Retractable patio awnings are a preferred choice of many residential and commercial property owners and a way to create a nice, pleasant and functional outdoor area. However, as with every product sold nowadays, you may wonder what such a structure’s advantages and disadvantages are.
Today we’ll explain what exactly patio awnings are and go into detail about the various pros and cons of retractable awnings and pergolas. We’ll also discuss the necessary considerations you need to make before you make a purchase and discuss the actual retractable awnings’ worth.
What are retractable patio awnings?
Retractable patio awnings are one of the best ways to create outdoor shade in front of your business property or residential house without building permanent structures and investing resources in a renovation. Typically, these structures are semi-permanent, meaning you can retract and then remove them whenever you want after installation.
Patio pergolas vs. patio awnings
You can find various types of patio awnings, as most vendors commonly use the word “awnings” for both awnings and pergolas. However, these are two different weather solutions, each with unique features, production materials and purpose. Consequently, they are appropriate for various property types, weather conditions, size, people, and needs.
Retractable awnings are moving structures, resembling a roof attached to the side of a house or building, that extend and retract to create shade, protect from light rain or open up the space accordingly. They consist of a frame including a torsion bar, roller tube, front bar and retractable arms, which work together to extend and retract a canopy away from or back to the building and do not require additional support as the arms are spring loaded. Retractable awnings are designed for light wind and light rain.
You can install these roof-like structures on different surfaces, including walls, soffits, eaves, rafters, roofs, etc. All you need is the appropriate mounting brackets. However, some retractable deck awning models can be designed for freestanding and portable use, and others can resemble side screens, allowing protection and privacy on the sides of open space.
Retractable pergolas are another outdoor structure you could use to cover and protect your outdoor patio area. They can be completely freestanding (anchored posts on the ground) or semi-attached to the building. Semi-attached pergolas are half connected to the property and half supported by additional anchored posts.
Given the nature of the structure, it’s only logical to imagine it can handle heavier wind and rain loads, as it has a more robust support structure than retractable awnings. The pergola covers can be either a solid waterproof canopy or a rotating or retractable louvered roof. Typically people use them to cover much larger areas than they could with a retractable awning.
What’s the purpose of such structures?
Although there are differences between pergolas and awnings structure-wise, they often share a common purpose with minor variations. Installing a retractable awning for front porch use is usually done to enlarge the usable outdoor living area, protect it from different types of weather conditions, from light rain to snow, and create a comfortable entertainment or relaxation zone.
What are the advantages of retractable patio awnings?
Retractable awnings for porches have countless advantages for homeowners and business owners alike. Everyone can benefit from such a structure, either by boosting curb appeal, reducing their cooling and heating costs or turning passersby into potential customers. Let’s see which are the awning benefits that owners report most often.
Reduce outdoor temperature
The ability of a retractable patio awning to reduce outdoor temperature is kind of a given since that would probably be the main reason to purchase one in the first place. Nonetheless, this is the primary advantage of retractable patio awnings or pergolas – they reduce the surface temperature of your patio/deck and the overall outdoor living space they cover.
Studies have shown that such a shading structure can reduce the outdoor temperature by up to 20 degrees, turning your outdoor patio into a pleasant area to spend your time. The Skin Cancer Foundation even recommends some particular awning fabric types that provide the most protection against the harmful effects of UV rays.
Suitable for commercial and residential use
The use of outdoor retractable shading products is not limited to residential only or commercial only. Both businesses and homeowners could enjoy the benefits of a retractable shading system for their deck or patio. Motorized mechanisms are best for larger sizes, allowing you to use remote controls, wall switches, sensors and other accessories to automatically retract the canopy.
Residential owners can create a more pleasant outdoor space for their family, friends and pets to enjoy their leisure time or boost their property’s curb appeal to attract potential buyers in case they want to sell it. On the other hand, business owners can expand their commercial space and create even more seating (e.g., at a restaurant, pub or bar) for customers to enjoy.
Custom and stylish shading experience
Yet another great advantage of retractable canopies for porches is the enormous opportunity for product customization. First, let’s start with the term retractable, which refers to the awning’s mechanism and allows extending or retracting the canopy to any point you wish.
The above means you can extend your retractable awning/pergola when you want protection from the elements (sun, rain, snow, etc.) and praying eyes or retract it back to enjoy uninterrupted airflow or gaze into the clear skies. Such custom shading solution offers a superb experience throughout all seasons.
But customization options don’t stop here. Most vendors offer custom-made retractable awnings, meaning you can select a preferred size (width X projection), fabric brand, design and branding. Businesses and homeowners can choose from hundreds of colors, stripes, patterns, additional valances and even logo prints for a recognizable patio front.
Energy savings throughout all seasons
Another pro of installing a retractable patio awning or a retractable patio pergola at your home or your business is that you can significantly reduce expenses related to energy consumption. During the summer months, you can extend the canopy to create shade and reduce outdoor and indoor heat, thus reducing indoor air conditioning and cooling costs.
As opposed to fixed patio awnings, during the colder months, you can retract the canopy of a retractable awning or pergola back (meaning it stays closed), so you get the most out of the little sunshine there is. This way, you can make use of sun exposure to warm up your indoor and outdoor spaces and contribute to reducing your energy bills.
