How to Clean or Paint an Aluminum Awning

rusted metal awning

Owning an aluminum awning can be a great choice for many homeowners. The metal shade structure is low maintenance and is a great wind resistant choice. It is also a perfect all-weather option that can stay up year around.

If it is cleaned regularly and kept in good condition, the awning can last for decades with minimal additional cost. To help you maximize the lifetime of your house and patio, we’ve created the following guides.

How to clean your aluminum awning?

This is a relatively simple task for an average DIY person. The only required tools are a 5-gallon bucket, a long-handled brush, and a garden hose.

  1. Spray entire awning with hose
    On a nice sunny afternoon, spray the entire awning to knock off any dirt and debris. We spray off the tops, brackets and conclude with the underside of the metal sheets.

  2. Sweep all sides of the awning with brush
    Extend the handle of your stiff bristle brush (if you don’t have an expandable brush, here’s a link to our favorite) so that you can comfortably reach each face. I fill the bucket with standard dish liquid and use that on the brush. I spend time scrubbing starting with the top, then each side bracket. If there are any specific spots on the underside, I handle them individually.

  3. Liberally rinse the awning with hose
    If you are using a standard garden hose, the pressure should be kept. If you are using a pressure washer, we recommend never using above the 100psi on your awning as it may lead to damage.

FAQ – Cleaning an Aluminum Awning

The next few paragraphs are our FAQ for cleaning an aluminum awning. We have gotten questions over the years from visitors to our website or at the home & garden shows. We thought the best way to convey this information was to create a simple question and answer section.

Do you need to remove all items attached to awning?

We highly recommend this. If you leave planters, flags or any other items attached to the awning during cleaning, there is a risk of them becoming loose and being propelled with the pressure from the hose.

Do you need to remove patio furniture?

There is a good chance the furniture will get soapy water on it if it’s left in place. Additionally, you will want to carefully work around it while you are cleaning the underside. Otherwise, there shouldn’t be any reasons that force you to move it.

Do you need to remove patio furniture?

There is a good chance the furniture will get soapy water on it if it’s left in place. Additionally, you will want to carefully work around it while you are cleaning the underside. Otherwise, there shouldn’t be any reasons that force you to move it.

How do I deal with stubborn stains?

When we have tough stains, I use very hot water and spray all-purpose bathroom cleaner right in the area. I use the ladder to get close to the stain so that I can see it. After I let the cleanser sit for 10-15 minutes, I then come back and aggressively brush the back and forth. Only spray the area with cold water once the stain is no longer visible. Note not all stains can be removed with cleaning. In these cases, they will need to be painted.

How to paint an aluminum awning?

One of the most common questions that I get is from people who have had issues when they paint their awning. The normal culprit is either they failed to clean it before they started or they chose the wrong primer.

If this is you, then I’ll cover both scenarios in the painting FAQ below.

  1. Clean awning
    We have a detailed guide above that lists the entire process step-by-step.

  2. Apply an oil-based primer
    Many people get a latex primer because it dries faster; however, these often contain ammonia. Unfortunately, aluminum and ammonia have a chemical reaction which is corrosive to the metal. If will cause some white flaking to appear and gas. The precise output is aluminum hydroxide and hydrogen (Source:

  3. Once you’ve generously applied the oil-based primer, we recommend letting it dry for several hours. I normally allow our favorite primer to dry for 6 hours before applying any paint.

  4. Apply topcoat of 100% acrylic paint
    A nice topcoat of acrylic paint will perform well in the elements, and it can last for many years without discoloring or fading. We’ve written an entire guide on the best paint for awnings or you can get our top paint pick for aluminum awnings here.

FAQ – Painting an Aluminum Awning

This is our Q & A section for awning painting. It’s nothing fancy, and we do not claim to be experts. We are not licensed contractors so this does not represent any form of advice, but rather us sharing our opinions as home owners who have researched and written a lot about awnings over the last 4 years. Your individual situation may be different so please use our site simply as one possible resource when doing home improvement projects.

How much paint is needed?

.One gallon of paint will cover around 350 square feet. A quart of paint should be enough to cover an 8’x10′ awning.

How much does acrylic paint cost?

We normally buy the paint in the one-gallon bucket, and it costs around $45.

Can I paint over the white chalky material on the awning?

No. The white chalky substance is the aluminum corroding, and it needs to be fully removed. Under no circumstances should it be painted over. If the cleaning guide above didn’t take care of it, we recommend using trisodium phosphate (aka TSP). This is a chemical compound that is specifically designed to get rid of this chalky material. Just be super cautious around plants and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

How do you apply the paint?

We prefer an airless sprayer. Brushes and rollers require more time and the pitch of the awning can lead to unsightly drips. We do not recommend buying an airless sprayer if you don’t own one. Most local home improvement stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot will rent the unit.

In what direction do I spray?

We suggest starting at the top and spraying side to side. You never want to begin a row in the middle so just begin at the very upper left-hand corner and continue back and forth until the entire awning is painted.

How many coats of paint?

We normally use 2 coats of paint, but we live in a dry, hot area that doesn’t get a lot of snow or rain.

Helpful Videos

Right now, our team doesn’t have a video creator so we scoured Youtube for the most helpful videos on the topic. We agree with most things in these two clips, and we think they can be of great help when a home owner is starting out and wants to see how others have cleaned or painted their awning.


Do you have any questions about cleaning, painting or polishing an awning? Have you tried our recommendations? We’d love to hear from you, and we’ll happily include your before an after pictures in our gallery.

If you want to reach out with either good results, issues, or just want to get our opinions on something send us a tweet @newawning . Also, be sure to follow us to get updates when we post each new article.

Wilson Smythe
Date Published: 6/2/2017
Date Revised: 10/23/2018

Last Updated:March 25, 2024