With the sweltering, record-setting heat of the summer, homeowners are seeking an effective and essential solution.
According to James Curdts of Chesapeake Awnings in Easton “business is going through the roof.” Awnings are in fashion again.
The most used material is dyed acrylic and the most popular requested cover is for pergolas.
Shading part or all of a deck or patio makes the space more useable from April to October when the sun is strongest and when people want to be outside the most.
Notably, Chesapeake Awnings is the only manufacturer allowed to install their awnings in Dade and Miami counties in Florida due to the strict wind codes.
Whether conventional striped canvas or the new dyed acrylic, awnings protect furnishings inside from sun damage and regulate interior temperatures by as much as 20 degrees.
The practice of shading space dates back to antiquity, when Egyptians and Syrians slung woven mats over shop stalls and homes to keep the sun at bay.
Awnings eventually gained an ornamental appeal during the 1890s and remained popular into the early 1900s.
Retractable canopies were first seen on storefronts before moving into the residential market.
Fabric shades were eventually replaced by aluminum ones in the 1940s.
With the popularity of home air conditioning, awnings began to fade in the 1950s.
Door awnings provide sun protection both indoors and out, and guard against elements like rain and snow.
They come in all sizes to accommodate any need.
Environmental concerns have ushered in a renewed interest in awnings, according to Chicago architect Mary Brush, who specializes in historic preservation.
“Once mechanical HVAC systems became popular, awnings were removed because air conditioning would cool the interiors,” she explained. “Now with a resurgence of sustainable design, people are remembering awning concepts and designing the horizontal sun shades and louvers that do the work of awnings, just with a different name.”
Practical advantages include:
• Cooler rooms: An awning on a south-facing window can reduce heat absorption by 75 percent;
• Energy savings: Air conditioners run more efficiently when paired with awnings;
• Ultraviolet-ray protection: Awnings prevent direct sunlight from fading carpets and upholstery; and
• Rain protection: Awnings allow windows to remain open when it rains.
Four fabric types are available:
• Canvas is traditional and least expensive, lasting three to five years available with an acrylic-painted surface and a variety of colors and stripes;
• Vinyl-coated canvas costs 10 to 20 percent more than plain canvas, lasting 10 years. Washable and has sun-darkening properties with a harder, shiny finish;
• Polyester is stronger than cotton and more resistant to mildew. As with cotton, it has an acrylic or vinyl coating; and
• Acrylic fabric cotton canvas lasts 12 or more years Fade-resistant, available in several colors and striped patterns, with a non-shiny finish.
To measure for the perfect awning width, measure along the exterior wall of the house.
Measuring the height, measure up the wall at least 7 feet, 6 inches.
Most awnings are still custom-made by local dealers.
The old-fashioned mechanism of a cord pulled and tied off on a cleat is still inexpensive and available.
The European retractable awning retracts flat, preventing folds. Operation is by hand crank or electric motor.
Chesapeake Awnings’ Crudts said the newest awnings are controlled by a smart phone.
Awning Costs: A basic 16-foot-wide-by-10-foot-deep awning costs about $1,330 with a hand crank or about $1,650 for a motorized version.
Retrofit motor kits are about $300. (That is based on 2007 costs but current costs are within this range)
Average Awning
Installation Costs
In addition to the product itself, actual installation will cost between $175 and $450.
Per square foot, expect to pay $6 to $9. Economical awnings start around $2,000. Larger awnings can cost over $3,000.
A permit may be required from local government. Homeowners associations may also have requirements.
To Retract or Not to Retract, That is the Question
Homeowners purchase an awning to shade decks, which increases the time and comfort spent outdoors.
• Initially non-retractable awnings are cheaper, but wind, storm and sun damage decreases the longevity.; and
• A retractable awning protects outdoor furniture, as well as indoor furniture. Furniture and fabrics are less exposed to the sun’s drying and bleaching effect.
However, retractable awnings bring some other issues.
• They are more expensive;
• All awnings, retractable and non-retractable require cleaning on a seasonal basis. Water can collect on fabric encouraging mold growth. The metal parts must be clean and free of debris to keep them functioning. Dirt and debris must be cleaned regularly; and
• Replacing parts may be expensive. There are two main types of retractable awnings to choose from: manual or motorized. Motorized awnings are more expensive but more convenient. Manual awnings become harder to operate over time. The motorized version’s electric sensor will need to be replaced periodically, increasing expense.
Regardless of style, design, size or material select a reputable dealer to install and maintain this important element of the home.