Retractable Awnings: Which Materials Are Best?

Retractable Awnings: Which Materials Are Best?

When it comes to finding the perfect shading structure for your home, business, or restaurant, outdoor retractable awnings are an unbeatable choice. Not only do they enhance the look of your space, provide shade and protection from outside elements, but they can also expand your business’ commercial footprint and accommodate more customers (for increased profits!).

Outdoor awnings come in a variety of shapes, styles and materials, so choosing the right retractable awning for your business or home is an important decision – one that you need to get right to avoid future hassles and disappointment.

Below are 3 factors to consider when choosing a premium quality and durable awning for your business or home.

1. Awning structure and frame

The quality and material of an awning’s mounting structure is essential, as it supports and holds and the canvas, fabric and rooftop securely in place. In order to keep your customers adequately protected from the sun and the rain and ensure your awning remains functional year after year, ensure it is properly mounted and secured and that your quality structure comes with a structural warranty.

The two most popular awning structure materials are wood and aluminum. Although they both provide a sturdy framework to withstand strong winds and support heavy weight, wooden structures naturally weather in time by warping or cracking and require frequent maintenance and several treatments to be kept in optimal condition.

Aluminum awning structures, on the other hand, are the preferred choice among business owners because of their versatility, durability and sleek design. They require low maintenance and can withstand weather inclements without warping, rusting, bowing, or stretching. Moreover, they are lightweight and resilient — making them a great option for bigger to smaller decks, exterior walls, ceilings or other areas that need shading. The free-standing structure can hold a few pounds of snow, hail, or sleet, as well remain in place year-long by simply rolling back the roof with a manual or motorized crank.

Retractable Awnings: Which Materials Are Best?

2. Awning canvas and fabrics

In addition to the structure, selecting the right fabric to shield your patio or terrace is also a key point to consider. A durable awning does not only depend on a solid frame structure — because it is constantly exposed to outdoor elements, it also requires a premium quality awning fabric that can withstand the test of time and maintain its appeal over time.

That’s where acrylic and vinyl fabrics come in: they provide ultimate weather protection and undeniable style for your outdoor living space. They are easy to maintain, weatherproof (water-resistant and/or waterproof) and provide 98% protection from sunlight and UV rays. Unlike natural fabrics, which are susceptible to mold and mildew, synthetic fabrics offer outstanding stability, deflect heat and repel water, making them an ideal choice for hot and humid areas. Moreover, they resist fading and discoloration, mold and mildew.

Retractable Awnings: Which Materials Are Best?

Available in a multitude of colors and styles, our 3-season and 4-season Sunbrella acrylic shade fabrics are treated with a coated finish to repel water upon contact, and can be retracted during inclement weather. In addition they are backed by a 10 year limited warranty, making them a great cloth choice to shade your patio. Acrylic cloth maintenance is also quite easy, requiring only lukewarm water and soft soap, without using any specific cleaning products.

3. Awning accessories

Last but not least, to extend the longevity of your awning and optimize its use, consider these awning features and options:

Protective cover hood & rooftop

Some retractable awnings come equipped with an aluminum protective hood which may be added as an option to protect your canvas, the retractable roll and mechanism from ice and winter damage. Other retractable awning options offer a built-in rigid aluminum cover hood such as the Attico retractable awning, where the canvas automatically stores underneath it.

Another option is to opt for an aluminum awning rooftop which is welded into the structure as opposed to sewn, ensuring greater stability.

Motorized awning crank

Available as an option for all types of awning, the motorized crank is an effective and practical way to open and close your awning when not in use or when you want to create an open-air setting. The crank will also make sure that your canvas is protected during extreme weather breakouts.

4. Awning use quick tips

To further increase the lifespan of your awning:

Check your awning frames at the end of every season to ensure there are no visible scratches or defects

Avoid using it under heavy rains or winds, or expected snow or freezing rain. It’s better to retract the rooftop when not in use

Dust off the canvas or wash it periodically (water and mild soap will usually suffice!) to prevent dirt accumulation

Avoid operating the awning in freezing weather. If your awning is frozen, it’s better to wait until it thaws naturally before using it

Don’t let water or snow rest and accumulate on your awning. Use a soft broom to push it off from the awning


Choosing and buying the right retractable awning for your home or business requires careful thought, planning, and consideration. By considering the factors mentioned above, you can ensure you’ll make the best decision suited for your long-term needs.

The durability of your awning will depend on various factors: the structure material, the fabric you choose, its added features and intended use. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the different awning options and materials available will definitely go a long way!

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