Author Archives: Marcion Albert

Complete Guide to Awning Lighting

Green Commercial Box Awning

What is Awning Lighting?

We are seeing a growing trend in which people are adding lights to their awnings. This is both true for residential patio covers as well as those attached to an RV or camper. Over the past few years, the quality of outdoor lighting has greatly improved. With the growth in consumer demand, we have seen more vendors enter the space and drive down the prices. It’s now possible to purchase a quality system for less than a third of what it cost n 2015.

There are four types of patio or awning lighting. At a high level, there are two categories. The first category is for aesthetic light with a primary purpose of setting a romantic mood. These are used for homes when they want to create soft light or in commercial venues when they want to set the right mood such as wedding venues or restaurants on Valentine’s day.

The second category of lighting is designed first and foremost for functionality. These use LED lights that are incredibly energy efficient, and they are also designed to be quite easily affixed to the area that you wish to illuminate.

We will dive into the benefits and drawbacks of each option. In the end, there isn’t a one size fits all solution as it greatly depends on your main objective.

Aesthetic Outdoor Patio Lighting

Whenever you read about awning lights with no further clarification, this is what most people are thinking about. Both types (large bulb and small bulb) are attached to a long electrical wire. These are usually called “String Lights” because each bulb is connected to the wire at specific intervals.

The large bulb lights feature an internal LED that is surrounded by a globe of glass which is used to diffuse and soften the light. These globes can range from being as small as a ping pong ball to as large as a softball. We have even seen some artistic string lights that had the LED inside a mason jar. While they were incredibly pretty, we were not fans of these mason jar lights as the weight created issues for the wire supporting them. If one of the supports broke, it could cause a chain reaction that led to all the mason jars crashing to the ground. We absolutely recommend sticking with manufactured patio lighting that has reinforced glass.

Each large bulb will produce about 20 lumens which are roughly the same as a soft light 40-watt bulb in your home. The outdoor lights often feature a painted exterior that will cause it to glow rather than beam. This type of outdoor lighting is best used to frame a perimeter or an awning, patio, or pergola. There are some designs that run the wires in parallel across the center; however, the lights need to have some support in the middle if they are strung across an open area.

The “Small Bulb Outdoor Lightning” is very similar to Christmas tree lighting. They feature very small LED bulb that is usually painted white and about the same diameter as a pencil. There is an interval of 4″ to 6″ between each bulb, and each single bulb only produces around 2 lumens. If you’re unfamiliar with the lumen as a measurement term, it’s the amount of light that something generates, and for reference one birthday candle is roughly 1 lumen. Here are our three favorite small bulb patio lights.

Functional Centric Outdoor Lighting

This category of lighting is designed to generate the most amount of lumens for the amount of energy consumed. Many of these are solar powered or designed to run from a battery. These are also designed to be self-contained so that it is easy to add to the overall system.

Our first type of this genre are the LED strip lights. These usually have small flat outward facing LEDS that are attached to a long strip of wire. On the back of the wire, there is an adhesive material that allows it to easily stick to the underside of an awning. Additionally, they can also attach to a solid frame as it doesn’t require grommets. If you are setting up a permanent lighting system for a fixed area, we really recommend these.

One of the main perks of the LED strip lights is that they are often programmable through a remote or on a mobile phone app. They can be set to certain colors if you are simply trying to set the mood for a favorite ball team. They can be set to white for maximum lumens, and they can also be programmed to strobe to create an outdoor disco area. These are also incredibly popular for outdoor RV lighting. We have a video below that illustrates how these can be used in creative areas such as a pillar and how they can be controlled via an iphone app:

The final type is ground stick lights. These are individual batons that are pressed into the ground. They either have a battery in the lower section that powers the bulb or a small solar panel on the top. They also feature a darkness detector that causes them to turn on after the sunsets. On the small end, there are 1-lumen lights that are used to illuminate the border of a path. On the other end of this, there is the directional 120-lumen monster. This has a large LED bulb in the center with a concentric concave reflective cone. The large models are usually on motion detectors that are pointed at driveways or home entry points. These are absolutely amazing for portable lighting options as they can be placed around a popup tent. Additionally, if you are tailgating, these can be affixed to the poles instead of pressed into the ground.

