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How to Find a Patio Awning that Suits Your Lifestyle

How to Find a Patio Awning that Suits Your Lifestyle

Exterior renovationsHow to Find a Patio Awning that Suits Your Lifestyle

The perfect awning suits your needs. It may provide decent shade based on the season, offer additional privacy from prying eyes, or revamp the look of your humble abode.

Some awnings will necessitate a team of installation experts, while others retailed as kits, purchased from your local corner store, can be DIYed. Here’s everything you need to know about awnings to revamp your outdoor space. 

Choosing an Awning: Factors to Consider

Start by assessing your needs, as material-wise, the possibilities are plenty:

  • Shade

  • Rain protection 

  • Aesthetic 

If shade is all you’re looking for, a fabric-made awning suffices. However, if you want rain protection too, other materials such as those detailed below are better suited: 

  • Metal

  • Wood

  • PVC

  • Glass

  • Aluminum

The materials listed above all have one thing in common: they’re robust. However, metal rusts, wood fades, PVC isn’t as durable as we'd like, and glass soils easily. From an aesthetic standpoint, aluminum might be the only standout material.

On one hand, it’s easy to work with. On the other, it’s available in about twenty different colours. As such, it might just be the preferred material. 

The Different Types of Awnings

Fixed Awnings: A Durable Choice

Fixed or fixed frame awnings are typically structures made of steel or polycarbonate (glass-like material). Such materials are chosen specifically to ensure the awning can withstand year-round weather conditions: 

  • Rain

  • Snow

  • Hail

  • Windstorms  

And, as it so happens, a standard awning has about a 20-year lifespan. You shouldn’t have anything to worry about, provided you’ve chosen the right team of experts, with decent post-purchase customer service.

Retractable Awnings: For Versatility

A retractable awning has the benefit of allowing sunlight to shine through during wintertime. Note that, while awnings are outdoor structures that ensure you're protected from strong UV rays during the summer, bear in mind that they can also affect the temperature inside your home during the winter months.

Indeed, the shade created during the winter prevents the sun from warming up the inside of your dwelling, thereby increasing your heating expenses. A retractable awning is thus the best solution to counteract said problem. During the summer, it lowers air conditioning costs. Much like it doesn’t conceal you or your dwelling from the winter sun.

However, retractable awnings have one major drawback: most of them aren’t designed to withstand heavy rainfalls or the weight of snow. Their structure is, first and foremost, composed of an acrylic fabric that solely acts as a UV ray guard. 

Retractable Roofs: An Innovative Solution

There are two types of awnings with retractable roofs:

  • Manual awnings 

  • Motorized awnings 

Manual awnings are retracted using a lever, while motorized awnings are electric. With the simple push of a button, the awning opens and closes.

Manually controlled awnings are understandably retractable because they’re most often made with a fabric roof. Typically, they consist of an acrylic or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) fabric. 

Materials Used to Make Patio Awnings

Aluminum: Robust and Lightweight

Aluminum can make up the awning’s entire structural design or its fixed structure only, meaning the structural components supporting the roof. Aluminum is lightweight yet solid and is especially low maintenance. 

During those warm summer months, its obscured material propped above your deck or patio allows you to benefit from cooler temperatures on account of the shade provided.  

Glass: Elegant and Bright

Glass can be used to make two distinct parts of an awning: 

  • Roof

  • Walls 

A glass awning allows light to filter through while shielding your deck from rainfall. This is why glass is often the choice material for doorway awnings or overhangs. 

Fabric: Supple and Aesthetic

Fabric awnings are the perfect solution for retractable overhangs. It’s light and shielding. Whether made of acrylic or high-density polyethylene, a fabric awning has its limitations: 

  • Wind resistance

  • Durability 

In the event of a windstorm, the awning’s fabric may rip. Laboratory-done testing has determined that a fabric awning can withstand maximum wind speeds of 32 to 40 km/h (20 to 25 mph), meaning 17 to 21 knots.

For example, Québec City’s Jean-Lesage International Airport registers wind speeds averaging 7 to 9 knots, no matter the time of year. However, windstorms factor in between 18 and 24 knots. In other words, during windy periods, avoid unfurling your awning.

In terms of durability, a fabric awning roof must be replaced every three to four years. First, because the colour may fade due to extensive UV exposure, and second because the seams will start to come apart due to strong wind gusts. 

Installing a Deck Awning

Whether you’ve chosen a custom-made or standard awning, one thing never changes: it must be safely affixed to a structure.

