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Questions To Ask Manufacturers When Searching For Reputable Retractable Awnings or Retractable Patio Cover Systems

A retractable awning or retractable patio cover system­­ is an investment that can add pleasure, beauty and distinction to a home or business for many years to come. Therefore, it is important to do your research to find a reputable frame and fabric manufacturer that puts quality first. After all, the quality of your system is the one thing that will determine the distinction, ease-of-use, functionality, and lifetime of your retractable awning or retractable patio cover investment.

So where do you start and what do you look for?

The two main things that set systems apart are frame quality and fabric quality.

Let’s take a look at the frame. As the backbone of your retractable awning or retractable patio cover system, the frame may be the most critical element when choosing your manufacturer, so you must ensure it is built with superior materials and includes a bulletproof warranty.

Many, but not all retractable awnings have aluminum framework andInox stainless steel hardware, which prevents rust and corrosion. Regardless of the material, a retractable awning or retractable patio cover system frame should be constructed with commercial grade materials and incorporate European components that don’t rust or corrode. Some companies save money by importing lower-quality units and components from China and other Asian countries. All of the frames and components produced in Asia are unable to withstand the diverse climate changes in the United States, which becomes evident after normal use through peeling, faded paint, rust and corrosion. Therefore, it is important to use a manufacturer that does NOT use Asian-made components.

All retractable awnings rely on a spring-loaded folding arm that applies outward pressure to keep the fabric tight. The components inside the arm and guides of a retractable awning or retractable patio cover system are also significant because they work to retract and expand the awning or patio cover. When you extend an awning, you slowly ease the pressure of the arm. The actual work happens when you retract the awning because the internal arm springs have to stretch. In most systems, the springs apply tension using one of three methods – cables, chains or belts. When determining quality, you want to look for a manufacture that incorporates Flexon brand non-rusting stainless steel chains in the arm construction of retractable awnings as opposed to cables, and belts for retractable patio cover systems.

Now that you have a good idea of what to look for in quality retractable awnings and retractable patio cover systems, you can think about those extra accessories that will really make your new system exceptional…the accessories. Optionalaccessories like wind, rain and sun sensors, timers, heaters and MP3 speakers that fit on your frame or those that can be mounted adjacent to the retractable awning or patio cover, can truly make your new outdoor space even more enjoyable. If these items are important to you, make sure the manufacturer offers them, so you can include them in your system.

10 Questions to Ask the Manufacturer about the frame:

  1. What materials are your frame and components made out of? Is your frame powder coated?

  2. Where are the frame and components manufactured and engineered?

  3. Where is the frame assembled?

  4. Are the frame and components commercial grade?

  5. Are the seams sewn with Goretex Tenara thread on a lateral arm awning and heat sealed on a retractable patio cover system for water resistant or water proof protection? Heat sealed for complete water protection?

  6. How many different projection lengths do you have available and what is the maximum projection length?

  7. Are your frames wind load Beaufort scale tested and if so, what is the maximum wind speed they can withstand?

  8. What frame colors do you have available?

  9. Do you manufacture your frames to exact specifications?

  10. Do you have optional accessories for your frames (i.e. wind/rain/sun sensors, timers, heaters and MP3 speakers)

In addition to the quality of the frame, a solid warranty will give you piece of mind over your retractable awning or retractable patio cover system investment and save a lot of out-of-pocket expenses if any issues should arise. Some companies only offer pro-rated warranties, while others provide full-coverage throughout the warranty period. Look for a manufacturer that offers a full warranty, so you can relax and know you will not incur any component expensesdown the road from unforeseen problems.

5 Questions to Ask the Manufacturer about the warranty:

  1. What is the length of your frame warranty and is it pro-rated?

  2. Does your frame warranty provide frame or component replacement or only a credit toward a new one?

  3. Does your frame warranty cover paint chipping or flaking from the frame?

  4. Does your frame warranty cover rust and corrosion?

  5. Do you have local technicians to complete repairs?

Moving on the fabric quality and selection. The fabric you choose for your retractable awning or patio should enhance the appearance of your home or business, express your personal style and set the mood for your outdoor space. Therefore, you want fabric that’s not only well crafted, but also remarkably striking. Quality and selection are key here, so you want to confirm that the fabric the manufacture uses only the best the market has to offer.

10 Questions to Ask the Manufacturer:

  1. Do your fabrics offer solar protection and if so, how much?

  2. Do your fabrics resists tearing?

  3. Will your fabrics sag? Do they have double resistance with warp and weft?

  4. How long do your fabrics normally last? What is your guarantee?

  5. Are your fabrics dirt, stain, mildew and rot resistant?

  6. Are your fabrics fade resistant, lightweight and breathable?

  7. Are your fabrics tested for harmful substances?

  8. Are your fabrics certified and if so, which certifications do they hold?

  9. Can your fabrics withstand excessive weather, including wind and either light or heavy rain and hail?

  10. How many fabric colors and patterns to you have to choose from?

A retractable awning or retractable patio cover system is a major investment for most businesses and homeowners. Before you dive into the purchase make sure you do your homework and don’t just purchase from the lowest bidder. Research the quality of what you’re buying and the warranty it comes with. Doing your homework will save you both time and money and allow you to enjoy your investment for years to come.

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