A Canopy is a covered frame that is supported by at least one post.  While awnings usually project 1-6 ft from a building, canopies can be trussed and project from 3′ to more than 30′.  Canopies can be attached to a structure or they can be completely free standing.  Good attachment points are needed and sometimes footings are required.  A Tropical J’s canopy is a digitally designed to fit your unique residence and priced according to how much steel/fabric material your particular job requires.  Because everything is custom designed, you have control over frame color, fabric choice, canopy widths, projections, heights, slopes, etc.  If you are looking for a canopy with a retractable roof, we offer a line of products called the Pergotenda, otherwise continue reading for general information and see the downloadable .pdfs to the right for more technical information.  If you are looking for a new cover for an existing canopy frame please contact us directly so that we can assess whether or not we can cover your specific frame.  We do not recover Costco/Home Depot type canopies or Gazebos.

I Canopy Styles

There are two main types of canopy styles that we manufacture at Tropical J’s; Conventional Laced and Cable Tensioned.  These names refer to how the fabric is tensioned over the frame and each type has its own unique look.

Frames for both styles are built to code.   This requires clearance of 7′ 6″.  We normally put our post spacing at 10′ apart on center, but if we go to larger steel, we can move that distance to about 15′.  Larger spans are possible and require trussing.

Conventional Laced

Conventional canopies have a straight or bowed rafters and their fabric wraps around a front bar.  A nylon rope is laced through grommets in the main cover and around a lace bar on the frame to create tension in the fabric. In this type of canopy, the front of it can have a decorative valance (see below for more info).  Conventional canopies are quite common here in hawaii.  This type of canopy used to be made by sailmakers who would bring out plumbing pipes and a pipe threader to a job site.  They would then custom make frame elements and install the frame as they went.  Once finished, they would measure the frame and go back to their shop to manufacture a custom cover to the frame’s specs.   Nowadays, we take site measurements and design and manufacture frame and fabric to exact specifications. Then the elements are assembled on site.  Depending on the size of the canopy, the installation can be as quick as one day for both frame and fabric, to about a week for very large jobs.

For canopies with straight rafters like the one in the picture above, rafter lace sleeves are needed to keep the fabric from flapping.  These lace sleeves present a problem with Sunbrella fabric because they  have to be sewn on, and the fabric and the thread are both synthetic.  Unlike organic cotton and canvas which swell up and waterproof the needle holes, Acyrlics like Sunbrella do not swell, and water permeates the cover.   This will cause interior dripping and premature rusting of the frame as the water will travel down the frame and sit in the front pocket.  This is the #1 cause of frame rust in a canopy and something that we do our best to avoid.  We no longer used cotton threads and canvas because other fabrics have such higher warranties and life expectancies.


Cable Tensioned

Cable tensioned are, as their name implies, cable tensioned.  The frames for this type of canopy are bowed, and rafter spacing can be as far as 70″ apart.  The front bar needs to have a clearance of 7’6″ off the ground/deck.  This fabric tensioning system is very minimalistic and allows for a very clean appearance.

The fabric is welded together so that welds fall directly on top of the rafters for a beautiful illusion of a seamless cover.  The fabric is made with curved pockets in the front that carry a wire.  That wire is tensioned at the rafter tips and the result is an incredible taut cover.  When pulled over bowed rafters, the fabric becomes pulled in multiple directions, which makes it very stable and rafter lace sleeves are no longer needed.  This makes for less material and installation costs.  Each cable tensioned canopy is custom made to exact specifications with your goals and functions in mind.

II Fabrics

We manufacture canopies using one of two fabrics.  Each carries a 10-year limited warranty.  Never use harsh chemicals or power washing on your fabrics.  Detailed cleaning instructions are available in the downloads section on the right.  Both choices let in a lot of natural light.

For smaller canopies, we can use Sunbrella’s line of Marine Grade acrylic weaves. It is available in solids and stripes.  Sunbrella can only be used with a conventional canopy style (see section above) which means the fabric needs to be tensioned using ropes.  Sunbrella is a weave and therefore not waterproof, but it is water repellant.  We typically try and avoid Sunbrella because of this, but it does have that charm of a soft-looking woven fabric which has a lot of appeal in a residential setting.  Sunbrella Fabric Card


For small and larger canopies we use a commercial Vinyl, Sattler’s Evolution 745.  Vinyl is a PVC based 100% waterproof material that cleans with soap and water very easily.  This is a much more stable fabric and we can use it for all sizes and styles of canopies. Evolution 745 Fabric Card

III Valances

There are two types of valances, hard and soft.   A canopy can have one, the other, both, or neither.    Both types of valances can give the canopy a unique look and also can serve as a background for graphics.  Cable tensioned canopies do not have valances as an option.

Hard Valance:  Hard refers to the valance as being part of the frame.  This valance can be any custom height and can be used as a place to put graphics/addresses on.  Hard valances are usually anywhere from 6″-8″ but they can be any size specified.

