For stylish and functional sun protection, consider adding an awning to your patio or deck. Beyond protecting your outdoor space from the elements, an awning can add a visual pop and immediate curb appeal to your home. For even more flexibility, consider a retractable awning, which can be installed onto a building’s exterior to provide versatile shade. When not in use, these can retract out of the way to take advantage of the sunshine, protect the awning, and save space.
The best retractable awnings are protective, durable, and easy to use. Read on to learn more about the features to look for when selecting a retractable awning and peruse the top picks in each category.
- BEST OVERALL: Best Choice Products 98x80in Retractable Awning
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AECOJOY 8.2’×6.5′ Patio Awning Retractable Sun Shade
- BEST MOTORIZED: ADVANING 8’X7′ Motorized Patio Retractable Awning
- BEST FOR RAIN: Outsunny 10′ x 8′ Manual Retractable Awning
- BEST LARGE: MCombo 12×10 Feet Manual Retractable Awning
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Retractable Awning
A retractable awning shades outdoor living space without needing to build a separate or permanent structure. By reducing the amount of light and heat over doors and windows, awnings can even lower indoor temperatures. There are a number of designs and sizes to choose from. When selecting from the best retractable awnings, consider the design, material, size, installation process, and any additional convenience features.
Retractable awnings are available in manual or automatic models. Both options will protect from the elements. Consider cost and ease of use when choosing between the two.
Most manual awnings use a manually operated pulley and cord system. A simple hand crank opens and closes the extending mechanism. These options are less convenient but tend to be more cost-friendly and easier to repair. Manual models also don’t need a power supply, giving you more options for where to install them.
Automatic awnings have a motorized extending mechanism that opens and closes the awning for you. These options are usually pricier, require a power source, and can be more expensive to repair. However, they can include a range of convenient features like remote control operation and automatic sensors.
Retractable awning canopies come in a range of fabrics, all designed to withstand the outdoors and cut down on sunlight and glare. Beyond protecting from UV rays, most awnings are also water-resistant, whether the fabric is naturally water-resistant or treated with a waterproof barrier, like a polyurethane (PU) coating. This means they can be used in the rain without damage. Common canopy fabrics include canvas, polyester, PVC, and acrylic.
- Canvas: Flexible, natural, and affordable, classic canvas awnings come in a range of fun patterns and colors. While canvas is durable, it can be prone to damage from weather exposure, like fading and mildewing. To combat these effects, look for canvas canopies coated with protective solutions.
- Polyester: Polyester is a flexible synthetic fabric that is durable, lightweight, and mildew resistant. This water-resistant material is a popular and budget-friendly awning material.
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): PVC is another popular and synthetic plastic material. It has excellent water resistance and is easy to clean, which makes it less prone to mold and mildewing. However, its lower tensile strength makes it more prone to rips and tears.
- Acrylic: Acrylic materials are excellent for the outdoors. Most options are weather resistant, fade resistant, mildew resistant, and durable. Popular acrylic fabrics like Sunbrella are designed specifically for outdoor use.
Most retractable awnings have metal frames. Metal framing is nonporous, sturdy, and can handle wet or windy weather conditions. These frames are designed for water and rust resistance. Using protective treatments like powder coating, they can remain rust-free for years. They can also come in a range of colors, but neutral black, gray, and white are most common.
Aluminum and steel are two of the most common options. Aluminum tends to be lighter than steel and is strong and cost-friendly. Steel tends to be a bit heavier but has excellent durability.
An awning should be the appropriate size and height for the intended area. It should provide enough shade without obstructing or crowding the patio or deck. Also, ensure there is enough vertical space for installation. Consider the width and the projection of the awning when it comes to sun coverage.
The width refers to the dimension of the wall-mounted side. To choose a suitable width, consider the wall area you are trying to cover and make sure there are no obstructions. Awnings can range upward of 15 feet wide, and two or more awnings can be paired together for even more width.
