What is a Window Awning?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A window awning is an exterior device that brings shade to your windows while sometimes adding an attractive decorative element. Typically made of metal or canvas, awnings come in several different styles to suit the needs of a particular building. With a rainbow of colors and patterns available, awnings can be just the thing to add a cheery touch to a home or workplace, while serving practical purposes as well.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

An awning is essentially a shade for the outside of a window. Usually attached above the top of the window, awnings can be angled to change the amount of shade and sunlight allowed in through the window. By lowering the amount of sunlight allowed in, a window awning can help reduce energy costs by keeping inside temperature protected from the heat. Installing environmentally safe awnings can even be a part of an overall “greening” of a building meant to lower energy use.

Awnings come in several design styles. Freestanding awnings are attached to a metal frame, and are useful when you cannot drill into the building face or attach the awning in another way. Freestanding awnings also have the benefit of being seasonal; they can be tucked away in the winter months to extend their lives. Fixed awnings are just the opposite: they are firmly attached to the building and are difficult to remove. This type of window awning is typically made of more durable material to help withstand the elements.

Retracting or adjustable awnings are extremely popular with homes and restaurants. These multi-tasking versions allow the easy adjustment of the angle of coverage in order to better protect from the sun. Retracting awnings can also be rolled up and closed, allowing sun to reach windows and the surrounding ground space on chilly days. Because of their flexibility, most retractable awnings are made from canvas or other sturdy fabrics.

For the gadget-lover, mechanical awnings may be a dream come true. Rather than fussing with angles and poles to adjust the awning, this deluxe version does it all. Using a remote control or even light switch, awnings can be extended or retracted in just a few moments. This type of window awning can be a blessing for restaurants with large windows or patio areas that need to carefully control the amount of sun allowed. With a mechanical window awning, wait staff need not spend valuable time fussing around with retractable devices.

Material for awnings is typically sturdy and rainproof, but does require cleaning from time to time to remove acquired debris such as leaves. Luckily, the material used for most awnings is simply weather-treated canvas, so altering color scheme or pattern is a simple task. Mechanical or permanent awnings may require professional installation, but freestanding or retracting varieties can certainly be a do-it-yourself project for the craft-friendly. With just a few hours of work, a home or business can take on the charm of a seaside cottage or romantic bistro, all with the application of awnings.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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