6 Canopy Shopping Tips: Strategies for Success

By Sandra Christian on December 9, 2019

When you buy a canopy, you want it to look great and be easy to manage, but the options can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together six canopy shopping tips to help you choose the perfect tent.

Six Canopy Shopping Tips: Strategies for Success

Whether your canopy is to promote your company, for the sports field, or to keep on hand for outdoor events, we (literally) have you covered with everything you need to know to choose your perfect tent.

Tip #1: Size

The first thing you need to consider when shopping for a canopy is how big (or small) it needs to be. Are you seating a dinner party under it, or are you displaying your products at an outdoor market?

Common portable canopy sizes are 10’x10’, 10’x’15’, and 10’x20’. These sizes are perfect for farmer’s markets, trade shows, sports teams, or to have on hand for outdoor entertaining as a shelter or shade.

While our focus at SkyLine Canopies is to provide you with easily portable canopy and shade options for marketing purposes, there are bigger canopies on the market. Canopies bigger than 10’x20’ move into more semi-permanent structures that can be left up for days, months, or even longer. These might be 20’x40’ marquee-style tents for a wedding or a carport canopy to protect your vehicle or RV.

Once you know how big your canopy needs to be, you can start narrowing down your next choices.

Tip #2: Portability

All canopies can be taken up and down, making them technically “portable”, but moving a 20’x40’ steel-trussed carport canopy can take hours, even with multiple people. On the other hand, a standard 10’x10’ can be set up with one or two people in minutes and can even be outfitted with canopy cases on wheels, making them even easier to transport.

When shopping for canopies, think about where you will use it as well as how often it will need to be moved. This will help you decide which canopy frame and fabric is the best choice for you.

Tip #3: Frame

Canopy frames are typically constructed from aluminum or steel, and both have their benefits and drawbacks.

Steel is strong enough to support heavy fabrics, large-scale canopies (over 20’), and withstand heavier winds and rain. However, with that strength comes a lot of weight. This is the perfect frame for very large canopies that don’t need to be moved very often (i.e. large marquee canopies or carport canopies).

Aluminum frames are the standard for portable canopies because they are resistant to rust and are lightweight. While aluminum may not be as strong as steel, it does tend to last longer, even when exposed to extreme elements. At SkyLine Canopies, we offer aluminum frames in two thicknesses (40mm and 50mm), depending on your needs.

Both frames are commercial grade and spare parts are available for purchase if you ever need them. The 40mm frames come with plastic connectors compared to the metal connecting parts that come with the 50mm version. Weight differences are as follows:


  • 10' x 10' - 19.5kg (43 lbs)
  • 10' x 15' - 25 kg (55 lbs)
  • 10' x 20' - 43 kg (94 lbs)


  • 10' x 10' - 30kg (66 lbs)
  • 10' x 20' - 59 kg (130 lbs)

Tip #4: Fabric

How you intend to use your canopy will dictate which of the following three common fabrics you choose:

  • Vinyl. Vinyl is strong and weather resistant. It is what most marquee-tents are made of because it can withstand heavy rains and wind and lasts a long time. It is the perfect material for semi-permanent structures. The drawbacks of vinyl are that it isn’t easily moved or stored, and it can be very expensive.
  • Polyethylene. Polyethylene is the fancy name for common tarp material. It is waterproof and still strong enough to withstand some wind, but it will not hold up in extreme weather like snow or heavy winds. This material will rip or fray under extreme conditions, so consider your purpose for the canopy, as well as your climate. It is a great choice for carport canopies in areas that get little-to-no snow. This material is lighter than vinyl, but still takes a fair amount of space to store. It, too, is best suited for semi-permanent structures.
  • Polyester. This is the most common canopy material because it is the most affordable. It is also lightweight, can be waterproofed, and can display graphics. We use 600D PU-coated polyester, meaning it's durable and packs compactly making it the perfect choice for portable canopies.

Tip #5: Accessories

Now that you know which size canopy you need, what you will use it for, and the materials that best suit your situation, it’s time to move on to the fun decisions. Did you know that you can add walls to your canopies? Some reasons to consider a removable wall include privacy, space for branding, protection from the elements, etc. Walls can come full-height or half-height (in vinyl structures). If you choose a polyester canopy, it’s easy to take on and off the walls when you need to thanks to the 360 velcro strip on the inside of the canopy top.

You can also get creative with how you use your half walls. Place it low to create a barrier for harder exit or, if used on the front side, to eliminate the need for table cover use. Add it to the middle for airflow and branding exposure or keep it toward the top edge for added shade. (You might even consider adding an advertisement flag to complement your set up.)

Of course, adding walls to your set up means taking safety into account as your tent can quickly become airborne. Check out our blog post on this very topic.

Tip #6: Visual Appeal/Branding

Last among our canopy shopping tips is the visual appeal of your tent. Vinyl and polyethylene canopies come in a few common colors, but with polyester, you can choose anything. When it comes to colors and branding, your imagination is the only thing holding you back. Our preferred process includes dye-sublimation which allows for the transfer of prints onto a variety of materials. Check out our gallery to see the items we've produced for our past and returning clients.

At SkyLine Canopies, we custom make all of our products and have design partners ready to help you bring your ideas to life. Are you ready to choose your perfect tent? Let’s talk!

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