The Complete Guide to Anchoring Your Awning
Anchoring an awning to your home can seem overwhelming. But with the right information, the installation and anchoring of your new covering can be quick and relatively easy!
That is where this handy guide comes in. If you are still working through the process of deciding on a style of awning for your application, check out our Easy Guide to Awnings, which covers the various types and styles of awnings.
Depending on the type of siding on your home or business and the category of awning you have selected, how the awning is mounted will vary. We will cover all the common variations, giving advice and tips to make anchoring smoother.
Key Words To Know
Before we start on the technical information in this guide, there are a few words you might run across that are unfamiliar.
Hopefully, with the use of these terms, you will be able to understand this awning anchoring handbook better.
Stationary awnings, also called fixed awnings, are the first type of awning we will cover. Some models of fixed awnings have open ends and rely on horizontal support bars to brace the valence of the awning. Other models feature closed ends and a full frame that requires assembly before installation.
For either kind of fixed awning, a six-inch magnetic torpedo level is needed to verify everything is level when mounting. Additionally, depending on the size of awning you're installing, you will also need either a 12-inch or 48-inch level to verify the location of the pilot holes. Some manufacturers supply a mounting template, but others do not.
Another crucial tool to correctly mount your awning is a quality tape measure to verify the mounting locations are spaced evenly. These awnings have a welded frame that is attached permanently to a wall. However, the type of siding as well as the presence of framing members, or studs, can make a difference in installation.
When anchoring your awning, it is essential to determine what your siding is manufactured from. Vinyl, concrete, and wood siding products will all require different mounting procedures. Another critical thing to note is that since awnings can be subjected to high winds and physical loads of snow or ice, you should always attempt to anchor the shelter to studs.
Concrete Lap Siding
The first type of siding to cover is concrete lap siding, also known as cement siding or Hardie board. It mimics the look of traditional wooden lap siding but is really a manufactured Portland Cement based product with a fibrous reinforcement material, usually being cellulose. Although this siding is low maintenance, it cannot support heavy loads and cracks easily when stressed. So, when you're installing an awning, it is ideal to locate the framing members that are adjacent to the window or door the awning will cover.
In modern construction, the window or door opening will be flanked by at least a single axial stud, usually 2x4s or 2x6s. Directly above the window or door opening, there will be a header designed to span the entire casing, carrying the load across and distributing it to another pair of axial studs at the edges of the frame.
Using a stud finder, locate the full left to right width of the header and axial studs. Depending on the design of the awning, their lower mounts will be approximately two to four inches beyond the edges of the window or door casement. This allows most awning fasteners to puncture the concrete lap siding and sheathing and make contact with the studs.
Lag bolts or coarse-threaded wood screws are usually specified for the installation, but each awning is different. Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions.
One recommendation is, before installing the fasteners, drill pilot holes through the cement siding with a high-speed drill. Doing so ensures the cement board doesn't crack during installation.
Spacing limitations can sometimes disallow the attachment of the bracing or frame to studs. If that is the case, verify there is backer material behind the siding. The backing material can be OSB, plywood, shiplap, or common boards and should be sturdy enough to support the weight of most awnings with the use of toggle bolts. Again, the manufacturer of the shelter will usually specify what size hardware to use for your installation. However, be sure to verify there are no electrical drops, HVAC lines, or plumbing supplies in the wall before drilling the appropriate size holes for toggle bolts.
In some homes, there may be no backer material. If that is the case, you will need to add the bracing from the inside walls of the building. To do this, take detailed measurements of the attachment locations for the awning brackets then transpose them to the inside wall. Then the interior finishing material must be cut back to expose the wall framing, allowing for additional framing for the awning anchors.
Another option in the case of no backing material is mounting a backer board to the exterior of the home or business. It can be either sanded plywood or common boards. The backing material needs to be painted and caulked to seal gaps against the lap siding, overlaying enough to provide a flat mounting surface for the awning with the backer secured to the nearest studs or header.
