Retractable awnings do an outstanding job of providing shade and comfort to any open outdoor space. The semi-permanent structures offer a flexible solution for commercial, industrial and residential property owners.
However, as high-quality products come with a price tag that’s only sometimes budget-friendly, many people wonder if they’re worth the investment.
Naturally, the question “How long do retractable awnings last?” arises, and I’ll try to answer it today. In addition, I’ll discuss how to prolong the lifespan of your awning and how to take proper care of it so you make the most out of your purchase.
What is the average lifespan of an awning?
Generally speaking, the average lifespan of a retractable awning is anywhere from 10 to 25 years, depending on the awning type, the manufacturer and the production materials. Retractable models tend to last longer than traditional fixed (stationary) awnings, as you can retract and protect them during inclement weather.
A few things to consider
First, consider the production materials for the most critical components of the retractable awning – frame, fabric, assembly and motor (in the case of a motorized model). All materials are susceptible to natural wear and tear, however, some more than others.
A reputable company offering awning models would rely on high product quality and work with top-notch brands recognized worldwide. You’ll notice that each component may come with a different warranty period. That’s only natural, as they’re made from different materials.
For example, a rustproof 6063 aluminum frame can come with a 25-year warranty, while a non-stainless steel frame would begin rusting immediately after installation outdoors. When discussing the canopy, a durable woven fabric from a recognizable brand is typically warranted for ten years but can last much longer.
It’s important to understand that you won’t need to buy an entirely new awning if one part wears out. For example, you will only need to replace the retractable awning fabric if the canopy tears. In case the motor of an electric awning fails to function correctly, you’ll only need a motor replacement, and in the meantime, you’ll be able to use the manual override.
How to make the most of your awning’s lifespan?
If you want to make the most of your awning’s lifespan and extend it to the maximum possible time, you need to show responsibility for your purchase and installation. What do I mean exactly? I’ll explain in detail.
Do your research
Most importantly, do thorough research about retractable shading products and the companies that offer them before you make your purchase. I created the website RetractableAwningsReviews.com to help you do that by researching and analyzing all retractable awning companies that offer products online.
I combine my research with genuine customer reviews regarding each product a company offers, so you can make an accurate comparison and decide which model will suit your needs best. I believe customer experience is the go-to “rating” for products sold on the Internet.
Analyzing the market and the various awning models will give you a clear idea of what is considered a quality product and will last you a long time. If you purchase the first product you see online, you will most likely be disappointed with the awning’s quality and longevity.
If an offer is too good to be true, it usually is
Always remember that a quality product comes at a value. If somebody offers you a retractable awning that’s incredibly cheap but will meet all your needs and last a long time, then you might be the subject of fraud.
Buying an awning from a recognizable company with a good reputation will always be the best choice. It’s even better if they offer end-to-end services from manufacturing to customer service. This way, you’ll have peace of mind that the vendor will be there for you if you need them, and you won’t spend time and effort wondering who you should call for help.
If the company you choose doesn’t offer end-to-end services, see if they work with authorized dealers in your area. This way, you can get an expert to come to your property and advise you on the best solution, including installation options, materials, functions, and more.
Installation is important
How you install your awning will certainly affect the lifespan of your awning. That’s why I passionately recommend choosing professional installation services over trying a DIY (do it yourself) method for quality awnings.
Although it is possible to install an awning or a pergola yourself, it requires a set of handyman skills and a level of previous experience. You’ll also need to have all the necessary tools at your disposal and a helping hand to prevent safety hazards.
Installing your retractable awning yourself means risking the product’s longevity and voiding its warranty. Hiring an experienced professional with qualifications and acquired licenses will prevent this from happening and guarantee you will make the most of your awning’s lifespan.
Know what your awning can do
Knowing what your awning can do is vital to make the most of its lifespan. A reliable vendor should list all product specifications and recommendations for use. Hence, you know what weather conditions your awning model can withstand and when’s a good time to retract it.
Suppose you know when to protect your awning (at what wind speed, during what precipitation levels, etc.), then you’ll avoid possible damage caused by various outdoor conditions. However, these specifications depend on the materials that the manufacturer used to produce the model.
Get a full-cassette model or an additional hood.
