We clip semi-transparent navy curtains anywhere along the perimeter beams of our pavilion whenever we need some instant relief from blazing rays. The breezy material still allows light atmosphere while cutting harsh glare.

Cantilever Umbrellas

Movable cantilever umbrellas offer perfect portable shade you can slide anywhere along a pool or patio area. Their sturdy bases allow 360 degree rotation to block sun from all angles as it passes overhead.

I scored a slick modern cantilever at a local shop with sand-colored canvas to blend right into my sandy poolscape palette. The lever operation lets me quickly tilt it from upright to angled to flat as the sunlight shifts throughout the day.

Table Umbrellas

Standard table umbrellas serve their purpose perfectly to shade seating areas and surfaces. From basic to chic fringed styles, positioned them over drink tables, lounge set-ups or dining zones. Their built-in bases keep things weighted.

We picked two striped cabana-style skirted umbrellas for our conversation set on one end of the patio area. They lend some vertical height and whimsy while shielding us during mealtime chatter sessions. So key for snacking in comfort!

Design Inspiration

Now that you know the best shade types and customization tips, take inspiration from these gorgeous poolscapes utilizing shade elements seamlessly:

Design Inspiration Pool Shade Ideas

Neutral Tones & Textures

Don’t be afraid to use shade structures to inject warmth within sleek modern designs. Natural wood pergolas and canopies establish cozy spaces against concrete, tile and glass while still feeling contemporary. Drape lighting across beams for ambiance.

Fun Pops Of Color

Perk up minimalist pools with playful patterned fabrics and vibrant patio umbrellas. Stripes, florals and abstract designs enliven the atmosphere when contrasted against blank slates.

Natural Elements

Incorporate climbing vines, palms and oversized planters overflowing with blooms to infuse organic personality. Let bright florals pop against dark wood beams and natural stone.

At Last

For sleek and glamorous spaces, opt for custom reflective materials with clean lines and posh decorative accents. Incorporate drapes, lamps and lush padded seating perfect for sophisticated lounging.

As you can see, incorporating shade elements allows you to customize both comfort and aesthetics of your rooftop oasis. And the ample styles for structures and accessories let you achieve any look and functionality you desire. Durable woods, sleek metals and breezy fabrics shade harsh sunlight while accentuating gorgeous design features.


What are the best shade options for windy rooftops?

For rooftops exposed to heavy winds, prioritize sturdy constructed shade elements over umbrellas and fabrics. Pergolas, pavilions, poolside structures and screens made from durable aluminum and weather-treated woods withstand gusty conditions. You can even install retractable awnings built specifically for intense weather circumstances.

Which side should I concentrate shade structures?

Determine sun exposure patterns based on the location of your rooftop to optimize afternoon coverage when sunlight streams from the west. East-facing pools will need elements like early-morning awnings while west exposures require extendable shades drawn in late day. Adjust fixed and movable pieces to follow the sunlight.

How much of my rooftop pool should incorporate shade structures?

Shade coverage depends on whether you prefer full sun tanning or relief from prolonged harsh rays. For proper UV protection, aim to shade at least 50% of your pool and patio area, concentrating on afternoon sun zones. If desiring more tanning potential, shade 1/4-1/3 coverage mostly around lounge areas.

Can I use reflective materials for poolside shade structures?

Reflective metal panels like copper and aluminum allow you to establish shade coverage while still highlighting sunlight gleaming into the water. They also emit a contemporary vibe amidst the poolscape. Just be careful of glare and increased ambient temperatures from excessive solar reflections.

About the author

Jennifer Robert

Jennifer Robert

Jennifer Robert is a home design blogger with a passion for creating beautiful, functional spaces. She shares her tips and tricks on her blog, and she's always on the lookout for new trends and ideas.

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