What is an awning ...

A Guide To Awnings

Awnings cover a multitude of applications and are sold in many shapes and forms. This could include shade sails, vehicle, beach, and shop window awnings. There are too many to cover them all at length in a guide. So, for clarity we’ve narrowed the subject down to bespoke residential awnings, either electrically operated or a manual option. They can also be very different in manufacturing quality, technologies used, and cost, with four figure expectations for these tailor-made brands compared to “off the shelf’ economy awnings, typically costing hundreds of pounds.

Read on for some great advice and guidance.

What is an awning?

In its simplest form, an awning is a sheet of canvas or other material that is stretched across a frame to provide shade from the sun or shelter from the rain. Nevertheless, there can be much more to their manufacture than meets the eye. For example, fabric technologies are regularly tested and developed to advance wind load, UV protection, and water resistance capabilities, whilst casing materials and moving parts use the latest engineering techniques to deliver reliable functionality.

Depending on the specification awnings can:

  • Be robust enough to remain extended up to wind speeds of 31 mph.
  • Block almost all harmful UV radiation.
  • Use fabric weaves which can repel light rain.
  • Have retractable arms operated either by steel link chains, bionic tendons made from high-tech noiseless fibres or a cross over configuration for additional extension.

There are notes of caution, on the topic of water resistance, though. To allow run-off they do need to be at a downward sloping angle of at least 14°, plus during extended periods of rain, especially when it is heavy, the awning must remain closed or retracted to prevent damage. Once the fabric cover has become wet, it must be extended again to dry directly after the rain stops to avoid staining.

What types of awnings are there?

Where an awning is positioned is one of the most important considerations. Different types of architecture require different options. Wall mounted designs can provide a pop of colour and additional styling to an exposed facade, whilst a ceiling mounted awning, where a building has an overhang, can provide a discreet alternative where it can be concealed into a niche when retracted. When connecting directly to a wall isn’t possible, due to other natural or structural obstructions, bracket extensions can be used, and an extra profile added to close the gap and prevent rain falling through an open space on to the patio. There are also options to integrate  into the design fabric and colourways of a building so that it can disappear into a wall and appear as a seamless design feature. In other rarer cases, installation on the building may be structurally impossible and a clamp system might be the best option.

The main awning types for patio, balcony and conservatory shade are:

Full cassette

 

MX 1 compact 700

It’s called a full cassette because the entire awning mechanism, including the fabric roll and the arms, is encased within a protective housing or cassette when retracted. It serves to shield the awning from dirt, moisture, and other elements when not in use, especially when mounted on an exposed fascia.

Half cassette

awning with half cassette

This means that when it is retracted, components are only partially enclosed. Advantageous in areas that are relatively narrow, and which offer some protection from the elements such as small balconies or covered niches.

Open folding arm

Open awning under building ledge

Open awnings do not have a protective housing encasing the fabric and mechanism when retracted baring the mechanics and roller tube. These are perfect for smaller locations and are best situated under a protective overhang.

Pergola awnings

For large, covered areas stability is improved by lateral fabric supports.

Clamp awnings

clamp awning inside apartment

Particularly suitable for shading balconies in apartment blocks. The use of clamping columns has minimal impact on building structure and can be easily removed if you move.

How can I benefit from an awning?

An awning can:

  • Create a comfortable all-weather area and lengthen the time you spend outdoors.
  • Provide additional protection when the sun is low in the sky.
  • Keep the interior of a property cool.
  • Shade windows and doors from direct sunlight during warmer months.
  • Be customised to fit specific needs and preferences.

Selecting Materials and Fabrics

Fabric colours and textures offer a bamboozling choice, designed to create a plethora of atmospheric effects under the canopy for every mood. Judicious thinking about this is a must do before any purchase to ensure the right ambiance is created. This is because different dynamic effects can arise from fabric hues, patterns, and designs as they are touched by changing light. Furthermore, material selection also brings varying degrees of built-in practicalities. These can include:

  • Self-cleaning – water droplets absorb dirt particles and bead off the awning cover.
  • Being certified free from dyes or chemicals that are hazardous to health.
  • High performance woven fabrics – offering water, light, heat, and tear resistance, as well as colour fastness.

Decorating and Styling

Accessories such as adjustable valances can add visual interest, but they are not just decorative. By reducing glare at low sun, they can be a useful feature. Also, think of any colour, pattern, or texture, for your canopy and there is one available to complement any design scheme. Furthermore, optional features like heaters, integrated lighting, and wind sensors elevate the outdoor living experience. Whether adding a pop of colour with vibrant fabric, a subtle architectural match, intricate cassette detailing, or contemporary styling, the aesthetic possibilities of an awning are virtually limitless.

In summary

An awning is a versatile architectural feature that offers numerous benefits for residential spaces. Awnings provide shade, protection from the elements, and energy efficiency by reducing direct sunlight and heat. They create comfortable outdoor areas, extend living spaces, and enhance property value through their aesthetic appeal and customisation options. From shielding against UV rays to expanding usable outdoor areas, awnings offer a practical and stylish solution for improving the functionality and enjoyment of any space.

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