What color canopy is the coolest? The best choice for garden shading

Once you know what color canopy is the coolest, chilling in the backyard is easy in a heatwave

A covered garden deck with chairs and throw pillows in California
(Image credit: Images-USA / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you were asked what color canopy is the coolest, your automatic thought might be white. After all, it's widely known that white is a great color at reflecting the sun's rays. Who hasn't been caught out wearing dark clothing on a hot day and wishing that they had chosen a white outfit instead!

Or perhaps you thought black? Well that wouldn't be illogical either. If sunglasses have taught us anything, the darker the shade, the better it is at keeping our eyes guarded from UV rays.

But when you're creating shade ideas for patios there's a difference between protecting the area underneath a canopy from harmful UV rays and keeping the space cool. Here's what you need to know.

Learn what color canopy is the coolest in hot weather

'A white fabric is regarded as the coolest color to choose when deciding on a canopy color for your shade sail ideas and parasols,' says Matt Pierce content marketer for Garden Furniture Sets (opens in new tab). 'White will reflect all wavelengths but is more susceptible to harmful UV rays. As an alternative, you can opt for a light colored canopy.'

So if you're looking purely for temperature protection, then white would be the obvious choice. However, sun protection is a very important consideration when it comes to safety, particularly if you have children.

White garden parasol next to a the wall of a house over a patio seating area

White canopies are the coolest options

(Image credit: Garden Furniture Sets)

What color canopy is the coolest? 

According to Matt Pierce, this is a list of the coolest canopy colors, with the coolest at the top down to the warmest:

  1. White
  2. Yellow
  3. Orange
  4. Light Green
  5. Light Blue
  6. Red
  7. Purple
  8. Dark Green
  9. Dark Blue
  10. Indigo
  11. Brown
  12. Black

A red garden awning over a patio seating area near a house

Verona rouge awning from Hillarys (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Hillary's)

What color canopy is best for sun protection?

Black is the best canopy color for filtering out the sun's rays, but it is the worst choice for keeping cool under the best gazebo or garden parasols.

'It's often assumed that black canopies are great for summer as they will absorb all the sunlight,' says Matt. 'While black will absorb all wavelengths, it's best to use black canopies during the cooler months as the absorbed heat will filter downwards leaving those underneath slightly warmer.'

What is the best color choice for a backyard canopy?

There is a science to why the color of your deck shade ideas will affect how cool the temperature is below your canopy. 'The color that appears on the object is the color that the object (in this case, the canopy) is reflecting,' says Matt. 

'For example, a blue canopy will reflect all blue wavelengths while absorbing the rest. However, a white canopy is special and will reflect all wavelengths instead of absorbing any of them, making those who sit under a white canopy much cooler as the heat is not being filtered downwards.

'The only wavelengths being absorbed will be the color of the canopy, so a light blue canopy will only absorb light blue wavelengths. A perfect middle-ground for those wanting to stay protected from the sun while keeping cool,' suggests Matt.

A light blue parasol over a garden seating area

A blue parasol will be a better choice than white for sun protection while still keeping your patio cool

(Image credit: Homesense)

What are the worst colors for shade and why?

This all depends on what is most important to you when it comes to using garden shade. If you're wanting to stay cooler under the shade of your patio cover for example, dark colors are the worst choice. If you're wanting to stay protected as much as possible from the sun's UV rays, lighter colors can be riskier so opt for something dark like black or brown.

'Also bear in mind that lighter colors will be more susceptible to stains, bird droppings and dust as they will be more visible,' advises Matt. 'Darker colors will hide this dirt better but may be more exposed to the color fading process from sun exposure,' he says.

black pool canopy over a white paved seating area

A black canopy will provide the best sun protection

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

Does canopy color matter?

Aside from aesthetics, canopy color still does matter if you're selecting what color canopy is the coolest. 'Stay protected from the sun with darker colors,' says Matt. 'However, you might find yourself a little hotter underneath during the summer months as black will absorb all the sun's wavelengths instead of reflecting them.

'Lighter shades will reflect some wavelengths, thus absorbing less. This will keep you cooler underneath your awning or garden arbor during the summer but lighter colors will be more susceptible to visible dirt.'

Teresa Conway
Deputy Editor

Teresa has worked as an Editor on a number of gardening magazines for three years now. So she is lucky enough to see and write about gardening across all sizes, budgets and abilities. She recently moved into her first home and the garden is a real project! Currently she is relishing planning her own design and planting schemes. What she is most passionate about when it comes to gardening are the positive effects it has on our mental health to grow and care for plants, as well as being great for the environment too and help provide food and shelter for wildlife.