Author Archives: Marcion Albert

How to find retractable awning parts

See through glass awning
When your awning becomes slightly damaged, it can be far less expensive to replace a couple of the parts rather than purchasing an entirely new unit. If you choose to replace, you will have roughly double the installation cost as the repair person will first need to remove the old unit before installing the new one. Additionally, there is no secondary market for a broken awning so you will be out the full initial purchase price, and you may also have to pay additional fees to get the broken item hauled away depending on its size and your local regulations. For any attached sunshade, you will typically be far better off replacing a single piece than the entire unit.

Why replace parts?

The primary reason to replace the individual parts is cost. The major manufacturers will have individual components for sale, and some will even send them out for free depending on the warranty. We usually prefer manufacturers who offer a three to five-year guarantee on their work, and if you had a professional install you may be able to receive a discount on the repair by contacting the same company. Repairs are a rare occurrence, and we do not consider warranty a key decision point in our recommendation, we do place a high value on post-purchase customer service.

How to find the parts you need?

When you purchase an awning, we highly recommend you record the size, model type and number, the size, and the date of purchase. This is information you will have right at hand when you make the purchase; however, we’ve seen several people have problems when they bought components for one model when they had another. The reason that you want to record the date of purchase is that just like cars manufacturers will sometimes change over time. As a visual example, you wouldn’t expect a fender for a 2017 Toyota Camry to fit the 1989 model. While both cars are a “Camry” the year makes a significant difference when finding the right part.

The absolute best place to determine the piece you need is to review the manual that was included with your purchase. If you kept this, then you are golden as it will contain a “part list” which details every item in the package. In most cases, it will even contain the UPC or product number for each component. With that information, you can either go to eBay or to search for that specific item. We prefer Amazon as the vendors there typically have more experience, and we’ve seen a far lower percentage of being sent mislabeled product. Before buying on either site though, we strongly suggest contacting the maker and requesting the cost for the item you need directly from them. I normally include that I have been a very happy customer of their product with the purchase date if it’s within the last couple years and that I would consider purchasing another unit when it’s time for an upgrade.

Who are the primary retractable awning manufacturers?

The primary awning manufacturers are:

  • Sunsetter
  • Sunesta
  • Aleko
  • Awntech
  • Reed
  • Sunair

What if I have another manufacturer?

If your awning is made by another company, please feel free to contact us. We are not associated with any of the manufacturers, and we’d love to help you find the information you need. Once we find out, we’ll at what we’ve learned to our list above so that we help other readers of our site. Our goal is to be the absolute best resource for all items about awnings on the Internet so we’re always happy to add more information to make the site more helpful.

Underside of Canopy Awning

Can I substitute parts?

We highly recommend using the precise piece specified by the manufacturer? While some items may seem interchangeable like screws of the same size, they may not be made of the same metal. Some screws are composed of rolled steel and able to support load bearing structures while others that look exactly the same are made of lightweight aluminum. The aluminum screws can create major structural issues since they may not be able to provide the necessary support. Likewise, the fabric could be the same size and material but have the rivet holes drilled in different locations. This also seems minor until you actually begin to install the awning and realize the ties won’t fit. This is why we recommend using the exact item only for the repairs.

Is this a DIY project?

There are two parts to this question. The first depends on your ability with DIY projects. Something that may be a 10-minute quick fix for one person may be an utter challenge for someone else. If you set up the awning yourself, then you will likely be able to make most changes. If you hired the job done professionally, you may want to consider doing it again. The staff of does not make recommendations on whether or not individual repairs are a DIY project. If you are still uncertain, we recommend contacting the customer support number for the manufacturer.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


Free Standing Awning Guide

Beautiful Free Shade on the Tempe Lake Bridge

What is a Free Standing Awnings

A free standing awning is also known as a “Standalone” awning. The beauty of this type of covering is that it is entirely portable, and it can provide shade in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. In this guide, we are going to cover very traditional portable awnings that have two sturdy metal poles with angled coverings. We are also going to stretch the term to include popup tents because they solve a similar issue.

