DIY pergola cover: How to make a slide-on wire retractable pergola canopy

We had a polycarbonate roof installed on our garden pergola. But it got a bit warm when the sun was up. So, I was trying to figure out a way to outshine the transparent roof of the pergola. What I had in mind was a retractable pergola cover that we could open up on cool days and close when the sun is too bright.

We came up with this DIY pergola cover, and we’re so pleased with the results. The IKEA pergola hack costs very little compared to the DIY pergola kits we found in the stores.

Pergola cover with polycarbonate roof and DIY shade
Image credit: Peepoo

IKEA Materials:

  • DIGNITET curtain wire
  • SYRLIG curtain ring with clip and hook
  • IKEA DYNING balcony privacy screen

How we made an IKEA pergola cover

The DIY project was straightforward. First, I measured the length of the pergola and worked out how much wire I would need to span the entire length. I ended up buying two sets of the IKEA DIGNITET curtain wire.

Then, I installed the curtain wire set along the wooden beams of the pergola. It wasn’t hard to do; follow the IKEA instructions.

Pergola cover with polycarbonate roof and DIY shade
Image credit: Peepoo

Before installing the wire to the DIGNITET supports, I threaded through the SYRLIG curtain rings with clips. For this, you’ll need to figure out the distance between each clip along the entire short length of the canopy. Get as many SYRLIG clips as you need and a few more for spares, just in case you need to place the clips closer together for a better fold. This you’ll only know after you’ve hung the canopy up. A bit of trial and error may happen here.

Fold the IKEA DYNING canopy so the short ends meet. Then, lightly mark with a pencil where you want the clips to be. The clips for the left end and right end of the canopy should align so the curtain can fold nicely when you retract it.

Then install the curtain wire and tighten it as much as you can. You want the line to be taut so it can hold up the shade without sagging.

Lastly, start clipping the pergola cover to the wire. Finish clipping, and you’re gold!

Pergola cover choices

You can use any fabric or canopy for this. We considered using thicker, light-filtering IKEA curtains or fabric by the yard. But that would involve some sewing, which I’m not keen to do.

Ultimately, we chose the IKEA DYNING screen because it was the right size and price. We also love how well it shades from the sun without blocking out too much or being too dark. Honestly, it looks whimsy when spread all across the pergola, like I’m at some high-end resort! If only I could add a swing to my pergola, that would complete it.

One more thing — you can add a curtain pull rod to the end of each set of pergola covers, which will make it easier to open and retract the canopy. We don’t. Instead, we use a draw rod which has a hook that we use to catch onto the curtain ring. It’s easy to slide it open or retract it. With this option, we won’t have sticks hanging down from the side of the canopy, which we feel would get in the way. But that’s something to consider if your setup is different.

Pergola cover with polycarbonate roof and DIY shade
Image credit: Peepoo

So far, our IKEA pergola cover hack has been working fabulously and has kept us cool all through summer. I also like that I can easily change the shade when it’s seen too many days or replace it with some other fancy fabric to suit the decor of my pergola.

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