Retractable awnings rely on brackets to secure them to a building. The larger the dimensions, in both width and projection, the more brackets required to attach and support it. In this blog we’ll discuss:
- How mounting brackets work
- Types of retractable awning brackets
- Alternatives to wall or roof brackets
- Brackets for RVs and trailers
We’ll also take a look at some of the pros and cons for different awning brackets. This blog is recommended for home and commercial property owners seeking information on how to best secure and protect their awning investment.
Awnings come in many combinations of widths and projections and extend over windows, patios, decks and just about any outdoor living space. The awning may be lightweight and not seem too difficult for the brackets to hold. However, when the canopy is extended or cantilevered, gravity multiplies that weight.
Think of holding a 5-pound weight in your hand at your side. Now extend your arm out straight to your side until it is horizontal. That is similar to the minimum strain and stresses an awning bracket experiences.
Retractable awning brackets have to deal with additional forces too. If the fabric gets wet, it increases the weight, which adds to the downward force. Wind force is another strain the supports must be able to withstand.
Consider a 5’x3’ awning with 15 square feet of cloth, the same as most windsurfers. The 14’x10’ has a generous 140 square feet, enough to make day-sailor fly. If you’re looking at the large 53’x13’ model, that’s a whopping 689 square feet of canvas!
Now that we understand the forces at work let’s look at the brackets.
How Mounting Brackets Work
Retractable awning mounting brackets attach to the ends and depending on size to multiple points along the width of the awning frame. The longer the awning, the more brackets needed to secure it to the structure.
The size of the awning and the type of bracket are very important considerations. The size affects the forces the brackets must withstand. Of additional importance are what the brackets are made of, their shape, what material they will be attached to, and the hardware used to install them. The mechanism used to extend and retract also exerts a force; manual operation adds more stress than electric.
Brackets and hardware must withstand vertical shear forces (gravity), horizontal (lateral forces) strain caused by wind, plus the increased downward pull on the frame when partially or fully extended. Structural and Professional engineers use computer models to calculate all these forces for minimums and maximums and create designs for general or average situations. It is impossible to take every scenario into account though. This is very important to know.
Multi-story buildings will withstand the strain of awning brackets differently than single-story walls. Wall construction is another factor. Stud walls clad in vinyl, brick or wood handle bracket pressure, or compression, in ways different than those mounted in stone, block, concrete, concrete block (CMU) or steel.
The bracket must withstand the downward stresses without buckling the wall, breaking, or being ripped out. There is also the twist and lift situations caused by the wind they must survive. Some brackets use lag screws for installation in to wooden framing; others add anchors or shields to bite into stone or masonry walls. It is of critical importance to use the correct fastener type and size (length and diameter) depending on the substrate that the brackets are being attached to.
Durable mounting brackets spread the weight or force along the wall while others put the strain in one area. Different types of brackets are designed for different surfaces and locations.
Types of Retractable Awning Brackets
Brackets for awnings come in different shapes, sizes and metals. They are ‘J’, and ‘L’ shaped, even ‘F,’ ‘H,’ ‘V,’ ‘T,’ and ‘U’ shaped. Some are formed for siding profiles, while others attach to rafters, and a few to the roof deck.
The brackets are usually made of powder-coated aluminum, stainless steel, or hot painted steel. Some are cast, many are heated and bent, and others welded to form the necessary unit. Beware of those made of plastic – do not use.
Awning wall mounting brackets come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the canopy manufacturer. The width and projection of the model determine the number of brackets needed. Less expensive models use smaller brackets that use lag screws to install. Lag screws must bite into wood studs and not just sheathing. Check the instructions, some recommend attaching a ledger board for the awning mounting brackets to grip. As stated above, it is of critical importance to use the correct fastener type and size (length and diameter) depending on the substrate that the brackets are being attached to.
Some companies have specially designed retractable brackets unique to their products. The bay extension bracket is one that is a horizontal ‘y.’ It provides extra vertical support while spreading the compression force down the wall. Additionally, the roller tube is moved away from the wall and provides more shade.
Brick or stone walls use anchors or shields for bolts or screws to hold onto. Shear force is optimized, but lateral or twist isn’t. When canopies are fully extended, the force is more diagonal, and the strain on the anchor has actually caused walls to buckle. Using larger awning support brackets that spread the force out more is recommended.
Soffit and Fascia
Soffit/eave and fascia brackets frequently are the same or similar type used for walls, just oriented differently. It is often easier though to find a rafter to attach the bracket to. Some mounts attach to both sides of an exposed truss with bolts going through the metal and the wood. This is usually a more expensive solution but is available if requested.
There are buildings where an awning can’t be attached to a wall, soffit/eave or fascia. The walls may not be able to support a canopy; they could be glass, or not tall enough to provide comfortable clearance. Soffit/eave and fascia also may not give the necessary height.
Adjustable roof brackets for retractable awnings are a great solution. They mount through the roof deck in to the top side of the roof rafter and can even have a plate underneath to provide more support if needed. A standard retractable awning wall bracket can then be bolted to the roof bracket to hold the awning. The roof bracket or retractable awning doesn’t interfere with the gutter, and it allows warm air and rain to escape instead of being trapped.
Alternatives to Wall or Roof Awning Brackets
In some situations, it is not possible to attach an awning to a structure. A potential solution is to install a frame like a soccer goal post and either bolt them to an anchor in the ground or set them in a concrete anchor.
The frame is usually erected near the building, so a retractable awning can be mounted to it to shade a patio or deck. Alternatively, some homes or businesses install a frame away from the building and attach an awning on each side to form a double-wide “tent” shaped like ^ to protect more outdoor area from the sun.
Awning Brackets for RVs and Trailers
RVs and trailers use similar brackets to house or building walls to attach the awning securely. The brackets are either stainless steel or aluminum. Retractable RV awnings frequently have slider arms that provide support to the front bar. The roller is attached to brackets that have been bolted to the vehicle. Brackets are ‘L’ shaped reinforced at the angle.
Some RV retractable awnings are reversed, so the vehicle acts as the front bar. The awning roller is supported on slider arms and unrolls as it is moved away from the trailer or RV side. Different manufacturers also offer a choice of bracket depending on the model selected.
The Different Types of Awning Brackets: Comparison Table
|Brackets||Form||Bracket Material||Anchors/Fastener Type. Check with your local structural engineer||SurfaceMaterial (Substrate)||Level of Difficulty|
‘J,’ ‘L,’ ‘F,’ ‘H,’ ‘V,’ ‘T,’ ‘U’
Cladding over stud frame
Wall – Brick/Stone
|‘J,’ ‘L,’ ‘F,’ ‘H’||Steel
|Lag screws Self-tapping bolts||Hard, solid surface||Medium|
|Soffit & Fascia||‘J,’ ‘L,’ ‘F’&Steel Plates||SteelAluminum||Lag screwsNuts & Bolts||Wood rafter or truss||Easy|
|Lag screwsNuts & Bolts||Sheathing over rafter/truss||Medium|
|RV & Trailer||Reinforced‘L’||Steel
|Stainless steel nuts & bolts||Steel or aluminum||Hard|
Retractable awning brackets are an important part of your awning. Improper installation could result in bodily injury or damage to the awning or the building. Make sure to use the correct bracket and hardware, and review the instructions and some installation videos if doing it yourself. If someone else is installing it, check to see how they are attaching the brackets.