Our Research

To understand the best option, we have looked at more than 100 items. We have evaluated each product on the following items:

  • Ease of Setup
  • Weight
  • Price
  • Price per Square Foot
  • Portability
  • Type of Metal

What is the Better Fabric?

The best type of fabric is going to depend on which part of the country that you live. For people who live in the southwest, it’s far more important to have polyester or PVC. This is a lightweight material that is water resistant, and it can block 99% of UV rays. This material will not hold up as well in cold or freezing temperatures; however, it does well dealing with 100 degrees plus weather. For colder regions of the country, we highly recommend a canvas fabric if you are going to be tailgating in the winter. The material will fair much better in the cold weather, and it will not crack or tear during freezing temperatures.

What is the tailgate weight plates?

For anyone who owns a standalone awning or popup tent, tailgate plates are a must. The primary cause of insurance claims and injuries at tailgating parties is tents and canopies that are blown by the wind. The normal stakes will hold down the structure barring significant gusts as long as you are on a grass area; however, when you set up in a parking late everything changes. The stakes are not adequate for ensuring everything stays in place. Thankfully some really smart people invented a solution to this problem.

If you’d like to read our complete review of weight plates, you can check it out here, but we will provide an overview here. The weight plates “C-shaped” plates that usually weigh about 7.5 pounds each. To secure a pole, you can place one or more plate at the foot of each. If you place two or more plates, then you will want to align the open sections so that they face opposite directions. For example, if you have two plates you would place one slot facing a 3:00 while the other would be at 9:00. As each plate weighs 7.5 pounds, the entire tent is being held down by 60 pounds plus the weight of the frame.

What is the Better Steel or Aluminum?

The choice of frame material is a highly debated topic. On one side, there are people who totally prefer the strength of steel legs and backbone to the awning. This is more rigid and provides far more support for the overall structure. Steel is the clear choice if you are going to be using this in a cold weather environment where there will be snow or heavy wind. This makes it the better choice for people who live in the north or planning to uses this for tailgate season.

With all those benefits of steel, why is this really an open question? The reason is that the steel framework is incredibly heavy with some awnings and tents weighing more than 80 pounds. This can be difficult for a single person to set up alone. While the aluminum frames are not as sturdy and weather resistant, they weigh around half as much as the steel alternatives. If you choose to go with the lighter weight option, we highly recommend either getting stakes and tie downs if you are going to setting up on grass or tent weights if you are going to be in a parking lot.

Bottom Line on Costs

When it comes to cost, the choice really comes down to the type of portable shade that you are looking for. A quality pop up tent will be around $1 per square foot of coverage while a similar grade awning will be around $2.50 per square foot. While we have reviewed many products, we highly suggest not choosing something significantly cheaper than the price per square feet we have listed above. At that point, we found the quality takes a steep decline.

How Easy is it to Setup?

While the traditional awning is more expensive, the setup can easily be done by a single person in a few minutes. Most either have a simple turn crank or a remote control that extends the arms and attached fabric. Because the supports are centrally located, they are also incredibly easy to move by placing them on a two hand truck and rolling to the desired location. The popup tent is considerably less expensive and a superior option if you will be using it at offsite locations such as festivals or games. All of the tents that we evaluated require two people to setup. The steps were quite simple and only required the legs to be pulled in opposite directions and then lace the fabric to the supports. We were able to setup each of the models in under 15 minutes.

How to clean a Free Standing Awning

There are two main pieces when cleaning. The first is the metal framework. This can be washed using warm water with liquid dish soap and sprayed with a standard garden hose. For the fabric, we suggest you follow our detailed guide on how to care for each material type.

Usage with Motorhomes and RVs

Standalone awnings are ideal for RVs because they can easily be pulled from the vehicle and placed adjacent to it. This will create extra usable living space, and it will also create a welcoming social spot. For people who frequent RV parks, a portable awning is a must have.

