When the weather gets nicer, you want to spend more and more time outside. However, while the sun can be a welcome addition to the experience, you don’t want to sit directly in its path, especially when you’re trying to relax at home.
One of the easiest ways to transform your exterior spaces to make them more friendly while keeping your sun tanning to a minimum is to install a retractable awning. These installations will help you get the most out of the hotter months of the year. Now you can sit outside to read, entertain, or have dinner with your family.
The best retractable awnings will also allow you to customize the space as you see fit. If you don’t need a cover, then pull it back, and you’re ready to go. Their ability to change with your needs makes them an excellent addition to any home or commercial building.
Let’s take a look at the best retractable awnings, as well as go over the various elements to pay attention to when making your decision.
Products 98x80in Retractable Aluminum
Outsunny 8' x 7' Patio
SONGMICS Retractable Folding
SONGMICS 236.2" L x 70.9" H Double Side Awning
First and foremost, size does matter when picking out an awning. The reason for this is that you have to make sure that it will fit the space you’re trying to put it in; otherwise, you’ll either wind up with a model that’s too large or too small to be effective.
Thus, the first step you should take before looking at various retractable awnings is to measure the space in which it’s going to go. This way, you can be sure that you will find the perfect unit. Choosing the proper size will not only maximize your space’s potential, but it will also make installation much easier.
For example, if you pick a retractable awning that is too small, you may experience problems when installing it because you won’t be able to attach it to the right anchor points. The same issue can happen if it’s too wide as well.
The other thing to consider when picking out the right size is how far it will stick out. This element is crucial because it will dictate how much you can use the awning throughout the day. If it doesn’t stick out far enough, then it won’t be useful for most of the day, rendering it little more than a decoration.
Manual vs. Automatic
For the most part, retractable awnings are going to be manually operated. However, if you’re willing to spend a little more money for the convenience, then having an automatic version will make your life so much easier.
With manual units, you typically have to use a bar to turn the mechanism that retracts the awning. Thus, you have to make sure that the bar is accessible at all times so that you aren’t stuck with the canopy being in or out.
One nice thing about manual retraction is that you can adjust the awning as you see fit. Thus, if you don’t need it to extend all the way, you can shorten it as needed and then spread it further later on in the day. Automatic versions will typically only allow you to extend or retract fully, meaning that you can’t customize it.
Higher-end models, however, may have some additional features. For example, you can find ones that come with sensors to detect if wind or rain is coming. When that happens, it will retract automatically so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to leave the awning open when you don’t need it.
Overhead vs. Side Awning
When we talk about retractable awnings, most of them will extend over your head, like an umbrella. The primary purpose is to block out the sun and keep you in the shade at all times. Also, these kinds of awnings may also serve to protect you from other environmental elements like rain, provided that they are made of robust, waterproof material.
Side awnings, however, serve a different purpose. While they can still provide shade from the sun, their primary function is to act as a divider for your space. Whether you’re trying to add some privacy to your outdoor areas or you just want to segment your patio or porch, a side awning can provide sufficient division while also being adjustable and customizable.
Because your retractable awning is going to be in place for a long time, you want to make sure that it will add value to your home or business. If the awning looks out of place, then it may be more of an eyesore than a welcome addition to your outdoor space.
While there aren’t as many style options with retractable awnings as there are with standard models, you can usually choose from a variety of colors and designs that will make your space look better than ever.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that colors will fade over time. After months and years of exposure, you can expect your awning to look less brilliant with each passing season. Thankfully, however, some high-end materials will keep their colors longer, meaning that you don’t have to worry about replacing it for a while.
Although most retractable awnings are designed to block out the sun, that doesn’t mean that you won’t use it for other times of the year. If you want to utilize your outdoor spaces all year round, then you need high-quality material that won’t wear down from environmental factors.The other thing to consider with your awning material is how easy it is to clean. Over time, layers of grit and grime will develop, so you want to be able to scrub them off with relative ease. Some materials will absorb dirt and stains, while others can resist such messes. Depending on how accessible the awning is for cleaning, you will want a material that fits your needs.
Starting us off is this elegant and simplistic awning from Diensweek. This model is available in two sizes and two colors, so you’re sure to find one that matches your criteria. You can pick from either a chic beige or a robust green and white striped pattern. The sizes available are either 10’ x 8’ or 12’ x 10’. This awning is designed for both home and commercial use, meaning that it’s built to last.
The material of this model is 100% spun polyester. It is a thick weave that helps keep water and sunlight from coming through. This retractable awning is resistant to rain, color fading, and wind.
