Patio Cover History
In the old days (I’m talking about the sixties and seventies) a maintenance free patio cover usually meant a roll formed aluminum “pan”. These roof pans would lock together to form the roof of your patio. They were referred to as ‘V’ Pan, ‘W’ Pan and Flat Pan roofs.

Flat-Pan Patio Cover

Flat Pan

W-Pan Patio Cover

W Pan



Flat-Pan Patio Covers

Pan roofs had a few issues:
  • dirt collecting in the top of the pans
  • A bit noisy in the rain
  • gutters clogging with leafs
  • gutters difficult to clean
  • roof spans were limited
  • it was difficult to build sunroom walls under W Pan and V Pan roofs
    condensation was more likely to occur, especially if enclosed

Patio Covers Today
Today patio covers are made predominantly with insulated panels. An insulated panel is also known as a “sandwich panel”, “structural panel” or SIP (structural insulated panel). Structural panels are made with 2 thin skins bonded to a core material. They are incredibly strong and light. Most manufacturers offer many thicknesses for increased load capacity or insulation. For instance, Craft-Bilt offers our insulated panels in 3″, 4½” and 6″ thicknesses. Depending on your location, our 6″ panel can span up to 18 feet!

Cover For Patio Ideas

Structural panels have been around for a long time, but their use in residential sunrooms and patio covers really took off in the eighties. At that time an insulated roof was significantly more expensive than roll formed pan roofs. But competition and improvements in manufacturing have closed the price gap to the point that consumers can have an insulated roof for an economical price.

Types of Insulated Panels for Sunrooms and Patio Covers
Honeycomb core panels have been used in aerospace, aircraft and other critical designs for many decades. Craft-Bilt is the only sunroom manufacturer to offer a honeycomb panel for the sunroom market.

We also make high quality EPS (expanded polystyrene) core panels, also known as foam panels. All sunroom manufacturers make or distribute this type of panel.

Either panel will serve you well. Honeycomb cores are a bit more expensive, but they are stronger and will overcome fire protection issues that occur with foam panels in certain jurisdictions. Foam core panels have more insulation, which is only a concern for insulated sunrooms (also known as all-season or four season sunrooms).

Patio covers are also made with multi-wall translucent sheets. Craft-Bilt’s Northlander™ Skyview system is a heavy ‘I’ beam design. It’s also thermally broken, which means it is suitable for sunroom roofs.


Skyview Beam


Some multi-wall acrylic roofs use an upside down ‘T’ design which is not as sound as an ‘I’ beam design, and often without thermal break.

Upside Down -T


Multi-wall translucent roofs are typically more expensive than aluminum skin insulated roofs.

Patio Cover Value
If you are looking for an economical patio cover, you can’t go wrong with insulated panels. There are many thicknesses to choose from to achieve the span you require. Patio covers are usually priced by the square foot, including overhangs. So for example, if your patio has a 10 foot projection and is 20 feet wide, you would be best served with a patio cover that has an 11 foot projection and is 21 or 22 foot wide. The overhang looks familiar, like the soffit on your house, and it provides more shade and protection from rain and snow.

Visit our patio cover pages for more information.