Full-cassette awning models provide complete protection of the canopy and frame while the awning is fully retracted. In case you get a semi-cassette or an open awning, you’ll get partial or no protection of the extending roof’s components.
If you don’t want a full-cassette awning or the model of your liking is of a different type, you can install an additional awning hood that will substitute the cassette. It will protect the awning’s components from accumulating snow, water, leaves, etc. and thus allow you to make the most out of the product’s lifespan.
What things affect the durability of your awning?
Many factors influence the durability of your awning. I’ll list some of the most common reasons why some retractable awnings last longer than others.
Naturally, your product will depend on the materials it’s made of. For example, you can find many fabric awnings made of different fabrics. Solution-dyed acrylics are best for areas with sunny weather and intense heat. Heavy-duty PVC is suitable for sturdier pergola structures that you will use during heavy rain and hail.
The type of awning
The type of awning is also of crucial importance to its longevity. For example, pipe frame awnings are not a reliable option as they are typically made of low-quality materials unable to withstand outdoor elements. Of course, it comes down to a personal choice and preference, but lateral arm awnings and Retractable awnings will last much longer.
How you will use the awning is also an important consideration. If the model of choice is made of water-resistant materials, you should avoid exposing it to heavy rainfall. Similarly, if it’s a lateral arm awning without additional support beams, leaving it extended over your patio or deck during the winter might lead to snow accumulation and irreversible damage.
Check if the vendor you decide to purchase from showcases they’ve acquired product certification granted by authoritative institutions or programs. If they do so, you can rest assured that the awning options they offer will last a long time.
Such certifications include the German TÜV, the Beaufort Wind Resistance Testing and the European CE.
How long the awning will last also depends on your chosen mounting location. If you install it near tree branches without pruning them first, they might scratch the canvas, acrylic or vinyl fabric and cause a tear. Use common sense and avoid installation over wire fences, greasy barbeques or outdoor fireplaces.
Another thing that affects the longevity of your product is how it operates. Choosing an electric (motorized) model over a manual one means you have one more component to consider: the motor. If it’s from a reputable manufacturer like Somu or Somfy, you’ll get a 5-year warranty, but eventually, you will need to replace it.
However, if you own a motorized model, you can automate its functions by installing additional timers or weather sensors for wind, rain, and sun. Doing so can significantly extend the lifespan of your retractable product as these sensors detect undesirable outdoor conditions and retract the frame and fabric back to safety into the cassette.
How to take care of your retractable awning?
If you want your retractable patio awning to last long, so you make the most of your investment, you must remember to take proper care of it. For example, some models are not designed to be used during snowy cold winters but only to protect you from the sun during the summer.
In such cases, you should keep them retracted during the winter months. The same rule goes for awnings that are not wind-resistant or not waterproof. Retracting them is necessary during high winds and heavy rain storms.
Another important factor is knowing how and when to clean your retractable awning. Regular cleaning with suitable cleaning agents that won’t damage the awning is essential for its longevity. Removing accumulated dust and debris will preserve your awning’s canopy for as long as possible.
In addition, regularly cleaning the fabric makes your awning more visually appealing. Do not leave greasy or other stains for too long after they appear. Try to remove them as soon as possible so you won’t have to replace the fabric soon.
Rusting is also a common problem with outdoor products. Common awning materials for the awning frame include aluminum and steel. Non-stainless steel rusts relatively quickly. While aluminum won’t rust, it may corrode with time if constantly exposed to the elements. That’s why essential to check and clean the frame from time to time.
When is it time to install a new one?
More often than not, you won’t need an entirely new product but instead to replace the awning’s fabric with a new one or buy a new motor to change the old one. You can encounter common fabric problems: molding, discoloration and fading, sagging and tearing. Of course, there are times when you’ll need a brand-new product.
Those times are when there’s severe awning damage caused by inclement weather. Another possibility is for the metal frame and assembly to rust or corrode so much that it’s no longer possible to operate the awning and for the mechanism to extend or retract.
There’s also the possibility of personal preference. If you decide it’s time to change the model to a more advanced one, or you are changing the exterior design of your building, and you want the shading products to resonate with your style, you should buy a new awning.