Awnings for your Home Retractable or fixed?

There are all kinds of good reasons for adding an awning to your home. Reasons like an awning provides an attractive addition to the outside of your home, saves you money by keeping your home cool in the summer and cuts down on your energy bills as well as extending the life of your carpets and furniture by protecting them from the sun’s rays. But, since all awnings will block sun and heat as well as make your living space both inside and outside more comfortable, with so many options, how do you go about choosing the awning that’s right for you?

Retractable Vs. Fixed

Fixed awnings or canopies have been used for centuries to protect entrances and windows form the weather and in many cases they’re a good choice. Since a fixed awning is permanently attached to your home it obviously provides constant shade and weather protection. If you live in an area that gets lots of sun, a permanent awning may be the ideal prescription to constantly help cool your home and keep the sun out. Another advantage of fixed awnings is their cost, they are often less costly than retractable awnings since they’re less complicated to build and don’t require opening and closing hardware.

The downside to a permanent awning is obviously the fact that it’s permanent. Once it’s attached to your home it becomes a fixture and you better like the appearance of the awning, because you can’t easily get rid of it. Another potential downside is during bad weather, since you can’t retract a permanent awning there is the potential of storm and wind damage to your home if strong gusts pull it off the wall.

Retractable awnings provide the same advantages of sun blocking and cooling as fixed awnings do, but have some extra advantages because of their flexibility. On a sunny day you can open the awning to keep the heat and sun out of your home, while on cooler days simply leave the awnings up and take advantage of the heat provided naturally (and inexpensively) by the sun. When bad weather is coming, you can retract your and minimize potential damages to your awning or your home.

The downside to retractable awnings is they generally cost more than fixed awnings, and depending on whether you choose to have it open and close manually or automatically, you could en up with a significant price differential when compared to a fixed awning.

Choosing an awning for your home

When it comes to choosing an awning, you want to do your homework and shop around and decide on what kind of options you want (For example, do you mind spending a few minutes turning a wheel to raise or lower your awning or are you more interested in pushing a button and having the awning move automatically?)
Home and garden shows are a great place to see different manufacturers’ products and get a good idea of the designs and options available that make sense to you. Just be sure to make an ‘apples to apples’ comparison by comparing different brands with similar features and options.
Looks for good quality construction like aircraft grade aluminum tubing or better yet, extruded steel and enamel or powder coated finishes to ensure long wear and consistent good looks. If an awning feels light and flimsy at the show or in the showroom it will be light and flimsy on your house as well.

Awnings can be made from all kinds of materials - vinyl, canvas or other water-resistant fabric such as acrylic yarns that are breathable and won’t trap heat under the awning. Try to choose a fabric that’s waterproof and mold resistant as well as one that blocks at least 90% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays and resists fading.

Thinks about installing it yourself? Make sure the company provides understandable and easy to follow installation instructions as well as support for the DIY’er (check their website or ask your sales person for a sample.

Warranties and testimonials from satisfied customers are a vital part of an informed choice. The warranty on your awning should be at least five years and backed up by customer testimonials attesting to the company’s service and how well they stand behind their product.

An awning can be both a practical and an economically wide addition to your home. In addition to the immediate dollar savings on your energy bills, it can even add substantially to the resale value of your home down the road. When choosing awnings for your home, bear in mind that even with a retractable awning, you’re adding a relatively permanent fixture and take the time to make the right choice, for you.

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to