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Choosing the Best Exterior Patio Curtains and Drapes by Type

Patio Curtains

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Your patio is an extension of your living space, so you’ll want to dress it up with curtains and drapes just like you would any other room in your home. But with the elements to consider, such as privacy, shade, and aesthetics, choosing patio curtains requires a bit more thought. When selecting exterior patio curtains, you’ll need to consider the type of material, the curtain style, and the functional needs of the space. Fortunately, a wide array of weather-resistant fabrics and curtain options are perfect for decorating your space.

Outdoor Fabric Choices

Outdoor Fabric Choices

The fabric you choose needs to be durable enough to withstand the outdoor elements year-round. Some good patio curtain material options include:


Acrylics are water-repellent and UV-resistant while providing excellent durability. Styles like Sunbrella are ideal for intense, direct sunlight.


Polyester is breathable, moisture-wicking, and UV-resistant. Polyester curtains work well in covered patio areas.


Cotton is a natural fiber that comes in heavier, more durable outdoor weights. Cotton curtains wash well but require water-repellent treatment.


Olefin is extremely durable, moisture-resistant, and mildew-proof. It is also a cost-friendly option for outdoor curtains.


Canvas has a rugged, casual vibe. The material fades over time but can be retreated to maintain water resistance.

Consider solid or patterned material to complement your patio’s design aesthetic. Avoid delicate sheers not made for outdoor use.

Curtain and Drape Styles

Curtain and Drape Styles

When choosing patio curtains, you’ll first want to decide on the style that fits your aesthetic vision. With options like breezy tab curtains, elegant pleated drapes, and cascading ripple folds, you’re sure to find the perfect look to spruce up your outdoor space.

  • Tab curtains – Casual and breezy when opened, provide privacy when closed. The tabs allow for easy pull and slide functionality.
  • Tiered curtains – Soften hard edges and add fullness. Multiple tiers gently filter light while adding a layered, decorative look.
  • Café curtains – Short and decorative while allowing views and airflow. Perfect for patio breakfast nooks or balcony spaces.
  • Pinch pleat drapes – Offer a tailored, elegant look for patio spaces. The pinch pleats create an upscale, ornate style.
  • Grommet drapes – Provide a modern, stylish look and easy hanging. Grommets slide right onto curtain rods for smooth operation.
  • Rod pocket drapes – Slide easily along a rod and provide full coverage. The pocket enclosure allows the rod to slide smoothly.
  • Ripple fold drapes – Feature a cascading folded style. Folds create an undulating, decorative cascade effect.
  • Outdoor drapery panels – Sophisticated option for covering large spaces. Multiple full-length panels enrich the ambiance of the patio.
  • Curtain side panels – Frame sliding doors and block peripheral views. Side panels provide privacy from the edges of the patio.
  • Outdoor valances – Focal accent that provides shade while allowing light in. Valances make a decorative statement while filtering sunlight.

Functionality Factors

In addition to style, you’ll want to consider how your patio curtains function in an outdoor environment. Carefully think through factors like privacy, sun exposure, sizing, durability, and wind resistance when selecting materials and curtain types. Prioritizing these functional considerations will ensure your patio drapery stands the test of time and provides the shade, seclusion, and protection you desire.


Determine how much seclusion you need when curtains are drawn. Multiple panels and side drapes provide the most coverage.

Sun protection

Block UV rays and heat gain with tightly woven, darker colors, plus side panels and valances.


Measure carefully to allow proper coverage without excess fabric. Account for movement in the wind.

Weather durability

Look for fade-resistant, water-repellent fabric. Check frequently for wear and re-treat when needed.

Wind resistance

Opt for weighted hems or hemming tape to prevent blowing. Clip tiebacks in place during wind gusts.

Patio Curtains - Answers to Common Questions

Sunbrella, acrylic, or polyester curtains are best for direct sun exposure since they resist fading and stand up to intense UV rays. Opt for tightly woven fabrics in darker colors for the most sun protection.

Look for curtains made of all-weather fabrics like polyester or olefin. Or treat cotton panels and other fabrics with a water-repellent spray. Hang on a rust-resistant aluminum rod and add clip-on tiebacks to secure during wind gusts.

Check the fabric care instructions. Many outdoor curtains can be machine-washed and dried. Use a gentle cycle, cool water, and mild detergent. Allow curtains to air dry completely before re-hanging to prevent mildew.

Get the Perfect Patio Curtains for Your Space

Choosing patio curtains that are both stylish and functional requires careful consideration of material, design, and your unique needs. But with so many durable, weather-resistant fabrics and curtain styles, you can easily find the perfect exterior drapes to provide privacy, shade, and decoration for your outdoor space. Consider the amount of sun exposure, wind, rain, and wear-and-tear to select hard-wearing materials and curtains tailored to your climate and aesthetic. With the right combination of style and performance, extending your interior design outside is easy. The Window Design Studio has a wide selection of beautiful, long-lasting exterior patio curtains and drapes to match any outdoor space. Visit us to explore your options and bring your interior decorating vision to life on your patio. Our experienced team will help you find the perfect curtains for your outdoor living area.

Picture of Michelle Nielsen

Michelle Nielsen

A seasoned professional with three decades of industry experience, and a warm and reliable personality. She brings expertise in window coverings and personalized design solutions.

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