Everything you need to know about buying and installing an awning for your outdoor living - Outdoor and Landscaping NZ
Everything you need to know about buying and installing an awning for your outdoor living

Everything you need to know about buying and installing an awning for your outdoor living

An awning will provide shade in the summer, shelter in the winter and add style to a deck, porch or back garden all year round.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

An awning will provide shade in the summer, shelter in the winter and add style to a deck, porch or back garden all year round.

Choosing the ideal awning to suit the space can be a more onerous task than expected – is an integrated heating system required? Should it be waterproof or water resistant? Motorised or manual operation? Would it benefit from having lighting integrated?

Read on to discover all you need to know about purchasing and installing the perfect awning.

How much do awnings cost?

Awnings vary significantly in cost. Flat panel or fixed awnings will start at around $450 a square metre (installed) and increase from there depending on the fabric/materials selected and additional features incorporated.

Motorised winch systems are increasingly popular and these will cost around $500. More high spec motorised winches may include a sensor to detect high wind conditions and automatically retract, offering the ultimate protection for the awning.

How long do awnings last?

An awning’s life expectancy will greatly depend on the quality of product. Generally, a good quality awning will last anywhere from five to 15 years, with due consideration given to its cleaning regime and maintenance. The frame of a retractable awning can be expected to last more than two decades.

Your awning’s lifespan will greatly depend on how well it is looked after. If inspected and cleaned at least once a month, it will likely remain in good repair – providing that shelter and keeping you protected from the sun for many years. 

Aston Road, Waikanae by Wave Shade

How should I choose the right awning?

To maximise the outdoor living potential of a home while staying true to its character and ensuring a comfortable and stylish look and feel, choosing the ideal awning is vital. Consideration should be given to size, fabric and additional functionality requirements to ensure the awning is fit for its purpose.

The most common material for awnings are outdoor fabric and aluminium. While outdoor fabrics provide broader options in terms of colour, they do require more maintenance, while aluminium is a much sturdier option – but allows for less customisation. Decisions therefore need to be made around priorities in terms of look versus care.

Another key consideration is the type of awning – whether freestanding, retractable or stationary. Retractable awnings are a versatile choice for smaller spaces like patios or decks, allowing for full coverage during peak sun hours and the option to retract at night for a better view of the stars. Commercial freestanding awnings are perfect for a centralised shelter in a larger space, and portable – so great for business use. Meanwhile, some prefer the permanence and ease of a fixed or stationary awning, it really comes down to personal preference and general usage requirements.

260 Translucent Opening Roof by Louvretec New Zealand

Pros and cons of retractable awnings

Retractable awnings offer greater versatility, have no need for poles or posts and can be protected from high winds, however, this can come at a cost – namely more expensive product and installation and the potential for damage to the motor or rust on the tracks of a manually operated awning.

Generally, the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks however. Although non-retractable awnings are usually more cost effective at the outset, they are also far more likely to be damaged during bad weather and through prolonged exposure to the elements.

Four considerations around functionality when choosing the ideal awning

1. Flexibility with folding arm awnings

Extendable folding arm awnings are retractable, cantilevered systems operated either manually or motorised using a switch or remote control. Most effective when facing north, as there is far less sun when south-facing, a folding arm offers the opportunity for greater control of outdoor living areas, providing just the right amount of shade on any given day at any time.  

Folding arm boxed awnings offer even greater protection to the system by enclosing the arms and fabric when retracted, protecting its mechanisms and any automation from the elements – lengthening its expected usable lifetime.

2. Greater protection from drop down awnings

Drop down awnings are a popular choice for wind protection – be it in a commercial, home or bach setting. Generally made from high quality acrylic or clear PVC fabrics, they provide the privacy and benefits of an enclosed space, while retaining the all-important outdoor feel.  

3. Consider drop arm awnings for conservatories and windows

Drop arm awnings are ideally suited for conservatories and windows as they offer greater regulation of direct sunlight into the room. Either manually or electrically adjustable for changing sun angles, the fabrics will generally be mildew and UV resistant – and allow in a small amount of light.

4. Light integration in awnings

Integrating lights with an awning will provide ultimate comfort, luxury and ambience – making for an outdoor entertaining space that no-one will ever want to leave. A number of awnings offer LED lighting built directly into the front profile or cassette. The seamless integration provides a neat and stylish aesthetic and a ‘wow factor’ as day turns into night during those long summer BBQs.

5. Automated awnings

Motorised or automated awnings now also offer the added functionality of control from a smartphone through an app. So you can just lie back with a glass of wine and a book, and, without moving a muscle, retract or open your awning as required to ensure optimal comfort despite changes in weather.


Learn more about retractable roofs: Controlling your outdoor environment through the seasons


Top banner image credit: Weinor Cassita II Awning by Artisan

Omega Retractable Pergola by Shade Elements
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