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What are the Different Types of Commercial Awnings?

Terrie Brockmann
Terrie Brockmann

Commercial awnings are very popular with businesses, and there are many styles available. Besides selecting the appropriate fabric, business owners need to consider the type of awning hardware, such as stationary, free standing, or retractable. Of the many awning shapes available, some of the more popular shapes are dome, arch, and waterfall. Typically, business owners choose commercial awning types depending on their needs, such as advertising, client comfort, or energy savings.

Advertising, called branding, is one of the main reasons that business owners choose printed awnings. The shape and style of the awning may help the branding be more effective. For example, a waterfall-shaped awning displays the printing better than a basic A-frame style awning. Often awning makers will add a printed valance to an awning to increase the branding visibility. Valances are available with a variety of edge shapes, such as straight, scalloped, and even custom shapes.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

One of the main reasons for using an awning is to save money on energy bills by providing shade in the summer and wind block in the winter. Typically, there is a wide range of products available that can help a business achieve the LEED certification, which is issued to businesses that adhere to strict environmental building codes. The right choice of awning can make a substantial difference in utility cost and awning functionality. Business owners should consult a designer or architect to choose the right awning type for the location and climate.

Some commercial awnings are large enough to cover entire rooms, while others do not extend from the building front. Larger awnings need a special awning understructure, called a truss. The room-sized commercial awnings allow a business to expand its space very quickly and at a fraction of the cost of permanent structures. Most manufacturers have designers who work with the business owner to construct a safe, secure structure. Some companies offer retractable room-sized commercial awnings.

Retractable awnings allow a business to offer a protected area when necessary and an open area when feasible. This is especially beneficial to businesses such as restaurants, bars, and other eateries. Retractable awnings are available in a multitude of styles and sizes, ranging from simple window awnings to poolside seating. Some of the larger retractable awnings have a complex, permanently standing understructure, but others are simpler and use spring-loaded arms to support the awning as it unrolls. Many manufacturers offer remote control operation or automatic, sensor-controlled retraction and extension.

Most commercial awnings are stationary structures that do not retract. Typically, these awnings function as brand promoters, offer customer comfort and safety, and save energy. Stationary awnings can be freestanding or mounted to the building. The frame style may be an A-frame, a standard canopy convex or arch, or a custom style. More framing styles include the waterfall, shed, and combinations of styles.

Other options for commercial awnings include illumination and exclusively designed shapes, such as custom curved canopies or awnings shaped to curved building fronts. Many manufacturers will custom build the awning's truss to meet the customer's specifications, such as an S-curved awning. Some businesses use awnings with side walls to offer heated waiting areas. One option for side walls is clear plastic that allows increased visibility.

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