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Tips for Designing a Custom Awning for Your Business

Tips for Designing a Custom Awning for Your Business

Designing awnings for a business relies on an entirely different set of standards compared to how you design awnings for homes. Aside from the requisite protection provided by awnings, it can improve the visual appeal of your property, thus boosting your business. This post will discuss in detail the seven things to consider when designing awnings for your business. These are:

  1. Decide between a fixed or retractable awning
  2. Consider the size of the awning
  3. Choose the awning shape or design
  4. Choose the right colors
  5. Where to place your branding
  6. Choose the awning material
  7. The angle of the awning hood

Upon reading the post, you should be able to have a better understanding of how to design awnings for business establishments. You should also have a better grasp of the thought process that will need to go into designing an awning based on your own business.

Whether you are looking to install a simple awning or a complex one with an electric mechanism, there are basic factors to consider which in hindsight may seem obvious but can easily be forgotten during the design phase. Below are the seven things to consider in designing and tips on how to apply each to your project. All of these will have an impact on the price, value, and functionality of your awning.

Decide between a fixed or retractable awning

In designing an awning for your business, before anything else, decide on what type of awning will be used. You can choose between two basic awning types, fixed and retractable.

Fixed awnings can be simpler in design and usually less expensive than retractable awnings. These are commonly used for restaurant patios, outdoor coffee tables, hotel decks, or terraces. Fixed awnings are an effective tool to identify or segment a property space, a great example is when coffee shops use outdoor awnings to designate customer spaces outside their shop.

Retractable awnings are also appropriate for spaces that fixed awnings can cover but provide an option to fold or retract the awning when not in use or when letting in natural sunlight. Unlike fixed awnings which can be made entirely of metal, retractable awnings are typically made from fabric and are not designed to handle bad weather, thus should be retracted during storms, heavy snowfall, and strong wind. Retractable awnings can handle light rain if enough pitch or angle is placed on the arms/fabric.

Consider the size of the awning

It is important to determine the amount of space to be covered by an awning. The width and projection of an awning can impact which type of material should be used. An awning spanning the entire length of a building might be too long for a retractable type, although retractable awnings can span over 50 feet wide using one motor and one piece of fabric.

Modern ‘’awnings design built with light but strong materials like aluminum and fiberglass are better suited for very long awnings. Rugged materials like corrugated steel or thick marine plywood can also be considered for a traditional fixed awning or permanent awning.

Small awnings are more decorative since their main goal is to add accent and ambiance to an area. You have more freedom to choose the material for these awnings as the small awning size makes it easy for fabricators and assemblers to use either a metal or fabric awning.

A retractable design may also be suited for wide awnings that cover a patio or deck. The lightness of the fabric will not put too much strain on the awning frame and the awning can be retracted when necessary to protect the frame and fabric from bad weather.

Choose the awning shape or design

An awning is an important piece of your business establishment since it is one of the first things to greet your customer. Thus the awning design should be in concert with your business theme or brand. You can choose from multiple models, sizes, and shapes. Below are some of the designs you can choose from for your business.

  • Canopy shape – Half circle or dome-shaped awnings can be attached to walls directly above windows and entrances.
  • Traditional shape – A flat and slanting awning that can be installed with side panels to add more design or shade. Installations can be done over windows and entrances, but can also be used for restaurant or hotel porches, patios and decks.
  • Convex shape – Similar to a traditional awning but with a curved roof or hood. Although giving the same amount of protection, it is more visually appealing than a traditionally shaped awning and is normally used as accent pieces for the exterior of hotels and restaurants.
  • Concave shape – A design characterized by sloping and inward curving awning hoods commonly made from fabric. This design is chosen more for its visual elements than for shade and protection.

The various range of awning styles should give you multiple options to choose which matches best with the overall look of your business establishment.

Choose the right colors

Your awning will be one of the most visible parts of your establishment and should be considered as part of the overall appeal or theme of your business. You need to choose an awning color that matches or compliments your branding and your interiors. For example, you shouldn’t consider having a brightly colored awning in front of a law firm building – you can, but it might not jive with the overall business branding.

