How to Select an Outdoor Patio Awning

Written By: Better Backyards
The summer sun beats down mercilessly on your patio, making it difficult if not downright uncomfortable to entertain outside except on cooler days. You did not buy your home to be stuck inside with air-conditioning running, so get outside and enjoy nature thanks to your newly installed patio awning.
1. Consider this first. You’ll want an awing that covers a significant portion of your outdoor living area, but first you need to look around that area and remove impediments. That means looking above your patio and examining tree limbs that may hang over the area. Although you may enjoy some shade, remove dead branches that might come crashing down on your awning and patio.
2. Your entertainment options. With an awning in place, you’ll expand your entertainment possibilities tremendously. Now, everyone you invite over will want to sit outside, enjoying cool breezes while being protected by direct sunlight. The more time you spend making use of your patio, the more likely you’ll want to entertain with an upscale awning in place.
3. Set a budget. You can spend from a few hundred to a thousand dollars or more on an awning and related patio furniture. Determine first how much money you care to spend and then shop accordingly. Keep in mind that if you skimp, lesser materials may not stand the test of time. On the other hand, a beautiful awning can offer a dramatic presence, and work as a selling point when it comes time to move from your home.
4. Measure your living area. Awnings come in various sizes, with some large enough to offer shade for most it not all of your patio’s footprint. Bring out a tape measure and measure the entire patio — length times width. Use these numbers as the basis for your patio awning. Also consider where the awning will be fixed — typically, these are located above sliding doors and will span its entire length. Ultimately, you’ll use the doorway as the basis for sizing the awning.
5. Install or do it yourself. You can buy an awning and install it yourself or have someone do it for you. If you choose the DIY route, your awning will come with numerous parts including a brackets, screws, washers, nuts and bolts. Hand-cranked models offer a bracket with a hand adjustable crank; motorized models include a remote transmitter with a wall mount. If you do not have the expertise or the time to handle this project yourself, then buy an awning from a dealer that can install it too.
6. Manual, power or retractable. Shop for an awning and you’ll soon learn that these come in a variety of styles and functions. Some awnings are partially or full retractable, while others are fixed. You can choose a hand-cranked awning or a power-operated model. Your fabrics will differ too with styles that can match your home or offer a lovely contrast. Consider the main components of your awning too — as you can buy one with strong tension arms, self-lubricating bearings, powder coated and highly durable.
7. Understand your warranty. Awnings are important investment and should include a warranty. Surely, your homeowners policy will cover damage, but your awning company should offer at least a basic warranty for premature fading, tearing or damage to the mechanical parts including the operating components. Ask your dealer about standard and extended warranties; familiarize yourself with deductibles and exclusions.
Awning Considerations
Besides size, style, color and price, you’ll want to consider the maintenance of your awning. Most can be gently hosed down to clean the fabric with some allowing for the use of a mild detergent. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid voiding your warranty.
Lastly, if you’re not sure how an awning will look on your home, ask the installer for photos of projects previously completed. Get references and call these customers too — you’ll want to deal with company that offers excellent service, to give you an awning you’ll always cherish.