Author Archives: Marcion Albert

Awning Valance Styles

Serpentine Awning Valance

The most important aspect of learning the styles of awning valances is to understand that each manufacturer may use slightly different terminology. We will use what we consider the industry standard names that are used by most companies; however, we will also call out the options that are commonly called by a different name or when a term is ambiguous.

Straight

Straight Valance Style

This is the most common style of valances. This is merely a solid block of fabric along the side. There are neither patterns folded nor cut in the edge. This design is popular because it is often slightly less expensive than other styles because it requires less time and material. Additionally, the edge can be easily reinforced by folding the end over and using heavy stitching to create an incredibly strong border. The “straight” style has a consistent meaning with all companies so consumers will know exactly what they are getting when they purchase this option.

Classic (aka Parisienne)

Parisienne Valance Style

This option is the original design used for awnings. It begins as a straight and then rounded triangles are cut from the fabric at specified intervals. This creates an interesting pattern for the eye as the edge is an extended straight line that is periodically broken up with the small cutouts. While this term is rather universal, there are some companies that will use the term to “classic” to refer to the straight so it’s important to either see images or get the precise definition before ordering.

Arch (aka Reverse Mediterranean)

Reverse Mediterranean Valance Style

The is very similar to the classic pattern listed above. The primary difference is that instead of the rounded rectangle, this has a semi-circle. The pattern is a straight line for a 6′ to 12′ followed by a semi-circle cutout. While this design is universal, the details can vary greatly between individual companies. We highly recommend getting the exact specifications in terms of length of the edges as well as the size of the shapes that have been removed.

Scissor Cut (aka Bolderado )

Bolderado Valance Style

This pattern is similar to the two mentioned previously. It features extended straight stretches of material and then a small slit. This is the final valance style that has the long patches of material that is broken up by a geometrical pattern. This is a universal term used by all creators; however, we have found that a lot of businesses don’t offer this option.

Greek_Key

Greek Key Valance Style

This style begins as a straight edge and then large rectangular blocks are removed. The pattern is a section of regular length followed by an equal length of a cutout. This style is frequently used in Greek architecture and universal among every company we surveyed. This style is also popular for areas that have significant wind. The pattern in valance can catch the airflow causing the entire awning to sway. The movement can result in more people noticing the awning or building

Serpentine

Serpentine Valance Style

The trim of this valance is a smooth rounded curve. This is low amplitude sin curve, and it is one of our favorite patterns. It can be reinforced by taking the second piece of fabric and stitching it. The serpentine pattern will never be used to describe a different pattern; however, this border will be called a “low wave” by some awning manufacturers.

Mediterranean

Mediterranean Valance Style

The edging on this style is continuously rounded. The pattern is made of adjacent medium sized circles so that about 33% are below the normal stopping point. This creates a unique shape that is quite distinctive. This is one of the most popular of the rounded awning models.

What is the right awning style for you?

This is truly a personal decision based on your style and the aesthetic that you are going for. We have created a Pinterest board dedicated to illustrating the various types and how they look in photos. If you are on the fence, we recommend checking out our photo board there. Additionally, if there’s a style that you are considering that you don’t see listed here, we’d love to hear from you. Just contact us with the name and possibly a link to the specific product. A lot of time the same classic designs are used and then branded with a unique monicker by the manufacturer in order to market their product under that specific tradename. We have purposefully avoided using these type of tradenames when describing styles as we do not wish to choose one company over another.

Author:
Marcion Albert

Date Published:
10/10/2016

Date Revised:
5/6/2017
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Residential Awnings

When you are seeking an awning for your home, you have a lot of decisions. These can cost significantly less than their commercial counterpart. There is also a far greater desire to have removable awnings that can easily be taken down for the winter or before a storm. Fixed awnings are usually very small in nature and used only for design elements over windows or doorways. The larger awnings designed to cover patios should always be either standalone or retractable so that future owners can remove them or easily change the color if it doesn’t fit with their style.

Locations

There are three popular locations for awnings for the home. The first is a smaller design that is over a door or other primary entryway. This is an easy item to add that will change the appearance of the house. This can also be used to provide a bit of cover in rainier environments before entering the residence for homes that don’t have a fully built out porch or patio. The second design has a larger footprint and usually covers an outside area. The final design is a standalone unit that is sometimes called a canopy. These are ideal when you are trying to shade an area that is not adjacent to a large building, and you don’t have access to a load bearing wall.