When measuring wind resistance, many manufacturers will refer to the Beaufort scale. The smaller the number, the less wind it can handle, and this awning is rated at a four. This means that light to stiff breezes are not an issue. However, if the wind picks up substantially, it could cause damage to the unit.
This is a manual operation awning, but it uses double ropes and a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame to ensure a smooth return and extension every time. The sides of the canopy fold into the center, allowing for a compact result when fully retracted.
Finally, this model comes with a two-year limited warranty.
For the most part, when installing a retractable awning, you will likely place it on your back patio or front porch. However, what if you want a canopy over your window or balcony? Most models are too cumbersome and heavy to be deployed in such places, but this unit from Best Choice Products is designed to go almost anywhere.
With a relatively compact size of 8.1 x 6.5 feet, you can install this awning in a wider variety of places. In fact, you can buy multiple ones and place them in various spots around your home or business. They are so easy to install, and they will add functionality and style to your outdoor areas. This awning is available in either beige or a blue/white striped design.
The material is thick and will block out all sunlight, including harmful UV rays. It’s also water resistant, so rain isn’t an issue either. However, it’s not built to handle much wind, so if you live in a windy area, you may want something that can hold up a little better.
This unit is manually operated, and it comes with a hand crank and all of the installation hardware required. The aluminum frame is powder coated to resist corrosion, ensuring that you can use this awning for years to come.
If you want more color options in your retractable awning, then you will appreciate the choices offered by Outsunny. With three brilliant colors to choose from, you’re sure to find one that matches your home’s style and decor.
What we like most about this awning is its simplicity. It’s super easy to install, and it has some of the smoothest movement we’ve seen. Also, it retracts flatter than other models, meaning that it is less obtrusive as well.
Another element that we like with this model is that you can adjust the pitch, up to 18 inches. This refers to how much of an angle the awning will be at when fully extended. You can either have it flat at 180 degrees, or you can angle it downward to protect against the sun better. Also, you can adjust each side independently, making it even more customizable.
As with other models, this material is designed to protect against UV rays and rain. While it’s not as waterproof as other awnings we’ve seen, it’s sufficient for light drizzles and storms. Also, the mounts are sturdy enough for most breezes, although it may wobble a bit when higher winds come in.
So far, we’ve been looking at retractable awnings that are designed to protect you from the sun. However, if you value privacy over anything else, then you will want a side awning instead. Best of all, you can combine a model like this one from Songmics with one of the overhead canopies we’ve already seen.
The primary benefit of these models is that they can help add a bit of privacy and security to your outdoor spaces. For example, if you have a backyard deck without a fence surrounding your property (or the fence is not that high), you can deploy one or more of these awnings to keep prying eyes from spying on you.
That being said, these models are not just for privacy purposes. With a height of five feet, this unit can also provide some shade later in the day, as well as block any wind coming your way. The installation is rugged and stable, meaning that almost any wind will be diverted, rather than disrupting your activities.
The material for this awning is thick polyester, which makes it both UV and water resistant, as well as easy to clean. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to wash and wipe down a side awning than it is an overhead version, so you can keep this unit in pristine condition for much longer. Also, because it’s resistant to fading, you don’t have to worry about finding a replacement anytime soon.
If you liked the other Songmics Side Awning above, but you want something that’s a bit bigger and more rugged, then you will prefer this model instead. It comes with the same basic features as the other one, but it’s better suited for those who have to worry about environmental hazards, or for those who want a little extra privacy.
What sets this model apart is the fact that it offers almost another foot of height coverage. This way, most people can stand without being seen over the awning, making it ideal for privacy. Also, the polyester material is treated to be fully waterproof, meaning that it will stay in better shape all year long.
Installation is still fast and easy, and the polyester is easy to clean. While it isn’t necessarily designed for shade, it does come with a UV 50+ rating, making it ideal for those who want to protect themselves from as much sunlight as possible.
Finally, this model also comes with a 30-month limited warranty.
Because we’ve looked at both overhead and side awnings, we want to share our top picks for both types of units.
When it comes to overhead retractable awnings, we like the Diensweek model the best. It’s built tough and rugged so that it can handle almost any environment, and it’s also incredibly easy to install. While it’s not as versatile as the Best Choice Products Awning, it will hold up to environmental abuse better, making it an ideal option for most people.
As far as side awnings go, Songmics has you covered. Depending on your needs, either unit will provide the privacy and wind protection you need. They are easy to install on a variety of materials, and they will last a long time. For best results, we suggest pairing a side awning with an overhead unit for the ultimate outdoor space. Read reviews on dust collector.
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