What To Know About Awnings: Types And Materials
If you are not familiar with awnings but still need or want one to be installed in your home or workplace, then you need to know some basics first. Awnings, canopies or sunshades, whatever you wish to call them, they have become popular not just because they look good and make a place look fancy but for more practical reasons. A few could be like the followings:
1. Awnings and similar shades could play a huge role in making a place extremely energy efficient than one could usually imagine. For instance, did you know a square foot of window glass lets in more heat and energy than a whole insulated wall? This in turn increases the energy usage by air conditioners from 55 to 75%. When installed properly, awnings can help you save that much energy and related bills.
2. The shades they provide are efficient at protecting furniture and surfaces that are more vulnerable to weather exposures but often need to be kept outside. Of instance, outside furniture, if not protected against heat and sunlight exposures properly, wither away faster than you would expect.
Other than that, systematic installations also make your home more “in tune” with its surrounding environment. In addition, if you want to use them for workplace purposes, they can be modified and customized according to your taste and business that carries the identity of your business.
Types of Awnings
Now that the obvious and obscure benefits have been spelt out, let us move on to the different types of awnings and sunshades available in the market. Fundamentally, there are mainly two types: fixed and retractable. Both types have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
As the name suggests, shades like these are fixed in a place and cannot be moved and/or folded according to requirements which of course is not necessarily a bad thing. This is more traditional and what most of us think of when we hear the word “canopy”. Stationary shades such as these may stand independently of a household structure or use that as support in addition to its multiple support stanchions. Fixed awnings have a huge advantage over retractable one that is they can literally be custom shaped to fit over any kind of outside space. In addition, a single fixed awning can cover a larger area than a retractable one. The problem they pose, on the other hand, is more related to the environment they are going to be installed into. For instance, if you live in a place where high wind and heavy rain is a somewhat common situation then fixed awnings can be problem since they would require vigorous and regular maintenance otherwise they are going to break down or tear due to extreme weather exposures.
Unlike fixed ones, retractable awnings give you the option of deciding when you need you space to be shaded and when not to. Although some of them can be manual, most modern retractable shades are motorized and need only the press of a button to fold back and forth. What is more, they can be fitted with sensors that can measure wind speed and air humidity to automatically retract or expand the shades during heavy rains and/or storms. Of course, naturally they are more expensive than their stationary counterpart but that is because they come with their own set of advantages. Retractable canopies can still be used to provide shade to a large space but depending on the actual size of that space, multiple awnings are used instead of one, unlike the fixed canopies. Small retractable awnings, like those used to shade windows and doors, can also be shaped methodically and aesthetically to provide additional “weather advantages”.
Type of Awning Materials
This is the most crucial piece of information that you need to know if you are trying to get some shades installed, regardless of home or workplace. Frankly, you do not need any detailed analysis to realize whether you need/want the stationary or the retractable awnings but you do need a good understanding about the types of materials they are made of to make sure that you would gain the maximum value from your investment. Awning materials are considered appropriate based on their longevity, resistance to weather exposure, stretch and leakage resistance and such. Let us look at the material types.
Almost all the awnings available in the market are made of polyester materials, some original while others are mixed with some complementary materials. The most common mixed materials are polyester with acrylic coating, PVC coating and vinyl laminate.
As mentioned earlier, stretch-resistance is an almost mandatory requirement for good awning materials and the acrylic coating polyester material lives up to this requirement. In addition, its high leakage resistance and color-fastness makes this waterproof material an ideal choice for regions with a high rainfall rate.
Like the acrylic coating material, vinyl laminate material is highly resistant to mildew making it an ideal choice for humid place. In addition, it also drastically reduces the amount of ultraviolet ray that can pass through which is the prime culprit for causing discoloration. For this reason, vinyl laminate polyester is preferred for using in display windows. However, when it comes down to longevity alone, the PVC coating polyester is the frontrunner. This sturdy material is as resistant against mildew as vinyl coating but probably not as much resistant against UV rays. But they are very easy to clean and require minimum to moderate maintenance.
Besides the dominating polyester materials, cotton is more of classic and traditional choice for awnings, and for obvious reasons. While they are the most environment friendly, they are also the least resistant against various weather conditions making them tear and breakdown quickly. That is why various other materials are woven with cotton to make it sturdier. Still, cotton based awnings require regular and high maintenance.
Apart from these, there are also acrylic fabrics and vinyl coating polyester which are good for water resistance. The latter though, is more fashion than function due to their lightweight and mesh-like characteristics.
A final thing to remember when it comes awnings is that the most expensive is not necessarily the best; at least not the best for you. Choose the type based on what you need, not what you think you need.