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Awnings or umbrellas - What's better for home | RetractableAwnings.com

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Having a house with a great outdoor space like a yard, a patio, or a garden to relax in is great, but sitting in the hot sun all day or being drenched by the rain may not be your perfect scenario. The same can be said for business owners that want to keep their outdoor customers protected from the elements. If you have decided to find some protection from the elements, you need to know what your options are.


In this blog, we will walk you through the difference between an umbrella and retractable awnings and show you why that in both the short and long term, a high-quality retractable awning is most likely a better choice.

Table of Contents

  • What to Look for When Choosing an Umbrella or Retractable Awning

  • What protects better for patios and decks?
  • 5 Reasons Why a Retractable Awning is a Better Choice

  • The Pros and Cons of Umbrellas

  • Superior Retractable Patio Awnings

What to Look for When Choosing an Umbrella or Retractable Awning

Retractable awnings and umbrellas offer the same basic functions of protecting you from elements like sun and rain; however, when deciding between a retractable awning or umbrella, that is where the similarities end. The differences between the two solutions include things like:


  • The cost both up-front and over the life of the equipment

  • How much protection they will provide from the elements

  • Their relative ease of use

  • How long you can expect them to last


When you or your client take those factors into account, it is possible to begin to make a more informed decision for not only what works best for an outdoor living space, but also what solution provides the best return on investment.

What protects better for patios and decks?

It is probably fair to say that a typical patio or deck is far larger than a typical outdoor umbrella. As such, unless you want to litter your patio with endless umbrellas, the only way to get complete coverage of your patio is with a retractable awning.


Sometimes you may only want to cover part of your patio. While you could spend time wrestling umbrellas around your patio to help do the job, a high-quality retractable awning that is only partially opened is a great way to provide partial shade for decks and patios with a fraction of the effort.


A cool summer breeze is a great part of spending time on your patio but the fun is definitely ruined by umbrellas blowing over in that breeze. With a permanently installed retractable awning, that simply is not an issue.


If you or your client are set on an umbrella, one of your alternatives is to get the best of both worlds and choose an umbrella awning. Rugged umbrella awnings like our Torino model offer the great, free-standing looks of an umbrella, but offer the size and stability of an attached awning.


One other great feature is that retractable umbrella awnings can be retracted during bad weather to protect the fabric from harsh elements.

6 Reasons Why a Retractable Awning is a Better Choice

The benefits of a retractable awning include:


  • Increase your useable space by creating an outdoor area that can be used year-round
  • Increase the value of your property with an attached permanent solution like a retractable awning
  • High-quality retractable awnings offer worry-free operation time after time, year after year
  • Unlike umbrellas that will most likely be damaged by bad weather, retractable awnings can be closed/retracted in the harshest conditions
  • Retractable Awnings will offer a far longer useful life than a typical outdoor umbrella
  • Umbrellas are designed for sun protection only. Retractable awnings are designed for both sun and light rain protection
  • Retractable awnings can automatically be closed by wind sensors, motion sensors, rain sensors, and a smartphone or tablet thus preventing damage. Automation is not available for umbrellas since they can't be motorized.


While the upfront cost of an awning may be higher, you can see that there are countless reasons why a quality retractable awning is a far superior investment to an umbrella.

The Pros and Cons of Umbrellas

Umbrellas and awnings do share the common advantage of protecting you from the elements. In comparison to retractable awnings, some umbrellas are less costly, they are portable but can be heavy and in some cases awkward to move.


A benefit of an umbrella compared to an awning is its portability. If you need shade in one particular spot, you can move your umbrella to that location.


One of the biggest disadvantages of an umbrella is how it stands up in the wind. Even a small breeze can have an umbrella spinning or even worse falling over creating the danger of injury to people or damage to other outdoor items. 


Umbrellas also do not cover a very wide area so if you or your client are looking to shade an entire patio, umbrellas are probably a poor choice. What's more, an umbrella will in no way significantly add to the value of your property.


Here is a summary of how retractable awnings and umbrellas compare in terms of their cost, function, and useful life.








Level Of Protection

Total (excluding snow)


Ease Of Use


Moderate to difficult

Useful Life

Long assuming good quality



While it is true that awnings and umbrellas serve the same basic function, retractable awnings offer a much wider array of uses. High-quality retractable awnings will also last longer and offer far simpler operation.


If you are in need of protection from harsh elements take a look at all that RetractableAwnings.com has to offer. Our products page contains a huge assortment of awnings that are perfect for protecting and enhancing any outdoor space.


The table below lists just a small sample of our products. As you can see we can provide a retractable awning or retractable pergola to fit any need and taste.

Superior Patio Awnings

Product Name

Max Coverage in Sq. Ft.


Attached or Free-Standing

Manual or Motorized


Palermo Plus


Solution-dyed acrylic fabric


Manual or Motorized

Learn More




Attached or free standing


Learn More




Free-Standing or Attached


Learn More



Solution-dyed acrylic fabric 

Free-Standing (Umbrella Awning)

Manual with lever

Learn More

As you can see, there are countless reasons why in most situations, a retractable awning is a superior choice for your outdoor space.

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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