The Easy Guide To Awnings

Many enjoy the visual interest an awning adds to their home or business. But how do you know which one is the right one to pick? What are the different options in awnings? Aren't there many different shapes to choose from? Where do you start? If these are the type of questions you are asking yourself, rest assured that help is at hand and read on.

The Easy Guide To Awnings

Adding an awning to your home or business can be a significant visual and practical improvement. No matter if you install one above a door or window, an awning will increase energy efficiency by reducing sunlight and glare. You might even want to install one on your patio or desk to protect both you and your outdoor furniture from sun and light rain.

There are three main features you should consider in selecting the right awning. Those would be what type of awning you'd like, fabric and treatment, and the style of the awning. While that may seem like you'll need to know a lot of information, you'll find an easy breakdown of each below.

Types of Awnings

Primarily, there are two main types of awnings, and they come in a variety of shapes. Those two types are stationary or retractable awnings. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. 

 Stationary, or fixed, awnings have a welded frame that is attached permanently to a wall. This makes this type of awning ideal for smaller areas like windows and doors, offering full weather protection. They are also built to be sturdy and long lasting.

 However, it should be noted that stationary awnings require more maintenance than other types. Once it is installed, you also can not change the orientation. This type of awning also needs support to cover a large area. These are a few things to keep in mind.

The Easy Guide To Awnings

The other type of awning is retractable. These also attach to your home but can be opened or closed to provide as little or much cover as you need. Retractable awnings can be extended by either a hand crank or motorized controls.

Retractable awnings are ideal for patio and decks, its frame requiring much less maintenance. Unlike stationary awnings, retractable ones can be mounted to the roof as well as to walls. They also can be put away during inclement weather!

There are some downsides to consider for retractable awnings, however. Not only are retractable awnings more expensive initially, they also have more costly repair bills.

The Easy Guide To Awnings

Now that you know about the different types of awnings, perhaps you have an idea of which one would be best suited for your home or business. That brings us to the next consideration.

Types of Covers

Typically, awning covers come in two different fabrics: polyester and cotton. These fabrics often are treated in one of two ways. They will either be vinyl or laminate coated or acrylic coated. While both fabrics may seem similar, there are a few differences to make a note of when selecting the right one for you.

When you pick a polyester awning, you can be assured it will withstand weather and block UV rays while still allowing some sunlight. This fabric is also breathable and to clean it, simply wipe it down. 

Cotton is a traditional awning material since it is inherently strong, durable, and waterproof. To clean this type of fabric, you may wash it in your washing machine.

The two types of coating also add a little more to the fabrics. For example, the vinyl or laminate coating makes the fabrics flame and water resistant but more prone to fading. On the other hand, the acrylic layer helps the color of your fabric last longer but doesn't add that flame and water resistance. 

Another option one some awnings is for them to be made of poly-carbonate. This means your awning will be virtually unbreakable and many feature UV protection and reduce light transmission.

Once you know what type of fabric or material and coating is best suited for your use, you'll be able to pick which style of awning you'd like.

Styles of Awning

Different styles of awnings can make your home or business stand out. Many retractable awnings only come available in the ornamental style versus the variety of options that stationary awnings have. But we'll cover each and you can see examples of them in the infographic below.

The Easy Guide To Awnings

Open-sided slope is the first style. These awnings have a steep slope to them but are open on either side. For the stationary awning, this usually leads to having the metal of the frame visible on the ends. The visible bar varies for the retractable awning — they lack these as they need the freedom to retract.

A very similar style to open-sided slope is the elegant slope awning. They look very similar, but the main difference between the two is the fabric covering the ends, enclosing it more. Slope awnings are very popular.

Rigid valance awnings are another style similar to the two slope styles. The main difference in these is the straight edge of the valence and it is, as one might expect, rigid. 

The next style of awning is the crescent. Crescent awnings look similar to the slope but feature an inward curve instead of a straight line. 

Some consider the waterfall style awning to be a direct counterpoint to the crescent. That is a fair judgment to make given the outward curve of the waterfall. One might even consider the waterfall a 'softer' looking canopy.

The Easy Guide To Awnings

The fifth style of awning is the dome awning. Dome awnings have a certain appeal to them, having appeared in many movies and TV shows. Living up to their name, the dome awning has an overall dome appearance, including round ends. These can either be a perfect dome or slightly elongated to suit the entrance or window they are covering.

Scroll arm awnings present a classy look thanks to the detailing in their support beams. Many find this to be a subtle touch for their awning to add a little extra pizzazz to their outdoor area. 

Another popular style is the twisted rope awning. This is another style where the main difference between it and others is the appearance of its side bars. These are twisted metal which gives your awning a small touch to add a small touch of more to it.

The spear-arm awnings certainly skewer what you might expect in an awning. However, the sharp appearance of the supports appeal to many, making it a popular choice as well.

Additionally, there are two different styles of poly-carbonate awnings that you can also choose from. You have the option of having either open or closed support bars. The differences between the two may be tricky to spot at a casual glance but they are there. Many find the open support bars to be more modern while the closed support bars a 'cleaner' aesthetic.

However, you might also be looking for something a little different than any of these. If you desire a longer awning for a bigger entrance, we also offer entrance canopy-style awnings. These are similar to the elongated dome awning but take it even further.

These styles are probably the most popular in the awning industry. While there may be others, these all have a classic appeal that can be modernized with colors or patterns.

Optional Features

Awnings, particularly retractable ones, have the option of a few additional accessories that make them easier to use. Most common these accessories are motorization, weather sensors, and weather guard covers.

Motorization controls make it easier to extend or retract your awning for you. In fact, they do it automatically! Since these can be operated through either wall switch or remote, many find they are much more likely to use their awning when it's effortless to use!

Wind, rain, and sun sensors work with the motorization controls to automatically extend or retract your awning based on the weather. On top of being convenient, these also help keep the awning protected from severe weather.

A third favorite type of accessory is a weather guard cover. This accessory is meant for roof-mounted awnings and protects the first six to eight inches of awning fabric, preserving its appearance and durability.

If you're interested in any other accessories for your awning, you can find those in our awning accessories page. 

I Know Which One I Want, Now What?

So now you've selected the awning that is right for you. But now what? If you need any assistance with installation or the technical parts of your awning, consider reading our Complete Guide to Anchoring Your Awning or contacting one of our knowledgeable product specialists!

Dani Bell

About the Author

Dani Bell

Dani, our Head Writer and Editor, has been in the hearth and fireplace industry for six years. She has written a number of our articles for both eFireplaceStore and eCanopy to balance technical knowledge with customer-friendly terminology and style. Currently, she is studying to earn all of her National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certifications and works with the content department to add products to the eFireplaceStore and eCanopy websites.

Customer Q&A with Product Specialists

Dan J. from Goldsboro, NC asked:
I would like to use a Bostonian type awning on the side of my house. It is the north side of the house. What material is best?
I would like to use a Bostonian type awning on the side of my house. It is the north side of the house. What material is best?
On our awnings, most of them are dyed acrylic, which is water-resistant and UV treated. We also can apply Sunbrella fabric, which is a more waterproof fabric, for a 15% upcharge.
Answered by: Chaz A.


Father J. from Hollywood, fl asked:
What do you call the awning with the sides that fold inward?
What do you call the awning with the sides that fold inward?
I believe you are looking for a "Retractable Awning," all of our other building canopies will be provided with the fixed frame design.
Answered by: Kelsey C. - eCanopy Product Specialist


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