Wood, Wood Product, and Vinyl Siding
Wood product siding can be manufactured from medium density fiberboard, high-density fiberboard, OSB, solid wood, or plywood. For MDF or HDF, the awning should be mounted in the same fashion as with cement siding. This is due to the fibrous siding material's weakening over time as stress is placed on the material from the awning.
However, OSB, solid wood, and plywood are more suitable for bearing the weight of the awning. These materials can adequately support the weight of most awnings, even in the event there is no backing material.
Vinyl siding is a plastic based product that is typically mounted over OSB or plywood sheeting. Vinyl is very flexible and is only meant to serve as an aesthetic cladding. Weight should never be applied to the siding itself. Instead, the OSB, plywood, or framing members should be relied upon to support the weight of the awning.
Block, Brick, or Masonry Product
Modular or solid blocks, brick, and cut stone serve as sturdy support materials for an awning. Generally, they do not require additional support material or for you to seek out a stud for extra support.
Masonry anchor screws, such as the brand Tapcon, will either supply or specify the appropriate drill bit size to bore receiving holes into the material. We highly recommend securing a hammer drill for this! A 120-volt drill will eventually drill the holes but you will need to secure spiral masonry drill bits if a hammer drill is not available. Once your holes have been drilled, the coarse threads of the masonry screws dig into the material and pull the awning flush.
One exception to this is older or historic homes. Older brick walls may be composed of a softer material, the result of low-temperature firings or water permeation that weakens the brick over time. Before you proceed, check the brick for hardness, If the brick is easily dimpled by applying pressure to the surface with a screwdriver or other sharp tool, use the same mounting procedure as a cement siding installation to avoid the brick crumbling or pulling out under the weight of the awning.
Faux Stucco or Metal Buildings with No Backer Material
For faux stucco, use the backer material for support, much like with cement board installations. Ideally, framing members will support the load. If you're using a backer material for support, mounting procedures will be the same. Drill pilot holes before mounting to studs or drill appropriately sized holes for toggle bolts.
Except for some commercial applications, metal buildings with no backing material are typically light gauge. The metal covering's tendency to buckle and flex makes it unsuitable to hold the weight of an awning. In this case, install an appropriate cross brace between the metal studs in the building's structure.
In many cases, outer walls of metal buildings are constructed of c-channel steel studs. These tend to flex, so it is recommended to use a second c-channel stud to create a boxed stud for additional strength before installing the awning. Then secure the covering to the steel studs via toggle bolts.
Once you've finished anchoring the awning frame, we highly recommend you seal the gap between the frame and mounting brackets and the side of the building. Apply a small dab of sealant to the heads of the fasteners. Doing so will prevent moisture from being absorbed into the mounting holes or rotting the backing material. Silicone-based sealant works best for this since it can be easily peeled away if the awning needs to be removed.
As the name might imply, retractable awnings are able to roll up into an enclosure when not in use. These awnings give you the option of having as much or as little coverage as you want. Now that we've covered the anchoring process for stationary awnings, we'll move on to this type.
As with fixed awnings, you will need a tape measure and magnetic level to ensure a proper installation. A magnetic torpedo level will provide even mounting brackets and adequately adjusted roof brackets. Also, take time to properly seal all edges of the mounting brackets with high-quality silicone sealant.
After installing the brackets, the installation process of the awning can vary based on the awning itself as well as the type of mounting. Many manufacturers utilize a mounting rail that attaches to the brackets. Doing so allows the awning housing to mount to the rail.
Keep in mind you can't rely on set screws to vary the awning level and plumb. Proper spacing and leveling of the brackets should be the primary focus to ensure a correct installation.
One thing to consider when ordering your awnings is the location of the nearest electrical outlet. Most manufacturers offer the power cord to be placed on the left or right of the awning housing, but this must be specified at the time of order. However, many find the work of routing a dedicated outlet for the awning off-putting. We'll discuss how to deal with that in the section about all retractable models.
