A retractable awning is an adjustable extension that provides shade and comfort like a roof. It allows you as a homeowner to enjoy your patio without constructing a permanent structure.
From outside, an awning shields the strong sun radiations while preventing excess heat from entering the house through the windows. It has a frame and a cover/canopy that can be removed when not in use.
Everybody wants to know how long something will last before he/she makes an investment. Awnings come in two parts, that is, the frame and the fabric. Each part has its own life span when they are given good care. Weather is the main agent of destruction when it comes to retractable awnings.
The Awning Frame
This is the part that is attached to the house wall. Make sure it is well installed so that it can support the weight of the fabric. Many manufacturers make frames strong enough to withstand wind and rain. A high-quality awning frame can last for about twenty years if you take good care of it.
The Awning Fabric/Cover/Canopy
This is the fabric that covers the frame. The fabric on a retractable awning can be removed so that you clean it. This fabric needs high care and maintenance or else it will fade and tear within a few years.
If you take good care of the fabric it can last for ten years.
Types of Retractable Awnings
- Manual retractable awning
It has a hand crank that retracts the awning manually.
The hand crank can rotate left or right to retract or to open up the fabric. Many homeowners love it because it does not depend on electricity, hence it remains operational when there is a power outage.
It is less expensive to buy, install, and maintain a manual retractable awning.
- Motorized retractable awning
It has a remote or a switch that controls the movements of the crank. The motorized retractable awning is more convenient than the manual one. By a simple push of a button, you can either relax under the sun or in the shade.
The motorized awnings are expensive to purchase, install, and maintain but have their own perks.
Maintenance Tips for a Retractable Awning
Clean your retractable awning regularly. You can clean it without removing the fabric from the frame. Cleaning will prevent stains and the accumulation of dust/dirt from the roof. Do not forget to clean the frame because it is an important part of the whole system.
Make sure the fabric is completely dry before you retract it.
- Retract the fabric when not in use
Retracting the fabric makes the awning less vulnerable to wind, rain, and sun. A retracted fabric is less exposed to strong sun radiations that may make it weak and lose its color. The wind cannot easily blow away a retracted fabric. Doing so will make it last for many years.
- Inspect the moving parts
Regularly inspect mechanical parts to see if any moving part is rusting or broken. A mechanical part that is not working softly can lead to tearing of the fabric. You must lubricate all moving parts after three months or after two months if it is the rainy season. If you find a broken part, try and replace it immediately.
- Cut down any nearby branches/shrubs
Doing this will keep your awning safe from falling branches that can tear the fabric.
Some trees produce acids that can corrode the fabric or the metallic frame.
Dry leaves can give you a hard time cleaning the fabric and they attract molds/mildew.
- Paint the frame
All retractable awning frames are metallic hence painting prevents rust that can develop from the raindrops. The painting also makes the frame look elegant and new the whole year.
Make sure you clean and sand off the old paint before you apply a fresh coat.
- Apply waterproofing sprays
Always clean the fabric and apply a sun-resistant spray that reduces the impact of sun radiations on the fabric.
Do not forget to apply a waterproofing spray that makes the fabric not to absorb rainwater. These weather-resistant sprays maintain the original colors of the fabric.
- Store the fabric indoors during winter
Winter is a harsh season of the year. Store the awning fabric indoors because snow and cold weather can destroy it. Make sure you clean the fabric and dry it before storage.
If you store a wet fabric it will develop molds and mildew and sometimes smell bad.
How to Clean a Retractable Awning
What You Need
- Asoft brush
- Two gallons of warm water
- Chlorine bleach
- Ordinary detergent
- A broom
Use a broom to sweep off the dry leaves, loose dust, and debris from the fabric. Retract the awning to clean the frame.
Use a wet cloth to wipe off the dust on the frame and use chlorine bleach to remove stubborn stains. Then extend the fabric when the frame is dry to continue cleaning the fabric.
Add adequate ordinary detergent in a bucket of warm water. Shake the water until bubbles form then pour it on the fabric. Use the soft brush to scrub off the dirt and use chlorine bleach to remove some stubborn stains.
If you notice some mold or mildew, use alcohol to remove it. Make sure the chlorine bleach is of recommended concentration so that it does not corrode the fabric.
Rinse down the soap with a hose, make sure there is no soap on the fabric because it can cause white patches when dry. Give time for the fabric to dry up naturally, or else the moisture will cause molds to develop or rust in the awning bracket.
Apply waterproofing sprays. This is not mandatory but it is recommended so that you extend the useful life of your awning fabric. Ask experienced homeowners for the best weatherproofing sprays available on the market.
A retractable awning has two main parts which are the frame and the fabric. If you take good care of the frame it can last for twenty years. If you give good maintenance to the fabric it can last for ten years. In summary, for a retractable awning to live its full life, just give it full maintenance and good care. Cleaning, painting, weatherproofing and regular inspections are some of the good care tips.