Metal awnings not only add instant curb appeal to most homes, they can also help keep your home comfortable and energy efficient throughout hot summer months.
The Purpose of Awnings
A popular addition to millions of homes around the world, awnings are available in a wide variety of types and styles, including canvas, acrylics, wood and lightweight metals like aluminum. They attach to the exterior of a home and are considered a secondary covering.
The purpose of an awning is to protect the home from the elements. Installing an awning over a window will help shade the home from the intense heat of the summer sun. In fact, research has shown that it can be up to 20 degrees cooler under the shade provided by an awning's canopy. This will not only help to keep the home cooler, but will also help prevent the fabric of your carpet, drapes or furniture from fading too quickly. Awnings also protect windows and doors from falling branches, pelting rain and driving snow.
Awnings are commonly installed over windows and doors, an area of the sidewalk or over an entire patio or deck.
Why Choose Metal Awnings?
Choosing a style of awning for your home may not be an easy task with all the types available, but in some cases where you live will ultimately make the choice for you. For example, if you live in a region of the United States that experiences large snowfalls or heavy rain with pounding winds, a metal makes more sense as it is strong enough to withstand the punishment Mother Nature is dishing out. In fact, some aluminum awnings can be collapsed into hurricane shutters for extra protection in areas prone to such natural disasters.
Understanding Live Load Ratings
Every awning, metal or otherwise, has a live load capacity rating which indicates how much weight it can bear per square foot, along with how much wind it can handle. For example, some awnings can handle ten pounds of weight and 70 mph winds whereas another style may be capable of withstanding 30 pounds and 100 mph winds. This capacity rating is called the International Conference of Building Officials Standard (I.C.B.O.).
It's important to learn the I.C.B.O. rating of an awning you are interested in to make sure it is manufacturered to withstand your region's climate. If you live in an area that receives very heavy snowfall every winter, then an awning with a higher I.C.B.O. rating will be required to prevent it from buckling under the weight of snow or ice. Likewise, if you live in an area prone to hurricanes or tornados, an awning capable of withstanding 100 mph or more winds will be essential. If you're unsure about the load capacity requirements of your region, you can call your local zoning officer or ask the salesman where you are purchasing your awnings.
In many areas, one may be required to submit a copy of the I.C.B.O. report of the awning to the zoning officer before a permit is provided for the awning installation.
Metal awnings are also a better choice for someone who doesn't have the ability or desire to perform routine maintenance on their home. Some aluminum awnings are designed to last over 40 years, whereas a canvas awning may wear down after a few years of being exposed to the sun and wind. Metal can also be painted in a wide range of colors so you can find the perfect match for your home's exterior, and the baked-on enamel color won't fade or wash away.
Retractable Metal Awnings
Not all that long ago, purchasing and installing a metal awning meant that after installation it remained as is; a solid awning incapable of being moved. Today, there are many manufacturers that make retractable metal awnings, which offer greater control over the way your home is exposed to the sun's rays. While solid awnings provide exceptional protection from the sun's heat in the summer, they also prevent the sun's warming rays from entering the home in the winter. A retractable awning solves that problem by having the capability of being rolled up in the winter.
How To Find an Awning Installer
Awning kits can be purchased directly from a local awning manufacturer, through your local home improvement store or online from a number of sources. While some are reasonably easy to install, other designs are more complex and may require a professional for installation.
The key to finding a reputable installer for your awning is referrals. A contractor should provide you with a list of recent customers to contact. Don't hesitate to ask any neighbors who have awnings on their home their thoughts on their contractor as well.
Purchasing an Awning
Shop around and don't settle on an awning until you find the perfect style for your home. Since they are usually custom-made for your windows, always tell a manufacturer what you're looking for if you don't see it in their showroom; they may still be able to get it for you.
If you are interested in purchasing your awnings from an online manufacturer that isn't local, find out who they use as subcontractors in your area and do your research before making the purchase.