What's the difference between a canopy and a porch?

Canopies and porches can often be confused, but they're definitely not the same thing! Here's everything you need to know

Long grey and wooden porch
(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)

Now the weather is finally starting to warm up, many of us are turning our attention to the outside of our homes. Both canopies and porches are popular for providing some form of outdoor shelter, but what’s the difference between a canopy and a porch?

Porch ideas are great for providing extra storage space, as well as an additional layer of security. Canopies offer a wealth of benefits too, like offering shelter for patio ideas, and even boosting the aesthetic of our home’s exterior. But the two can quite often be confused, and not knowing the difference between a porch and canopy might lead you to invest in the wrong one for your home. 

We’ve spoken to experts and asked them to answer the question - what’s the difference between a canopy and a porch? A detailed breakdown of the differences between the two will help clear up any confusion, so you can decide which to add to your home in time for summer.

red brick house with front porch on gravel driveway

(Image credit: Anglian Home Improvements)

What's the difference between a canopy and a porch?

'A front door canopy is a standalone fixture fitted above the front door to create an overhang,' explains Rachael Munby from Anglian Home Improvements. 'They’re usually made from glass, aluminium, stainless steel or acrylic, and are designed to offer some shelter from the weather when leaving and entering a property.

'Meanwhile, porches are an outdoor structure at the entrance of a building, often with open or solid sides, walls, pillars, or windows. It’s also common for porches to be completely enclosed and to have their own entrance door.'

As Rachael says, front porches are more of a permanent extension of the front door that becomes part of the building, where a canopy is usually a covering that projects outwards from a wall or door. Canopies can be temporary or permanent. 

'Where a porch has a roof and is often supported by walls and columns with flooring, a canopy typically has a roof but lacks walls or a floor,' Joe Ragdale, Technical Director, Wetherby Building Systems Ltd. says. 'Some canopies can be freestanding, but in the context of a house, they're usually attached. They generally don't have a floor, just a covered area.'

How are porches and canopies similar?

If you were asking what's the difference between a canopy and a porch, you're not the only one, as they can sometimes be confused due to the fact that they are both extensions of the front door. Both can protect the door from exposure and weathering, meaning you won't be needing to paint the front door as frequently with them. Both also offer a sheltered area between the door and the front garden.

'Sometimes, a small porch with minimal enclosure can be mistaken for a large canopy,' Joe Ragdale says. 'Additionally, some porches might have a latticework instead of solid walls, blurring the lines further.'

front of house with blue door and canopy

(Image credit: Anglian Home Improvements)

Which is better?

Whether a front porch or canopy is better for your home will depend on a number of factors. As a permanent extension of the house, a front porch is the more expensive of the two, if you were wondering how much a porch costs. But they are an investment that will pay off.

'Porches can do more than protect you and your property from extreme weather conditions,' Rachael from Anglian Home Improvements says. 'They can also increase the value of your home by maximising space and boosting your curb appeal, which is estimated to account for up to 7% of a house’s sale price.'

front of white house with blue door and canopy

(Image credit: Anglian Home Improvements)

She adds, 'unlike front door canopies, well-built, enclosed porches can add another layer of security to your front door and improve energy-efficiency by keeping any cold draughts at bay.' 

Canopies are still ideal if you don't want to commit to a fully-structured front porch, as they can provide a layer of protection to your front door and reduce the rate at which it weathers. They won't do as much in preventing burglaries as a front porch would though, or in providing extra insulation.


What do you call the canopy over your front door?

'The canopy over the front door is more commonly known as a front door canopy or over-door canopy,' says Rachael from Anglian Home Improvements. 

Joe from Wetherby Building Systems adds: 'If it's a larger canopy with some side enclosure, it might be called a porch canopy.'

What's the difference between a canopy and a veranda?

'Verandas are similar to porches but tend to be larger and more elaborate,' Joe says. 'They often have a roof, walls (at least on some sides), and a floor, creating a more substantial outdoor living space.'

Like front porches, verandas are more of a permanent structure than canopies, and they can be used for a variety of purposes, such as housing outdoor kitchen ideas. Canopies can provide shelter, but they are simply a covering that projects from a wall.

'Canopies offer sheltered entry at the front of your home, while verandas can be used as an additional area of your living space to entertain friends and family whilst keeping you protected from the elements,' Rachael explains. 'Verandas can also be free standing units, whereas canopies must be supported by a wall.'

Do I need planning permission for a canopy over the front door?

'In the UK, smaller canopies over the front door typically fall under permitted development rights,' Joe says. 'This means you generally don't need planning permission as long as the canopy meets specific size and height restrictions.'

Each home gets an allowance of permitted developments, which usually goes up to 50% of the home's original footprint. Variations occur depending on the local council regulations, so make sure you check before purchasing anything. The Planning Portal provides information on permitted development rights and when planning permission might be needed.

'With both canopies and porches, you may need planning permission if your property is listed or located in a conservation area,' Rachael says. 'In which case you should contact your local planning authority for advice.'

Now you know the answer to what's the difference between a canopy and a porch, will you be elevating your home's exterior entrance any time soon?

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.