Finding the right outdoor awning to suit your space
Knowing the difference between different styles
Shading and ‘the outdoor room’ now an integral part of the home
Size is key in making the right awning choice
Wide array of awnings suit most budgets
The right awning should cater for your local climate
Smaller window awnings complement your main shade
Complete your awning with frame finish, fabric and motorisation options
Talk to any proud Australian homeowner about shading solutions and you can be sure they will rank fairly high on the list of home improvement priorities. There’s one obvious reason for this; the Australian climate, which is nothing short of extreme in the summer months.
However, whether we’re talking folding arm awnings, pergola awnings, retractable awnings, outdoor window awnings or just outdoor awnings in general, it’s also fair to say that awnings are as much a design choice as a functional one these days.
Awnings are such an integral feature in many Australian homes that they are increasingly seen as an investment that instantly adds value to a property. If you’re looking to sell, this is an outlay that certainly makes sense, and if you’re planning to stay put, awnings will certainly enhance your lifestyle.
Find your style
Awnings, as with everything else, come in many different shapes and styles. Depending on the size of your outdoor space and the design of your home there might be certain styles better suited to your needs, so here’s some of the main styles available.
Folding arm awnings
As the most popular style offered on the market, folding arm awnings, also known as retractable awnings, will suit most homes. With the added benefit of being able to be folded away they don’t need to take up to much space while still providing the shade needed.
When needing to cover a large space, a conservatory awning might be a good option, and here at markilux we provide the right covering for your conservatory. The materials used are really strong, so suit extreme weather conditions, and can also add the feeling of an extra room to your house, giving you and your family more space.
Another good option if you are wanting shade for a larger space, Pergola awnings don’t rely on an existing structure so can a good option no matter how your home is designed. You can also choose adjustable ones that allow you to change the height if needed.
Free standing awning systems
If you’re looking to provide shade for an area not connected to the house, free standing awnings systems are a great option, for as long as you have the outdoor space, you can place one wherever you like. This is also a popular shading choice for cafes and businesses.
Exterior window awnings
In Australia especially you often get blasted by the sun during summer, so to provide some relief exterior window awnings can provide shading options if all you’re in need of is a covering for your window. This is perfect for those who don’t have an outdoor area or maybe live in an apartment building.
The emergence of the outdoor room
Years ago, the outdoor room was a concept little understood and rarely talked about, except in design and architectural circles. These days it’s fairly common for many homeowners, and Australia is leading the way in designing and creating outdoor rooms that add a whole new living zone to a home.
In the summer months, these spaces come into their own, with outdoor cooking and food storage equipment, bar facilities, lounge furniture, sophisticated lighting, floor coverings and even sound systems now typical of many summer gardens or courtyards. And of course, summer is not the only season where this idea has relevance; many outdoor spaces offer protection from the elements and a warming fire that make them equally enticing in winter.
Outdoor awnings perform a vital function in both the warm and the cool seasons. Superior engineering and aesthetics, as well as handy add-ons like motorisation that make operation smooth and easy, have positioned awnings at the forefront of homeowners’ minds. Add to this a wide range of fabrics with various functional benefits and a broad array of colours and prints, and choosing an awning now seems far more fun than the “grudge” purchase that it was once upon a time.
Fun that is, until homeowners are presented with the sometimes overwhelming array of awnings available. To help make choosing easier, it’s worth bearing a few pointers in mind.
In modern homes there are usually a number of outdoor areas like patios and verandas that have large openings, so it is important to be able to seal off these areas from sun, wind and rain, allowing them to be used all year round. Particularly suited to this role/function is the Markilux 876 tracfix awning, which also has the option of including a panoramic window insert, to ensure your view is not spoiled. It is available in a motorised version, which can be connected into any home automation solution.
Co-ordinate your look
Often the main or ‘master’ awning in your outdoor space will be a large folding arm awning or pergola with a generally horizontal profile. Pick the right fabric and mechanism and you not only have a practical asset that will provide great shading and weather protection, you have a knockout visual statement.
Chances are there will be other areas of your outdoor space or home that also require shading, and this is where outdoor window awnings such as straight drop awnings or drop arm awnings come into play. Acting like external blinds that hang over your windows and executed in the same fabric as your larger awnings, they will help tie the overall look of your outdoor space together.
There are two basic types of straight drop awnings: un-tensioned awnings with a heavy base rail to that reduces the blind’s movement in the wind, or tensioned awnings that use gas struts or elasticised belts to pull the fabric down, keeping it taut in windy conditions.
One popular straight drop awning from Markilux is the track-720/820. Installed on a track system, it is a great option for modern homes with large windows, as it’s available up to three metres in width
Another is the drop-arm (730/830), a cassette awning with gas piston arms that can be pivoted up to 140 degrees, particularly suited for windy conditions.
Size is everything
Actually size isn’t quite everything as there are a number of other factors to bear in mind when choosing your awning, but it’s a pretty good place to start!
