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Canopy or Awning - What's the Difference?

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Many people love spending time outdoors. However, with the amount of sunshine we get during the spring and summer months, sitting outside for a long time can not only be exhausting but also harmful to our health. Some homeowners try to fix this problem by adding something to shade their outdoor area with.

If you are one of them, then you probably encountered something called an awning and a canopy, as those are the most common solutions to this problem.

Plenty of people use the terms awnings and canopies interchangeably - and while we can understand where the confusion is coming from, the two of them are very different. So, what exactly are the differences between the two? That's something we will be talking about in this article.

#1 Usage

The first difference between the two is the way they are used. An awning can offer shade to both outdoor and indoor areas. A window awning prevents the harsh sun rays from entering your home or business, keeping it cool and protecting whatever might be closest to the window from sun damage, be it furniture, artwork, or something else.

A  canopy, on the other hand, is used to provide shade only for an outdoor area. It is usually bigger than an awning and can be used in different parts of your backyard, even if there's no wall to mount it on, as it can be free-standing. Contrary to an awning that is usually used daily to prevent the house from getting too hot, a canopy is mainly used for occasions such as parties, barbecues, and so on.

What is important to remember is that while an awning makes your house or business cooler, using a free-standing canopy won't influence the temperature inside your home.


#2 Installation

The second thing that differentiates awnings and canopies is the way they look and how they are installed.

An awning is fabric or vinyl, attached to a rigid frame that you install on the exterior of your home - either above a window or a door or overhanging a patio, porch, or walkway. They are permanently attached to your home or business, which means that you cannot just store them somewhere when you're not using them - you can of course is invest in a retractable awning. This way, you'll be able to fold it against the wall so that it will be hidden from the eye and not subject to damage from high wind or heavy rain when not in use.

On the other hand, canopies are made from fabric or vinyl that is stretched over a frame that is supported by posts. They are more flexible than awnings - since in many cases they are not fixed to one place, you can easily change their location throughout the day, depending on the sun’s location. What's more, because they are moveable, you can also store them somewhere during the winter season when you most likely won't use them and bring them back for spring.

#3 Scope

The last thing that differentiates awnings and canopies is the amount of space they can cover.

A typical fixed awning can reach up to 20 feet in width - however, it can only be extended by about 15 feet, which means that if you have a large deck, you might not be able to cover it entirely unless you invest in a slide-wire cable awning, a retractable fabric pergola cover or a louver roof system.

Canopies can be  bigger - they can go up to 40  feet in width  and extend to as much as 30 feet ore, which means that even if you have an extra-large patio or deck and decide to use a canopy to cover it, you should have no trouble finding one that will do the job. Their size makes them ideal for celebrations and other outdoor events - many businesses use them to display their products during, for example, sporting events.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the differences between a canopy and an awning. It's actually very easy to tell which is which - if the sun protection product is attached to a wall, then it is most likely an awning, and if it's free-standing, it's most likely a canopy.

At RetractableAwnings.com, we offer a wide selection of both awnings and canopies so that no matter which one suits your needs better, you will be able to find just what you are looking for. Please remember that if you have any questions, you can get in touch with our team, and someone will get back to you and take care of your queries. And if you have trouble choosing only one product or deciding whether an awning or canopy will better suit your needs, you can always use our 'Find your awning' tool.


Contact our retractable residential and commercial awning, pergola, screen and canopy experts using our contact form, our live help chat or call us in the USA or Canada toll-free at (866) 438-2964 or outside the USA or Canada at (305) 628-2424.


eric scop

Eric M. Scop

Eric M. Scop is considered a RETRACTABLE awning industry expert hired by architects, landscape architects, exterior/interior designers, contractors and builders worldwide on a consulting basis

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