Updated April 13, 2018 by Lydia Chipman

The 10 Best Do It Yourself Awnings

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This wiki has been updated 17 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 to keep out the rain and/or create invitingly shady retreats in those outdoor living spaces. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best do it yourself awning on Amazon.

10. Ridgeyard Overhead

9. Outsunny Retractable

8. Goplus Manual

7. Advaning Semi-Cassette

6. F2C Outdoor

5. Best Choice Products Shelter

4. Americana Aluma Vue

3. Awntech Dallas Retro

2. Shade & Beyond Sail

1. NuImage Awnings Canopy

Staying Out Of The Sun

Over a little bit of time, that exposure can result in a range of burns to the skin, as well as heat stroke.

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.

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.

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.

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Lydia Chipman
Last updated on April 13, 2018 by Lydia Chipman

An itinerant wordsmith with a broad constellation of interests, Lydia Chipman has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts. Bearing the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience -- with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order or becoming an artist -- she still can’t resist the temptation to learn something new. Lydia holds a master of arts in English from Georgia Southern University, and a bachelor of arts cum laude in integrative studies from Clayton College. Her expertise is in the areas of robotics, electronics, toys, and outdoors and computer equipment.

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