The 10 Best Do It Yourself Awnings
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in October of 2016. If you're looking to add a bit of shelter from the elements to your home's doors, windows, deck or patio, you don't have to spend a fortune or hire a contractor to get it done. You'll find an assortment of attractive, affordable and easy-to-install options in our selection of do-it-yourself awnings that can keep out the rain and/or create invitingly shady retreats in outdoor living spaces. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 09, 2020:
During this round of updates, while the Ridgeyard Overhead, Goplus Manual, F2C Outdoor and Americana Aluma Vue were all removed due to availability issues, we also eliminated the Nulmage Awnings Canopy in order to make room for our new additions. Some of these new inclusions are the Canditree Privacy Divider – a side awning that presents an alternative way to define an outdoor space, the Yescom Hollow Sheet 07AWN002 – an affordably priced plastic offering that’s suitable for doorways, and the Aecojoy Market Deck – a larger model that can cast some serious shade over a patio or deck.
A few things to look for in this category:
Coverage: Typically, an awning’s primary goals are to offer protection from the rain and/or sun. The size of awning you’ll need to achieve those goals depends on your intentions. While smaller awnings like the Yescom Hollow Sheet 07AWN002 and the Awntech Dallas Retro are suitable for throwing a bit of shade on windows with high sun exposure, slightly larger options like the Palram Vega 2000 are ideal for doorways, as they allow guests a bit more cover – should they happen to arrive during rainfall.
Users looking to outfit their deck or patio with a larger awning, to create a shady outdoor space, will need to consider just how much shade they want and, depending on their budget, perhaps balance that want with how much they want to spend. Users with a larger outdoor space available to them may also want to consider the value of a smaller awning that leaves a portion of the area bathed in sun. The Aecojoy Market Deck and Diensweek Sunshade Shelter HD1500610 both come in several sizes, so you stand a good chance of finding one that suits your needs.
Collapsibility: With their sail-like nature, it’s unsurprising that all awnings are susceptible to damage by high winds – although some high-end models will certainly stand up better than cheap alternatives. In addition to allowing for optional sunlight, this is a major reason why many awnings come with collapsible designs, allowing users to put them away during bad weather.
Hardshell models like the Palram Vega 2000 and Yescom Hollow Sheet 07AWN002 cannot be collapsed, but their shorter designs and rigid materials make them less vulnerable than most textile-based alternatives. And, the Canditree Privacy Divider side awning has an automatic roll-back feature that makes it easy for a single user to take it down in seconds. Larger awnings should all have some means of collapsing, whether it’s manual, motorized, or ideally both. Manual and motorized versions of the Advaning Semi-Cassette are both available, but the motorized model costs a hefty 40% more than its manual alternative.
Clearance: Another thing to think about, especially if you’re thinking about investing in a large awning, is whether you have enough height clearance at your desired point of installation. Because of their gradual slope for drainage, this can be higher than you might expect. The Diensweek Sunshade Shelter HD1500610, for example, recommends a minimum clearance of 10 feet for people to walk comfortably under it. The Palram Vega 2000 has height-adjustable pillars, to set its tallness according to your doorway.
RetractableAwnings.com If you're having trouble finding a DIY option that suits your needs, consider this Florida-based company. It ships internationally, offering product lines from a number of European countries, and can arrange for custom-built awnings and pergolas of any size – typically backed by a 25 year warranty on everything besides their motors. It even has convenient options that can be controlled by your smartphone, but beware: these luxury models tend to come at a high price. retractableawnings.com
Staying Out Of The Sun
Fortunately, it’s easy to install a DIY awning, providing you with just enough shade to enjoy your space or protect visitors.
As humans, we need shelter. It’s one of the basic necessities of our survival. At the same time, we need time out in the sun. Not only is exposure to sunlight our primary source of vitamin D, it’s also of great psychological importance that we perceive sunlight on a somewhat regular basis. That’s why citizens of the far reaches of our planet, who live where the sun sometimes sets for weeks at a time, are so susceptible to depression and other mental issues. It’s also why Seattle, despite its charm and relatively low cost of living among major coastal US cities, is consistently among the top locales for suicides nationwide.