Most mounted retractable awnings offer significant projection from the wall. This projection, which can be over 10 feet, puts a substantial amount of stress on the wall. Because of this, it is necessary to locate axial studs in the wall using a stud finder before attempting to mount your awning.
Although some manufacturers approve of anchoring the wall brackets to only brick veneer, we absolutely do not recommend this. There is no reliable way to test how much mortar contact is between bricks, and though it may look well finished, it doesn't ensure there will be enough contact behind the brick face.
Mounting only to the bricks could result in the bricks pulling out. Instead, we recommend drilling pilot holes large enough to allow mounting bolts to pass through the bricks and anchor into the studs behind the veneer. Walls of brick veneer have air space behind them that can vary from 1 to 6 inches. After drilling the pilot holes, you can determine your air space. The amount of air space will allow you to use the correct length lag bolts.
As with stationary awnings, we recommend using a stud finder with electrical and plumbing location features, especially if there are electrical outlets nearby or bathrooms or kitchens on the other side of the wall. Due to the cantilevered force of a fully extended awning, you should verify the mounting brackets are entirely even.
Never assume a wall is perfectly straight. Siding material is often pitched and may not be perfectly flat. Take the time to shim the wall brackets if needed. When mounting the wall brackets, use lag bolts or an equivalent unless other hardware is specified or provided.
Similar to fixed awnings, drill the pilot holes through the outer veneer to prevent cracking and damage. If you discover the wall isn't wholly plumb, make adjustments by installing fender washers behind the wall brackets. The washers can be stacked until the bracket is even.
Some manufacturers require a mounting board be installed over the outer wall fascia instead. Similar to single wall brackets, use shims to ensure the board is flat before installation of the brackets.
Buildings with eaves, or soffits, can use soffit mount brackets to hold the awning housing, so long as the eaves are as deep as the awning housing. This type of installation is particularly desirable for ranch homes that have a low roofline, as it moves the awning up further than a wall mount would allow.
Soffit brackets mount under the eave and anchor into the rafter tails. Most roof rafters extend beyond the horizontal stud at the top of the wall, called the wall plate. Use a stud finder to verify the rafter tails are present. The rafter tails will be readily visible on homes with open eaves.
Depending on how level the ends of the rafter tails are, you might have to shim the soffit brackets to make them level. You can accomplish this with purpose cut blocks of wood or stacked fender washers, similar to the way we discussed mounting wall brackets.
Roof brackets are similar to soffit brackets in that they are designed to provide maximum overhead clearance for low eave homes. However, it is only recommended to use roof brackets when soffit brackets cannot be used.
These roof brackets are designed for installation at the tail end of the roofline, on top of the roofing material. A stud finder should be used to find the rafter tails for support.
Since roofs have various pitches, the roof mounting brackets adjust to allow for the proper amount of awning drop. Many manufacturers specify their specific procedures for mounting. Most of the time, this involves installing water diverting flashing on the leading side of the brackets.
In addition to the water diverting flashing, we also recommend applying a liberal layer of sealant on top of each pilot hole after it has been drilled. As the bracket is tightened, this will compress and spread the layer of sealant, creating an effective water barrier around the fastener.
If you don't wish to dedicate the time and effort to wiring an electrical outlet for your awning, you can instead, use an outdoor rated extension cord to routed power from the nearest exterior outlet, concealed with an external conduit.
Horizontally, the conduit brackets can be spaced every 12 to 18 inches. For a vertical configuration, conduit brackets can be every 24 to 36 inches. Be sure to use masonry anchor screws or wood screw to secure your brackets.
As with the awning mounting brackets, seal the fastener heads and conduit bracket bases to prevent water damage.
Once the installation is complete, check the awning operation to ensure no adjustments are needed. Adjust your bracing hardware as needed to make sure everything is appropriately secured.
Now that you've reviewed this compendium on anchoring your awning, you should have a firm grasp on how to mount it. With this guide, in addition to the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your awning, having your awning installed and ready for enjoyment should be a snap!