The main difference between retractable and fixed frame awnings is movement. A fixed frame awning is a permanent structure that offers continual weather protection and is always present for constant, uninterrupted shade. A retractable awning offers movement due to spring-loaded arms that support the awning and provides the option of sun or shade.
For starters, an awning is more durable and can be designed and constructed to meet the unique configuration of your home. An awning can cover a larger area and set the boundaries for an outdoor room. On the other hand, an umbrella is highly susceptible to wind damage, must always be operated manually and shades a much smaller space.
“Retractable” or “lateral-arm” awnings as they are technically called are designed to be self-supporting and eliminate the need for poles and framework. However depending on use, projection and size of the awning temporary support poles may be a worthwhile investment for use with your awning.
For applications under the eaves of your home, installers will mount brackets that tie indirectly either to wall studs or header plates. For roof-mounted applications, installers will mount brackets that tie indirectly into the rafters. Consult your sales person for more details on the best way to mount your awning.
Your awning will keep your deck or patio up to 20 degrees cooler, and will subsequently keep the inside of your home cooler as well. By preventing the sun from shining through a patio door or window, the inside stays cooler, which reduces air-conditioning costs and prevents fading of your carpets and furniture. Also, Sunbrella® fabrics are woven, which allows air to circulate through the fabric instead of letting heat build up under your awning.
It is easier to include a motor with the initial awning installation, but it is possible to add one at a later date. Research has shown that a motorized awning is used four times as often as a manual unit. Also, adding a motor later will be more costly than if the awning and motor are installed together with your initial purchase.
The pitch is the angle of fall made by the front bar of an awning. The pitch determines how much water may puddle on the awning when the awning is fully extended. The less pitch an awning has, the more impact rain will have on the awning. All awnings will eventually fail if too much water or weight is allowed to collect on them. When set at the minimum pitch, an awning may collect rain even when the fabric is tight. The more pitch you have, the less you will have to worry about rain collecting on the awning. Increasing the pitch, even a few inches, will have a dramatic reduction on the awning’s ability to collect rainwater. The pitch of an awning is not a factor if the awning is retracted during rain events. It’s always best to retract the awning when not in use no matter what the weather forecast.
Adjusting the pitch can also provide better shade depending on the angle of the sun in relation to the angle of the awning.
Retractable awnings are designed so you can stop the awning at any point with the remote control or the hand crank. There are three buttons on the remote, one for extension, one for retraction, and one to stop the awning at your desired length.
Today, most high-quality awnings use Sunbrella® fabrics. These high-grade fabrics have the color embedded in every fiber, ensuring that they won’t significantly fade over time. Sunbrella fabrics are available in over 140 decorator patterns and can easily coordinate with your outdoor furniture. Sunbrella fabrics block 98 percent of the harmful UV rays of the sun and have been awarded the Seal of Recommendation by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
There is no definite rating for how much wind an awning can handle. Light winds of less than 10 mph (15 kph) should not harm most awnings. However, wind gusts can rapidly reach very high speeds, and in extremely windy locations, a fixed frame awning may be better suited for your application.
For a retractable awning, it is best to retract the awning before wind speeds reach the point of causing the awning to sway side to side or up and down. It is best to retract the awning when not in use regardless of the weather conditions.
Excessive wind and rain are the leading causes of damage to awnings.
High quality awnings utilize powder coated aluminum framework and stainless steel cables and hardware. This is often one main difference when comparing lower and higher quality units.
Your Sunbrella awning fabric should be cleaned regularly before substances such as dirt, roof particles, etc., are allowed to accumulate and become embedded in the fabric. The fabric can be cleaned without being removed from the home. For detailed instructions, please visit www.sunbrella.com.
Sunbrella fabrics are made from 100 percent solution-dyed acrylic yarns. Solution dying is the manufacturing process of adding color to fibers while they are in a liquid state. This feature of Sunbrella fabrics allows them to lock in color, be easily cleaned and provides them with a long life.
Sunbrella® – Superior pigments are added during the production of fade-resistant Sunbrella fiber. The final result is Sunbrella yarn and fabric with color throughout that won’t fade or wash away. Think “carrot.”
Other Fabrics – Dyes are added to the surface of the yarn or fabric. The color only penetrates the outer layer and washes out or fades over time. Think “radish.”