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What are window awnings?

What are window awnings?

If you check your dictionary or more realistically type ‘What are Window Awnings?’ into Google, you’ll get this response.

Definition: a sheet of canvas or other material stretched on a frame and used to keep the sun or rain off a shop window, doorway, or ship’s deck.

Now we all know that this definition might need a little updating. Awnings have been in use for a lot of years now as way more than for shops, doorways and ships… So here, in this article, we are going to give you a bit of a rundown on exactly what awnings are and how they can be utilised around your home or business.

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The outside of our homes, just like the inside, say something about us. In the early days of awnings, they were used to indicate great wealth and to create a sense of style that was coveted and copied. Today, with the desire to bring the outside in and an emphasis on outdoor living, most of us are more concerned about usability, BUT the aesthetics are also important.

You may have a picture in your head of the aesthetically terrible, old, mouldy piece of canvas your grandparent’s neighbours had covering some of their outdoor windows. (Of course, this would never have been someone YOU’RE related to. ;)) In 2021 however, awnings have come a long, long way and you may be interested to find that although the design for some awnings hasn’t changed much in 80 years the technology in fabrics, frames, manoeuvrability and aesthetics certainly has!

What an awning does.

Awnings were created to reduce the impact of solar energy on the hard surfaces of your home – particularly glass. They are extensions over your windows which protect them from rain, sun, wind and snow. Awnings date back to the 19th century when thin sheets of metal were angled over a window for protection. From wood, cotton and (if you were particularly wealthy) metal, to fibreglass, acrylic and vinyl – awnings have come a very long way over the years. The new modern materials are much more durable and require much less maintenance.

You may have already read our article on how to make your home more energy efficient. Awnings have the ability to block out up to 80% of the direct heat load on a window which lowers your chances of heat transfer. Your rooms won’t heat up nearly as quickly. This is particularly effective on East and West facing glazing that soaks up morning and evening sunshine.

Awnings as a stylish home addition.

Aesthetically, awnings have changed just as times have. Over the years of research and development, while the basic premise has remained the same, the use of fabrics, lighter weight metals and new technology in automation have meant that today there is an awning available for any and all style requirements. Plus, there’s the added bonus for you to be able to use your awnings even if you aren’t home!

Whether your style is more traditional or completely modern and minimalistic, awnings can be custom made to suit you. You can opt for contrasting metals and fabrics or you can choose to have your awnings created with exactly the same shade as the house in order for them to completely fade from view.

Where your home is located could also affect the choices you make when it comes to materials.

Fibreglass awnings won’t ever need to be repainted as the colour is a part of the material. You can also choose an opaque or transparent option if you need light but not the elements to enter the home.

Acrylics are a more durable option and won’t damage as easily as a fabric awning might. They don’t fade and actually repel water. This means less chance for those mouldy awnings from our earlier example.

Vinyl awnings might be the favourite for your home as they are more translucent than acrylic awnings and will allow more light to enter the home, perfect for cooler climates.

Styles of awnings.

You are no longer limited to a fabric awning with a scalloped edge and stripes… oh, the stripes. You could choose any of these types of awnings to create a feature in your home or business design.

Patio or Deck Cover Shade Cloths or Sails

Deck Cover Shade Cloths

Retractable Freestanding Awnings

Retractable Freestanding Awnings

Retractable Sidearm/Drop-Arm Awnings

a house with a red awning on the front

Retractable Canopy Awnings

a patio with lounge chairs and an umbrella

Retractable Vertical Drop Awnings

Retractable Vertical Drop Awnings

Retractable Patio Cover Systems

Retractable Patio Cover System

Window Awnings

a patio with lounge chairs and an umbrella

Deck Awnings

Deck Awnings

Motorized Retractable Awnings

Motorized Retractable Awnings

Things to Keep in Mind


As discussed previously all materials for outdoor use will have their own pros and cons. Weigh up all of the options before choosing your materials as it will have an impact on the longevity and usability of your awning.


No matter where you’re considering using your awning always think through how you will want to use it, it’s purpose and whether it will be used effectively at that size.


How you want to use your awning will also determine the type of awning you choose. Whether fixed, retractable or freestanding you need to determine the how before the what.


Then it really comes down to ‘what does it look like’. When was your house built? What are the features of the home? Are there architectural features that will clash with the awnings? Asking yourself these questions could prevent a costly mistake.


Try to make sure that the colours you choose blend not only with the exterior décor but also work with your interiors. This will give you an overall cohesive look to your home. On the practical side also make sure the colour choice will still give you the UV protection you’re looking for in an awning.

Talk to a professional

Technology, design and materials are changing often, it’s always a good idea to come talk to a professional to get the most up-to-date information to help with your decisions.

The Extras

There are of course basic models of awnings and then you could get really fancy and add on some real 21st century perks. Awnings have been designed to resist rain, winds, a certain amount of snow, and even hurricanes. If you want a retractable awning, they can be custom designed to be operated manually with a chord or motorized, with a radio, non-radio, or torque-sensing motor. You could even choose to add MP3 speakers, heaters, sensors, (for weather events) and timing controls. You can even have them added to your smart home system and control them from your devices.

There are so many appealing options you can now choose from when it comes to protecting your home from heat and damaging UV rays. Come have a look for yourself at Complete Blinds or give us a call. We’re here to help.

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