What is an Awning

Abi Clewley

BY Abi Clewley

Published: 16 February 2022 Updated: 25 March 2024

A retractable awning is a great addition to your home, allowing you to extend your living space out into your garden, turning your patio or house's exterior into a practical spot for homeowners to enjoy some relaxation or entertain friends and family.

So what is an awning?

Take a walk down a busy street in the warmer months and you're bound to see window awnings over a shop or commercial buildings – often striped or brightly coloured, reminiscent of ice cream sellers on a seaside. Now awnings are coming off the high street and into our gardens – and they're a far more luxurious affair. They basically involve a wall-mounted cassette, holding a swathe of fabric which extends as two retractable arms fold out and provide shade to the area beneath.


And what is a pergola awning?

A pergola awning is similar to an awning, featuring a fabric shade above, but instead of retractable arms, pergola awnings feature fixed legs and the fabric travels down beams which form part of the structure. Their fixed nature tends to make them more of a specific garden design and a more visible focal point in your outdoor space. Sometimes also known as fixed awnings, they're a popular choice in larger garden designs and also used to create a shaded walkway.


Why do I need an awning or pergola awning?

Patio awnings open up your outdoor living space and possibilities by adding an area of shade even in the strongest sun and they're so beneficial it's like having an extra room in your home, extending your interior home into the outdoors and giving you more space. During warmer months it's perfect for al fresco dining and optional heating and lighting allow you to enjoy it during the cooler months too. Looking for a quiet spot to curl up with a good book? Your patio awning or pergola creates the ideal cosy nook, the fabric giving you shade from the bright sunlight which can sometimes give you a headache while reading.

Ts Awnings Roomsets 2021 Bayadere Seaweed 1186X782 (1)

Ultra violet protection

It's not just you that an awning protects - the fabric used in our awning are UV resistant, which will help prevent sun damage to your furnishings. While actively offering shade to people and things directly underneath it, it's also having a benefit beyond the shaded area beneath. The shade of your awning keeps the adjoining interior room cool, and helps reduce glare inside too. Most awnings also provide a little privacy to your outdoors area, allowing you to fully relax and enjoy your extra living space. 


How do awnings work?

In simple terms, retractable awnings are comprised of a panel of fabric that can be extended over an area to provide shade, usually over a patio or deck, with metal arms on either side to support it. These arms are attached to an exterior wall, usually above a French door, patio door or bi-fold door opening into your home. Motorised awnings are our standard and can be operated by a simple remote control. 


How do pergola awnings work?

Pergola awnings work in a similar way with fabric extending out to create shade but they have a fixed framework of legs and overhead beams, made from aluminium. Our pergola awnings are also motorised as standard, and are controlled by a remote control.


Smart control

Modern technology is transforming window furnishings throughout our homes and retractable awnings haven't been left behind either. Now you no longer have to scrabble for the remote control to operate fabric awnings - just reach for your phone instead. Smart electric control now helps you operate the furnishings on your house's exterior as well as those inside for total ease of operation. With the integration of a hub, you can use an app on your phone or tablet to operate your awning from inside or out. And it's not just about extending and retracting either. With the app you can set timers - it's idea if you want the sun to warm up the patio or deck up to a point but then put it in the shade so it's just right for you when you're ready to enjoy it. It's also a great way to create the illusion of being at home if you're out of the house.

23.03.21 Kelly 0297

What weather can I use my awning in?

Our luxury awnings are crafted using high quality fabric, treated to prevent fading. Any sunny day is ideal awning weather, as it will provide shade from the sun's rays not only for you but for your furniture and soft furnishings. Built-in vibration sensors can retract your awning if there is any indication of wind, but as with any outdoor feature you should always use common sense and keep an eye on the weather. Awnings need to be manually retracted if it rains and extended fully to allow them to dry when the rain has stopped.

Pergola awnings offer the same sun protection, and also need to be retracted if it rains, then extended to help them dry. Because pergola awnings offer the benefit of legs they're more stable, so they don't require vibration sensors and will only need retracting in high winds, although you can opt for a wind sensor upgrade which will do this automatically, again with the same common sense approach.


And it’s not just you that an awning protects – the shade of your awning will also keep the adjoining interior room cool, and help reduce glare inside, and help prevent sun damage to your furnishings. An awning also provides a little privacy to your outdoors area, allowing you to fully relax and enjoy your extra living space.

Optional extras

For ultimate enjoyment of your awning or pergola awning long into the evening, we offer optional integrated heating and lighting, allowing you control at the touch of a button – no more interrupted al fresco dining as the evening cools down. You can also choose sun sensors for awnings, which activate your awning as soon as sunshine is detected, meaning you have a shaded spot ready and waiting for you when you're ready.

Ts 23 Awning Chine Flannelle08

All about the look

Our high quality patio awnings and pergola awnings come in a wide range of different fabrics, from plain to striped, patterns to pinstripes, and in a wide range of colours so you can choose to complement or contrast with your home or outdoor area. You can also choose from straight or scalloped edging for a matching valance for your awning, and the colour of the cassette for both awnings and pergola awnings, for a true bespoke experience.

TS AWNINGS 2024. UNI BARK MAX Landscapejpg (1)

Where can my awning go?

Our professional installers undertake a survey prior to installation, to ensure the awning placement will provide shade at an optimum level for as much of the day as possible, allowing for the sun's movement. The type and placement of retractable awnings depends on a variety of different factors and our free in-home consultation service is the best way to discuss all the different options. Pergola awnings have additional considerations due to their fixed framework but our design consultants will be able to answer all your questions and help you decide if a pergola awning can work in the space, or even suggest a different placing to make the most of the pergola awning.


What are they made from?

The fabric used in both our awnings is a 100% solution dyed fabric which offers excellent solar protection and superb long-term UV protection. The individual fibres are dyed before being woven which means that the colour dye is locked into the core of the fibres during manufacture (in contrast to the traditional yarn-dying process where colours are applied to the surface of the finished yarn) and this gives exceptionally long-lasting, ultra-vivid colours.


Is patio awning maintenance difficult?

Retractable awnings are relatively low maintenance but there are a few factors to keep in mind. Most awnings and pergola awnings will need very little hands-on care and we use low maintenance fabrics for ease too and a soft bristle brush should take care of most issues. A simple wipe-down of the awning cassette and brackets will help extend the life of your awning.

Pergola awnings are equally easy to maintain; aluminium awnings will not rust in the outdoors, so when it comes to a fixed awning, aluminium is the ideal choice for metal awnings.


How long will my awning or pergola awning last?

The lifetime of your awning depends on a number of different factors, including weather, usage and location. As well as a full 12-month warranty, which covers repairs or replacements to any faulty goods, our awnings also come with a five year guarantee which also includes the awning motor. 



With two different types of awnings available there's a wealth of options for sun protection in outdoor spaces. Whether you opt for a retractable awning or a pergola awning comes down to a combination of personal choice, the landscape design of your garden and the space available, but both offer so many benefits for outdoor areas you'll wonder how you managed without one.

Related Articles

Wooden Shutters vs Vinyl Shutters

Bring colour with shutters

What are the different types of shaped shutters?

What are the different types of shutters

Window Shutters – An energy-saving choice

Maximising Natural Light