When choosing an awning for your home, business or RV, the first and most important question to ask is what material it’s made of. Different materials have different benefits and weaknesses, so choosing the right material for your application is key to getting the most out of your purchase.
Cotton awnings are a well-known option because of their affordability and easy cleaning—you can simply throw them in your washing machine to brighten them up like new. However, cotton can grow mold and mildew, so it’s essential to keep these materials clean, dry, and in direct sunlight when possible.
Acrylic or polyester awnings are a great choice if durability and low maintenance are your priorities. Acrylic fabrics will resist the growth of mold and mildew, and they don’t stretch with wind and rain like cotton or other fabrics do. To clean them, you can simply hose them or wipe them down with a mild detergent and water. Polyester awnings also allow some sunlight to pass through, giving your patio just the right amount of UV exposure.
Canvas awnings are the most popular of all awnings. They are durable, affordable, and easy to clean (see here for tips on how to clean a canvas awning), but since canvas stretches, they can be damaged under the weight of accumulated precipitation or leaf litter. It’s important to make sure and retract your canvas awning during heavy rain, or in the fall months if it’s under large trees in a forested area.
Metal awnings are obviously durable and will stand up to wind, rain and snow; however, their sheer weight usually means they require professional installation. This makes them an ideal choice for businesses like restaurants that require a large, covered area for outdoor seating or gathering. When investing in a metal awning, it’s important to ensure its protected from rust, using stainless steel or rust-resistant paints and coatings.
Retractable awnings are the most popular types of awnings for residential settings, given their versatility. Lower-cost retractable awnings can be manual, often operated with a crank or a hand tool. The higher-cost models are usually motorized, and some even have automatic weather sensors, so you need not worry about passing storms if you’re away from home or out of town. Although the initial cost of a retractable awning and its installation may be higher, they typically require less maintenance to the frames than their stationary counterparts.
Stationary awnings are fixed directly onto the side of a building or structure during installation and are typically more robust than retractable awnings. Before considering a stationary awning, it’s important to be sure on the orientation you like, since it cannot be moved after installation. And while the awning’s frame is sturdier than its retractable cousin, it can still be damaged by heavy wind or rain.
Awnings are a great way to add some value to your home or keep your favorite patio seating area cool. Selecting the right fabric and installation will ensure you spend more time enjoying the sun with your family, and less time retracting.