Frame for Awning Light

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Louver Roof Awnings

Shade from Exposed Framework Only Awning

Shade from Exposed Framework Only Awning

What are Louver Roof Awnings?

This is one of our favorite types of awning because of its versatility and beauty. The frame either has two vertical supports with one side attached to the house or four free standing vertical supports to make it movable. Unlike other models of retractable awnings, the frame, size, and shape are all fixed. There is a large wooden or aluminum rectangle frame at the top of the supports. The frame will remain in place, and between each side rail of the frame will be a joist or louver. If you’re not familiar then you could imagine a Venetian shade placed horizontally in a wooden frame. The joists between the two sides of the frame create a allow some of the light to pass through, but also provide considerable shade. Most of the models feature fixed position joists that are always perpendicular to the ground. These are incredibly popular in upscale locations in the Southwest such as California and Arizona.

Due to the popularity of the fixed louver awning, a couple of very creative companies have created a mechanism that allows the louver to rotate in a similar manner to how the Venetian blinds mentioned above operate. These have built-in gutter systems so they can be open for sunny days, and be closed for rainy days so that space is always usable. These get the best of both worlds as you get the beauty of the open roof awnings while being able to use the patio all the time.

What Type of Materials are used in this?

They can be divided into two categories. The first are the wooden models that use treated lumber as the support legs, frame, and the louvers. Most of the time these are custom built pieces that begin as lumber which is cut specially for a custom designed awning or gazebo. There are some companies that make wood kits with all the pieces cut so they can be easily assembled; however, this makes up a far smaller portion of the wooden awnings. The second group is the structures that are composed of metal. The support posts and rafters are composed of a stainless or galvanized steel, and the joists are made of a lightweight extruded aluminum. The metal awnings are typically sold as kits, and they can be installed by someone with moderate home improvement abilities. This is usually a two person job simply due to the need of a second pair of hands to position all the parts during construction.

Depending on your budget there are two types of louvers. The first is a traditional rectangular shaped hollow beam that measures about 2″ x 5″. The beam is placed so the 2″ is horizontal and the 5″ is vertical so that when the sun is at an angle the joists overlap to create a contiguous area of shade. The second style of awning is a fluted louver has a cross section closer to the shape of the letter “S”. The fluted variation will provide just as much shading as the hollow beam, and it allows for improved airflow.

Why Get This Style of Awning?

Wood patio covers are more aesthetic than functional in our opinion. They are incredibly popular for homeowners because of their beauty, and they lend themselves to having many different layouts. The cost of the wood patio cover will depend entirely on the type of wood selected. There will be a huge difference in price of pine which will be $5.31 for a 2″x4″x 8′ compared with cherry which has a single board cost of $64.96. Regardless of the type of tree you select, you will always want it to be fully treated to prevent weather damage. One of our experts is working on a guide that will help homeowners identify the lower cost wood and stain it to appear as a higher value wood.

The primary advantage of the wood covers is the wow factor because when they are built correctly will be beautiful, and it can completely transform the exterior of the home. These can also be created by a skilled DIY craftsman. The drawbacks are the financial costs because these are the most expensive on our list, and additionally, they also require ongoing maintenance. In the rural areas, the frame can become the home to birds or bees which build nests that can damage the structure.

Drawbacks of this Style?

The main drawback to this option is the price. Whether it’s an attached awning or standalone gazebo, louver roof structures have a higher price tag than a closed roof option of a similar size. The primary driver for this is material cost as the fabric awnings only have support posts and rafters made of wood or metal with the shade being created by the lower cost fabric. For reference, a louvered roof awning kit can be triple the price of a very high-quality fabric based retractable awning kit. Additionally, the labor costs for the fabric option are also considerably less which is the only drawback that our team has with the louver style of structure.

