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Retractable vs. Fixed Awnings: Which Is Better?

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You’re a new homeowner with a beautiful patio, you’re an architect designing a gorgeous new building, you’re a Landscape Architect planning and designing the natural environment at a University campus, you’re a restaurant owner looking to extend your outdoor seating, you’re a developer building the next big shopping center – the common denominator is obvious: you need an awesome awning. What’s less obvious? The type of awning to purchase. With only a little digging, however, it becomes abundantly clear that purchasing a custom retractable awning or retractable patio cover pergola system or rotating louver roof system is the way to go. Alas, far too many people still attempt to debate the longstanding retractable product versus fixed product comparison.

Luckily for you, we’ve done all of the legwork. There is truly no comparison between retractable awnings and fixed awnings. When compared side-by-side, the advantages and benefits of retractable awning systems are nearly infinite. Fixed products, on the other hand, create endless limitations and headaches for homeowners, architects, restaurant owners, developers, and so on and so forth. Below, we outline just some of the areas where retractable awning and retractable patio cover systems blow fixed awnings out of the water.

For our side by side retractable versus fixed comparison, click  here  for our pdf link. You can make the pdf larger by clicking Ctrl+ on your computer.

Fabric & Aluminum Louvers

Fixed Awnings

  1. Installed mostly with vinyl or canvas (cotton), not solution dyed acrylic fabric

  2. Most vinyl and canvas awnings will mildew, rot, and or fade within 2-3 years after installation

Retractable Awnings

  1. Solution dyed acrylic fabrics (Para, Sunbrella and Dickson) have a 10- year warranty against fading, mildew & rotting, and are known to last 15+ years

  2. The awning can be rolled up when not in use

  3. Ferrari Precontraint fabrics used on retractable patio cover systems or vertical drop awnings last longer than 15 years

  4. Aluminum louvers on the rotating louver system will also last much longer than 15 years


Fixed Awnings

  1. Most fixed awnings are made of steel piping/tubing which will rust/corrode in as little as 2-3 years

Retractable Awnings

  1. All our frames are Qualicoat® electrostatically powder coated non-rusting 6063 aluminum that have a 25-year non-prorated warranty against defects including rust/corrosion

  2. The components are all 316 marine grade inox stainless steel with the same 25-year non-prorated warranty


Fixed Awnings

  1. Without the ability to retract the awning, the room will be very dark on a cloudy or rainy, overcast day

Retractable Awnings

  1. Allows a property owner to have maximum light exposure inside the house or building on cloudy or rainy, overcast days

Partially Open/Closed

Fixed Awnings

  1. All fixed/permanent products cannot be retracted and therefore can only be used fully extended

Retractable Awnings

  1. Folding lateral arm awnings and retractable patio cover systems can be partially opened/closed and stopped at any point when being extended or retracted

  2. On the rotating louver roof systems, the louvers can be fully closed, fully open or tilted


Fixed Awnings

  1. Pitch/angle cannot be adjusted, thus limiting sun protection and the ability to see beyond the awning

Retractable Awnings

  1. The pitch/angle can be adjusted on the folding lateral arm awnings for the best sun protection (especially in the morning and late afternoon) with either an eastern, southern or western exposure

  2. Allows for the ability to adjust the pitch/angle for a better view from inside the home commercial or building


Fixed Awnings

  1. In the event of an address change, it is much more difficult (if not impossible) to move a fixed awning than a folding lateral arm retractable awning

Retractable Awnings

  1. In the event of an address change, it is much easier to move a folding lateral arm retractable awning than a fixed awning

Space Requirement

Fixed Awnings

  1. Fixed means just that – fabric is always permanently extended and not aesthetically pleasing to the eye

Retractable Awnings

  1. Lateral arm awnings and retractable patio and deck pergola systems retract against the house or commercial building

  2. Very discrete with clean lines

Sun & Heat

Fixed Awnings

  1. Since all types of fixed products cannot be retracted you don't have the ability on cooler or cold days to close the fixed product so it is against the wall (retracted) to allow heat from the sun to warm the house or commercial building resulting in higher heating costs

Retractable Awnings

  1. On a sunny, hot day you can extend all of our retractable products to keep the heat, sun, glare and UV rays out of your home or building

  2. On cooler or cold days, simply leave the retractable product against the wall and take advantage of the heat provided naturally (and inexpensively) by the sun

  3. Save money on energy costs (heating bill)

Thread/Heat Sealing

Fixed Awnings

  1. Most fixed awnings and fixed patio covers are sewn with polyester or cotton thread which will deteriorate and break within a couple of years due to UV exposure

  2. Will need to have the cover resewn, costing more money

Retractable Awnings

  1. On our folding lateral arm retractable awnings, we use 100% expanded clear Gore PTFE TENARA® UV resistant sewing thread which has a lifetime warranty against seam separation since it is U.V. (ultraviolet) resistant and is unaffected by salt water, cleaning chemicals (even bleach), cold or hot temperature extremes and acid rain

  2. Sewing thread is non-flammable and will not rot or mildew

  3. Fabric on retractable patio and deck pergola cover systems is heat sealed/melted together so that fabric separation will not occur

UV & Sun Exposure

Fixed Awnings

  1. The life of the cover on a fixed product is much shorter as compared to a retractable product since vinyl or canvas (which is cotton and not solution dyed acrylic) is always exposed to the harsh elements including the sun and ultraviolet (UV) rays

Retractable Awnings

  1. Solution dyed acrylic fabrics and Ferrari Precontraint fabrics are known for their durability in the retractable awning, marine & patio furniture industries and are not exposed as much to the sun and ultraviolet (UV) rays as the fabric is retracted when not in use


Fixed Awnings

  1. Frames and fabric are often damaged due to high wind, heavy rain, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, hail and snow

  2. Not practical and costly to remove the fabric before each of the above types of inclement weather/natural disasters

Retractable Awnings

  1. In the event of inclement weather all the products can be retracted (closed) so as not to be damaged by high winds, heavy rain, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail or snow

  2. Some models are heavy rain, wind, hurricane, hail and snow proof when extended (opened)

  3. Motorization with optional wind sensors, rain sensors, sun sensors, timers, and remote control

  4. iPhone and Android smartphone and tablet apps are available for ease of operation and peace of mind

For our side by side retractable versus fixed comparison, click here for our pdf link. You can make the pdf larger by clicking Ctrl+ on your computer.

The proof is in the pudding when it comes to the argument of retractable awnings versus fixed awnings. If you’re on a mission to enhance your outdoor space, retractable awnings outrank fixed awnings no matter how you slice it. With boundless customization options, RetractableAwnings.com has the perfect awning for you! Contact our retractable awning and retractable patio cover experts in the USA or Canada toll free at 866-438-2964 or outside the USA or Canada at (305) 628-2424 or use the live help chat tool to learn more about how you can create your dream awning today!

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