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Our Guide to Retractable Awnings for Your Backyard

You can dress up your backyard in many ways, but nothing polishes it up like custom awnings do. They effectively transform the overall aesthetic of your backyard while making it more functional, as it provides you with protection from the sun and rain. With outdoor awnings installed, you can stay outside when it’s hot and sunny or gloomy and rainy.

However, even though they’re a great addition to your backyard, they come at a considerable cost. For this reason, you’ll need to consider your options carefully to ensure you find the best retractable awnings. Here’s what you need to know:

The Best Kind of Awning to Look For

The kind of awning you’d want for your backyard is a metal structure that you can have an awning company install behind your home. It should have collapsible arms that fold into the house when you aren’t using the awning to keep it slim and sleek. It should extend to cover you when you want to be protected from the sun.

The awning must be retractable since you’ll have the option of enjoying the sun when you want it, but you’ll also get to protect the awning from inclement weather like rain, snow, or wind, which can damage it. Due to this, the awnings’ fabric must be sturdy and well-made to withstand the elements.

Awnings can have a motorized or manual action, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Motorized action is incredibly convenient, although it usually translates to a more expensive and complex awning. Manual awnings are activated by turning a long metal piece connected to a loop. It can be cumbersome to maneuver this, especially if you have multiple awnings. However, if your awning has a fine turning action, you can resolve this by attaching a power drill to the awning pole.

All About Awning Shades

Awning shades are typically made of thick polyester, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or canvas. They must be fade-resistant and provide a high level of UV protection since they’re constantly exposed to the sun, which means they need an ultraviolet protection factor of at least 80. This rating will make sure that you will never get sunburned while under the awning.

Additionally, shades usually have a water-resistant coating, although they won’t need it if they’re made of naturally water-resistant material like PVC. Traditional shades are made of canvas, which is the most aesthetically appealing and the most natural one. It is strong and heavy, requiring extra coating to make it more durable. It is also one of the most expensive options due to its sleek look and high quality. PVC and polyester are cheaper, although it’s not as tear-resistant. Still, they are both mold and mildew-resistant.

Awning Frames

Your awning frames must be made of aluminum, steel, or plastic. You may find awning frames made of acrylic, although these are on the low-quality side since they don’t have the strength and durability needed to withstand the elements. However, modern acrylic frames can be tough.

To ensure your awnings survive the year, you’ll need to go for a sturdy metal frame, like coated steel or aluminum. Steel is stronger than aluminum, but the latter is lighter and more weather-resistant since it does not rust. To find the best one for your needs, be sure to contact a custom awning company.

The Size of an Awning

Lastly, you’ll need to account for the awning’s size, made up of three crucial measurements: width, length, and coverage. The width is how wide the awning is, determining the space it will shield from the sun or rain.  The length is how long the shade will extend when you measure it from your house to the end of the awning’s fully extended frame.

Determining the coverage area can be challenging since it requires some geometry. If you have a 12-foot awning angled at -15 degrees, you’ll have only 11.5 feet of shade, but this is assuming that the sun is right above you. 


Awnings are a great addition to any backyard and can improve the value of your house. It makes the outdoor area more comfortable and accessible, protecting you from harsh sunlight or rain when you’re relaxing outside. By understanding what you need from a retractable awning, you can find the perfect one for you.

Van Nuys Awning Co. is a custom awning company specializing in outdoor awnings. We are one of California’s largest manufacturers of commercial and residential awnings, patio umbrellas and cushions, and other specialty metal products. Check out our products today to upgrade your backyard or patio!

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