A patio awning provides shade and limited shelter to the area below, extending the amount of time your patio can be comfortably used. While awnings are not the only overhead covering available for patios, they remain a popular alternative due to their cost and ease of construction.
Types of Patio Awnings
Although there are several variations within each type, most awnings fall into one of two categories.
A fixed patio awning makes use of a permanent or semi-permanent structure to support a canvas overhang. Once assembled and put into place, a fixed awning will normally stay in place for an entire season.
Fixed awnings are usually less expensive than other awning types. They are simple to construct or to install using an awning kit. After they are installed, they require no maintenance beyond removing any debris that is caught by the canvas roof. They are less likely to break or need repairs when compared to other awning types.
Retractable awnings are more expensive and easier to use than fixed. They make use of a mechanical system to roll up the canvas overhang, protecting the canvas from fading and tearing when not in use. A retractable awning also allows you to decide when you want to use your awning with minimal fuss.Retractable awnings can be manually powered or use electricity to move the canvas overhang. Electric retractable awnings are much more expensive, but they are very easy to use and encourage responsible use of the awning. In case of a hailstorm or heavy winds, either type of retractable awning can be removed to prevent damage.
Advantages of Awnings
Awnings have been used for hundreds of years to provide shade in many parts of the world. Easy to construct and inexpensive, it is easy to see why they maintain their popularity.
Any patio awning provides limited UV protection. For those homeowners that are concerned about sun exposure, many manufacturers offer specially treated fabrics that further protect against UV rays. Homeowners with limited budgets who still wish to maximize the UV protection of their awning without purchasing a special material should choose a thick, dark-colored canvas.
While an awning will not protect against large tree branches or hail, leaves and other small debris are easily diverted. This is particularly desirable if you like to entertain on your patio or plan to eat outside regularly. However, to extend the life of your awning, debris should be cleared from the awning regularly to prevent rot and tears.
A well-made awning will offer some protection from rain. Traditional canvas coverings may only withstand light showers, while specially made overhangs will withstand extended rainstorms. Due to the nature of awnings, they are quick to dry and do not require special care during the occasional spring shower.
Disadvantages of Awnings
Although awnings are an attractive solution for providing shade, they offer limited durability and protection when compared to other roofing solutions.
No matter how well you care for your awning, the canvas overhang will have to be replaced every few years. Even if you manage to avoid rot, repeated exposure to the sun will cause your awning to fade over time. In addition to fading, homeowners must take care to put away their awning during high winds and hail to prevent tears.
While a patio awning provides instant shade and protection from light showers, it does not protect against more severe weather. An awning will not be able to keep out a driving rain unless it is specially made, unlike a permanent overhang or roof.
If you are adding a new patio awning to your home, consider other small updates to further enhance the appearance of your patio. Exterior light fixtures can draw attention to a beautiful patio design while providing enough illumination for evening celebrations. Adding candles, outdoor furniture, or some colorful plantings are other decorative patio ideas that can augment your space.