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Awning Basics

Updated: May 12, 2020

Awning coverings are very popular, especially in The Lower Mainland, for both rain and UV protection.

Awnings can be installed on a storefront for the purposes of illuminated signage and sidewalk covering, on a commercial building to keep shipping and receiving personnel dry, or on a home to allow for more patio enjoyment throughout the year.

If you’re considering an awning for any of these applications or even something more custom, it helps to know the fundamentals. Following are some awning basics to aid your understanding:

1. Fixed, Retractable and Freestanding Awnings

There are three main styles of awnings, they are:

Fixed; which are attached to any building to provide a permanent cover over the desired area. (There are many styles of fixed awnings – Three Point, Four Point, Quarter Barrel, etc.)

Retractable; as the name implies, retractable awnings retract in and out either by a motorized control or manual mechanism. There are many options on retractable awnings, including; wireless/hardwired control, soffit/wall mount, manual/motorized crank, wind sensors and quick pitch control.

Free standing; an awning supported by posts – independent of adjacent structures, usually a peak or dome style.

2. Dimensions

Dimensions are important when discussing awnings as they directly impact both the function and cost of the covering. Following are some examples of standard awning types including how to dimension them.

3. Fabric or Substrate

The soft material that covers an awning. There are many different types of substrate, each with a specific function for different application requirements:

Vinyl: Low-maintenance, elastic material with semi-gloss finish. Ideal for commercial applications where no graphics are required.

Graphic-Receptive Vinyl: Low-maintenance, elastic material with semi-gloss finish. Ideal for commercial awning applications where graphics are required.

Backlit Vinyl: High quality, graphic-receptive vinyl. Ideal for storefronts or other locations where the fabric will be illuminated.

Eradicable Vinyl: High quality, graphic receptive vinyl. Ideal for applications where the logo, graphic or copy is intended to be backlit to stand out from the rest of the awning.

Canvas: Lightly textured, high-quality acrylic fabric. Wide range of solid colours and stripes available and graphics can be added. Ideal for residential, apartments or restaurant applications where aesthetic is of utmost importance.

Fire-retardant: High quality fire retardant materials to meet regulations. Perfect for any location where fire-rating is required.

4. Backing and Hardware

Backing is what the awning gets mounted to or on. It goes without saying, but this is an integral part of planning for an awning. The backing must be substantial enough to support the proposed awning weight, plus any calculated snow and wind load.

For different backing materials there are different hardware requirements. Awnings can be mounted to concrete, wood, brick, hardy board, steel, etc.

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