Family friendly diners should choose awnings with pleasing, playful, and bright colors like red, yellow, and blue, while high-end restaurants might opt for serious and monotone colors that fit their image. Those who design grocery awnings should use natural earth colors like green and blue to signify product freshness.

An awning will also be one of the first things that potential customers see before entering your shop, so take the opportunity to create a striking and attention-grabbing awning to attract more business.

Also, by using your brand colors for your awnings, you will strengthen your brand’s association with your chosen colors. Pink might be your favorite color, but a pink awning might not be the best option for your hardware business. Decide which colors blend with the brand personality that you want to achieve then have your online awning vendor present swatches or colorway options during the design stage.

Where to place your branding

Aside from adding ambiance and space functionality, awnings can be an effective marketing tool. Placing your business name and logo on them can help with branding visibility and helps customers identify your business.

For large awnings, you can place your branding on the main cover as long as the awning elevation and angle of the cover allows for clear visibility to passing customers.

Placing your business name and logo on a smaller awning can make the branding look “too busy”. Unless done on purpose to achieve a theme, this will give the impression of ill-fitting marketing material. Your online awning vendor should help you explore simple and clear ways to market your business and maximize awning space.

Effective and identifiable brands like Dunkin Donuts can use just their logos to maximize awning space.

The shape of the awning will also play a part in choosing where to place your branding. Placing your branding on circular or dome type awnings may skew the letters or images and it will make little sense to place your branding on awning covers parallel to the ground.

If the cover is not an ideal option either due to the shape or the elevation, you can install side panels which creates additional shade and also gives you an ideal space for branding.

Choose the awning material

The most common awning material used for business establishments are solution dyed acrylic fabric, vinyl, fiberglass, and metal, with solution dyed acrylic fabric being the most popular choice due to its many advantages over other materials.

If you do a quick check in your neighborhood, you will find that the majority of establishments like hotels, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants use solution dyed acrylic fabric awnings.

The range of colors available makes it easier to choose what meshes well with branding colors. It is also easier to customize awnings fabric design to maximize a given space or to shapes that highlight the establishment. This also allows for retractable designs that allow you to take advantage of sunlight for natural lighting which should be perfect for hotel courtyards, garden restaurants and coffee shops.

The caveat here is that outdoor fabric awnings using traditional canvas, regular (not solution dyed) acrylic, cotton, duck or polyester will require much more maintenance than a solution dyed acrylic fabric and are susceptible to damage, mildew, rotting and color fading in a very short period of time.

This is the advantage of using fixed metal awnings, with aluminum being the most common material used. The sturdy nature of fixed metal awnings allows them to withstand storms and environmental hazards that can wreak havoc on fixed fabric awnings. This makes metal awnings suitable for parking lots to protect customer vehicles or along the windows of seaside restaurants. The best option to install is retractable fabric awnings that can be closed prior to a wind event or using a wind or motion sensor to close once the wind becomes too much for the retractable awning to handle.

Another important consideration is to choose between waterproof awnings vs. water resistant ones. A waterproof awning is made of material totally impervious to water like plastic while a water resistant awning is made from materials that can only delay water penetration like treated fabric or canvas.

The angle of the awning hood

The angle of outdoor awnings for business use is crucial in maximizing the awning coverage but is often times overlooked. An awning with very little incline will not be an effective deterrent to mid-morning and late afternoon sunlight since it is almost parallel to the ground.

Installing awnings at an angle will not only allow them to give more protection from the sun but allows the business to utilize the awning cover for marketing purposes.

The amount of angle or awning drop can also add to the overall look and feel of the business establishment. Depending on the design, steeply angled awnings can accentuate a convenience store or shopping mall facade by giving it more shape, color, and design.

Although flat angled awnings have limited sun coverage, they are normally used as roofing for hotel entrances and for outdoor restaurants more concerned with rain and drizzles; unfortunately this also provides the least amount of privacy.


These tips are enough to give you a basic idea on how to design your business awning. With this foundational knowledge, you will have an easier time conversing with your design consultant or online awning specialist as you will be able to clearly convey what you want and what you believe is best for your business.
For more information on awning products or for advanced design awnings, consult with your architect, landscape architect or a trusted online awning provider to help you determine the best awning for your establishment.