Frequently Asked Questions on Awnings with a Louver Roof

Below we have compiled a list of the most common questions we see on this topic. If you would like to know something that is not covered on this page, please feel free to send us either an email or post in a comment below. While we certainly don’t know everything on the topic, we are happy to share the information we have learned.

  1. Do you need a building permit for a louvered roof pergola or awning?

    This depends on your area. In some areas of Florida, there are requirements on the amount of the wind that the structure must be able to withstand. In some areas in midwest states, there are requirements around the amount of snow that it must be able to support. Because the United States is a large country, the local regulations are going to vary. Because this is a major investment, we recommend that you contact a local awning company to inquire about restrictions. Even if you choose to do a DIY project, you may want to consult with them to get you through the licensing portion.

  2. How do you clean the louvered roofing?

    This style is far easier to clean than the traditional retractable awning. The first step is to use a garden hose to spray a generous amount of water over the entire surface. Pay special attention to the underside of the slats, as they are both the closest to the ground and least likely to be rinsed via rainwater. Let the structure sit for 5 minutes so that the moisture has some time to absorb.

    Next, you will want to make a bucket of cleaning liquid, and we recommend following the instructions by the specific manufacturer. If this is a DIY project, then you should look up the best cleaning options for the specific material you used whether that is wood or aluminum. From there, take a long handled brush and let is soak in the bucket for about 15 seconds so the bristles are fully covered with the soap. With the brush, you will want to wash each rafter individually. Start first by carefully rubbing the underside and then on each of the sides. After you finish cleaning all the rafters, you will then want to spray the entire awning with a substantial drenching from the house. For most areas, this is something that only needs to be done once or twice per year.

  3. Will a louvered roof awning keep my house cooler?

    Absolutely! This can keep your outdoor deck or patio up to 20 degrees cooler, and it can also lower your internal cooling bill by limiting the amount of sunlight that goes through the patio windows or doors. They have also been shown to lower the carbon footprint of the home.

  4. Do these work with solar energy systems?

    If you are considering a solar panel system, then we highly recommend choosing a different model. Technically, they can work by attaching them to the top of the rafters and leaving some space; however, their cooling impact will be greatly diminished as the panels will disrupt the airflow.

  5. Can I leave this up year round??

    Absolutely! One of the major perks is that the open roof design will allow rain and most snow to fall through. We do recommend clearing it off with your cleaning if any snow accumulation occurs as many times the rafters are not designed to support the additional mass from the snow.

  6. Any methods of lowering the impact of corrosion or weather damage?

    If your area receives a lot of precipitation, there is a silicone sealant that can be applied over the joints. This will create a water tight seal to stop anything from seeping in the connections that would eventually cause damage. The silicone awning sealant is rather in expensive at less than $15 per quart can.

  7. Any methods of lowering the impact of corrosion or weather damage?

    Yes, we find them beautiful, and we considered adding a fourth type to this page. We ultimately decided to omit them because we wanted to keep the guide more user-friendly, and we believed that topic was a tad more advanced than we wanted to cover in this post.

  8. How long should the louver roof awning last?

    With proper maintenance, it can easily last for more than a decade. Simple common sense cleaning and routine upkeep will keep it in good working order.


Do you have this style of patio cover? We would love to have some pictures and hear from you below in the comments. Was it built from a kit or was it a custom piece? Did you have it professionally installed or was it a DIY project? If you are a professional installer that has done a really nice install, we’d also love to hear from you. Nothing over promotional as we’re just looking to learn more about this type of structure so that we can write a more thorough guide for our readers.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Author Profile – Marcion Albert

Greetings and welcome to my author profile page where I will share my interests and background. Growing up my family bought, fixed up and flipped many homes. We also managed them doing a lot of the handyman responsibilities to create a stable cash flow base.

In my early twenties, I obtained a realtor license which I held for seven years. Selling real estate was never my passion as I am rather introverted, and I really love creating and building rather than selling. I have been writing online for around a decade including completing numerous writing assignments for Yahoo in your Yahoo Voices program. I was also previously the head of content production at

I have been following the shade and awning industry for several years, and I am proud to serve as the chief editor for the team. As we are a small team, I write most of the content personally. We have growth plans and hope to double our writing staff by the end of 2017.

