A retractable patio awning is one of the most versatile types of outdoor shades if used in the right setting. By setting, we mean to say that there are certain applications where the use of an awning will not give you the desired shade or coverage for your particular needs. Take, for example, direct overhead sun. Depending upon your needs, you may opt for a more permanent covered patio, rather than an awning that is retractable.
There are ways to shade your patio and then there are ways to shade your patio. If you are used to the simple and temporary ways of doing it by using a patio umbrella or other type of patio canopy, then you are in for some education. These previous styles can work quite well for specific shading needs, but if you are looking to step up the look and function of your patio space, then you need to look at a more professional type of awning.
Now, having said this, there are hybrid awning-patio cover structures that accomplish both of these demands. We talked about these structures in previous articles here at Patio Covers Place. Briefly, what they look like are either pergolas or other four posted units, with the awnings that run along tracts on the ‘roof’ of the structure. So, what you end up with are individual panels that can be retracted or closed to allow for more variable shading. This can be great for those times when you want a little bit of both sun and shade. Photo credit
Typical patio awnings can be anything from a fix-mounted unit to something that has the ability to fold up out of the way. A fix-mounted patio awning is the way that you will save the most money. You can get these made with a variety of materials and fabrics that withstand the elements quite well. The frames for these types of awnings are usually made of a light gauge steel and powder coated for rust protection or they can be made with aluminum. Both styles of frames come in various colors to match your awning or home decor preferences. The awnings themselves also come in a wide variety of colors and prints. A classic awning has a bold striped pattern, but solid colors are also a very common way to go.
Patio Awnings Come In Different Shapes and Sizes
Your awnings may also come with different types of trim. You may have a solid straight edge or you can get a number of different trim styles, like scalloped edges. These are all available in both the fixed and retractable awning styles. The main difference between the two is in appearance and your specifications.
Most retractable patio awning styles come in both a manual and an automatic version. The way that the awning retracts or unfolds is usually similar between the two. A manually operated awning is opened and closed by way of a crank. As you crank on the handle, the awning opens or closes. These work just fine, but some people have personal situations where operating them by hand is either not possible or simply inconvenient.
In these cases, you can opt for one of the motorized versions. Motorized awnings work in basically the same way as the manual styles, except that they are powered. These can be operated in several ways as well. There are styles that come with switches, remotes or timers. For example, you can have a switch located just inside of your patio and just turn it on and it will open all by itself. It will do the same in reverse when you are wanting to go back in for some time and don’t want it to remain open for any number of reasons – we’ll discuss a few of these further on in this article. Photo credit
The remotes work on the same principle, it is just that they can be opened or closed from anywhere on your patio or indoors, not relying on a fixed switch mounting position. The final option is to have your retractable patio awning controlled by a timer or sensor. These work either by opening or closing at specific times that you can set. The sensor styles are opened or retracted by sensing the sun in the sky. As it rises or sets, your sensor picks this up and allows your patio to achieve just the amount of sun or shade you desire and at just the right times!
Buying and Maintaining Your Retractable Patio Awning
Some things to think about when purchasing or owning a retractable awning include cost, maintenance, installation and safety concerns. If you are considering a purchase, then you are likely aware that these styles are a bit more expensive than the fixed-mounted awnings. For a quality retractable awning, expect to pay approximately $1,500-2,000 USD for a standard 10’ x 10’ awning. You can find cheaper ones, but you may be sacrificing quality. You can also find more expensive ones which probably are the motorized ones with sensors and the like. Custom sizes can also be ordered which will obviously up the price tag. However, a proper fitting awning is what you are really after. The long-term returns for a perfectly sized, quality retractable awning far outweigh any short-term savings.
With proper care, you should enjoy a quality retractable awning for many years. There have been great strides in materials and parts over the years, so operation is smooth, quiet and quite quick. Generally speaking, cleaning your patio awning fabric itself can be accomplished using a simple solution of water and mild detergent. Follow your manufacturer’s directions for any stains that you may acquire to ensure that you don’t permanently damage or stain your awning. As far as the motorized parts are considered, there is not too much to worry about there. Occasional lubrication depending upon conditions will also keep your awning opening and closing smoothly for years.
When it comes to installation concerns, this aspect would best be left up to the professionals that can be recommended by your awning retailer. It isn’t that they are very difficult to install, just some issues with precision measurements and proper mounting will not only keep you safe but also make sure your awning functions properly. A poor installation can give you safety issues. This isn’t to say that an avid and handy DIYer couldn’t do this project, it would just need to be done right.
Safety is not something you want to be thinking about when all you want to do is be out there relaxing. This is actually another benefit of a retractable awning over a fixed-mounted style. The retractable styles can be closed during inclement weather to protect them from wind damage or other flying debris in a serious storm. These awnings roll up or fold into their own protective aluminum case for safe storage.
For these reasons, motorized awnings make great sense. Whatever style you decide upon, know that just having them is more than half the battle. Don’t struggle with the decision for too long, you’re missing out on all the enjoyment you could be having out on your patio. Pick up or order some type of retractable awning and kick your feet up by next weekend.