Preserve your patio furniture
An outdoor retractable awning will also help you preserve your patio furniture for a more extended period. Avoiding direct sunlight and harmful UV rays from reaching the furnishings’ surfaces will prolong their longevity and beautiful colors. Protecting your outdoor units from rain and moisture will also significantly reduce the chance of developing rot, mold or mildew.
Except for outdoor furniture, retractable awnings covering your patio area can also protect indoor furniture that’s close to the windows and would be otherwise affected by direct sunlight. The shading structure prevents indoor furnishings from discoloration, bleaching and drying out.
What are the disadvantages of retractable patio awnings?
After covering all the positive aspects of purchasing a retractable patio awning, it’s time to share what would be a potential disadvantage. After all, a complete picture is necessary for making the best purchase.
Production materials and maintenance highly impact their lifespan
Talking about the lifespan of retractable awnings can be tricky since it highly depends on the manufacturer and the production materials used in the process.
For example, let’s say a vendor offers an awning with a PVC cover. It won’t last long since the PVC is not resistant to sun rays and UV light. On the other hand, the solution-dyed acrylic fabric can handle intense sunlight for years to come.
Another example is the production material for components such as the bolts, chains and mounting brackets. Since the outdoor awning installation, the material will be constantly exposed to the elements. Non-stainless steel will not only rot and need to be replaced, but it can be potentially dangerous for supporting such structures.
Inadequate maintenance and lack of knowledge on adequately treating a retractable patio awning can negatively affect its durability and shorten the awning’s lifespan. To take advantage of a longer lifespan, avoid common mistakes with manual awnings, such as leaving them extended during a storm with lots of high wind.
If you leave your awning canopy open during a storm with winds more vigorous than it’s designed to withstand, it can suffer unrepairable damage and even get blown away. Such risks are significantly smaller with motorized awnings that are equipped with weather sensors. For example, wind sensors would retract the canopy when it detects increasing winds.
Some models’ ability to handle rain is limited
Retractable patio awnings’ ability to handle rain also depends on the particular model. Most outdoor retractable pergola structures will not have an issue resisting heavy rain as they can support very heavy and solid canopies or louvered roofs.
On the other hand, a retractable lateral arm awning can’t withstand heavy fabrics as it doesn’t rely on additional support structures. High-quality solution-dyed acrylics are perfect for sunlight, UV-ray protection and light rain conditions (as they’re water-resistant) but won’t do so well with extreme rain, snow or hail.
They require regular cleaning
If you purchase a retractable awning with a fabric cover, you’ll need to clean it regularly to avoid additional damage caused by the accumulation of debris, dust and dirt. If you’re interested in buying a retractable louvered roof pergola, you won’t have to worry about cleaning it often, as it doesn’t have a fabric cover.
Regular cleaning and maintenance can be considered a disadvantage for some who do not have lots of spare time or opportunities to take care of their retractable awnings. However, remember that by regular cleaning, I mean 1 or 2 times per year for residential use and 6-12 times per year for commercial use.
What to consider before you buy one?
Since quality retractable awnings can be quite an investment, there are a few crucial things to consider to ensure you make the right choice. You should carefully research the model you are about to purchase and the vendor/manufacturer you are ordering from and spend time reading reviews from previous buyers.
Regardless of what you are looking for – a residential or commercial retractable awning, the model you choose should fit your individual needs and conditions in the area. Let’s see what you need to consider before you buy one.
Type of patio awning you want to purchase
The first and most important thing you need to consider is what type of patio awning you want to purchase. Do you want a retractable lateral arm awning or a louvered roof pergola?
Your choice might be affected by a few factors:
- The size of the area you want to cover
- The weather conditions during which you wish to use the awning (rain, sun, snow)
- The available mounting options within your premises
- If you need the structure to withstand strong winds
- How often will you be able to clean/maintain the shading structure?
While retractable awnings have come quite far in their development, and you can find some models with large width and projection, typically, pergolas allow you to cover larger outdoor areas. Pergolas also rely on several support posts, allowing the support of more weight (a solid and heavy waterproof canopy or a louvered roof).
Is it appropriate for you?
Are you a homeowner with a small or large patio that you want to upgrade and turn into a functional area? Then a patio awning is a suitable choice for you. Are you a business owner looking for ways to attract new customers and expand your commercial outdoor space? Then a patio awning can do an excellent job for you too.
The truth is that retractable patio pergolas and awnings can benefit anyone who needs functional outdoor living or commercial space. They are an easy way to boost curb appeal, reduce outdoor and indoor heat, protect people and furniture from sun damage and improve their exterior design without much effort.
Where do you want to install it?
A patio is typically adjacent to the building, so people often install their awning on the exterior of a wall, soffit, roof, eave, etc. However, sometimes not all of the options are possible at the same time, and not all awning models have the opportunity to be mounted anywhere you want.
First, check what the available mounting options for your particular property are. That will facilitate the process when choosing a retractable awning model, as you can filter out those that do not match your installation criteria.
Retractable patio awnings come in many forms, sizes, mounting types, production materials and additional features. That makes them a suitable choice for anybody who needs a flexible shading solution for their outdoor space, regardless of its type (commercial or residential).
Patio retractable awnings present some disadvantages but compensate them with countless benefits. As long as you know what you need and you do your research before purchasing, they are certainly worth the money and are a great investment that will offer you comfort for many years to come.