If you have any questions or ideas for a story, feel free to reach me via the site’s contact us form.

Glossary for – All Industry Terms Defined

The researchers at understand how intimidating it can be to do a home improvement project or take on a major home upgrade. While many homeowners really want to add an awning to their patio or a nice cover for their pool for shade, there can be a lot of decision, and it seems like each manufacturer uses different terminology. After answering questions for many of our site’s readers, we created a large glossary the most common industry terms.

If there are terms on a specific shading related website that you would like us to explain, please contact us with the term and a link to the page. We will happily work with the page author to fully understand it, and add it to our list as appropriate. Similarly, if you are a manufacturer and have a new technology that you’d like us to add, please also contact us with that. We are not looking for brand information or marketing, nor are we going to choose winners and losers on this page. Our glossary is focused purely on being an informational resource to homeowners who are considering adding some external shade.

Term Definition
Awning A metal or wood frame covered by a fabric to provide shade.
Canopy A fabric covered covered metal or wood frame that is attached to the building on one side with support legs on the other side.
Popup Tent A standalone structure usually consisting of 4 metal poles and a fabric covered roof
Stationary Awning This is a type of awning that is securely attached to the building. It does not contain hinges or moving parts and either has to be in place to provide functionality or taken down before large storms.
Retractable Awning This is a type of awning that contains hinges so that it can be folded up before the winter or large storms.
Motorized Awning This is a type of retractable awning that uses an electric motor to extend the struts or wind up the leechlines.
Manual Awning This is a type of retractable awning that uses crank or leechline and jam cleat to fold up the awning.
Leechline This is a weather resistent strong cordage used in boating. For us, this is used to attach the fabric to the frame.
Jam Cleat This is a hardware fixture that is attached to the building which ties down the leechline.
Grommet This is a hole surrounded by the small metal ring in the fabric.
Classic Stripe This is an awning pattern which features the two alternating color patterns. The bars are approximately 3.8″ apart.
Acceleration Stress This occurs when the fabric is in high wind and pulls on the leechline. This can lead to either tearing in the fabric or snapping in the leechline. If you live in a region with strong wind, you may wish to check with the manufacturer to determine if this type of damage is covered in the warrany.
Epoxy Anchor For brick or stone homes, this is used to attach reinforce the headboard to the side of the building.
Aluminum Pipe This is a standard metal pipe compose of lightweight aluminum. It weighs about 1/3 the amount of a steel or galvenized pipe of the same diamter.
Anchrorage This is the term used for describing the fixtures which attach the awning or canopy to the building.
Awning Cord This is the commonly used term for leechline.
Bias This is the technical term for the slope of the awning. You may read this in manuals such as a 30 degree bias.
Bolt-Through This is the term used to describe an extremely long bolt that goes entirely through the exterior wall. This is rarely used outside of portable awnings for either vehicles or in the tiny house movement.
Braid This is a wound piece of fabric that is often used as edging or on a valance. It can be created from an entirely different color as it is a separate piece that is sewn on.
Tensile Strength This is a measure of the amount of force required to either tear the fabric or snap the awning cord.
Cadmium Plating This is a very upscale finish used to protect steel or iron framing. This is similar to galvenized pipe which use zinc; however, cadmium provides better protection from the elements.
Galvenized Plating This is a commonly used technique for protecting the steel or iron frame from weather damage. The metal is coated in zinc.
Calendaring A technique of moving the fabric between two or more rollers to produce specific patterns. This should not matter to most homeowners, and we are only including it so there is no misundertanding if it’s in the manual.
Canvas This is a type of awning fabric that is woven. It is constructed of polyester or linen. After the weaving is complete, it will be covered in a polymer to create a water resistent surface.
Cordage This is an generic industry term for describing any rope or line used for the awning.
Crazing This is a term used to describe the damage that can come from folding or creasing the fabric. This usally only impacts the look with no impact on the functionality. This is often specifically called out as not covered in warranties.
