Customising a New Sun Awning - What Are My Options?

If you’ve decided to go ahead and order an awning, it can easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the questions you’re asked. Prepare yourself by looking at the different sizes, fabrics and accessories here. That way, you’ll be ready with an answer.

Most of the following options will be limited for 'off the shelf' orders, while made-to-measure awnings give you the most freedom to customise the design. The best installers will be able to guide you through what’s most suitable, and are on hand to provide advice when you just can’t decide.

 

Sizes

The size depends mainly on the type of awning. If you’re looking to cover a larger area, you’ll need a high quality heavy-duty design to support the extra weight. That’s why top-of-the-range bespoke awnings are available in more sizes. They also make it easier to get a perfect size, since you can specify to the centimetre, rather than being restricted to 50cm or 1m intervals. This can be particularly useful for window awnings where sizing may need to be more exact.

 

Width

Off-the-shelf DIY patio awnings are usually 3m to 6m wide, with most around 4m. Bespoke designs commonly have a maximum of 6cm, with some specialist designs as large as 12m.

Often customisable designs can be combined, with two or more awnings working in sync using the same remote control. This means the sky’s the limit with the width of the area you cover. Butterfly awnings pair two retractable awnings along the rear bar for double the coverage.

 

Projection

Projection refers to how far from the wall your awning will reach; a crucial factor in how much shading you’re providing. While cheaper awnings tend to stretch 2.5m to 3m, higher quality designs tend to be 3.5m to 4m. A few designs have narrow widths and larger projections, making them ideal for long gardens. 

 

Height

The installer will need to consider the height of a wall mounted design. This affects its pitch, which is the angle it slopes at. Usually a 10 degree angle is sufficient, although 14 degrees helps to encourage rain run-off even more.

 

Choosing a cover is as much about fabric as style.

Choosing a cover is as much about fabric as style.

Awning Covers

Most awning manufacturers use specially developed polyester or acrylic, with various ranges offering different benefits.

The cheapest awnings sometimes have poor quality plastic covers which trap heat underneath and have a very different appearance and texture.

 

Here are some factors you may want to consider when looking at the covers:

  • Colour and pattern range. RAL is the standard colour referencing system used by most manufacturers, and striped and check patterns are a common alternative to block colours. Business owners sometimes opt for signwriting, which is when their branding is professionally printed onto the cover.

  • Valances. Do you want one, and if so what different patterns are available?

  • Light and air permeability.

  • Glare reduction and light reflection (for temperature control).

  • UVA/UVB protection. UPF is a kind of SPF rating for fabrics - UPF50+ is the highest rating available.

  • Self cleaning properties. These high-tech materials prevent dirt from sticking, for easier maintenance.

  • All weather protection. A water repellent coating will prevent rain from permeating through the fabric.

  • Colour fastness. Affected by its resistance to ultraviolet light.

  • Dying processes. Solution dyeing and similar processes encourage full saturation. This improves the vibrancy of the colours and their fastness

  • Is it removable? Think about the future - will you be able to replace the cover when it becomes damaged or faded? A high quality cover will last well more than 10 years (dependent on the location and how well it’s maintained), but putting a new one on will save you having to buy a whole new awning when that time comes.

 

Frames

The frame is usually aluminium coated with enamel, and you may be given a choice of colours. Some manufacturers offer special effects in addition to solid RAL colours.

 

All Weather Protection

Most quality awnings can cope with light showers well. In addition to choosing a waterproof finish on the fabric, you’ll need to consider a few other details. A pitch of 14 degrees is advised to prevent the water forming a pool on the cover. If your awning gets rained on, leave it to dry out while extended.

Remember not to operate an awning when it’s frozen as this will place extra stress on the mechanism. Try to choose a wind class rating of 2 or above (Beaufort scale 5), since these are safe to use on a day where wind speeds reach 23mph. Wind sensors will retract the awning in the most windy conditions. Although they shouldn’t be depended on, they’re a handy feature if you’ve gone out for the day and forgotten to retract the awning.

 

Accessories

Accessories can really transform an awning - so much so that they might even impact which model or brand you choose.

 

A lighting bar lets you use your awning more.

A lighting bar lets you use your awning more.

Lighting

Entertain late into the evening with awning lighting. Halogen and LED spotlight options are available, sometimes controlled with the same remote control as the awning.

A long lighting bar will fit onto the wall underneath the awning or onto rear bar. This means they can be used in conjunction with any model and are easily fitted retrospectively. They do, however, miss out on the high-spec finish of integrated lighting, which is professionally fitted within the front bar, rear bar and/or end caps.


Heating

Halogen and infrared heaters let you make the most of your awning all year round. They can be mounted to the wall or to the awning bar, and you’ll be able to choose whether you want a switch or radio controlled operation.  


Audio

The latest trend is for speaker systems to be built into the awning framework. Although they’re not very widely available yet, it’s is an streamlined way to add ambiance when dining al fresco.


Sensors

Make operating your awning effortless with sun and wind sensors. They’ll keep your patio area shaded on a sunny day and protect the awning if the wind speeds pick up, even while you’re not around. The best awnings include wind sensors as a standard feature.


Side Blinds and Drop Valances

Side blinds and drop valances can be classed as an accessory, since they’re usually used in conjunction with a patio awning. They retract from the wall or down from the awning’s front bar for a little extra shading.


For more advice on which awning type you need, call 01691 650600 to speak to a member of the Roché team.