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What are the Differences Between Awnings vs. Canopies

What is an awning? What’s a canopy? You might think canopies and awnings are the same thing. But there are more differences between awnings and canopies than you might think.

In this blog post comparing awnings and canopies, you’ll find:

  • The purposes of awnings and canopies
  • How canopies and awnings differ
  • Advantages and disadvantages of awnings and canopies

You’ll also discover how a canopy or awning can improve your outdoor area while protecting you from the sun’s glare and heat.

This post is a closer look at a canopy vs. an awning. My information helps you determine if an awning or a canopy is best for your home or business. With all this knowledge, you can make the most informed decision possible.

What Are Awnings?

A tan residential awning

An awning is a permanent or retractable sun and light rain protection product. Awnings attach to a home, building, or structure – like a trellis, pergola, or RV. A homeowner or professional can securely fasten awnings to a home, building or structure. Plus, awnings are removable without causing property damage.

Awnings provide shade and light rain protection to a window, door, or outdoor area attached to a building. Retractable awnings can operate manually or electronically with a motor. Aluminum or steel frames paired with fabric provide temporary shade to outdoor areas, windows, or doors with the push of a button or turn of a crank.

What Are Canopies?

A white canopy over a large outdoor seating area

A canopy is a structure that provides shade to an outdoor area. It is freestanding, meaning it’s not attached to a building or structure. A canopy can be a permanent pergola or gazebo-style structure shading patio furniture. Like awnings, canopies can also operate with a motor or by hand. Canopies also feature retractable parts that adjust for protection from the sun or precipitation.

Alternatively, portable canopies are easily transported to a beach or sports field to shade people and furniture. Canopies can also provide shade to small areas. A large enough canopy can shelter a full wedding dinner and dance area.

What Are the Differences Between Awnings and Canopies?

Couples sitting outside under an awning

When comparing canopies vs. awnings, you’ll notice a few similarities. But there are also many significant differences when comparing these two types of cover systems.


  • Awnings attach to structures
  • Suitable for outdoor and indoor areas
  • Extends indoor living space
  • Not portable
  • One purpose: shading a window or door
  • Smaller fit covers a small area above a window or door
  • Can retract against a house or building for instant storage
  • Fixed: often made from heavier frames and fabric materials
  • Often more durable
  • Hundreds of available fabric types, colors, and patterns


  • Canopies don’t attach to structures – they’re freestanding
  • Suitable for outdoor areas
  • Creates outdoor living space
  • In many cases, it is portable or easy to disassemble
  • Flexible purposes: movable from one location to another
  • Larger fits cover large or extremely large outdoor spaces for gatherings, weddings, etc.
  • Requires storage in a dry area away from rodents
  • Portable: often made from lighter frame and fabric materials
  • Often less durable
  • A limited selection of fabric colors and patterns

My list of differences should help you decide what’s best when comparing awnings vs. canopies. If you’re still unsure what to choose, consider why you want an awning or canopy. Also, don’t forget to read the reviews and testimonials about awnings and canopies at