Deck and Patio Awnings

Canvas awnings

At one time, all awnings were made of cotton canvas fabric. While canvas is an environmentally friendly option, it does not stand up to the elements as well as synthetic fabric. Canvas rots in humid conditions and is susceptible to damage from sunlight.

It also requires sealing with waterproofing products on a regular basis. Other drawbacks include fading over time and the tendency of dirt to gather in small gaps in the fabric.

A major problem associated with canvas is its susceptibility to fungus and mold when damp. Treating with a sealant does not always deter the growth of microorganisms. Canvas awnings are generally less expensive than awnings made of other materials, but due to their drawbacks have largely given way to awnings made of synthetic fabrics.

Synthetic fabric awnings

Synthetic fabrics were introduced into awning manufacture to address the deficiencies of canvas. These fabrics resist soiling, fading and microorganism growth. Some cheaper varieties, such as vinyl, lack the woven look of canvas and appear more artificial.

The Awning Division of Industrial Fabrics Association International lists seven primary fabrics used in the manufacture of awnings and canopies. They are vinyl-laminated polyester, vinyl-coated polyester, acrylic-coated polyester, vinyl-coated polyester/cotton, solution-dyed acrylic, painted polyester/cotton and solution-dyed modacrylic.

All seven fabrics display resistance to mildew, UV light and water and will last from five to eight years, depending on care and climate. Vinyl-laminated polyester has superior mildew-resisting qualities and is recommended for humid conditions.

Solution-dyed acrylic is an upscale fabric chosen by homeowners looking to coordinate interiors, casual furniture and awnings.

Retractable awnings

Although many awnings are as stationary as a porch roof, some are designed to retract as needed -- giving homeowners the option of having direct sunlight or not depending on the situation. The ability to retract the awning also protects it from damage during periods of high winds or heavy snowfall.

Some retractable awnings are manually operated with a hand crank. Motorized versions open and close with the push of a button like the top of a convertible auto. 

The motor, generally located in the awning’s roller bar, is operated from a wall-mounted switch or wireless remote control. Some of these awnings are equipped with wind sensors and provide automatic retraction under windy conditions.

Awning cost and durability

Cost and durability vary, depending on type and size of awning. Smaller, pre-made, stationary fabric awnings for windows range in price from $100 to $300. Midsized fabric awnings, 4 to 6 feet wide and 3 to 4 feet deep, cost from $200 to $400.

Large pre-made patio awnings cost up to $650. Large custom-made fabric awnings may cost up to $11,000.

Warranties for stationary awning fabric generally are for five to ten years. Proper maintenance and regular cleaning can extend lifespan. Many metal stationary awning frames will last a lifetime.

Pre-made, manually operated retractable awnings range in price from $250 to $1,000, while motorized retractable awnings cost from $1,000 to $4,000. These retractable awnings are available from home improvement stores.

Custom-built motorized awnings cost anywhere from $2,000 to $11,500. Side curtains are available for an additional $100 to $200.

High-quality retractable awning frames will last more than 20 years with proper care. Most motor warranties range from three to 10 years. Fabric lasts for five to 10 years, depending on cleaning and maintenance.

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