The awning’s projection is how far it extends from the wall. The farther the projection, the more shade it will provide. Awnings can range from 5 to upward of 10 feet in projection, with larger options putting more pressure on the installation mount. Keep in mind the awning projection is measured along the top of the canopy, which does not take the installation pitch (the angle of the awning slope) into consideration.
A retractable awning can mount to the exterior wall, soffit, or roof of a home. DIY retractable awning kits will include instructions for self-installation, but be sure to check if the awning includes the necessary installation hardware. Make sure to have a partner to help—installing an awning is a two-person job, at minimum.
The exterior finish will determine if the awning is suitable for your home and how the awning is installed. Different anchoring methods are needed for different wall types, like brick, stucco, cement, or vinyl siding. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for safe installation on your wall type. When in doubt, consider hiring professional help to install the awning. A secure installation is a worthwhile investment for years of sun coverage.
Automatic awnings can include a range of convenient features, including weather sensors, control by app or remote operation, timers, and heaters.
Some motorized awnings include handy sensors which can measure moisture levels, wind strength, or brightness levels. These can automatically trigger the canopy to extend or retract depending on the conditions.
For convenience, some retractable awnings can be controlled by a remote or smartphone app. Remotes are the lower-tech option; these awnings can include a remote so you can control the awning from anywhere on the patio. Higher-tech, smart options have Bluetooth connectivity to control from a smartphone app. These allow users to operate a range of features, like extending and retracting the awning, setting timers, and adjusting automatic programming settings.
Awning heaters can help create a winterized covered area, providing some heat on cool but sunny winter days.
Our Top Picks
A well-placed retractable awning creates comfortable and shady patio space shielding living spaces from the sun’s harsh glare. With the above features in mind, the following retractable awnings are protective, sturdy, and simple to use for flexible sun protection.
With a heavy-duty fabric canopy and a reinforced rust-resistant frame, this retractable awning from Best Choice Products is a durable pick. It features a lightweight powder-coated aluminum frame and a polyester canopy. The fabric is polyurethane coated and is both UV and water-resistant, protecting from the elements while adding a pop of color to a patio, balcony, or deck.
This midsize awning measures 8.2 feet by 6.5 feet to provide shady coverage for a seating area or patio set. A smooth-operating hand crank allows users to retract or extend the awning for use in mild weather conditions. Installation hardware is included to set up this awning on stucco, vinyl siding, or wood.
- Retractable hand crank
- No hanging bars or supports in the way
- Covers 54 square feet of patio or front porch
- UV- and water-resistant fabric
- May need extra mounting hardware for security
For ample shade at a reasonable price, consider this retractable awning from AECOJOY. This manual awning measures 8.2 feet by 6.5 feet, ideal for shading a midsize patio, courtyard, or balcony.
The dark green awning is made of polyurethane-coated polyester, which is water-resistant, UV protective, and resistant to fading. The frame is made of rust-resistant powder-coated aluminum. This protective awning makes enjoying the outdoors more comfortable. While it’s recommended to retract the awning in bad weather, this unit can handle wind speeds of up to 24 miles per hour.
Installation hardware is included. This patio awning can be installed on concrete, brick, or wooden walls.
- Water-and UV-resistant fabric for light rain or sun
- Manual crank operation
- Built to the exact measurements listed
- Can be challenging to install
- Expensive to return if it’s in the warranty period
This motorized awning from Advaning is a hassle-free pick for a small patio or balcony. Measuring 8 feet by 7 feet, it features a durable steel frame and a premium acrylic canopy. The acrylic fabric is UV protective, fade-resistant, water-resistant, and breathable; it won’t trap hot air underneath it on sunny days. Its green-and-cream alternating stripes add a decorative touch to this automated awning.
This convenient awning extends or retracts at a press of the remote. Its angle is also adjustable, featuring Advaning’s Easy Pitch system, which makes it simple to adjust the pitch of the canopy once it’s installed. In case of any trouble with the motor, switch to the manual hand crank for easy operation.