Material

The most popular material is a coated cotton fiber. This is a lightweight fabric that is both water and fire resistant that is reasonably priced for the personal consumer. Most residents have steered away from PVC as it simply doesn’t have the desired aesthetic for a residence. Another key factor to consider is the UV protection. Most manufacturers will list this in the details so that consumers are informed, and we recommend only purchasing a fabric that provides some UV protection.

Warranty

When evaluating products, the warranty is usually divided into three different terms. The first is the underlying metal frame which is it between 10 to 15 years. The second is the fabric which will have a warranty between 5 and 10 years, and finally, a motor will have a warranty between 2 to 5 years. When reviewing the requirements it’s important to understand if there are any limitations as some companies will void parts of the warranty if it is installed by the homeowner instead of an installer who is certified by the manufacturer. If you are getting a professional install then you will also want to understand how their work is guaranteed as well.

Installation

A professional installation is recommended for most homeowners. The job is easiest performed in a team of two people. Before the awning is hung the brackets are mounted to the wall. The intervals between the brackets will vary based on the manufacturer. Once the brackets are securely attached the underlying metal framework will be attached to this. It is best done by having one person atop a ladder fastening it with the second person responsible for handing the tools and parts to the climber. With the frame in place, the outer material can be securely attached.

If you are confident in your building skill and considering this as a DIY activity, it’s important to find a manufacturer which has a lot of instructions online. For the self-install, it is greatly suggested to purchase an off the shelf mass market awning rather than getting a custom design. The mass market is packaged with the necessary parts to fit a variety of building layouts as well as use industry standard couplings that can be purchased at a home improvement store in case any components are misplaced or damaged during the install.

Free Standing Awnings

These are often called canopies, and they can be an amazing option for a variety of issues. First canopies are far cheaper than the traditional model. Because they do not utilize the underlying metal framework the cost can be 1/4 to 1/3 of the traditional models. Additionally, they are easily installed by a single homeowner who feels comfortable climbing a ladder. The braces are attached first and then after each one is in place, a rope can be used through the eyelet to pull it to the bracket. The final major advantage of the standalone model is that it can be moved between different areas or even completely taken down. This provides a great deal of flexibility for someone who wants a large cover when they are hosting a party, but may want a smaller area or even none.

Motorized vs. Manual

There are three common types of retractable awning. The first is the model which has a cassette that can be unrolled with the braces that extend out from the wall to the edge. These usually have a solid metal bar down the length of the edge that provides support and a means of attaching the crossbeam supports.The second model using a spring loaded crossbeams that cause the fabric to be folded up. The final model uses a motor to move the awning between it’s open and closed positions. Motorized awnings have more moving parts as they can require a power source and can support a lot more moving components. A motorized awning should always be professionally installed and great care should be taken to ensure the warranty is not violated as changing a motor may require replacing the entire unit.

Author:
Marcion Albert

Date Published:
1/6/2017

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Commercial Awnings

If you’re looking to purchase a commercial awning, the choices can be overwhelming. Should you do a fabric or metal? If you decide on fabric is it the traditional slope design, the box shape, or possibly even a rounded design such as waterfall or dome? If you choose to go with metal, is it better to pick a lightweight aluminum or a heavier stainless steel? Once you’re set on the material it’s time to select the colors and border. Have no fear, we have a complete guide to all the options so that you can find the best product to fit your needs.

Purposes

The goal of this guide is to explain all the possible combinations for commercial awnings and the tradeoffs of each. There is no one size fits all solution as each business and building will have a unique set of needs. While we will do our absolute best to be an exhaustive resource, if there are specific questions, please add them as a comment below. This will allow us to answer the question so that all the readers can see the information. Also, we are not an e-commerce company. We do not sell or manufacture any of the products discussed on this site. We are simply an independent resource on the subject.

Structure

There are three types of structure for awnings. They are stationary which are permanently fixed to the building. The second type are retractable which usually have one side fully attached and a mechanism that allows the material to either extend or fold up. The final type are canopies that can easily be completely taken down.

