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What is the difference between an awning and a pergola?Material durability differs between a retractable awning and a pergolaRetractable awnings are best for sun protection Consider the aesthetic of a retractable awning vs a pergolaConsider mobility when choosing between a retractable awning or pergolaConsider the place of installation for a retractable awning vs pergolaRetractable awnings are open and can provide less privacyPergolas are better suited for locations prone to seasonal changesPergolas can be more costly vs a retractable awningConsider the size of a retractable awning vs a pergolaA pergola installation can be more complex vs a retractable awningConclusion
The popularity of outdoor living spaces in residential and commercial properties across the globe is directly correlated with an impressive increase in the retractable awning and retractable pergola interest. From expanding space to protecting buildings from weather elements and from saving on energy bills to enhancing a property’s curb appeal, the benefits linked to installing a retractable pergola or retractable awning are virtually endless.
Awnings and pergolas are both outdoor structures designed to provide shelter from sun and/or rain. The difference between the two products is that an awning is attached to the house or building while a pergola is a more permanent attached or detached structure (to a house or building) with posts, beams and rafters.
The range of pergolas and various awnings is now so extensive that sometimes it is tough to choose. Before you make such a purchase, you should understand what is an awning or pergola. You need to determine what features you need and what you want your yard to look like when you want to spend time in the yard. This article puts together a few essential factors regarding the differences between an awning vs. a pergola.
If you’ve almost decided between a retractable awning or pergola, next you’ll want to choose the right material. Pergolas are usually long-term installations, so it is worth selecting durable materials like wood or aluminum. For awnings, however, very different materials are used. It can be a durable fabric, also wood (for the frame), plastic, steel or galvanized steel, etc.
It is so pleasant on a hot summer day to sit in the shade, read a book, drink tea, and just relax. Or invite your friends for a little talk. A retractable awning vs. pergola is definitely more useful in this case.
A pergola can be very cozy, but still, it can usually protect from the sun only a minimal area. In contrast, you can cover a large part of the yard, patio, or deck with an awning. Plus, it will allow you to adjust the space where you want to create shade and choose which side you want to hide from the sun.
A pergola or awning is a convenient piece of your patio or garden interior. Not only do they cover the area from the sun, but they also enhance your yard’s appearance. It is hard to say which will look more beautiful. It all depends on your imagination and taste.
The pergola will possibly take up less space, but it can become a nice and cozy corner in your garden. Besides, you can decorate the pergola with flowers or surround it with climbing plants. The design of the awning also can be very different: from modest to very pretentious. You can apply different styles, colors, materials to create the desired atmosphere.
With modern pergolas, you can also choose to fold and move it to wherever you feel the coziest today. But classic pergolas are still a fixed, stationary structure. With retractable awnings, you can fold and adjust them as you like.
Pergolas are usually freestanding. You choose the most suitable place (for example, near a pool, a small pond, or over a spa or hot tub) and install the pergola there. Awnings are usually adjacent to one of the walls of the house while creating a comfortable summer terrace. You can also attach the awning to tall, strong trees in your garden or use a special frame to support it.
The area under an awning is more open. Therefore, it’s best suited for spending time with large groups of people. Whereas, if you opt for a pergola and put it in a quiet far corner of the garden, you can enjoy privacy in a beautiful surrounding.
The most significant factors in terms of seasons are the ability to be enclosed and used in cooler weather. And this is entirely consistent with the pergola features, which can be enclosed and transformed into a small room in your garden where you can have a warming tea or coffee on chilly fall evenings. A retractable awning usually only provides shade in an outdoor area and cannot be enclosed.
A pergola vs. patio awning has a more complex design, so it usually costs more. But keep in mind that the cost is influenced by the materials used. A complex awning with an unusual design, made of expensive high quality materials, can also cost you quite a bit.
As a general rule, a single pergola doesn’t take up much space. It makes the room just for a few people to sit down. An awning, on the other hand, can cover a significant area in your yard.
You may need additional construction items like posts/columns to install a pergola. Therefore, its installation is also more complicated than that of an awning. But given that the pergola frame is stronger than an awning frame, this disadvantage is made up for.