Soft Valance:  Soft Valances are a decorative fabric that hangs from the perimeter of the canopy.  They are available for an up charge.  Valances are made from the same fabric as the main cover and are available in many styles as illustrated in the chart To the right.  They are finished with an accent fabric called “binding” which is available in many color options.  In the picture on the right, the light blue represents the fabric and the dark blue represents the binding.  Downloads of the valance styles and binding color options are available here or at the top of the page.

IV Frame Material/Paint/ Frame Consideration

Frame Materials:  We manufacture most canopies out of Gatorshield coated steel tubing.  Gatorshield coating is Allied’s superior, triple-layer rust and corrosion resistant product protection. Gatorshield coated steel tubing has been the standard of excellence and the product of choice for outdoor structures for over 20 years. Gatorshield tubing is given superior corrosion resistance by their patented, in-line Flo-Coat® process. A 99.99% pure zinc coating is applied, then a conversion coating. A clear organic topcoat seals the surface. The result is unmatched, long-lasting rust and corrosion protection. The .PDF binder for this product is available here.

All of our frame are a combination of rigid welded components that are then either bolted or sleeved together.  Our professional welders weld the frame, clean and fill their welds.  Our painter primes the welds first, then primes the entire frame, then paints the welds, then paints the entire frame to give them their best chance against potential rust.

Frame Color:  We protect our frames with a commercial grade primer and 2 part epoxy paint from Pittsburgh paints.  Our topcoat is available in white, black, or custom color for an up charge.  The paint is designed for exposed commercial applications so it is very successful when it is protected by a fabric cover.  We apply our coatings using an electrostatic application, which means the paint and the frame are both electrically charged so the two attract for superior coverage.  Because of our painting process, we do not usually paint with our customer’s paint.  Instead we’ll match the color as best we can, below is an example of our color pallet.  More paint specs and a larger color pallet are available in a .PDF here.



All of our canopy frames are custom made to suit their specific install site.  Frame attachment, slope, post attachment, widths, projections, and rafter type drive the frame design.

Frame Attachment:   We can attach to most existing walls or use roof brackets to mount on top of a roof but we need to attach to something structural.  For wood that means stainless steel lags into wall studs or roof rafters and sometimes a wooden or steel header may be required.  For concrete we use Stainless lags with expansion anchors or epoxy set all thread.

Slope:  For straight rafter awnings, we recommend a slope  of 3 feet over 10 foot projection.  This will allow water to drain properly and not pool on top of the cover.  For bowed rafter canopies, we can get away with a slightly less slope as water will drain more easily.  Both frames need to have a 7′ 6″ clearance for all horizontal metal components to pass Honolulu City Code.  The front clearance will usually drive the back attachment point and is the reason why some canopies must be roof mounted.

Post Attachment:  The posts on a canopy usually set at 10′ apart from each other.  We can go to larger spacing if we increase the size of the front bar or truss it.  The posts not only support the weight of the front of the canopy, but provide resistance against uplift forces.  The system is sort of like a giant sail, and that makes it important to anchor the posts well.  For wooden decks we attach to the main structural supports below finished flooring.  For concrete we use stainless lags with expansion anchors or epoxy set all thread.  For stone or tile, we need to assassin whether or .  For location with no attachment points, we must pour concrete footings and these footings are usually 2′ x 2′ x 2′.

Widths:  Frame can be of almost any width.  We have manufactured commercial canopies over 100 feet wide.  Canopies may also travel around corners, or inside corners

V Install

Our professional installers install most residential canopies in a few days.  We use Hillman stainless steel hardware to ensure long lasting attachment and prevention of spalling and most rust.  Our sales person will have a sheet of site specific information he must collect for our installers.

Sometimes we will install the frame first and then take measurements to ensure a more perfect fit.  Our frames are all welded, painted and wrapped at our shop to allow for quick on site assembly.  Sometimes scaffold, lifts may be required.

Each installation is unique in it’s attachment but there are some common elements to consider so our salesman may price out installation accordingly.

Insurance:  Tropical J’s is a licensed, bonded and insured company, but if you need additional insurance there may be an up charge for that.

Vehicle Access:  Our work fleet consists of vans and flatbed trucks with vehicle heights of 6′ 8″.  If they do not have access to on site contractor parking,  please work with our salesman to determine the nearest parking.

Hours of Operation:  Jobs are quoted out during our regular scheduled working hours which are 7:00-3:30.  If you require installation outside these hours, there may be overtime charges.

Power:  Most installations require the use of one electrical outlet during the course of installation.  Please help our salesman establish the nearest one.

Bathrooms:  In the event that there is a restroom available please inform our salesman.


Pergotendas are the name of a fixed frame retractable canopy system.  These systems can also come with curtains.  There are many types of retractable canopy structures, see you salesman for more information.




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