If you are looking to add some shade around your home, awnings provide an excellent option. You can use small awnings to shade windows and doors or a larger awning to provide shade and weather protection above a patio or deck.
Fixed vs Retractable
Fixed awnings can't be easily put away when not in use, instead they are designed to remain up at all times. You most often see these types of awnings over windows or doors, although they are sometimes used on patios or decks. The awning can be flat, sloped, shaped like a box, gabled, or domed. Sloped and domed awnings, in particular, are good at shedding moisture. Flat awnings or those that are sloped but concave are more likely to hold water.
Retractable awnings are mostly used over patios that are attached to the home, but you may sometimes see them over windows on the sunniest side of the house. These awnings are retracted when not in use. You can also adjust the angle of the awning, which can help you determine the degree of window shading you need in regards to the season.
You have the greatest material choices for fixed awnings. There are options made from outdoor weather-resistant fabric stretched over an aluminum or steel frame, but most are made of more rigid materials. Aluminum is especially popular and available in a range of colors, but vinyl and wood are also options. Wood is a good choice if hail is a problem in your climate since it won't easily dent or crack like metal or vinyl.
Fabric is the only option for a retractable awning. The fabric used typically contains vinyl or nylon components to help it shed water and to guard against mold. The fabric is specially treated to prevent UV damage and other weathering issues, but it may need to be retreated every few years depending on your climate.
Accessories and Extras
There are some useful accessories available for awnings. The most useful accessory for fixed awnings over doors and porches is a built-in gutter or drip edge system. Gutters may be built into the edge of the awning to route water to the sides, or the drip edge may be designed in a manner so most moisture drips from the corners.
On retractable awnings, a wind and rain sensor system is a useful feature. This sensor automatically retracts the awning if it senses conditions that could compromise the fabric or frame.
Contact an awning dealer in your area to learn more about the options available for your home.