Want New Retractable Patio Awnings? Put Them Up Yourself
It’s not that hard to install do-it-yourself aluminum patio awnings, but before you jump in with both feet you need to decide what kind of awning you need. Standard awnings will stay up for the entire season and will need to be brought in over the winter, while retractable deck and patio awnings can be opened when needed and left closed over the winter. A standard awning will take a little less time and require less maintenance than a retractable one but will require a winter storage area. Once you’ve made your choice, follow the installation process for your retractable patio awning below.
If You Own a SunSetter
Standard Patio Awning Installation
After you have purchased your awning, you’ll need to assemble a tool kit consisting of the following items: a pencil, a tape measure, level, a ladder tall enough to reach the awning mounting height, a socket set with ½’” driver ratchet, a cordless electric drill (or a drill with an extension cord) and bit set, a caulking gun, safety gear (goggles, work gloves) and any additional nuts or bolts not included in the awning kit.
Now you can start with the installation:
Measuring and Mounting Brackets
1. On the side of the house that you will anchor the awning to, measure out where you want the center point of your awning to be and mark this point at a height between 74” and 84” lightly with a pencil (this will be the height of the awning).
2. Unroll the awning and measure out and mark the center point of the edge that goes against the wall.
3. Measure out the length of the mounting rod and mark the spots for the mounting brackets on the wall. (Lengths will vary depending on the manufacturer of the awning).
4. Drill pilot holes for the mounting hardware.
5. Install the mounting brackets with the hardware provided -- you may need a socket set for this if you have hex bolts.
6. To prevent water from getting behind the awning mounting rod, caulk between the mounting rod and the wall. Depending on the caulk you use, you may need to make sure there is no rain in the forecast for 12 to 24 hours to allow it to cure fully.
Assembling the Canopy
1. Attach the outside support arms to the mounting bracket arms on either side of the mounting rod. (Hint – keep the heads of all bolts and screws to the outside of the canopy to avoid rips in the awning.)
2. Now hook the outer canopy rafters to the front rod.
3. Stretch the awning and attach the center clips to the back and front mounting rods.
4. Attach the other mounting clips in the same fashion.
Installing the Awning
This is where you will need help. You must lift the canopy and slip the support arms into the mounting brackets on either side of the mounting rod; this will take you and a friend. Trying to do this by yourself can result in the mounting arms bending due to the weight of the canopy.
1. Mount the top trim in the mounting bracket channel and allow the awning to hang.
2. Step back and look to make sure the awning is level.
3. If it's not, level it off using the adjusting bolts on the mounting rod.
This type of awning should be taken down for the winter months, because snow build-up on the canopy can cause the aluminum rods to bend under the weight or could cause the canopy fabric to stretch or even rip. The mounting rod can remain attached to the house, but the other piece needs to be stored in an area that is protected from the elements.
To avoid having to remove and reinstall an awning every spring and fall, you may want to invest in a slightly more expensive retractable awning system.
Retractable Patio Awning Installation
Although there are non motorized versions of retractable awnings, due to their large size they become quite heavy and hard to crank. I would suggest a motorized version with a manual override in case the motor seizes or otherwise fails.
Because retractable deck and patio awnings are single self contained units, they are extremely heavy, and may require more than one helper to lift into place.
Just like installing a standard awning, you will need to start by assembling all of the necessary tools including; a stud finder, a tape measure, level, a ladder tall enough to reach the awning mounting height, a socket set with ½’” driver ratchet, a cordless electric drill (or a drill with an extension cord) and bit set, a caulking gun, a rubber mallet, safety gear (goggles, work gloves) and any additional nuts or bolts not included in the awning kit.
Before the installation process can begin, you will need to make sure you can access the studs in the house to attach your lag bolts to. If you can’t, you will need to install a header board. For this install we will assume you can find the studs with your stud finder and your lag bolts can anchor to them.
1. Find the center point of the potential site of your awning. Measure out to the edge where the awning casing will stop. Use the stud finder to locate the closest stud within the length of the awning casing.
2. Measure and mark a point 7/8” below the height of the casing height.
3. Drill a 1/8" pilot hole to the center of the stud.
4. Install the mounting bracket with the supplied mounting bolts. Make sure the bracket is level.
5. Repeat this for the other side.
6. Get a few of your friends to help you lift the awning up onto the brackets.
7. If the awning does not seat itself properly use the gentle persuasion of a rubber mallet to knock it into place.
8. Set the pitch of the awning (this is done with a control near the motor box). In general, the awning should have a pitch of at least 3 inches per 12 feet of awning.
9. Plug in the motor and test to make sure it is working (take this opportunity to test the hand crank override as well).
The majority of the cost of having someone else install patio awnings for you is labor. If you have enough time, and help, to do it yourself, you can save more than half of the money of a professional job without sacrificing any quality -- it will probably only cost you a few pizzas and a case of beer for the entire install.