Free Standing Awnings for Patios and Decks

These are incredibly popular because they are easy to setup or take down depending on the weather. They either have two central poles with fabric that extends outward from the support pole. The two pole often have wheels allowing them to easily be rolled to a new location in order to always provide protection from the sun. These are ideal if you live in an area that requires protection from the sun only a few hours per day. We are ver guy fans of this product and our favorite is Sunsetter oasis freestanding awning which is available at Costco.

The other type of free standing awning for the deck and patios has for legs and greatly resemble a popup tent. The primary difference is that these are more rigid with heavier support poles. This additional weight makes them less portable than popup tents; however, it also makes them far more sturdy.

Homemade Free Standing Awnings

I have chosen to include this section because it is a popular topic that we received many questions about. In the end, it is our opinion against building one of these from scratch or from some plans downloaded from the internet. If you are a DIY person there are kits available that will contain all the necessary components to create an architecturally sound structure. There are many projects that can be added as a home project; however, this one represents serious danger if it is built incorrectly.

Certifications to look for

If you are a school or park, you may want to find an IPEMA product. This certification stands for “International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association”.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:

Updated On:


Awning Cleaning Complete Guide

Underside of Canopy Awning

Beautiful Free Shade on the Tempe Lake Bridge

Awnings are important additions to RVs such as motor homes and caravans. They add floor space to a motor vehicle parking thus giving a rich shade and personal space at any time of the year whether in the rain, in snow and hot temperature. An awning provides a perfect shade that protects the summer heat. The major types of awning include retractable and the fixed awning which is based on the kind of material used and the style used. An awning that is fit is usually good since it is stable and can work better in weather protection. Retractable awning, on the other hand, can move, and it is easier to open or close, therefore, offers several choices and is convenient.
It is important to thoroughly clean an awning to prevent against the build up of debris, mold, bird droppings and mildew because they can lead to deterioration. Dirty awnings take away the appeal of a home curb. Cleaning of awnings involves a fast and easy process, although on needs to climb a ladder. Clean awnings give a comfortable personal space that is clean and hygienic.

The best way to ensure an awning fabric looks cool is cleaning off the fabrics on a regular basis, say monthly. Regular cleaning of these materials will help in preventing dirt from being embedded deeply in the awning material as well as eliminating regular and vigorous cleaning. Never, the less, awning that requires being cleaned regularly may be cleaned without removing them from the awning frame. Cleaning of awning while on their frame needs brushing off loose dirt. A soft brush can be recommended so as to eliminate stubborn stains quickly. In case the stain persists, one can always use a cap of a bleached mixture for an easier removal of mildew.
What is used in cleaning awnings?
Use of natural soap may do the cleaning of awnings. However, awnings with terrible stains can be washed by use of a chlorine bleach mixed with a mild soap with the help of a soft brush to aid in removal of stains. An excessively dirty awning requires the use of bleach mixed in warm water for an efficient removal of dirt.
The below steps give guidance on how to clean an awning.

Step 1: Expose the entire Surface

Cleaning and maintenance of any awning begin by taking this basic step. It is not easy to clean an awning while it is folded up; therefore it requires setting it up to spread the material and allow all areas to be exposed correctly. Cleaning unfolded awning will not allow proper drying up, and this might cause the growth of fungi and mold on the awning material. Awnings are made of waterproof materials, and therefore it is essential to allow the fluids to dry up or wipe it thoroughly. An easy way of cleaning an awning is to select a day that is sunny, and the rest of the work will be done because the sun will help the awning material to dry up.

Step 2: Removing the Grime

Accumulation of grime is majorly the primary concern to many awning owners. Grime consists of debris, dirt, bird droppings and any other droppings that accumulate on top of an awning. Awnings grime should be cleaned as soon as possible to avoid damaging. The awning material is easily damaged if the water is left for an extended period. Therefore it is important to wash away any grime to avoid making the awning dirty.

