Retractable Awnings Reviews | Compare the Best Awning Companies & Models

HomeBlog12 Things to Consider Before Investing in a Retractable Awning
Things to consider before investing in a retractable awnings by Retractable Awnings Reviews

12 Things to Consider Before Investing in a Retractable Awning

Retractable awnings are a valuable addition to any outdoor space, as they present many benefits to the exterior and interior. As opposed to non-retractable awnings, these products are highly functional and customizable.

However, a good quality awning might mean a different thing for every person. I created this blog post to discuss the 12 things to consider before investing in a retractable roof.

good quality awning

Why is it worth investing in a retractable awning?

Adding a retractable awning to your patio or deck has numerous benefits. It helps businesses and homeowners save money from air conditioning and get protection from the harsh sun, UV rays and sometimes even rain and snow. You can use such a shading product for your house, commercial property or even industrial and government buildings. 

When the fabric’s extended, it keeps your outdoor living space covered and sheltered from the elements. When you retract the cover, you protect it from heavy rain and high winds if it’s not designed to handle them.

Top 12 things to consider before buying an awning

So, let’s save time and jump right into all the questions you need to answer and things to consider before buying a retractable awning for your home or business.

1. What kind of area do you want to cover?

The first and most important question you need to ask yourself is what kind of area you want to cover. How many square feet is it? Is it adjacent to a building, or is it far away from one? Is it a patio, backyard, deck, walkway, parking zone, storefront, balcony or building entry that you need to cover?

Answering these questions will help you visualize your project and plan. You’ll gain a better understanding of the final product you will need.

2. What will you use it for?

Another crucial consideration is what you will use it for. Do you need to cover a residential outdoor area such as a deck or a patio? Or you may want to purchase a retractable awning for commercial purposes. Is your property governmental or industrial?

But these are not the only questions you need to ask yourself. You also need to consider the weather conditions and elements you want your awning to withstand and protect you from. 

Let’s see some examples:

  • You live in a hot area and want to provide shade and prevent direct sunlight from reaching your outdoor space during the summer months.
  • You live in a tropical area with heavy rain and hail and want to protect your outdoor furniture/outdoor furnishings and space.
  • You want protection from the sun and harsh UV rays and your awning to withstand inclement weather, such as high winds during storms.
  • You want your awning to withstand the weight of heavy snowfall during winter months.
retractable awning for commercial purposes

3. Where will you mount it?

Where you want to mount your awning and whether you can mount it is another crucial factor affecting your final choice.

Do you need to add shade or reduce heat by installing it over a window, a front door or a balcony? And, if you want a retractable awning installed on your building, where will you attach it (soffit, wall, eave, roofing surface)? 

Do you have the minimum overhead space available (from the ground to the tip of the awning), or will you need to purchase a roof-mounted model to gain extra overhead space?

You may not want your sheltered outdoor space to be adjacent to the building. Instead, you may want to highlight an area of your backyard and install a freestanding awning. Another option is to purchase a portable retractable awning to gain even more flexibility in your shading solution.

Think carefully about all these possibilities. Doing so will inevitably aid your decision on the type of patio awning you genuinely need to invest your money in.

4. Do you want to enclose it?

Most lateral arm awnings are created so you can enjoy the open outdoor views and the unrestricted airflow. However, consider enclosing it by adding retractable side patio panels to advance your privacy.

If you want a complete enclosure for optimal weather protection, consider enclosing a freestanding pergola structure with sliding glass doors. Of course, there are less permanent solutions, such as retractable drop screens or curtains, in case you want to prevent UV rays from reaching inside.

Whatever the particular case is, make sure you won’t need to acquire additional planning permission to install a retractable awning in your residence.












install a retractable awning

5. What type of awning do you need?

If you’ve answered all the previous questions, you already have enough information to decide what type of awning exactly you need. 

There are many options to choose from:

  • A lateral arm (or folding arm) awning
  • A retractable pergola (with a canopy or a louvered roof)
  • A pergola with retractable shades
  • A retractable side patio awning
  • A retractable canopy
  • A side arm or drop-arm awning

For example, for small window awnings and sun protection, people often choose folding arm and drop-arm awnings or retractable canopies. They are incredibly stylish and available in hundreds of colors, making them suitable both for residential and commercial purposes.

This is because retractable awnings rely entirely on their mounting brackets to support their weight. Models with articulated retractable arms have internal arm springs and use spring force to retract and extend the fabric cover. Telescopic arms use gas.

On the other hand, people who want to cover a large outdoor area and shelter it from heavy rain or snow would go for freestanding pergolas with louvered roofs to gain maximum protection.

That is mainly because pergolas have sturdy support structures as the base of their beams is anchored into the ground. That sturdiness enables them to handle much additional weight accumulated during snowfall and withstand high wind speeds.

6. What materials do you need it to be made of?

You’ve already decided where to install your awning and what you want to use it for. It’s time to select the best materials to provide the functionality you need for your outdoor space. What’s particularly important is the materials’ ability to withstand the outdoor conditions to which you want to expose the awning.

Let’s say you want the awning’s fabric to resist UV rays and heat but also need to use it during light rain showers. In that case, it’s best to invest in solution-dyed acrylic fabric. As long as you keep the fabric tight and under the right pitch, the water-resistant material will perform extraordinarily in such conditions.

I recommend buying something other than awnings with canvas from organic materials, as it tends to fade and rot quickly. On the other hand, high-quality vinyl is excellent for heavy downpours, and PVC-coated fabrics perform well as they are water-repellent. Still, they are less lightweight and breathable than acrylics.

As for the frame or louvered roof, I recommend corrosion-resistant powder-coated aluminum as it won’t rust, as would steel. As for other components, such as mounting brackets, bolts and chains, it’s best to invest in stainless steel.

7. Installation obstructions

Reevaluate where you want to mount your future awning and consider that in that particular area, there might be obstructions that will hinder the installation process. Given that you already know the awning’s size, measure its width and projection and visualize if any objects are in its way.

In addition to the width and projection, you should consider the awning’s pitch (slope angle) and its height from the ground level. Check for any tree branches, lamps, fences and similar that can be in the way of your awning. Inspect if there is a gutter that might turn out to be a problem.

8. Consider a custom awning.

Consider a custom-made retractable canopy if your requirements are particular and different from the standard awning features offered online. Reputable companies will allow you to share your needs with a professional representative who can advise you on the best possible solution.

9. Manual or motorized retractable awning?

There are two types of retractable awnings if we categorize them according to their operational mechanism. You can choose either a manually operated or a motorized unit. You’ll undoubtedly see both options online, so knowing what works best for you is good.

Let’s look at a manual awning, for example. You can extend and retract it by rotating a hand crank attached to the roller tube. This is a good option for small-sized retractable awnings, such as those you would install over windows and front doors. You don’t need electricity for these models.

On the other hand, you have the electric awning, which works thanks to a motor instead of a hand crank. You can activate it through a wall switch, a remote control or a mobile app. For that to happen, you need to connect it to your electric system while installing it.

You should also know that there are some restrictions to these mechanisms. While typically, side patio awnings come only as manual models, retractable pergolas are often motorized. If you want to install a motorized model, you should know you need a certified electrician to connect it to the electrical system.

motorized model

10. Do you want to automate its function and/or connect it to your smart home system?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, you want to go for a motorized awning, as manual versions won’t meet your needs. 

To further automate an electric awning, you can add timers, temperature, rain, sun or wind sensors to detect outdoor conditions and make the awning function according to your preferences. Vendors sell sensors that combine more than one function, in case you need one.

Thanks to modern technology, you can connect your shading solution with your smart home system, creating an entirely automated and coordinated indoor and outdoor connection. 

11. Color selection

It’s time for the most fun and creative part – the design consideration and the selection of colors. 

There are many options for color combinations, but generally speaking, it’s best to keep your awning’s color consistent with the facade or outdoor furniture colors. Another successful approach is to use the color wheel and select a contrasting color for your home’s exterior.

In addition to color, you can also select from different styles to further improve your outdoor decor, including a variety of solids, stripes, textures, patterns and even sewing thread. You can purchase a custom valance with a trim style of your preference to match and complement specific architectural details.

What’s good to remember about retractable awnings is that you will most likely use them primarily for sun protection. That being said, always choose fade-resistant fabric materials to preserve their vibrant colors for the longest time possible. Consider that the sun affects dark shades more than light ones.

primarily for sun protection

12. Do you know how to maintain it?

As with all existing products, retractable awnings also require specific protection. Although maintaining these products is not very demanding, you may want to consider your knowledge level, and the time you’re willing to spend on it.

For example, keeping the fabric clean is essential if you want it to stay presentable and good-looking. However, residential awnings might require less frequent cleaning than commercial products.

In addition, you need to know when outdoor conditions become unsafe and when you should no longer keep your retractable awning extended. If you do not, purchasing a motorized unit with specifically designed weather sensors to prevent awning damage is best.

Where is the best place to buy awnings for your business or home?

You can find hundreds of retractable awning vendors if you begin your search online. However, not all of them are reliable and worthy of your time and money. 

That’s why I created Retractable Awnings Reviews – a website where you can get all the information you need, all in one place. Here you can also find customer reviews about specific awning models and entire companies. You can also find classification blog posts like my “Best Awning Companies in 2023“.

When choosing a company to purchase a retractable awning from, you should ensure that it meets all your requirements and that the product is of high quality. While you may have budget restrictions, investing in quality materials and not Chinese products is crucial.

Check what kind of warranty period the vendor offers and how long is the production time. After all, it would be best if you got it in time for the season. Do they include the installation in their final price, or do you need to pay extra for mounting services?


There are many things to consider before making your final decision for a retractable awning. However, if you think about what you need, you can find the right company and model that will be worth the investment.