Of course, there is also such a thing as too much sun. In the immediate moment, that can manifest as mere discomfort brought on by the increase in heat that sun exposure causes. Over a little bit of time, that exposure can result in a range of burns to the skin, as well as heat stroke. And chronically, sun exposure can lead to melanoma and other ailments.
So, it would seem, there’s a happy medium between these poles, one where you get enough sun to meet your psychological needs while letting you produce a healthy amount of vitamin D, and you also don’t die a premature death from skin cancer. That happy medium? The shade.
In the shade, you get to take in the bright, happy surroundings of a sunny day without the direct exposure to the sun you’d otherwise have to endure. Of course, it’s still a good idea to wear sunscreen and sport sunglasses when out on bright, sunny days, but being in the shade will go a long way toward keeping you happy and safe.
That said, if you don’t have a reliable source of shade over your patio or porch, you might have no choice but to brave the bright sun or to stay inside. Fortunately, it’s easy to install a DIY awning, providing you with just enough shade to enjoy your space or protect visitors.
Choosing Your DIY Awning
As you pursue the DIY awnings on the market, you’re liable to notice that these items fall into one of a few categories. There are large models designed to cover a back patio. There are small models designed to shade the small area immediately in front of a door. And there are retractable models that you can extend and retract as needed. Narrowing the field down along these lines is the first step toward making your ultimate choice.
For most people, the smaller awnings designed to shade the few feet by a door are going to see their use in the front of the house. These awnings are generally cheaper and easier to install than the other models, and any visitors who have to wait for you to come to the door will appreciate them. They’re also a big help when you’re stuck out in the sun and you have to fish around in your purse for your keys.
There are small models designed to shade the small area immediately in front of a door.
The larger awnings on the market are intended primarily for use in the back of the house, providing a large shaded area under which you can set up a table and chairs for relaxing in the great outdoors and taking in your property.
These larger backyard models sometimes give you the option of retracting them when you don’t need them. This can be helpful on an overcast day that you want to spend outside, as well as sunny days when you want to stay in. After all, having an awning extended all day every day will slowly wear away at its fabric or plastic, even if it’s thoroughly UV treated.
Another worthy line of inquiry involves the materials out of which an awning is made. As we just mentioned, most awnings will primarily use either fabric or plastic (typically polycarbonate) to create their shade, though some models employ aluminum. Plastic is a good option if you live in an area with severe weather, as it can withstand things like hail and sleet more readily. It doesn’t do as good a job as fabric at preventing the transfer of heat, however, and certain models can act almost like magnifying glasses on particularly hot days, providing protection from certain elements while not necessarily cooling you down. Fabric is generally the preferred material, but it should be guarded against both water and UV radiation if you expect it to last very long.
Finally, there’s the frame to consider, and these run the gamut. The frame will decide the overall shape of your awning, and bear heavily on its durability. Aluminum is generally considered the best choice, and it’s rugged, but it won’t succumb to rust. Some models are frameless, and ask that you stretch fabric out between anchor points, but these are best for occasional usage, as their lack of structure will more easily lead to damage.
Tricking Out Your Patio
Once you’ve got your shaded oasis in place, you’ll want to fill it with some serious relaxation essentials. Start out, of course, with the right furniture. A patio set or a pair of outdoor chaise lounges will be essential, especially if you plan on hosting. A word of warning, though: don’t set up your grill underneath the awning, not unless you want to scorch your new source of shade.
Bring some music out there with you by investing in some outdoor speakers, as well. These are generally weather-resistant, and some are even camouflaged to look like rocks, so your guests won’t even know where the music is coming from.
Finally, make sure you have a litany of sunscreen, bug spray, citronella candles, and anything else that will be integral to your comfort and the comfort of your guests. That also includes towels if you’re fortunate enough to have a pool in your backyard. Does that include a margarita machine? Yes. Yes, it does.