Patio awnings are coverings placed over the patio area in order to provide protection from various types of weather conditions. The awnings are normally placed at a height that allows ample headroom for people to stand in the patio area and move about freely. In most designs, the patio awning is anchored on the exterior wall along one side of the patio area and is usually supported with some type of frame construction of wood or metal. The awning provides shade as well as protection from wind and rain.
A typical patio awning has a body of canvas that is draped over a supporting frame. The frame helps to provide definition to the shape and dimensions of the awning, as well as to keep the awning in place. While sturdy, the frame is usually constructed with lightweight materials, notably aluminum. The canvas normally includes fibers that resist fading and damage from exposure to the elements, such as acrylic and polyester.
Along with the canvas patio awning, there are also lightweight awning designs that call for the use of aluminum panels. Supported with a frame in a manner similar to canvas awnings, the aluminum model is often favored in areas where snow or other factors make the use of canvas as a patio covering impractical. The aluminum panels or sheeting that are used for the covering are usually treated to resist water damage such as rust and corrosion, and often are painted in colors to match the exterior of the building.
The patio awning may be fixed in position or be constructed as a retractable device. When fixed in place, the awning functions in the same manner as an umbrella that is left open; the patio space is always covered. However, an awning that will retract can make patios more versatile. The homeowner can adjust the amount of coverage desired for the area. This makes it possible to completely retract the awning on sunny days, or create a dual function for the space, with one section exposed to the sunlight while the other section provides shade.
With a retractable patio awning, the mechanism can be operated manually using a hand crank. Other designs utilize a motor driven control panel to activate the retraction or extension of the awning. It is not unusual for motorized awning designs to also come with a manual over-ride, a feature that comes in handy if the power supply to the home is temporarily interrupted.
Because there is a wide range of sizes, designs, and materials used in the manufacturing of the patio awning, there are prefabricated awnings available for just about any budget. Regardless of the type or size of the awning, these simple devices can make a huge different in the ability of the homeowner to enjoy the patio, regardless of the weather conditions.