From professionalism to reliability and from customization options to materials used, a pergola or patio awning is no simple purchase. With all of our framework and components sourced from Europe and nothing from China, RetractableAwnings.com is proud to have been in business for over 35 years, providing unmatched retractable patio and deck products for clients of all kinds.
Are you or your client interested in purchasing or learning more about our patio awning or pergola products and materials? Contact our residential or commercial awning and pergola 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 for more information or for help in selecting a retractable awning or retractable pergola that is perfect for you or your client!
Before building a pergola, always check to make sure if planning permission or a permit is needed for your outdoor living project. In some cases, it is required to submit building plans and structural engineering calculations to your local county, city, or state that a certified engineer has completed. Before beginning construction, the plans for a pergola design may need to be approved by the building department per zoning laws, safety requirements, and any enforced regulations.
Staying in compliance with local and state agencies is key to erecting and enjoying a safe, stable, visually beautiful pergola, patio or terrace cover. Refer to the laws of your local county or province and municipalities in comparison to state law. Typically, you can find a checklist of who you need to contact and what is required to ensure your construction gets a permit online.
If a pergola is freestanding on an open area of undeveloped grass or concrete, you may not need a permit to install. In addition, pergolas that are relatively small may not require a permit. However, err on the side of caution and always contact your local city, county, and state or province authorities to be certain.
The advantages of awnings and pergolas are endless. Just take one look at an awning or pergola and you’ll understand why so many people choose to install one. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they have behind-the-scenes benefits, including saving money on energy and protecting your home from the weather. Below are the main reasons why awnings and pergolas add value to a home.
Awnings Provide a Space for Entertaining
Awnings and pergolas provide an enjoyable space for entertaining and true outdoor living. No longer will you have to be concerned about family and friends being sunburned or getting wet from the rain. Now you and your guests can enjoy the fresh air without worrying about what the weather may bring. By getting an awning or pergola, you will also be adding more living space to your home or commercial building.
Awnings Protect Your Home or Building from the Elements
Not only do awnings and pergolas protect you from the weather but they protect your home or commercial building. Awnings and pergolas provide a shield of protection for your home or building from the elements, including the sun, rain, hail and snow. Depending on where your awning is installed, it may protect your homes window frame, door frame, door casings and porch or patio floor. In addition to protecting the structure of your house or building, awnings and pergolas also protect the furniture and carpeting or rugs that are on your porch or patio.
Awnings Add to Your Home’s or Buildings Market Value
Another huge benefit of awnings and pergolas is that they add value to your home or commercial building market value. Installing an awning or pergola can be a great idea for improving the value if you ever want to sell your house or building.
Awnings Improve Your Curb Appeal
There’s no doubt that awnings and pergolas add beauty to your home or building, thus improving curb appeal. Not only does an awning or pergola look welcoming to guests, but awnings and pergolas also come in a variety of designs, styles and colors. Choose an awning or pergola that matches your building or home’s outdoor decor for the lasting beauty of your home or building.
Save Money on Energy With an Awning
Imagine being able to improve your curb appeal and save money on your home or building at the same time. Well, that’s exactly what you’re getting when you install an awning or pergola. Because awnings and pergolas block direct sunlight from reaching your home or building, you will save a significant amount of money on air conditioning. In addition to providing coolness during the summer, a retractable awning or retractable pergola can also assist in heating your home during the winter when the awning is retracted so that the sunlight can reach your house.
Protect Your Patio or Deck from Bird Droppings
Let’s admit it, bird droppings on your patio or deck can be a pain to deal with. With an awning or pergola, you’ll never have to worry about finding bird droppings on your outdoor furniture or floor ever again. But don’t worry, cleaning your awning or pergola fabric is super quick and easy. Simply spray your awning or pergola with a mild soap solution and gently brush the fabric. Finish cleaning it by rinsing the awning or pergola and allowing it to air dry. Be sure to check the cleaning instructions that your awning or pergola came with beforehand in case your fabric has specific cleaning recommendations.
String Lights on Your Awning for an Attractive Appearance
Want to spruce up the look of your home? Awnings and pergolas allow you to hang string lights adjacent to your house or building for added beauty during the day and at night. Be sure to choose lightweight string lights so that they don’t damage your awning/pergola.
