Can't imagine anything better than sitting and relaxing on your own balcony or terrace in the summer? With a good awning, you don't have to give up your favourite activity even in heavy rain or blinding sun.
In our large awning test 2021 we present all the awnings we have tested in detail. You will learn everything you need to know when buying a retractable roof.
We explain not only the different types, but also all the essential facts about awnings. With our buying criteria, you can find the perfect awning for you quickly and easily.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The best awning: Our picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an awning
- 5 Decision: What types of awnings are there and which is right for you?
- 5.1 What is a drop-arm awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.2 What is a freestanding awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.3 What is a folding arm awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.4 What is a full cassette awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.5 What is a pergola awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.6 What is a cable tension awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.7 What is a side or vertical awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.8 What is a conservatory awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5.9 What are markisolettes and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
- 6 Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate awnings
The most important facts
- An awning is a retractable roofing and primarily serves as sun protection on balconies and terraces. It also protects against rain, wind and prying eyes.
- There are numerous awning designs that can mainly be classified into three types. These include roller awnings, folding awnings and fixed awnings.
- When buying, you should pay attention not only to the size and installation conditions, but also to the operation, the material and the cleaning and care options.
The best awning: Our picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an awning
In our guide, we would like to answer the most important questions about awnings. Here you can find out what makes an awning tick, what you should look out for and also where it is best to buy an awning.
What is an awning?
There are different types of awnings, which differ in terms of installation and construction. There are also awnings that are designed for special areas such as balconies or conservatories.
Awnings can be conveniently retracted and extended at the touch of a button. This not only saves time, but also gives the possibility to protect the awning fabric from rain, dirt and wind.
It also gives you the flexibility to decide whether you want sunlight or shade.
For long-term use, the purchase of an awning is worthwhile because its handling is more comfortable and it is more durable due to the protection against rain and dirt.
So, in summary, the advantages of an awning are:
- Suitability for small areas, save space
- Save time because easy to operate
- Protection from rain, dirt and wind when retracted
- Flexible retraction and extension
Compared to awnings, awnings do not require supports and are therefore ideal for providing sun or rain protection even on a small balcony or roof terrace.
Which awning is suitable for me?
First of all, you should make sure that you are allowed to install an awning. If not, you should choose a version that can be mounted without drilling.
The decisive factor is also which area is to be shaded, a balcony, a terrace, a mobile home, a conservatory, a free-standing area or a façade. Depending on this, there are different types of awnings.
You should ask yourself the following questions to determine the right type:
- Where should the awning be installed?
- What area should the awning shade?
- Can the awning be protected or not?
- What loads is the awning exposed to?
- Should it have a motor or sensors?
In our decision section, we list the different types of awnings in detail. This will help you find the right awning for you. If the cost factor is very important, it is best to get advice and compare the costs.
How much does an awning cost?
Clamp awnings, but also drop arm awnings or rope tension awnings can be purchased for less than 100 pounds. These awnings are simply constructed and can usually be installed independently. They are driven by a crank.
From 200 pounds, you can buy folding arm awnings or even a free-standing awning. These can cost up to nearly 1000 pounds.
Awnings that start at 1000 pounds often come with a remote control. They are also resistant to wind, water and UV protection.
There are also awning covers that provide protection from the sun but hardly any darkening. Among the most expensive awnings are beach awnings, which start at 3000 pounds.
How much does it cost to have an awning installed?
The prices depend on the type of house wall, the type of awning and the awning fabric. Awnings with a crank are cheaper to install than electrically operated awnings.
In the following, we show you an example of the costs for installing an awning that is up to 3 m in size.
- Material costs: between 50 and 180 euros
- Installation costs for manually operated awning: 160 to 190 euros
- Installation of awning motor: 30 to 40 euros.
- Installation of radio remote control: 13 to 15 euros.
- Retrofitting external remote control: 20 to 30 euros
There are awnings that weigh up to 80kg, so there is no getting around professional installation. Dowels and fixing materials cost between 50 and 150 euros. Injection mortar costs between 24 and 30 euros.
The costs depend on many different factors, such as the house wall or how many drill holes are needed. The time factor plays an important role in installation.
This depends on the size of the awning and the nature of the house wall or the area to be installed. The larger the awning, the greater the effort.
Installing an awning on a house wall costs between approx. 70 and 120 euros per metre. For two people, the installation would take about two hours. If the awning is electrically driven, there is an additional charge of 30 to 40 euros.
In addition to these costs, there are the travel costs for the estimate. Up to 50 km, this is 50 euros, but is often waived when commissioning.
All in all, you can expect a new awning and its installation to cost between 2,000 pounds and 4,500 pounds.
Of course, the size of the awning and the type of operation (electric, remote control or manual) must always be considered in relation to the price.
What alternatives are there to awnings?