The fixed awning is a perfect choice when you are looking to attach something as an element of the business. They work best for multistory buildings that would make it impracticable to make changes. These are constructed of stronger grade material because they are out year around. This means they must be able to withstand the blistering heat from the summer sun as well as the freezing winter temperatures. Another major reason for choosing this structure is the amount of area to be covered. These are ideal for smaller areas such as windows or doors; however, larger coverage areas require exponentially more supports making them both heavier and more costly.

The retractable awning is perfect for a first floor or single level building. They can be extended for an extended period of time; however, they also offer the ability to take down before blizzards, hurricanes or other types of bad weather. They can also be added for seasonal long events such as restaurants that may want to create a covered patio for the day. The downside is that these have a higher cost per square foot covered than a similar quality fixed counterpart. This is because of the extra mechanisms to allow them to retract.

The final type is the freestanding canopy. These usually come in three or four sided fabrics. The material is reinforced to be strong and there are multiple metal eyelets positioned along the sides. These offer the ultimate in customization and are perfect for businesses that are looking to add options for their spaces. Before creating the covered area hooked screwed are attached to walls or load bearing supports. The screws remain in place permanently. When it’s time to create the covered area, the canopy is unrolled and attached usually with a strong nylon cord between each eyelet and the hooked screw. We saw one incredibly clever apartment complex use this method to create a shaded area around their pool when they were hosting events. This allowed them to keep the beautiful open landscape of the pool area while also providing an ability to have outdoor events with a covered area.

  • Stationary
  • $$$
  • Immovable and permanently affixed to building
  • Professional Installation
  • All Weather
  • Most Design Options

  • Retractable
  • $$
  • Permanently affixed to building with a movable cover
  • Professional Installation
  • Varies by Design
  • Many Design Options
  • Standalone
  • $
  • Completely removable
  • Self Installation
  • No
  • Least Design Options

Material

The choice of material is not a one size fits all as much of the decision will be based on the climate and local weather patterns. Aluminum is the primary option for metal. This works in nearly all environments for the US, however, if you live in an area that either receives significant snow accumulation or severe winds, you will want to add additional stainless steel brackets. Aluminum awnings should always be installed by a trained professional who should be able to add the correct number or supports and braces. When going this approach just understand that sometimes the price will be slightly higher than initial estimates for the additional manpower and hardware costs.

For fabric awnings, cotton and polyester are the two options that dominate the market. There are a few other specialty fabrics; however, they make up such a small percent of the overall market we have chosen to exclude them from this general guide. Cotton has been used for hundreds of years and is the traditional choice. Cotton is incredibly environmentally friendly and easy to clean usually being machine washable. The drawbacks of untreated cotton are that the colors can fade faster than the alternatives. Additionally, it is neither water nor flame resistant in its natural state. This leads a lot of people to choose to treat the cotton with a synthetic material sealant to make it both waterproof and more colorfast.

The final fabric option is polyester which is virtually always coated with another material. The acrylic coat is on one of the more costly options; however, provides the best protection. This is also the clear winner for areas with a lot of rainfall. Vinyl laminate and PVC are also both commonly used as a coating. These products work well in humid areas and are easily cleaned. All of the polyester based options are resistant to stretching making them the better option for an area with extreme wind.

Hardware

The hardware components are incredibly important to the overall lifespan of the awning. The underlying frame is going to be an aluminum. This is a lightweight metal that is water resistant and will not rust. Aluminum provides the absolute best support while also be incredibly low cost. While nearly all structures will be composed of this material, the thickness does vary. We recommend walls milled no thinner than 1/16″.
Additionally, we suggest completely eliminating plastic hardware as an option for business buildings. This can be an option for some smaller residential projects; however, for business buildings, this creates too mush liability.

For the fittings, we recommend either using stainless steel or die-cast zinc. The stainless steel is a solid choice when you are concerned with keeping costs to a minimum. Both materials will have a similar lifespan; however, the zinc accessories has a higher support to weight factor making them superior for larger builds.

Branding

Branding can come in two forms. The first is simply using a color scheme of the business. Companies like Steak and Shake do this perfectly as their black and white window awnings create an instantly recognizable building. They don’t need any logos or wording because their company identity is so well known. That being said, smaller companies need to take a different approach. A brightly covered awning will naturally draw the attention of the eye, and then the words or image will convey the reason the customer should visit the location.