Awnings and Pergolas Protect Indoor Furniture From Direct Sunlight
When you think about awnings and pergolas protecting furniture from the weather, you most likely think about your outdoor furniture being protected. Awnings and pergolas, however, can also protect your interior furniture, carpeting and decor from damaging UV rays. This will save you money on having to replace your furniture cushions and other interior furnishings that may begin to fade from the ultraviolet rays.
There is a big difference between the weight of a fixed aluminum awning or a retractable folding arm awning and a pergola or retractable pergola.
The weight of an aluminum fixed awning can vary based on the manufacturer. In most cases, an aluminum fixed awning will weigh approximately 0.8 pounds per square foot. This means a 10’x10′ aluminum permanent awning will weigh approximately 80lbs and a 10 foot x 20 foot awning would weigh approximately 160lbs. The weights listed below include the frame, support posts and brackets:
Awning Size Weight (lbs.)
A retractable awning depending on the arm projection can weigh anywhere between 9lbs and 16lbs per foot of width including the motor. So, if your retractable awning as example is 20 foot wide it will weigh from 180lbs-320lbs
The weight of a pergola or retractable pergola will vary depending on the material it’s constructed from and of course it’s dimensions. For example, a pergola made from wood is going to weigh more than one made from aluminum. There are several different kinds of pergolas, so it’s important to make sure you know the specific weight of the one you are looking to purchase to be sure that your deck or patio can support the weight.
To get a general idea of each type of pergola and what they’re best for, review the chart below:
Type of Pergola Weight (lbs.) for an average size Best for
Wooden pergolas 350 lbs. or more Appearance and aesthetics
Aluminum pergolas including retractable aluminum pergolas 140 lbs. or more Areas with extreme weather, longevity, locations near the ocean (will not rust), mold/mildew prevention
Vinyl Pergolas 150 lbs. or more Extreme temperatures, inclement weather, mold/mildew prevention
Below we’ll cover the differences between an open awning, semi-cassette awning, and full cassette retractable awning to help you make the best choice for your home's deck, patio, or your commercial building.
What is a cassette awning?
The cassette is the casing or housing that the awning retracts into when it’s not extended. A half or semi-cassette awning is an awning with half a cassette which usually sits above the roll of fabric. A full cassette encloses the roller completely and is fully stored when the awning is retracted, while the open option is fully exposed unless a hood/cover is used. The full cassette protects the awning completely from dirt and rain. While each protects the mechanism to a different degree, there are benefits to each one to consider.
If you have a roof overhang, a soffit, or an eave, you may find that your retractable awning is protected enough from the elements without the need for a hood/cover with end caps or cassette casing with end caps. Open awnings have an exposed roller tube with fabric and mechanism and therefore if the awning is not installed under an overhang, soffit, or eave, you will want to install the optional hood/cover with end caps for weather protection. Open awnings will still provide the same level of sun protection as semi-cassette or full cassette awnings when partially or fully extended – it’s the awning itself that is not protected, when not extended with this style unless a hood/cover with end caps are used.
A semi-cassette awning is acceptable for most situations, delivering a medium level of protection from weather damage and general wear and tear from the elements. The top of the fabric roll is protected by a case with end caps for extra safeguarding from rain damage or dirt collecting. A semi-cassette awning may be sufficient for your needs if you have a somewhat sheltered or covered deck or patio. In our opinion a semi-cassette is not a good investment as you are spending more than the cost of an open roll awning and the front of the awning is still open and subject to weather. If you would like total weather protection it makes the most sense to install a full cassette retractable awning.
Full cassette awnings
This type of awning provides the most protection from the elements, as the roller tube, fabric, components, and the entire arm mechanism are completely enclosed when the awning is retracted and not in use. This shields the whole system from the elements, including rain, and from dirt that could otherwise accumulate. It also prevents birds from nesting, and animals like squirrels, possums, and rats from eating or chewing on the fabric. If you live in a busy area, like New York City, for example, full cassette awnings are ideal as they are protected against vandalism and damage, making them a great choice for retail stores, cafés, restaurants, pubs, and other commercial settings. The full cassette version also has the cleanest, most streamlined appearance of all three versions.