This actually distinguishes the awning from sheltered walkways, canopies, and carports, as awnings are not self-supporting structures, like a carport or canopy.

Consequently, awnings must be affixed to a structural wall—i.e. the side of your house. To do so, make sure it’s secured to the following: 

  • Joists

  • Wall studs 

  • Header

  • Roof trusses 

In a nutshell, to ensure the awning is safely secured to the side of your house, affix it to structural components. Keep in mind that it has to withstand a windstorm. 

Installing a Custom-Made Awning: A Versatile Fit

Custom-made structures are always more expensive, but often increasingly aesthetically pleasing, as they fit perfectly within the intended space. Furthermore, aluminum awnings have one major upside: they’re easy to work with. 

Aluminum allows teams of experts to design all sorts of structural awnings, from the most standard kind to one-of-a-kind overhangs. 

Installing a Standard Awning: A Cheap and Easy Solution

If you happen to be a DIY enthusiast who enjoys household projects, a standard awning is exactly what you need. Naturally, you won’t reap the benefits of professional, post-purchase, customer services, but with a prefab awning kit, you shouldn’t meet too many challenges. And, you’ll only need 10 tools to install your awning: 

  • Chemical anchors

  • Masonry adhesive sealant

  • Hammer drill 

  • Level

  • Ruler

  • Pencil

  • Ladder

  • Screwdriver 

  • Wrench

  • Caulking gun 

Not only does a standard awning make for a quick and easy installation, but, on top of that, you won’t need to wait on someone to tailor-make your awning and then agree on and schedule an installation date and time.

Lastly, since store-bought awnings are more affordable, you can even choose to add window awnings. The south-facing side of your house comes to mind… 

Patio Awnings in Quebec: Specificities and Regulations

Regulations apply to the following: 

  • Product

  • Construction 

In terms of the product itself, the awning, whether it be installed indoors or outdoors, is a fire hazard. As such, to limit the risks of fires, the awning’s fabric must be compliant with standard CAN/ULC-S109M. 

The latter is a small- or large-flame test, which determines the speed at which the fabric may burn when exposed to a selected fire intensity.

As for the building aspect, note that it’s always best to check with your local authorities as you’re likely going to need a building permit. 

For example, in Montréal, it’s up to whichever borough you call home to make the call. While an awning is a great solution, your request may be denied. Does it apply to all awning types?

Not necessarily. In Montréal, all structural “covering[s] supported by framework projecting from a building, intended to protect people and objects from bad weather or the sun,” are considered awnings. 

Patio Awning Accessories

Awning Fabrics: Protect Your Outdoor Space

We already mentioned that awnings with a fabric roof can be made of acrylic or polyethylene, but we failed to mention that some are made of vinyl or sheet metal. 

Vinyl tarps and sheet metal are more resistant than acrylic or polyethylene, making for excellent protection against bad weather and prying eyes.

However, those two types of awnings are more expensive compared to standard fabric awnings. 

Awning Hangers: Ensuring a Safe Installation

Awnings can be secured to the side of your house, but also held in place by hangers. We’re not talking about posts or piles here like a pergola or a canopy, but rather anchors supporting the awning’s roof.

These are meant to be added support, stabilizing your awning, while also improving its hold on your home’s structural components. Bear in mind that your awning will have to withstand the harsh winters and humid summers.  

Deck Awning Maintenance

Come the end of summer, make a point of cleaning your awning. If you remove the fabric entirely, avoid storing it when damp. Before folding it, clean it with gentle water-diluted soap. Steer clear of household cleaners or chemical products. 

If your awning roof isn't made of fabric, but a solid material, wash it at least twice yearly using a pressure washer. However, avoid using over 100 bars of water pressure. If you plan on cleaning the surface with soap, to remove moss, lichens (type of fungus), or other debris, make sure to do so using a neutral soap and a sponge.

As for the aluminum awning profiles, they’re even easier to clean. When you get the chance, grab a bucket, fill it with lukewarm water, add a neutral cleaner, and scrub away using a sponge. One or two cleanings will suffice to restore the surface to its former glory. 

Finding the Ideal Awning: Bridging the Gap Between Functionality and Aesthetics

Overall, finding the perfect awning for your deck or patio turns out to be a rather practical and aesthetic quest. This article summarizes just how vital it is to consider not only the structure’s design but also its functionality to purchase an awning that meets your needs. Whether it be to shield you from the sun, create an inviting outdoor space, or simply make for a decorative touch, the right awning can transform your patio into your very own slice of heaven. 

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Last modified 2024-04-17

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