Awnings over your home's windows can add character and curb appeal to the home's exterior, while also blocking some sunlight from making its way inside the home. Awnings can also be large enough to extend over a deck or patio area, providing more shade as well as some protection from a light rain, wind, and other inclement weather. If you're thinking about adding awnings to your home's exterior, note a few questions you might have so you can determine if these are the best choice for you.

How is a foldable awning different than retractable or fixed frame awnings?

A retractable awning will be made of fabric so that you can roll it into a unit that is installed over the home's windows or patio doors. The retractable motor or crank should allow you to open and close the awning to any desired spot, so you can have partial shade over the patio area as needed. A fixed frame awning is connected to a solid frame that extends over the patio area; a metal awning will be made with a fixed frame, as an example. Some cloth awnings may also be fitted over this type of fixed frame.

A foldable awning is typically cloth and installed over a frame, but that frame will have jointed or hinged arms that allow the awning to bend and fold at a slight angle. This can offer more protection and shade for those sitting on the patio, versus an awning that just juts straight out from the home. Being able to fold those arms and tilt the awning downward can also offer more protection for the windows in case of storms or high winds. If you live in an area with very inclement weather, consider foldable awnings.

Which is more durable, metal or fabric?

Both metal and fabric awnings have their pros and cons when it comes to durability. A metal awning may eventually rust and need sanding and a fresh coat of paint; in very strong storms, the entire awning may also blow away. Fabric awnings will usually last for years before they need repair, but they may eventually begin to sag or suffer some rips and tears, especially when exposed to very high winds and strong storms. To keep them in good repair, you might opt for retractable awnings that you can close up during storms; however, this means your home's windows are exposed to those stormy conditions, so balance the need for protecting the awning versus protecting the windows when making your purchasing decision.