The sunshade is less space-saving because its base takes up more space than awnings that can be mounted on the wall.
When extended, the awning offers complete sun protection, whereas a sunshade must be adjusted depending on the position of the sun. Just like an awning, a sunshade must also be set up and taken down in a cumbersome manner.
Sun protection by means of a sun sail or parasol is often associated with effort. An awning is ideal for comfortable, flexible and complete protection from the sun and heat.
A lean-to pavilion can also provide protection from the sun. However, these pavilions are bulky, large and require a lot of effort to set up.
Decision: What types of awnings are there and which is right for you?
Basically, you can distinguish between several types of awnings:
- Drop-arm awning
- Free-standing awning
- Articulated arm awning
- Full and half cassette awning
- Pergola awning
- Cable tension awning
- Side awning/vertical awning/façade awning
- Conservatory awning
Each of these awnings has different properties, which brings with it individual advantages and disadvantages.
Depending on the use you have for your awning, a different type of awning is suitable for you. In the following section, we would like to help you find out which type of awning is best for you.
To do this, we will introduce you to all of the types of awnings mentioned above and clearly outline the advantages and disadvantages of each.
What is a drop-arm awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Often installed on flats and apartment buildings, the drop-arm awning provides a lot of shade with little effort.
It can be mounted between the floor and ceiling without being screwed to the building structure. It runs diagonally to the front and thus still ensures daylight and a view to the outside.
There are different types of drop-arm awnings; they are available with a rain cover or protected from rain and dirt in a box. The clamp awning, for example, is simply clipped on. It, too, is driven by motor or crank.
The standpipes are mounted between the floor and the ceiling. The angle of inclination of the awning is adjustable and thus offers optimal sun protection.
There are also some with clamp supports for balconies, making drilling unnecessary, single drop, spring-supported or with gas pressure spring arms. Drop-arm awnings are driven electrically, with a suspension crank, wall-mounted folding arm crank or by solar energy.
Because drop-arm awnings have a simple design, they are often cheaper than other awnings. They are technically easy to understand and simple to install.
The drop arms of the awning can be oriented in different ways, allowing much more acute and advantageous angles to be set. To achieve maximum stability of these awnings, you should tighten the support poles frequently.
What is a freestanding awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
A freestanding awning is an attractive alternative to a parasol and offers the possibility of shading large areas.
Unlike the parasol, the base of the awning is not in the middle, but it offers a lot of space and variation in the angle of projection and shade cast.
They come with one, two or four uprights, depending on how much area you want to cover. The free-standing awning is mounted with mobile stone stands and a free-standing support structure, so the location can be chosen flexibly and the awning can be erected and dismantled at any time.
As they are very weather-resistant, they are not only suitable as sun protection, but also as rain protection. Free-standing awnings are driven by motor or crank.
However, freestanding awnings can also be fixed to a wall or set in concrete in the ground if they are desired to be permanently in one place.
What is a folding arm awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
The name of the folding arm awning comes from the fact that it is supported by two or more folding arms, which are connected with springs and a fabric shaft.
The fabric can be retracted and extended. These awnings, like many others, are driven by a motor or crank.
They are attached to the balcony or a house wall. The angle of inclination can be varied, allowing rainwater to roll off easily. Because the folding arm awning is of simple construction, it is often less expensive than alternatives.
What is a full cassette awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
The full cassette awning is a form of folding arm awning. The cassette completely protects the folding arms, the fabric and the awning technology from external influences such as rain and dirt.
The design of the full cassette awnings is flatter than ordinary folding arm awnings and therefore often more attractive.
However, as full cassette awnings weigh more, the load-bearing capacity of the ground to which the awning is attached must be ensured. Since the size can be varied, the cassette awning is suitable for balconies, terraces or conservatories.
As an alternative to the full cassette awning, there is also the half cassette awning. When retracted, this also offers protection from the front and from above.
Visually, it is more disadvantageous, as the cassette is open at the bottom and thus part of the fabric and part of the folding arms are visible. However, this still leaves the awning technology unprotected.
What is a pergola awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
A pergola is a column or pillar-like entrance that offers a lot of space and protects from the sun in the transition between the terrace and the building.
If an articulated arm or cassette awning is not possible due to structural conditions, the pergola awning comes into question, for example if a projection of more than 4m is required.
The pergola awning can be built up to a projection of 6m. The guide rails can be straight or curved and are easy to dismantle.
The awning is stabilised by front supports which are connected to the assembly floor via two feet. They are driven by a motor, but can be equipped with extras such as frahling sensors and remote control.
What is a cable tension awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
The cable tension awning is characterised by its self-installation. It can be used indoors and outdoors. Two stainless steel parts stretched in parallel guide the awning.
The awning of the cable tensioning awning is often made of a thinner fabric than is usual for other awnings, which still guarantees shade, but at the same time does not make it too dark.
As the awning can be pushed together, it is protected from strong winds. It can also be hung at an angle to protect against rain. In addition, it is flexible to hang it horizontally or vertically.
The sun awning can be moved by pole, hand or rope tensioning method to achieve the desired sun protection.
When mounted horizontally, a glass cover is necessary to prevent water pockets when it rains. This creates heat between the glass and the awning, which spreads.
What is a side or vertical awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
The side awning is preferably used on balconies and terraces. It is often only possible to roll out the awning completely.
Since this type of awning provides lateral protection, it is often used to protect against wind or external views. Side awnings are not only suitable for summer, but also for winter because they provide heat storage.
These awnings can be driven by motor or crank and are particularly suitable for vertical or sloping façades because they drop downwards.
They are suitable for shading large façades, such as office complexes, hospitals and schools. At the same time, they blend in visually and provide privacy and sun protection.
What is a conservatory awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
A conservatory awning is mounted on a conservatory by means of rails.
The construction is often complex due to wind resistance. Because it is mounted from the outside, the sun cannot shine on the glass. Conservatory awnings are operated electronically.
What are markisolettes and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
Markisolettes are a combination of vertical and drop-arm awnings. At the top, the markisolette is vertically oriented and provides sun and privacy protection.
At the bottom, it can be flexibly adjusted to allow light to enter. The Markisolette can be fixed at a distance or directly to the building.
Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate awnings
In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate awnings. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain type of awning is suitable for you or not.
In summary, these are :
- Installation and use
- Construction and material
- Operation and motor
- Colour selection
- Cleaning and maintenance
- Additional equipment
In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.
Installation and use
There are various rules for the installation of an awning. On the one hand, there are legal regulations that vary from city to city.
Garish colours are forbidden in some cities, and neighbours should not feel disturbed by your awning. Secondly, the landlord and his permission play a role.
Once these factors have been clarified and nothing stands in the way of installing an awning, you can opt for a wall-mounted awning.
If the landlord objects to the awning, you can opt for a clamp-on awning, for example. This does not require any drilling and can be easily removed.
It is also important where your awning will be used. If you have a balcony, a folding arm awning with an exposed fabric is suitable.
However, if your awning is exposed and not protected by a balcony or something else from above, you should choose an awning that offers protection for your awning fabric.
The demand for cassette awnings is increasing because they protect the fabric as well as the awning technology. A sleeve awning, on the other hand, only protects the fabric. Another option would be an awning with a rain cover.
These were used when the officer's wife was visiting the army camp. In this way, the delicate skin of the lady was protected from the sun.
To find a suitable awning for you, you should also consider whether you want to use your awning all year round or only for a short time.
In the latter case, you should choose an awning that is easy to install and remove, such as a clamp-on awning. Another option is the pergola awning.
The guide rails are easy to dismantle, so you can store the pergola awning safely during the winter months to protect it. If you want to use the awning permanently, you can choose between the other types of awning.
An awning offers you shade and privacy. In order to enjoy this advantage, it must be professionally installed.
There are two options for installation: assemble it yourself or have it installed by a professional.
The weight and tensile force of the awning must be taken into account. The clamp awning is somewhat lighter in weight and does not require drilling. It is suitable for self-assembly, for example. Only those who are really sure should install their awning themselves.
Since an awning often weighs over 50 kg, it falls under the category of heavy-duty mounting. It is important to have the appropriate materials available, such as special dowels or mounting plates.
Another important aspect is the masonry to which the awning is to be attached. If you are not sure, you should call in a professional.
The fastening is also an important consideration. Apart from clamp or standing awnings, a distinction is made between ceiling, wall and rafter mounting.
Ceiling mounting is used when an awning is to be mounted under a balcony. With wall mounting, the awning is attached to the outer wall of your house.
Another option would be to mount the awning on a roof overhang or a freely accessible rafter.
Ideally, find out what the sun's path is like where you want to mount your awning. The awning should be planned with the sun's path in mind.
The angle of inclination plays an important role, for example, so that rainwater can run off and not accumulate on the awning fabric.
The angle should not be less than 14° so that the water can run off. Most awnings have an adjustable angle of inclination.
The awning should not be less than 2 metres high. It should always be possible to walk through the awning without any problems. The installation height should be at least 260 cm.
Which size is right for you depends on your intended use and location. A smaller awning is of course suitable for a balcony than for a garden or terrace.
Awnings should overhang the terrace by half a metre to create shade. For large areas, a projection of up to 4 metres makes sense.
The width of your awning should correspond to the width of the area to be shaded. You can often have the awning made to measure.
The term originally comes from the French and means something like "margravine". However, it is unclear why it was called that.
From 1700 onwards, the word had the meaning "over-tent, additional tent roof" and only since the 18th century has it had the current meaning of a "linen sun roof in front of a window or door".
Construction and material
To ensure that you can use your awning for a long time, it is important that the awning is well constructed. For this purpose, it is important that the individual parts, such as the cassette, the screws or the folding arms, are rust-free.
Suitable materials are, for example, aluminium or stainless steel. Aluminium is very light, weatherproof and does not rust. Aluminium is also very visually appealing.
Make sure that the frame is made of aluminium. If this is not the case, the stability and break resistance of the articulated arms is at risk, as air pockets form during the casting process in cheap materials. Thus, it would no longer be safe in wind and rain.
You should also make sure that load-bearing parts and statically important devices of your awning, such as fastening brackets, suspension devices and arm bearings, are not made of plastic.
These should also be made of extruded aluminium. Cassette shells and sleeve shells should also be made of this material. Screws and nuts should be made of stainless steel.
In addition to the construction, the material of the awning fabric is also very important. There are different materials that have different properties and influence the life of your awning.
To decide on a material, you should be clear about the intended use of your awning. Do you only want to protect yourself from the sun or should your awning also be wind and weather resistant?
In addition, the awning should have a well-designed water drainage system so that rain and moisture can run off easily.
Another criterion for the fabric is its tear strength. It should be between 290 and 320 g/m2. The most important criterion, however, is the impregnation, because this determines factors such as dirt repellency, cleaning or water repellency.
A positive example for the fabric of an awning are spinneret-dyed acrylic fabrics. These are already dyed during production and combine many advantages:
- Bright colour intensity
- Moisture resistance
- UV resistance
- Weather resistance
They also dry quickly, which is a very important factor, as the awning may only be retracted when dry.
Another example is the thermoplastic polyvinyl chloride. This is often used for rain awnings or markisolettes, as they are permanently exposed to the weather conditions.
Awnings that are retracted and extended are often equipped with polyester fabric coated with PVC.
It is stable, weatherproof and dirt-repellent. Since it is opaque, these awnings can also be used as privacy screens. Polyester is light and flexible, but very tear-resistant. To make the fabric UV-resistant, it must be impregnated.
Operation and motor
How much do you value comfort? Depending on this, you can decide on the drive for your awning. You can choose between a hand crank and a motor. A high degree of comfort is naturally achieved with the motor.
However, if there is no electricity connection nearby, you will have to resort to a crank handle. You should make sure that a bevel gear is available, as it is easier to operate and more durable than a worm gear.
However, if you decide to use a motor drive, make sure that an emergency crank is included. If the power fails or the motor is defective, it should still be possible to retract the awning.
This is particularly important in the event of a storm or thunderstorm. In addition to the motor drive at the push of a button, there is also the possibility of operation by radio motor and remote control.
Some awnings are equipped with a motor, others can be retrofitted. It is possible to install a tubular motor, but this is very time-consuming. The tubular motor is the professional alternative.
It is available with various controls:
- Cable-guided switching on and off
- Operation with radio remote control
- Operation via smartphone
- Switching on and off by sensors (rain, sun, shade, time)
Another option is the clip-on motor, which is characterised by its low cost and simple installation. The disadvantage of this is that the motor is always visible, as it is attached to the crank.
Choice of colour
When choosing the colour of the awning, it is a question of your personal taste, the design of your terrace or balcony and the effect of the colour on UV protection. Dark colours are advantageous.
Light colours have a lower UV protection factor. If your awning is not protected, you should perhaps decide against a colour that is too light, as it would quickly become dirty.
In addition, colours that are too bright let too much sun through and dazzle. A good option is grey or blue. These are cool colours that do not dazzle you and under which the heat does not build up.
Under a colour that is too dark, it could heat up too much under your awning. Also, the light doesn't come through as well and it's darkened under the awning.
In any case, make sure that the fabric is spinneret-dyed so that the colour is durable. If this is not the case, the colour will fade quickly due to exposure to sunlight.
Cleaning and care
Your awning can quickly become dirty. In order to enjoy it for a long time, it is important that you can clean it. Many awnings have a protective box that protects the awning fabric from dirt.
To do this, however, the awning must be retracted. A cassette awning that has such a protective box is therefore advantageous.
You should also make sure that the awning fabric is impregnated, as this impregnation makes your awning dirt- and water-repellent.
If it does get dirty, for example due to bird droppings, there are a few ways to clean your awning, for example with special cleaners.
You should also find out whether you can remove the awning fabric to wash it from time to time.
If you want even more comfort, you should find out which awnings have the option of additional equipment.
One possibility is sun and wind sensors. There are sensors on the awning that automatically retract or extend the awning depending on the wind or sun, even when you are not present.
This means safety for your awning: if it is windy, it is retracted and can no longer be damaged.
There is also the option of installing radiant heaters if it gets a bit chilly outside. Other additional equipment includes lighting and a cooling system.
Photo source: 123rf.com / Fabio Cardano