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Patio Designs Part 3: Outdoor Awnings


Outdoor awnings are perfect for folks who enjoy spending lots of time outside. Whether spring, summer or fall, there almost always comes a point in the day when it’s prudent to take a break from the sun. For many people, that means retreating from the backyard and heading back inside. Having a retractable patio canopy allows the whole family to stay put, while extending their time outside and enjoying Mother Nature from a shaded space.

The feature that sets apart outdoor awnings from other shade solutions is its impermanence. Pergolas and pavilions certainly have their place in the backyard, adding elegance and creating a lasting outdoor room, but backyard awnings offer unparalleled flexibility. Perhaps you love sipping your coffee on the deck, but the morning sun is just a bit too strong. Or maybe the positioning of your home means intense afternoon rays. Outdoor awnings allow you to decide exactly how much time you want to spend in the sun, and they offer genuine UV protection. That is not always the case with a sunroom or screened-in room, which limit your options rather than increase them.

Once you have decided that an awning is the right fit for your outdoor space, you’re ready to start shopping. Purchasing a high-quality awning is an investment that will likely cost a couple thousand dollars, depending on the size of the product. This is an extremely wise investment when you consider that you are adding another room to your home, albeit one that is outdoors.

As you begin browsing, we suggest looking for a product that offers some sort of warranty on both the frame and fabric of the awning. This goes without saying, but the fabric should be durable, and designed explicitly for outdoor use. A fabric meant for the outdoors will go a long way in terms of reduced fading when exposed to the elements. In our experience, it is best to look for a well-known name. Oftentimes, brand popularity means a greater selection of patterns to match your home and outdoor decor.  Our favorite fabric manufacturer is Sunbrella, the same company that produces marine-grade canopies. Outdoor awnings made of Sunbrella’s high-quality fabric can offer a temperature reduction of up to 20-degrees. They can also decrease your home’s temperature by up to 15-degrees, which translates to a savings on your cooling costs.

In terms of the frame, you’ll want to look for corrosion-resistant materials, such as aluminum, with stainless steel hardware. This type of construction, along with Sunbrella fabric, comes standard with all Solair retractable awnings. Solar also offers protective hoods as an optional add-on — one that we feel is almost an essential accessory to protect your product when it is not in use. If you live in the Northeast, or another area where it snows, a hood is especially useful during the winter months. We also recommend considering the benefits of motorized awnings, which eliminate any manual effort on your part. Instead, you control the awning with the push of a button. Motorized awnings also often have the capacity for a wind sensor. This feature is invaluable, as you can rest assured knowing that your awning will automatically retract in the event of bad weather, even if you accidentally leave the product extended.

Other factors to consider when shopping outdoor awnings include size and projection. We encourage our customers to take some measurements and get an idea of the space that the awning will cover when extended. This allows for effective planning when it comes to furniture. You will also have to think about the most appropriate type of mounting for your awning: wall, roof or soffit. The appropriate decision will vary from home-to-home, depending on the number of stories, the type of finish, the location of the awning, etc. These options should be part of the conversation when placing your order, after you have settled on the specifics. Installation is another topic that should be explored during that discussion. A professional installation will ensure that the product is set up securely and correctly for many years of use.

With so many gorgeous options, deciding on an outdoor room structure can be a surprisingly difficult task. Still, outdoor awnings are absolutely the way to go if you want to be able to control when and how much shade falls on your porch, patio or deck. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions, or leave them in the comments section below! Stay tuned for the next installation of our Patio Designs series, which will focus on outdoor kitchens.