Step 3: Using Water and a Soft Cloth

The easiest tools for cleaning an awning are water and a soft cloth. The two tools are simple to use thus have been proved to be the most effective. The idea is a good one since primarily an awning is made of caravans thus making it waterproof. The waterproof ability of an awning material is not easily affected when water and soft cloth are used during the cleaning process. While cleaning an awning, one should always use a light hand because using bold strokes damage the awning material. However, in the case of stacking of debris on the cleaning cloth, then scratches can be made.

Step 4: Use of Every Day Cleaners

In the market, there are several standard issue cleaners for awnings. It is advisable to contact the manufacturer of an awning to get professional advice on the most compatible filter to use. Contacting the respective manufacturers gives one the necessary boost for an efficient and faster way of cleaning an awning thus does not compromise the effectiveness of the awning material.

Step 5: Final Touches

An excessively dirty awning may require the use of bleach mixed in warm water for an effective removal of dirt. The process makes it easier when it comes to cleaning grimy awnings.

Marcion Albert

Date Published:


New Awning Disclaimer & Advertising Affiliate Information


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Patio Awning Ideas

Awning used as a functional statue at local mall.

When you decide to get an awning, there are many choices to be made. We have created a checklist of the common options so to help you week out all the ideas for your patio awning.

Awning Color

One of the first decisions is what color is the awning going to be. You may need to check with your homeowner association or other guidelines. Some neighborhoods may limit the palette to ensure it doesn’t clash or create a distraction from the house. Another popular restriction can be limiting any external amenity to a predefined color palette to ensure the neighborhood has a cohesive feel. Most of the time this will be in the bylaws. You cannot assume that because someone in your area already has a similar structure that it is allowed because their awning may have been grandfathered in if it was erected before certain rules went into effect.

Fixed or Retractable

When you are evaluating the choices to cover your patio, the two most selected are either a fixed awning that provides shade every day or the manual retractable that can be raised or lowered depending on the weather. The latter is greatly preferred because it has a longer lifespan; however, it has a higher initial price point. Some people also prefer the design and aesthetics of the fixed awning for patios. We have included a link to this Pinterest board which has many items for inspiration.

Enclosed or Not

While the editors of are not familiar with enclosed awnings, there is a rapidly growing trend of enclosing the space with a mesh to create an insect free sun room. This can be an incredibly cost efficient option running a few hundred dollars over the regular model and create an additional outdoor living space. This is reminiscent of the outdoor screen porches of houses in the south from the 1950s.

We are actually tremendous fans of open-air designs with louver roof awnings. They are both very attractive and functional. At first glance, the open frame looks like it would provide any significant shade; however, in practice, it is often cooler than its enclosed counterpart by allowing the wind to cool the area underneath. We have written a full guide on louver roof awnings.

Decorative Only

Another idea around patio awnings is to get one that has a very small coverage area and use it as an accent color of the exterior of the house. The accent color can match the trim of the house or perhaps an umbrella or furniture. This won’t provide shade or the energy savings of the traditional option; however, it will make the house appear a tad fancier.

Open Slat Awning

Open Slat Awning

Open Slat Awning

An open roof is one that that has the standard wood or aluminum frame around the side. However, the middles section is not covered in fabric. Instead, the middle is joists that are aligned at a specific angle to block the sun at specific intervals of the day. Open slat awnings can be wonderful for providing energy savings by shading portions of the house. They can also have a slim profile because the slats allow the water to pass through without the height requirement of the more common type.


Frosted Glass Awning

This is one of the more expensive options and should only be installed by a trained professional. This style has a horizontal aluminum or steel frame that extends from the house over the porch or patio. Attached to the metal frame are panels of frosted glass. These create a shaded area by blocking most of the direct rays of the sun. These are often paired with modern home designs with a concrete slab style patio.

Marcion Albert

Date Published: