Awnings can provide shade over your outside living areas, but they are also a good addition to your home. The heat and UV rays from the sun can lead to high summer energy bills. The sunlight can also fade carpets and furniture indoors. Awnings are a stylish way to save on your energy bills while also upgrading your home's appearance.
Fixed vs Retractable
The first choice that must be made is whether to purchase a fixed or retractable awning. Fixed awnings are generally suitable over windows or small patios. These extremely weather-resistant awnings are typically made of fiberglass or metal, although there are fabric varieties that have a metal frame. A fixed awning is also low-maintenance.
Retractable awnings must be put away when not in use in order to protect them from wind damage, but they work quite well for large areas like patios. The benefit is that you can put them up when you want more sunlight. They do require periodic cleaning and occasional sealing to protect them from mold and damage.
There are many different styles of awnings, but most fall under these three basic shapes -- dome, valance, and sloped. All three shapes are suitable for a fixed awning, but only sloped styles are available for retractable awnings.
Dome awnings are most often used over windows or doorways. The rounded shape prevents water from collecting on top, which makes them suitable for fabric fixed awnings. Another benefit of a dome awning is that the sides, as well as the top, are protected.
Valance awnings are sloped forward, but they have sides on them to further block sun, rain, and wind. These awnings are often placed over windows to help block out sunlight. Although typically made from metal or fiberglass, you can sometimes find these awnings in fabric. If you do go with fabric, keep in mind that pooling water or heavy snow can sometimes cause damage.
Finally, there are the standard slope awnings. A sloped fixed style will typically be supported by a metal or wood cross bar on each side. The bars are sometimes decorative, which can create a more stylish look for your home. Sloped awnings are typically found over patios or porches, although you can place them over doors and windows if desired.
If you would like to learn more about the options available, contact an awning manufacturer in your local area.