The Shady World of Retractable of Awnings

orange awning

There has never been a better time than this current pandemic to upgrade your outdoor living space. More people than ever are spending a majority of their time at home and are seeking refuge in their own personal great outdoors. In terms of upgrading your outdoor living space, there is no sounder investment than a retractable awning (or several).

Awnings provide shade not only to the inhabitants of the yard or patio but also serve to cool down and protect parts of your house from the sun and mother nature’s elements. Awnings can be stationary or retractable, and the decision between these two will greatly affect the final price. For the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the benefits of investing in a retractable awning system for your backyard space.

Retractable awnings really take the feeling of luxury up to a whole new level. These devices can be controlled remotely from inside the home or set up to run on a timer. Fancier models of retractable awnings can even follow the sun’s trajectory through the day and try to provide the most optimal angle for shade. Some systems include sensors that can automatically deploy in response to a sunny day, or conversely retract at the first signs of rain or snow that might damage your awning.

Retractable awnings are not something you just pick out on a whim or shop for online. These devices are often custom units, made specifically for your outdoor space and budgetary restrictions. On the incredibly low end of the spectrum, you can find very basic introductory units in the $500 price range. On average though, you are looking at spending around $2,000 for a solid retractable awning, and oftentimes more money than that.

This is ok in the long run, as a good retractable awning will add significant value to your property and will likely increase the asking price during a sale. Awnings can also be made to fit almost any aesthetic. As a result of the large upfront investment required, it is extremely important to do all your research before you settle on an awning company to build your custom retractable awning.

Grey awning overlooking landscape

Pros of Owning a Retractable Awning

  • Retractable Awnings Create Shade

While this is the seemingly obvious point of an awning, don’t underestimate the actual value shade brings to your yard and home. Homes that have at least one retractable awning installed can see up to a 20% reduction in temperature outside, as well as a 15% drop indoors. During the hot summer months, these savings can mean a pretty significant reduction in your monthly electric bill, and who doesn’t like to save money?

  • Retractable Awnings Protect Outdoor Furniture

Another significant value add that a retractable awning brings to your outdoor space is the inherent protection it provides to your patio furniture underneath it. If left unprotected from the sun, patio furniture can bleach, fade, dry, and wear down in a matter of months. Awnings are great at keeping the sun’s harmful rays from ruining your furniture, but a stationary awning can take away your freedom to enjoy the sun if you want to. A retractable awning can give you the flexibility to enjoy a beautiful sunny day while still being able to protect your property when you are away.

  • Retractable Awnings Have a Long Lifespan

Compared to their less mobile brother, retractable awnings have a very long lifespan. Stationary awnings are subject to the whims and will of mother nature and whatever she decides to throw at it. One of the most common issues with a stationary awning is when rain and snow build up in the center of the canvas. The combination of the liquid and weight will misshape, stain, mold, and completely ruin your awing’s fabric. High wind conditions can also potentially rip a stationary awning right off the wall.

Retractable awnings don’t have this problem, as they are capable of being retracted at the first signs of bad weather. Some high-end models of retractable awnings feature sensors that can detect changes in the weather and change their settings accordingly. If it looks like it is going to rain, these sensors will trigger the awning to retract. If the winds begin to whip too hard, the awning will retract to safety. The same thing can be programmed if a sensor detects a particularly sunny day to deploy without you having to ever think about it.

red awning on white brick

Cons of Owning a Retractable Awning

  • Retractable Awnings Are an Investment

In other words, retractable awnings are not cheap. Don’t go into this venture thinking that it is anything other than an investment in your home and property value. Yes, a retractable awning will be expensive upfront, but the benefits will outweigh the costs in a few short months. The vast majority of awning companies will offer financing options if you are unable or unwilling to fork up all the money upfront.

It is important to do your research and do price comparisons before committing to an awning manufacturer. You want to get an affordable product, but more importantly, is to get a quality product. A durable awning that is more expensive is a much better investment than a cheap awning that needs replacing every couple of years.

  • Awnings Require Regular Upkeep

Whether stationary or retractable, awnings will eventually need some tender loving care. In fact, they will require regular maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. This is especially true if you live in areas with lots of rain and snow. It is important to clean off the awing’s fabric after a rainy day to clear any sitting pools of water. These little pools can encourage mold growth and will misshape your canvas over time.

You’ll also need to make sure any debris blow in by the wind is cleared from the tracks of your retractable awning. As a rule of thumb, most retractable awning owners do a full service of the awning every season, or four times a year. It is important to do spot maintenance as required to ensure the longevity of your device.

  • Retractable Awnings Have Minor Recurring Costs

In the grand scheme of your awning ownership, there will be minor upkeep costs you’ll want to factor into your budget. Mainly you will need to replace the automatic weather sensors on your retractable awnings on an average of every 10 to 15 years or as needed. These sensors are very handy, but they are constantly exposed to the elements and can only survive for so long. They are not terribly expensive to replace, but it is important to know that they will need replacing over time. Luckily, sensor technology keeps improving, and upgrading your sensors will only improve your investment in the long run.

Tips for Buying a Retractable Awning

Choosing the right retractable awning for your home can be a daunting task. It helps to have someone with a vision of what your outdoor space could look like, or at the very least, someone who has a shade problem they are trying to solve. If you don’t have a clue where to begin with choosing a retractable awning, consult your local awning professionals. Most companies are delighted to help you sort out your needs vs. wants and help you get the awning that is right for you.

If you are the type of person who likes to do research on their own, then we’ve got you covered. Below are our tips for choosing the right retractable awning for your home.

awning overlooking landscape

  • Decide on the Awning’s Location and Width

This is probably a simple question to answer, but it is important to know exactly where you are going to place your retractable awning. This will help guide the size of your unit as well as the type of fabrics you will need to use. Once one of these mechanical devices is installed, you will not want to have to move it again soon. For this reason, it is important to apply the old construction idiom of “measure twice, cut once” for deciding your awning’s location.

  • Factor in Rain, Snow, and Wind

Factoring the inclement weather of your area is incredibly important when choosing an awning. If you live in an area with frequent rainfall, you might want to invest in the sensors to automatically retract the canvas when it rains. If you live in Chicago, a wind sensor is almost a requirement, lest you want to watch your awning blow away like a scene out of The Wizard of Oz.

  • Consider the Mounting Surface

Not all surfaces are created equal when it comes to mounting a retractable awning. Consider what surface materials you have to work with. A stucco wall will require a different mountain solution than a wooden wall. Same thing for a metal surface. If you have a strange or unique surface to work with, make sure to mention that early on when working with your manufacturer.

black awning on tan house

  • Design to Fit Your Decor

Awnings can be a personal expression if you let them. Choose a fabric that is not only durable but also is colored or patterned to match your home decor or theme. Design your awning sensibly and it will look fashionable for years to come.