- Easy-to-use remote control system
- Breathable fabric to avoid trapping heat
- Bars are durably made from stainless steel
- Easier to install than expected
- Some reports of nuts wearing out too quickly
- Will not operate if the motor stops working
With a reinforced frame and water-resistant canopy, this awning from Outsunny provides year-round protection. Measuring 10 feet by 8 feet, it’s an excellent pick for patios and decks and to cover large windows and doors.
With a durable aluminum and steel frame plus a polyester canopy, this awning is designed for long-term and year-round use. The polyurethane-coated brown fabric is water-resistant and protects from UV rays. Like most retractable awnings, it is best to retract the awning in adverse weather conditions, but this water-resistant awning will provide protection from light rain and surprise summer showers.
The manual hand crank allows users to adjust canopy coverage length to meet different sun and shade needs. Installation hardware is included for use on a concrete wall, but this awning can also mount to stucco, siding, or wood.
- Lightweight frame to open
- Lots of color options available
- Opens with manual hand crank
- No hardware included for mounting on wood homes
Measuring 12 feet by 10 feet, this manual awning from MCombo provides ample coverage from the sun. The large awning is supported by a lightweight but sturdy corrosion-resistant aluminum frame and a polyester canopy.
The red-and-beige-striped canopy is made of polyurethane-coated polyester, offering wide protection in a classic awning color. To protect from the sun and light rain, the fabric is water-resistant, UV protective, fade-proof, and tested for winds up to 18 mph. The simple hand crank mechanism easily retracts the awning when it’s time to tuck the canopy away. This awning includes installation hardware to install on concrete, wood, or brick walls.
- Durable T5 anti-corrosion aluminum and steel frame
- Can withstand a moderate breeze
- Best for concrete, hard wood, or brick walls
- Manual hand crank operation
- Instructions aren’t easy to understand
- Does not mount on siding
Awnings aren’t designed to withstand a thunderstorm, but they should last for a few years of regular use in the sun or light rain. Additionally, they should be easy to use and not too challenging to install, which is why we like the Best Choice Products Retractable Awning.
How We Chose the Best Retractable Awning
Our favorite awning models include several hand-crank options, but also a motorized option for those who prefer added convenience. The average size is approximately 8 feet by 7 feet, but larger sizes and colors are available from the models we selected as well. Choosing an awning that best suits your home and style preferences is important since it becomes a standout feature when it’s open. We narrowed our search to focus on retractable awnings at a great price point, that were easy to use, and had mounting options for almost any house. The design, material, size, and operating mechanism were all factors we considered to select the best retractable awnings. With one of these retractable awnings, homeowners can enjoy their patios throughout the day.
Retractable awnings give you control between sun or shade so you can make the most of your outdoor living space. These versatile products can retract to let in the morning sun and then open to protect from harsh midday rays. Consider the following commonly asked questions and answers when selecting your retractable awning.
Q. Can I place my retractable awnings over windows to create shade?
Absolutely, a retractable awning can be installed over a window to provide shade and keep interiors cool.
Q. Which is better: manual or automatic retractable awnings?
Both options will provide protection from the sun; the right one for your space depends on personal preference and budget. Automatic retractable awnings are convenient. They can extend or retract at the press of a button but tend to be costlier. Manual awnings tend to be budget-friendly, but they require manual opening and closing with each use.
Q. Can I install retractable awnings on my own?
Yes, it is possible to install your own retractable awnings. Make sure to have at least one helping partner and follow the included directions for safe installation.
Q. Can retractable awnings be used in the rain?
Yes, retractable awnings can be used in light rain, but keep in mind that most aren’t made to withstand stormy conditions. Heavy rain and snow can weigh down and damage an awning, so make sure to retract the awning in bad weather.
Q. Can retractable awnings withstand wind?
Retractable awnings can handle light wind, but most aren’t made to withstand very windy weather. If the wind makes it uncomfortable to sit outside, that’s a sign that it’s time to retract the awning. Many models are able to tolerate winds up to 25 miles per hour.
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Jasmine Harding is a freelance writer and avid traveler. She is a DIY enthusiast with a keen interest in budget finds and sustainable living. In her free time, you can find her embroidering, researching her next home project, or watching nature documentaries.