Without overhead shade, sunnyside decks can be unbearably hot during summer months, and if they sit close to the house, they can reflect heat into the interior. Unless the deck has large leafy trees nearby or an overhanging roof, it is a good idea to have some kind of covering or shelter to spell relief.
A shade structure should be designed to moderate the sun's rays without blocking light, air, or desirable views from the deck. It should also be compatible with the style of the house and the size and scale of the deck it shelters. Most overhead screens are constructed of wood -- boards, slats, or latticework -- but they can also be fashioned from other materials such as bamboo or reeds. Canvas awnings and translucent plastic are also good choices when the elements -- rain as well as sun -- interfere with enjoying a deck.
Overhead shelters can also serve as privacy screens, obscuring views from rooms above or a building next door. When boards are closely spaced or covered with a vine, the deck below can feel as enclosed and inviting as an indoor room.