From a Ferrari to a Pinto, retractable awnings are different…

     From simple shade to maximum convenience and full protection, how do you know which awning best suits your needs? Perhaps the most important thing to remember when comparing awnings, is that retractable awnings are not all the same. Different models are tailored to meet different needs and budgets.   For example, a smaller entry level awning model is perfect for a smaller patio tucked away in a calm section of the woods. While the strongest model is available, it’s really not needed for Aunt Betty and Uncle Richard’s quaint little shady paradise on the mainland.  

Its’s sort of like a 50 mile commute to the office. An over sized 4×4 accomplishes the feat, but a smaller sedan is a more efficient solution.  On the other hand, the 4×4 is what’s needed to endure harsher coastal conditions.  While the basic (and lesser priced “sedan”) model is available, it won’t perform as well or last as long as a higher quality awning system.

To some people, a retractable wall mounted awning is no more than a size and price.  Our experience says that a properly designed and well thought out decision will pay dividends over time.  With a little attention to some of the finer details, you can properly choose a retractable awning system that best suits your needs. 

Retractable Awning Fabric

Know the difference, reap the benefits…

     The first and most obvious indicator of an awning’s quality is the fabric.  We only use top of the line 100% solution-dyed marine grade acrylic fabric such as Sunbrella, Dickson, & Sattler. Be wary of vinyl or laminated fabric as it is not permeable and develops a tendency to crack.  Limited choices or patterns are usually an easy way to sniff out an inferior fabric.  As with anything of quality, the price will reflect the difference in grade.  A piece of quality fabric with minimal maintenance should be expected to last 10-15 years.  The threading used to bind the fabric privacy panels together may seem like a small detail, but it is critical to the longevity of the fabric cover.  It’s imperative to use a UV resistant material, otherwise cotton or polyester threading will fall apart. Our threading carries a lifetime warranty.   

Retractable Awning Effectiveness

It’s more than just a size and a price; let’s analyze your problem to see that the solution addresses your needs…

     You want to make sure that a retractable wall mounted awning will live up to your expectations.  They are great for many things including protection from rain and overhead sun, but they might not be the best solution for late/early (low horizon) sun, although there are certainly options.  Our professional experience and honest advice help you decide on the most effective solution to your issues.

It’s as important to know what to expect and what not to expect from your retractable wall mounted awning.  First of all, it is not invincible.  It is made with the intention and convenience to be closed, hence the name retractable.  It’s never a good idea to leave the house with the awning open, or forget to close it at night. It is really the most convenient and effective way to shade an outdoor area.  With a proper installation, they can easily tolerate light to moderate rains. While an awning is installed primarily as an exterior sunshade, most of our clients quickly realize the additional benefits.       

Retractable Awning Installation

Any awning is only as good as the installation…

     Perhaps even more important than the particular awning you choose is ensuring a sturdy installation.  Securing the awning properly will eliminate any potential leaks or compromises in the fastening.  It is important to consider the benefits and consequences of each applicable installation method.

There are 3 types of installations:  

1) Wall Mount:  The most common installation is where the awning brackets are mounted to the side of your home.  A wall mount could include mounting to a fascia, header, or any other flat vertical structure.

83235 Wallmountbracketforretractablepatioawnings

2) Roof Mount:  Roof Mounts are almost as common as wall mounts.  Mounting on a roof becomes applicable when there is not enough height on the wall.  Proper mounting height allows the awning to perform up to its potential and your expectations.  In addition to the wall mount brackets, triangular roof mount brackets will be needed to serve as an adapter between the roof and the awning.

 A wall mount bracket is seen attached to the roof mount bracket.
A wall mount bracket is seen attached to the roof mount bracket.

3) Soffit Mount:  The least common installation method takes advantage of the structure within your soffit to hang the awning underneath your roof line.

 The soffit mount brackets attach to overhead structural supports.  
The soffit mount brackets attach to overhead structural supports.  

Whichever installation proves to be most practical for your project, it is important to have the input of a qualified and experienced professional.  We can help you decide why one method may be better than another.  One of the most common mistakes we see in the field is that the awning location was chosen for contractor convenience, and not optimal performance.

Retractable Awning Options: Protection & Convenience

Bare bones, fully loaded, or anything in between…    

     There are a number of options you will need to consider when deciding on an awning.  Perhaps the most confusing is regarding protection.  Starting from simple to advanced, here is the rundown…..

1) An “open profile “awning is your basic awning.  It’s an awning in its simplest, or let’s say its purest form.  Open profiles can be manual or motorized, but include all of the basic necessities to achieve retractable shady bliss!  The least expensive retractable roof awning would be a manual open profile awning pictured below.

 Simple shade with an open profile retractable awning.
Simple shade with an open profile retractable awning.

2) An open profile awning with a protective “hood” is the first option you may encounter.  The hood serves much like a baseball cap.  It provides a level of protection for your awning frame, fabric, and motor.

 Wall mounted open profile with protective hood.  Notice that the hood protects the top and sides.  The fabric and motor are covered, but not completely enclosed.  
Wall mounted open profile with protective hood.  Notice that the hood protects the top and sides.  The fabric and motor are covered, but not completely enclosed.  

3) A “Semi-Cassette” offers an extended level of protection.  The semi-cassette is a protective cover that fully encompasses the awnings fabric when retracted.  This “awning garage” also houses the motor (if applicable) providing an even greater level of protection.

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Semi-cassette awning.  The “cassette” is simply the case into which the fabric retracts and stays protected. 

4)  A “Full Cassette” (pictured below) offers complete protection to your awning system.  In addition to the covering the fabric and motor, the full cassette covers the arms and frame.  The front bar will be 3 times larger than a typical 3 inch front bar so that when it closes, it “grasps” or “cusps” the entire 9 inch awning profile.  A full cassette is the highest level of protection available for any retractable awning system.

Other options include timers, and wind/sun/rain sensors that will automatically extend or retract your motorized awning. You can even choose to never misplace another remote, and control the awning right from your smartphone with the Somfy MyLink!

 All of our motors, controls, and sensors are powered by Somfy. Pictured above is the Eolis 3-D motion sensor.
All of our motors, controls, and sensors are powered by Somfy. Pictured above is the Eolis 3-D motion sensor.

A solution to the previously mentioned low lying sun issue is called a drop valance.  It’s an optional solar screen that drops from the front bar of the awning. 

 Premier Awning with Drop Screen
Premier Awning with Drop Screen

There are a plethora of options/accessories from which to choose.  To find out more about what works best for you…..Contact us

“The most important element of your purchase isn’t that of the product itself, but that of the company in which you have placed your trust.”

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