What Are Awnings? Benefits, Types & Materials

There’s nothing like catching a breath of fresh air after being cooped up inside all day. Unfortunately, the weather can often put our plans on pause, trapping us indoors. Outdoor awnings allow you to enjoy your outdoor living spaces without enduring unpleasant weather.

Much like a roof shields a home from the weather, awnings are protective coverings that provide outdoor shelter from the elements. They appear above windows, doorways, or patios of private homes and businesses alike. Beyond providing an outdoor canopy, outdoor awnings can also help control indoor temperatures by shading windows.

There are two primary types of awnings: fixed outdoor awnings and retractable outdoor awnings. Each type has its benefits.

  1. Fixed outdoor awnings
    Attached above doors, windows, or patios, fixed outdoor awnings offer a permanent shading solution.
  2. Retractable outdoor awnings
    Retractable awnings can be extended or retracted, allowing direct sun or shade. You can choose from manual or motorized retractable awnings.

Fixed Awnings Pros & Cons

Fixed outdoor awnings typically appear outside businesses or in public areas, offering a permanent shading solution. Since they are permanent, these awnings are constructed of sturdier materials, such as metal or fiberglass, which can withstand extreme weather.


  • Durable
  • Permanent
  • Low maintenance
  • Protects against all weather conditions


  • It cannot be adjusted
  • Must be replaced if damaged

What Are The Best Awnings for Outdoors?

To get the most out of outdoor awnings, they should be installed where people spend the most time outdoors or above entrances and exits.

  • Window awnings attach above windows, shading the window from sunlight and blocking rain or snow from entering.
  • Door awnings allow you to access your keys and unlock the door without getting drenched.
  • Patio awnings cover patios, protecting outdoor furniture and providing a shady recreational outdoor space.

Consider an awning with motorized retraction to make it easier to enjoy your awning.

What Kind Of Materials Are Awnings Made Of?

Outdoor awnings can be made from a range of materials. Fixed awnings are typically composed of durable materials, such as metal, glass, and fiberglass. Because retractable awnings must be flexible, they are usually made of fabric attached to a metal frame.

What Are Awning Shapes?

Awnings come in four distinct shapes: sloped, convex, domed, and concave. These shapes offer different practical and aesthetic functions, although all of them are built to endure harsh weather.

What Are The Benefits Of Awnings?

Awnings provide:

  • Shelter from the elements
  • Shade from the sun
  • Increased privacy
  • Heat management
  • Cover for outdoor equipment

Awning Maintenance Tips

Made of metal, fiberglass, or glass, fixed awnings require minimal maintenance but should be cleaned periodically. By comparison, retractable outdoor awnings and motorized outdoor awnings may require regular upkeep and repair since they feature moving parts.

Plant growth on an awning can damage its structural integrity, so cutting back vines and tree branches around the awning is best.

Sample Awning Projects

Pergola awning – under mount

Pergola Awnings

These retractable awnings are attached to a stable, fixed frame around an outdoor area and can be extended or withdrawn along with the frame’s structure.

Butterfly awning – awning comes from middle - awning designs - Window Treatments Provider in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Freestanding Awnings

Freestanding awnings have independent supports and are used in open spaces to provide shade.

Shade Exterior

Vertical Awnings

Vertical awnings are retractable awnings protecting an outdoor space from sun and wind.

Need Some Help On Your Awning Projects?

With more than 15 years in the industry, IUS is your trusted source for awnings, window treatments, home automation, and more. Call IUS today at (781) 767-4022 for all your questions about outdoor awnings.

Picture of Bob Doolin

Bob Doolin

A leader in smart home technology, specializing in motorized window treatments, lighting controls, and automation solutions. Over 20 years of industry expertise.

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