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Patio awning buying guide

Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

22 guides
Patio awnings are roof-like covers designed to shelter your deck or patio. Essential for creating a spot of shade, these structures may also be called patio covers and can be operated manually or via a motor. From full to half cassettes, remote control to valances, follow our guide to find the right awning for you!

Important features

  • Manual
  • Electric
  • Size
  • Fabric
  • Cassette

Advantages of patio awnings

Patio awnings provide protection from the sun and help to maintain a comfortable temperature through heat regulation. This makes them ideal for anyone hoping to enjoy their terrace during the hottest hours of the day or for those who simply like to seek out a little cool in the shade!

Awnings also provide a practical solution for extending your indoor living space. As they are usually installed over windows, they can also reduce sun exposure and help to keep your home cool. Combining convenience with style, awnings come in equally handy on rainy days.

Whether you’re after electric or manual power, a large model or one for occasional use only, it’s safe to say there’s an awning out there for everyone – regardless of where you live!

Patio awning sizes

As mentioned, the main purpose of an awning is to protect you from the sun. It does this by acting as a sort of barrier. In order to ensure efficient performance, you will first have to decide on the right size for your awning. This will depend on the size of the area you want to cover.

There are a couple of basic rules to apply to measurements. The awning must be larger than the area it aims to protect and wider than any windows or doors. Standard awnings generally measure at least 3 metres in width. At the same time, you should remember that the planet is constantly moving, meaning that the position of the sun will change throughout the day. It is therefore important to consider the level of sun exposure and estimate the amount of shade required depending on the area you want to cover.

There are various shadow plotting apps available online free of charge, so there’s no excuse for getting it wrong!

You will also have to determine the maximum length of the arms when they are unfolded. Technically speaking, this measurement is known as the arm projection. Most awnings on the market feature a projection ranging from 1.5 to 4 metres. While you can find models that cover very large areas, the most common projection tends to be around 3.5 metres.

Measurements to consider when calculating awning size:

  • The height of the awning;
  • The overall width of the awning (including motor and cassette);
  • The distance between the windows/doors and the roof;
  • The depth of the area you want to cover;
  • The type of area you want to cover;
  • The height of your lintel.

Different types of awning fabric

Once you have decided on the right size for your awning, you will have to settle on a fabric type. The properties and quality of the material will determine its level of UV resistance and heat retention. Awnings usually feature one of three main types of fabric.

Polyester

Polyester fabric covers are sensitive to UV rays meaning they do not stand up well to the test of time. They are, however, a good option if you only plan to use your awning occasionally or if you are looking to save money. You can make the fabric last longer by taking good care of it.


Acrylic


Acrylic is very UV-resistant and can be easily cleaned using water. This material is also known to be rot-proof making it ideal for outdoor use. It offers good performance and durability. However, it does not provide good ventilation.

Micro-perforated fabrics


Micro-perforated covers are the number one choice when it comes to awnings. This material is UV- and tear-resistant and can be easily cleaned using water. It is also rot-proof.

As an added bonus, micro-perforated materials promote good air circulation beneath the cover and, as such, do not lock in any heat.

Caring for awning fabric covers


In terms of routine care, you should remember to dust your awning cover regularly. This will prevent dust from setting in and will stop your awning from becoming discoloured. Additionally, do not hesitate to wash the fabric with soapy water once or twice a year.

Advantages of an awning valance

Valances are the lengths of material that overhang your patio awning. They usually feature scalloped edges, but it is also possible to find models with straight edges.

An important feature not to be overlooked, valances offer additional sun protection.

Drop-down valances are designed to offer additional protection when the sun is low in the sky. They can also serve as a screen to hide away from nosy neighbours!

Full-cassette awnings vs. half-cassette awnings

While your choice of cassette will generally come down to budget, there are a few other factors to bear in mind.

Half-cassette


Half-cassette awnings only protect the fabric cover. The retractable arms fold away beneath the casing.

Full-cassette


Full-cassette awnings also protect the arms.  This means that the entire structure is protected against the elements. Depending on where the awning is installed and how often you use it, this could be an important – even crucial! –factor to consider when making your decision. 

Full-cassettes are also more attractive than half-cassettes as the mechanism and hardware are tucked away inside the casing. And, of course, less exposure equals better protection!

Choosing between an electric and manual awning

Manual awnings

Manual awnings are, without a doubt, the most cost-effective option but you will have to consider the size of the awning; remember that the bigger the awning, the harder it will be to turn the handle.

Nevertheless, the pros of manual awnings still outweigh the cons. This is therefore a good option to keep in mind if you are looking at smaller awnings or more affordable ranges.

 

Electric awnings 


Electric awnings controlled by a wall-mounted button (wired) or remote control (radio receiver) provide the ultimate in user comfort. They offer a great alternative to cranking the awning by hand. However, you should still consider equipping the system with an extra handle as no technology is immune to failure!

It’s also worth noting that electric awnings offer a number of useful add-on options, such as wind or sun sensors. These features mean you won’t have to worry about changing weather conditions. What's more, you can even add on electric-powered accessories such as lighting.

It’s important to make sure your awning is kept clean (especially the retractable arms) to ensure it unfolds quietly and smoothly. As is often the case with electrical items, caring for your awning will lead to a longer service life.

Tips for choosing the right awning


You must remember to plan for your awning installation in advance and choose the right fixings. Select your fixing plugs in accordance with the material of your home and/or deck.

Awnings are usually installed against the wall of your choice, but you can also fit them to certain roofs (as long as they feature an overhang). The latter option is also more attractive.

Finally, if you live in an area with warm summers, don’t skimp on your choice of cover; micro-perforated fabric is, without a doubt, the best choice! 

More information

To find out more about garden design, follow our editors' advice and check out their other guides:

Decking boards buying guide
How to clean your terrace
Pergola and gazebo buying guide
How to design and furnish your garden



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Guide written by:

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester 22 guides écrits

Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester

After years of DIY, renovation, designing, I decided to turn my passion into my career.

Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or contruction projects. My expertise and my curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients.

Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives!

My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is thus a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!  

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