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Porch Awnings - A Buyer's Guide

Updated on March 22, 2011

Porch awnings can go miles in cooling off and dressing up your outdoor gathering areas, and the cost is definitely worth it in my opinion. There are a few things you should know, however, before you take the plunge and make the purchase. Read on for some sage advice.

First of all, do make an attempt to find the best deal on the internet first. I know that buying online can be a little scary for some people but if you can get over this fear then you can really save a big chunk of change, especially on big-ticket items like awnings and patio covers. Don't say I didn't warn you when you drive to Home Depot and the prices are 30% higher.

Now you're going to have to decide if you want your porch awning to be made of metal or a fabric material. Metal is great because it is more solid and therefore can better weather strong storms and wind. It can also be cleaned with your typical power washer and bleach-based solution to keep it looking great. On the other hand, my personal view is that aluminum siding looks a little cold and unwelcoming, but that's just me.

Fabric awnings, on the other hand, look much more welcoming and warm to me. It can almost give you outdoor porch or patio a cafe look. Fabric also has the added benefit of coming in a variety of different styles and colors so that it can match your personality. The only drawback is that fabric will require more frequent cleaning, and if done professionally can get a little expensive.

Speaking of colors, you should keep in mind that light-colored materials will more easily deflect sunlight and heat so that you'll keep cool and comfortable on those steamy summer afternoons. Aim for light beige and tan colors if you want something that will be neutral and complimentary to any future paint color schemes on the rest of the house.

Often arises the question of whether to get a retractable porch awning, and really this is just up to your personal tastes. I happen to think that the whole crank apparatus looks a little junky but it does come in handy if you want to protect the awning from wind, snow, and the elements. It's also nice to have the ability to roll it up during the winter to let more light through the windows.

One final recommendation would be to try to buy a porch awning that has suitable ventilation and drainage. Awnings that don't have slots of openings for this purpose tend to hold in water and heat and will have shorter lifespans. Just a few openings will allow for rainwater to fall through and heat to escape from beneath. Good luck finding that perfect awning and please comment below if you have any other tips.

Okay, one last thought just occurred to me.  By investing in a porch awning you'll also save money in the long run.  How?  Well, consider the alternative.  You could build an enclosed patio around your porch and connect it to your central air to keep it cool, but this will add a significant amount to your monthly energy bill.  It's also wasteful and ultimately contributes to a greater amount of pollution in the atmosphere.  By simply purchasing a porch awning instead you can keep your patio cool with the free shade provided by nature. 

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