Build a Rooftop Patio to Make the Most of Your Summer

rooftop terrace in urban area

What could be better than enjoying your summer on a magnificent rooftop patio? In urban areas, backyards are often transformed into parking spaces or used for home additions. Now, more and more homeowners are turning their flat roofs into rooftop terraces. It’s also a great investment for landlords looking to differentiate themselves on the market. Here are seven elements to consider when making the perfect urban rooftop patio!

1. Practical areas

First, you’ll want to map out some practical areas where you can sit, relax, and enjoy your new terrace. If you plan to work or eat there, make sure you have enough room for a table. You can also add some wooden benches that double as storage. For small patios, consider investing in a folding table set – they take up little space and can be put away easily. And, if you like to cook and host events, consider investing in an outdoor kitchen!

2. A beautiful rooftop garden

An urban rooftop patio wouldn’t be complete without greenery! Make a few designated spaces for some plants or flowers. You can ask your contractor for a few built-in planters, as well. Not only will they cost less than store-bought planters, but they’ll also match your flooring. Moreover, if you like honey bees, you can add a rooftop apiary! Honey bees don’t sting, and you can produce your own honey while increasing the bee population and helping the environment.

3. An urban vegetable garden on your rooftop terrace

With the rise in popularity of organic food, more and more homeowners are opting to grow their own fruits and vegetables. A rooftop vegetable garden can not only help you become more self sufficient but also decrease your food expenses. If you’re short on space, opt for a vertical design!

4. An urban rooftop patio with shaded spaces

If you’re sensitive to the sun, be sure to create some shaded areas for those scorching midsummer days. An umbrella is a great economical solution, but feel free to opt for a fixed structure like a gazebo if you know your rooftop patio is often exposed to high winds. Some of them even have canvas sides that you can draw or tie back depending on if you want shade or sunlight.

5. Light up your rooftop patio

Nothing beats having a cozy outdoor space that you can escape to at any time. While the sun provides enough light during the day, you’ll need some functional lighting at night. Outdoor recessed floor lighting is a great choice – it’s often used to light paths, walkways, and steps. You can also grab a few sconces in your desired aesthetic. And if you’re really looking to create something out of a fairy tale, drape some outdoor string lights down the side of your gazebo or hang them overhead.

6. A rooftop home theatre, because why not?

It might be a little extra, but an outdoor rooftop theatre will definitely impress anyone that comes by. And if you’re a bona fide movie buff, it’ll give you one more reason to use your rooftop patio in the evening. When done right, it can be the perfect place to watch the latest films. Just get an outdoor projector and roll-up screen, and you’re good to go!

7. A spa out on the terrace

Do you want your rooftop patio to be a relaxing oasis? Consider installing a pool or even a hot tub! Add a hammock nearby and create a space that all the neighbors will envy. You can even add a sauna, either permanently or temporarily by renting a high-quality mobile one. To combat the summer heat, you can even build an outdoor shower.

Is it possible to convert my flat roof into an urban rooftop patio?

Before you start building your dream rooftop getaway, get a structural engineer to determine if your roof is strong enough to support it. You’ll also need to double check with the City to see if rooftop patios are allowed in your region. If you live in Montreal or Toronto, you’ll need a permit and certain restrictions apply. And if you live in a co-op, you’ll need to get the project approved by the other owners.

Cost of building a rooftop patio

A rooftop patio or terrace is a great home investment. Not only will it increase property value, but it’ll also give you (or your tenants) a place to enjoy the summer. Here’s what to expect in terms of costs.

In general, this type of renovation project varies from $15,000 to $30,000, depending on the type of layout you want. Tack on another $25,000 to $30,000, because there’s a good chance you’ll need to redo your roof at the same time to accommodate a rooftop patio. This’ll bring the total cost to $40,000 – $60,000.

If you don’t have a door leading to your rooftop, you may also need to build a staircase to access it. Then come the finer details like outdoor furniture, plants, and lighting. 


Treated wood is the most commonly used material for rooftop patios. It’s strong, durable, and only requires a fresh coat of paint or varnish for maintenance. There are several different types of wood available, from pine to maple, varying in price from $48 to $60 per square foot. If taken care of, it can last over 50 years!

Fibreglass is generally used for balconies, but it can be used for rooftop terraces, too! It’s less expensive than wood, ranging from $36 to $48 per square foot. Keep in mind that you can’t use it as a railing – it’ll need to be combined with something else, like wood or aluminum.

Composite wood is made from wood residue and requires no maintenance whatsoever. While it’s more expensive than other materials, ranging from $48 to $84 per square foot, it does come with a 25-year warranty. That said, it comes in a limited number of colours and the sun’s rays will bleach it over time.

*These prices are only an estimate. A qualified contractor will be able to quote you a more accurate price for your project. Feel free to browse deck renovation costs, as a rooftop patio will have a relatively similar price point.

Find the best general contractor for your rooftop patio project

If you’re ready to transform your roof into a cozy urban patio, you’ll need the help of a general contractor. They’ll be able to handle permits and city regulations, and they’ll ensure that your rooftop terrace is level, has good drainage, and has even weight distribution to make it structurally sound. If you’re ready to get started, reach out to one of our Renovation Advisors – they’ll find up to three Verified Contractors for your project. Call us or fill out a form and we’ll be in touch!