Author:
Marcion Albert

Date Published:
3/31/2017

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Complete Guide to Awnings, Residential, Commercial for Home or RV

Awnings can have a variety of uses and material depending on where they are to be used. They are quite popular throughout the entire US although their purpose varies depending upon which region they are being used. In the Southwestern states like Arizona and California, they are usually composed of a light fabric such as canvas. The goal of these awnings is primarily to provide a bit shade. In the Northwester states such as Oregon and Washington, you will see a lot of awnings on commercial buildings. These awnings will be constructed of a heavier canvas or vinyl that is watertight. Additionally, the structure will be of heavy aluminum or iron to handle the strong winds and rain. In the midwest and New England, awnings are composed of iron/steel frame with an aluminum shell. The metal awnings are far more resistant to the elements and can hold up the weight of the snow without having any issues.

Residential

The most popular type of awning is the residential retractable composed of a two tone striped fabric with a medium grade aluminum structure. This style is perfect for a deck, patio or porch, and it is versatile enough to stand up to weather throughout most of the US and because it is retractable, can be taken in before large storms which greatly increase its life. In terms of appearance, the cloth striping is usually about 8″ to 16″ per stripe with a pattern of one white tone and one dark or vibrant color. The vibrant color can really bring out the accent colors that appear around windows or other accents of the house. Residential awnings are an amazing way to bring a slight facelift to the exterior of the house for a few hundred dollars.

Commercial

These have a base that is usually constructed of weather resistant steel, and a heavy grade water resistant canvas. The awning serves as branding for associated business allowing customers to easily identify the entrance to the building. In terms of appearance, these are usually one strong color such as dark blue, forest green or crimson. Additionally, there is frequently writing on the front so that customers can easily identify which business is inside. Prior to buying a commercial awning, it is strongly advised to check with the property manager to confirm any restrictions about either size of the overhang or other requirements. Many retail establishments will have set guidelines and a short list of approved vendors.

RV

Canopies on an RV are always either retractable or detachable with most being the latter. Awnings are a fantastic way to increase the usable living space around the vehicle as it will provide a nice shaded area to get out of the sun. Additionally, the variety of colors makes it fantastic to support a local sports team if you are going to use the RV for a bit of tailgating or merely want to show some college pride the next time you are at the campgrounds.

Custom Build

A custom awning is a great way to add a lot of value to a home or make your business stand out at a reasonable cost. The awnings will usually cost about $100 to $200 for a window and closer to $1000 to cover a larger area like a patio or deck. The custom awning really helps bring a level of sophistication to the outdoor space and can be the focal gather point for family gatherings.

Retractable

These are gaining in popularity especially in states that have wide swings in weather. The awning can be extended during the hot months and taken down for the winter months to avoid the cold weather. This will greatly lengthen its life. Retractable awnings also work fantastically well for campers or RVs as they can be set up after the vehicle is in place.

Window

These are smaller usually around 36″ that cover the top portion of an exterior window. Their length can range from a small 6″ that is mainly used for decoration to an 18″ that will work to block the sun from going inside the house. By stopping the sun rays from entering the house, window awnings have been shown to lower the costs of cooling in the summer.

Patio

Used correctly, this can be a very fashionable method of extending the living area of a home. The fabric will tie an outdoor living area together and create a comfortable living space.

Canvas

This is the most popular type of fabric that have a useful life of 20 years. Nearly 100% of all residential awnings are composed of canvas or other fabric, and this type represents about 60% of the ones made for commercial use. The variety in color and thickness makes these the best approach for the majority of customers.

Metal

These are used for some industrial buildings and to keep the weather away from loading docks or other high traffic areas. The metal can be either steel or aluminum with the latter being chosen far more than the former. These stand up to snow, sleet, and other severe weather. Additionally, because they are made from a material that doesn’t move there is no risk of being damaged by the wind.

Aluminum

The vast majority of metal awnings sold in the US are made of aluminum, and unless the metal is stated the industry standard is to be composed of this. This material doesn’t rust and it is relatively inexpensive to create. It can have some issues standing up to heavy amounts of snow or rain unless there is an appropriate runoff.

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