Corcking This is the industry term used when the color fades or is rubbed off. This may be covered in warranties depending on the cause. This will often be classified under the more consumer friendly name of “Color Fading”
Delamination This is when the layers of the fabric split and begin to pull apart. This is different than a tear which is when the fabric is “torn” throughout all layers of the fabric. This is more like the appearance of pulling a sticker from its backing.
Denier This is an industry term used to measure the weight of the fabric. This will determine the threadcount of the material and can be used to calculate the weight to ensure the frame is structurally sound.
Die Casting This is the process of extruding liquid metal into molds. This is commonly down with Zin and alumimum.
Dimensional Stability This is a measure of evaluating how stretching the fabric will be. Materials such as spandex or lyrca have an incredibly low dimensional stability whereas denim would be high on this.
Expansion Anchors A common mounting fixture that attaches the headboard to the side of a concrete building.
Fiber This is an industry term which defines what material is used in the awning fabric. This can commonly be wool, cottom, polyester. It is now a very broad term and can include many synthetic materials.
Fire Proof This is a material that will not catch fire under any circumstances. Most awnings are *NOT* fire proof so if you need this then please verify with the manufacturer.
Fire Retardant This is a fabric that is coated in material to resist flames. Given prolonged exposure to a fire, the material can eventually lead to the underlying materially burning.
UV Resistent This is an industry term which describes how well the material blocks the ultraviolet rays from the sun. This is often written in terms of a percentage such as 80% UV meaning that 80% of the rays are blocked.
Hydrostat Pressure This is an industry term which measures the awnings ability to standup during water pressure. This is something that the homeowner may want to check before using a powerwasher to clean the awning.
Lacing This is a process of connecting the fabric to the frame. This uses grommets places near the edge of the fabric that are attached to the struts and frame via the leechline.
Lateral Arm Awning This is a type of retractable awning in which there is a folding strut at each side of the awning. When the internal gears are turned either through a motor or manual crank, the struts straigten to create an extended awning. The process is reversed to retract the awning. Think of the struts like your elbow where they arm is straight when the awning is out, and retracted when you bend your elbow to place your hand on your shoulder.
Loose Frame Awning This is a type of retractable awning that has a headbar, forbar, and horizontal struts; however, there are no metal frame on the bias. The awning is merely held in place by the tension from the fabric.
Mildew Proof This is the process of sparying the fabric with a non-toxic chemical to prevent the growth of fungus.
Monofilament This means the fabric is composed of a single type of fiber. This is the opposite of the polyfilament fabric.
Natural Fbier This is orgranic material such as cotton or wool. This is the opposite of polyester or acryllic.
Non-Woven This is the term used for fabrics that are connected toether using epoxy or other bind agent. While they can be less expensive, we are *NOT* fans of this type of fabric, it can lead to major fails if the binding agent fails.
Polyester This is a synthetic fiber that rates high in dimensional stability. It is also fire and UV resistent. This is a top choice fiber for most consumer shade needs. The only drawback come with its ability to get a true color.
Ponding This is an industry term used when the fabric begins to sag and then prevents water from draining properly.
Seam This is where two individual pieces of fabric meet. The ends can either be sewn or glued.
Solution Dyed This is an industry term in which synthetic fibers receive their color before they are woven into the fabric. This makes the color part of the structure itself making the color far more resistent to fading.
Stainless Steel This is steel that has been forged with either nickel or chromium.
Top Coat This is the industry term for a liquid material applied to the finished fabric. It is usually transparent that is either designed to improve the water resistence, fading or UV protection.
Valance This is the fabric that hangs from the front of the awning. Because this is such a large topic, we have created a dedicated valance style guide.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Best Spear Awnings

What is a Spear Awning?

A spear point awning is a type of “loose frame” decorative awning with a style inspired by Greek architecture. It is very popular both because of its aesthetics, but also for its functionality. The angled support poles provide a slim profile with no hard corners. This is also very popular on upscale food trailers as it creates shade for customers in line without needing to significantly protrude from the vehicle.

What are the components of a Spear Awning Hardware

There are five main components to a spear awning. We have explained each of them below.

Item Quantity Location Description Usage
1/2″ EMT Pipe 1 Head Rod This is a pipe of either Eletrical Metallic Tubing (EMT) or for larger awnings we recommend Intermediate Metal Conduit (IMC) This serves as the backbone of the awning.
3/4″ Galvenized Pipe 1 Front Bar This is a steel pipe covered in a protective layer of zinc This is the crossbar that will be threaded through the front of the awning.
1/2″ Galvenized Pipe 2 Struts Used as the Spears These will be exposed to the elements so it’s importable to have the galvenized pip. These serve as the supports between the home and the Front Bar.
Back Hinge 2 Hinge Attaching Spears to Home This is the connection between the struts and the home. These need to be securely attached to a stud in the home’s wall.
Head Rod Clamp 2+ Clamp Attaching Head Rod to Home We recommend one clamp on each end along with central clamps each 4′ for all awnings over 6′ feet.
Front Bar Fitting 2 Fitting Between Spear and Front Bar This is the clamp that holds the spear to the front bar.
Leechline 25′ Provides Tension and Lifting Mechanism This is a cordage that is designed to provide tension for fabrics.
Jam Cleat 1 Connectes Leechline to Home This is used to keep the Leechline tight.

What determines the quality of a steel awning?

Our researchers have reviewed many products, and they came to believe there are three primary aspects that truly determine the quality. The first is that it uses a quality fabric that has been solution dyed to be stain resistant. Even when the top quality fabric is used, it is important that it be handled correctly during the manufacturing process by ensuring the cut ends are hemmed. We also prefer the fabric to be cut with a “Hot Knife” versus scissors because the latter can lead to raveling. The second most element that controls quality are the pipes that provide the frame. We recommend that you only consider steel pipes and ignore any product that uses aluminum components. The third aspect is the fixtures. You will want quality steel pieces that won’t get damaged from the weather. We include this because we have seen some high-quality kits skimp when it comes to fixtures and while this doesn’t rule them out if you do notice that the connectors feel cheaply made or very light to the touch, we recommend getting heavy duty replacements from your local hardware store or Amazon. In most cases, if you take the fixture to a local hardware store, they will be able to let you know if there is a more heavy duty option.

Designs for the Spear Tip

There are five primary shades for the spearhead, and those are:

  • Traditional – This is a blunted spearhead.
  • Ball – This looks like a large ball bearing.
  • Acorn – This is a combination of Traditional and Ball. It has the shade of the spearhead, but at the tip is a large ball bearing.
  • Fleur De Lis – This is the shape of the New Orleans Saints Logo.
  • Flat – This is a simple flat end end cap with no decoration.


Because this is rather unique, we were unable to find a video specifically about the creation of it; however, we did discover an amazing video of the “Loose Frame” awning which is general category this product belongs. The primary difference is that the struts would be angled upward and be on the outside of the fabric rather than horizontal and placed an inch inside the front bar.

DIY Spear Awning

While DIY projects can be enjoyable, this is not something we recommend building as a from scratch DIY project. The reason is that individually the components will cost roughly double the amount of buying a kit from a manufacturer. The reason is that the suppliers purchase all the components in volume and receive large discounts. When they bundle the components together, the market forces drive the price down because there are multiple suppliers competing for the sale.

When it comes to buying a dome awning kit, we highly recommend the Awntech New Orleans model through Amazon. We have found the Amazon price to be around 40% cheaper than purchasing through the Awntech site directly. This was the first spear awning kit that we recommended, and we have yet to hear any complaints with it from any of our readers. With that said, if you choose this product and have any issues we’d love to hear from you so that we can update our guide. This product comes with a five-year limited warranty and all the fabric has been solution dyed to prevent fading, discoloration or mildew. The only drawback we have with this product is that it is a fully stationary awning that cannot be simply be retracted before storms.

Marcion Albert

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