If want to provide shading for a narrow urban courtyard, stretch awnings offered in semi-cassette and open styles, are suited for use in restricted spaces and they work particularly well in a long thin area where a long projection is required. These awnings are designed with arms that cross over each other to allow a maximum projection up to four metres. One great example of this style is the 1600 jellybean stretch from Markilux. It actually offers a longer extension than the awning’s width, able to stretch out up to an impressive four metres.
For a simple, no-fuss awning ideal for smaller courtyards, terraces or balconies, look no further than Markilux 990 full cassette folding arm awning. This is a typical full cassette open style awnings that also offer the strength of bionic tendon arms.
If you want to provide shading for a larger garden or patio, a pergola awning with fixed poles for added support is a good option. Pergola awnings offer an added level of protection. They can be fitted to a stand-alone structure, similarly to any folding arm awning, to permanently create shade away from the house or building.
Is the price right?
Understandably price may be a factor in your decision making. If you’re staying in your home for the long haul, you may be prepared to pay top dollar for leading edge design. If not, or if you have a large number of awnings to install, you may need to budget.
Thankfully, there are instances where great design and price-accessibility go hand in hand. The Markilux 5010 is attainable for most people’s budgets, and is in high demand because it offers optimum shading, with a maximum width of seven metres. Varying upper and lower arm lengths provide stability and tautness even when the awning is fully extended. Widely popular due to its elegant, slim line cassette, the 5010 is available in a wide range of fabrics, including waterproof options.
By contrast, if money is no object, the markilux MX-1 is widely seen as “the ultimate” in folding arm awnings and is particularly well suited to contemporary homes where a design-led solution is appropriate. The clean lines and elegance of MX-1 certainly do make this a highly desirable option, and the use of standout materials means durability will never be in doubt. It’s great for coastal locations, as the only fully marine grade stainless steel awning in the world.
The MX-1 sets visual and technical milestones with its sleek shape and clear line, an unique combination of a roof and an awning. The Markilux MX-1 is available with dimmable LED spotlights in the canopy and a LED spotlight in the front profile. Also available with a Markilux shadeplus is able to provide additional protection and comfort in northerly and westerly facing locations. The Markilux MX-1 bracket are fully concealed creating a seamless visual appearance on your home’s facade.
The Markilux 1710 & 1600 belong to a range of semi cassette awnings aimed at the more price conscious customer. Semi cassette awnings offer a great mid-range solution to suit many applications. These products feature a three-quarter cassette housing that protects the fabric and awning mechanism and a handy brush to sweep clean the fabric cover during extension and retraction.
Open style awnings are a great affordable entry level product suited to residential and commercial applications where the awnings need to be installed under eaves or overhangs. Examples of these are the markilux 1700 open style and the economical entry level markilux 1300 basic awning.
Other awning considerations and benefits
Depending on your needs and budget, you will also need to make decisions about what kind of finish you require for the frames and fabric you’d like to use for your outdoor awnings, and what kind of weather conditions it needs to endure. You might also need to think about automation options or even sensors that allow your blind to respond to changing sun and wind conditions.
The local conditions that affect your property are as important as your size or pricing requirements. If you live in a coastal area with windy conditions, it’s vital to ensure that your retractable awnings and other shading solutions are built to withstand strong gusts. It may also be worth investing in frame materials that will be resistant to the ravages of salt in the air common to seaside locations. Similarly, if you’re catering to an urban courtyard that turns into a ‘sun-trap’ during the height of summer, be sure to research your fabric options to secure the best one for resisting UV and solar glare.
Most Markilux frames are powder coated with a durable finish that protects aluminium and steel components. While there’s a range of standard colours available, there are also over 200 custom colours to choose from. Neutral colours tend to be the most popular with homeowners, who will often use colour to ensure their outdoor awnings’ frames blend with the base colour of the building itself, allowing the awning fabric to make a statement. In some cases, more daring clients will highlight the frame colour and use a more neutral tone for their fabric.
It’s worth noting that specialised finishes such as the Lounge finish offer a useful self-cleaning effect made possible through cutting edge nano technology that repels particles of dirt, ideal for homes where dust and grime are an issue.
Generally homeowners are becoming increasingly daring in their fabric choices. Functional benefits of fabrics such as waterproofing, fire retardancy and even nano self-cleaning are now readily available across most outdoor window awnings and shading solutions, allowing consumers to have a little fun with the aesthetic element of fabrics. Stripes remain a strong trend that gives a classic but upbeat appeal, but there are also other sophisticated options available. A slate grey modern rendered home can be beautifully offset by the deep magenta hue of sunvas perla – 37023 for example.
Styled with co-ordinating furniture and accessories and a splash of colour from plants and flowers, the fabric is the final flourish after consideration of all the factors key to finding the right outdoor awnings to suit your space.