Choosing an Awning:
What to Look for in a Retractable Awning
Retractable or lateral arm awnings are self-supporting shading systems that are used for protection from the sun's harmful rays. These units are mounted to a solid structure with no vertical supports. They should not be used in severe weather (strong winds and rain), but can be used in a light drizzle, if the pitch is set correctly by your professional installer.
There are a wide variety of retractable awnings available on the market. The price of an awning depends on the level of quality, comfort, durability, maintenance and options that will make it suitable for your home. Below are some of the features to look for in a top quality retractable awning.
Torsion Bar. The purpose of the torsion bar is to absorb movement and flex from the entire system, like the backbone in the human body. All mechanical parts of the awning are attached to this "backbone" bar. Durasol offers a choice of steel or aluminum torsion bars on SunShelter Select units. Typically, the steel torsion bar is recommended because it is able to absorb a high amount of energy. Durasol engineered their 3.5mm-thick walled aluminum bar for wet areas where an added level of corrosion protection is desired.
Roller Tube. The fabric is attached to the roller tube and tension is created from here when the awning is extended. Durasol uses 78mm steel roller tubes in their shading products. Steel roller tubes allow for 21 feet wide by 10 feet projections, without the use of a center support. Aluminum roller tubes have much more deflection from the tension and weight of the fabric and would require a center support at shorter widths and lesser projections than steel. Aluminum roller tubes may require the use of center supports for widths as small as 13'.
Retractable Lateral Arms. Lateral arms work in conjunction with the front bar and the roller tube to keep the fabric taut. The benefit of lateral arms is that they provide structural supports for your awnings above the heads of most standing adults.
When comparing lateral arms, consumers typically notice the arm cables. Most lateral arms come with one or two steel cables. Durasol uses a single 4mm stainless steel cable that is made of 128-strand, aircraft quality, 10,000-pound-test cables.
Arm Shoulders. Connection from the arm to the torsion bar is made with the arm shoulders. With arm shoulders, you want to have a minimum number of parts to avoid play and instability. When the shoulder is extruded, it consists of parts that are bolted together. Cast arm shoulders such as those in Durasol products, require a much greater investment in moulds and dies, but they provide a cleaner look and a more stable awning that requires less readjustment after installation.
Installation Brackets. These sturdy mounting brackets attach to the wood frame studs or masonry of your home. Durasol utilizes a bracket that can be mounted on both walls and soffits. To accommodate every type of mounting area, this bracket, combined with additional parts, can also be mounted on the roof of your home. If you have less then an 8' clearance or desire a longer projection, we strongly recommend you consider a roof mounting application. The vacuum-injection cast molding of these brackets provides unsurpassed strength and durability. Over the years, we have recognized that customers may move or put an addition onto their homes, requiring the removal of their awning. The versatility of the installation brackets allows for the customers to have UnderCover Outdoors Industries re-install the awning on a different mounting surface or area. Many customers are happy to know that they can go from a wall mount to a soffit mount and vice versa, without the purchase of additional parts.
Front Bar. The retractable awning arms, fabric and valance are all connected to the front bar. The front bar is the outer-most point of the awning projection. On lateral arm awnings, the fabric is only connected to the roller tube and the front bar. When the wind gets underneath the awning, the arms bend or rise allowing the awning to billow. The stress of this billowing is carried by the roller tube and front bar. Durasol uses a four-chambered front bar unmatched in its ability to prevent sagging, bowing and deflection. There are items you can buy to lock down the front bar, such as legs and poles; however, keep in mind that most awning manufacturer warranties are void if you utilize such products. Remember, a lateral arm awning is designed to have the fabric billow up and the arms fold inward during windy conditions. This eliminates stress on the wall and the rest of the system.
Protective Hood. Retractable awnings are self-storing when retracted, but additional protection may be required over the mounting area. The hood may be used to protect the unit from harsh weather when the awning is not in use. A hood will also keep the fabric cleaner and help to protect the enclosed motor from the elements. The majority of units we sell require a protective hood if the unit will be roof mounted or mounted on a wall that does not have an overhang or soffit.
Electronic Options. Many people have a hard time deciding whether or not to motorize their awning. It takes about 20 seconds to extend a motorized awning; opening an awning by hand can take up to two minutes. You can save considerable time and effort by simply pushing a button. You might also avoid possible damage to your unit by rolling it up incorrectly or extending it too far. Over 85% of the awnings that Durasol produces are motorized. Another consideration with motorized awnings is the additional electronic options that can build even more functionality into your unit. Durasol offers an assortment of electronic options including remote controls, indoor and outdoor switches, and weather sensors.
Fabric. The first question you'll want to ask yourself is "what type of fabric will meet my needs?" Lateral arm awnings are made with either acrylic or vinyl fabrics: acrylic fabrics are best. Today's acrylic fabrics are woven specifically for use on retractable awnings. The heavy-grade fabrics provide protection from harmful UV rays, as most of the sun's energy is deflected.
Because acrylics are woven, the fabric is able to "breathe;" it is also resistant to moisture and mildew. Durasol uses solution-dyed acrylic fabrics from Sunbrella and Dickson — both are woven by the world's leading acrylic fabric manufacturer, Glen Raven Mills. Solution dyeing is a method of dying each thread all the way through before it is woven. This process produces a more beautiful product and reduces fading. The waterproof nature of vinyl fabrics makes them ideal for commercial applications and for use on fixed frames. These types of systems require only limited dimensional stability in the fabric; this characteristic makes vinyl less than ideal for lateral arm awnings. With changing weather conditions, vinyl awnings will heat up and stretch, affecting the performance and factory settings of your awning — not to mention the smell of the plastics leaching out.
Your second consideration is which color awning will enhance the look of your home. Durasol offers over 200 designer colors and patterns to choose from. Your professional UnderCover Outdoors awning representative will be happy to help you make the best choice.
Our Promise. Durasol awnings are the best-designed retractable lateral arm systems available today. That's why we sell them at UnderCover Outdoors Industries. Durasol's nation-wide customer satisfaction rate is over 98%. Your investment in a quality shading product, installed by UnderCover Outdoors professionals, will be a decision that you and your family will enjoy for years to come. Durasol backs your purchase with a factory-registered warranty — something unheard of in the industry.