Are you in the market for a patio cover or a carport awning? Aluminum awnings offer many advantages over other types of construction. Aluminum is essentially maintenance free and will stay looking like new for many years. There are some terms you should learn about before buying an aluminum awning.
The many different components that make up an awning all contribute to the overall strength of the installed structure. If you are in an area that requires a permit a lot of these factors will be determined for you. It is still a good idea to know exactly what you are getting before you place your order.
Aluminum awning panels are made in several thicknesses. The thickness is referred to as gauge. The most common gauges are 20, 25, 32 and 40. A 40 gauge panel is the thickest and is used only when the highest wind factor or snow load ratings are required. Because of there thickness these panels can be difficult to work with and are not used very often.
A 20 gauge panel is used mostly on awnings with 8 ', 9' or 10 'projections. Awnings that span 12 'or greater should be using 25 or 32 gauge.
A term you will read about in your permit requirements is a tributary width. That would be the longest distance the panels have to span without support. An example would be a 20 'awning with an I-beam set in the center. The beam would leave a 10 'span on either side. You may have a 20 'projection awning but your panel thickness requirement would be for that of a 10' awning.
The next largest factor in awning strength is the material used to make the gutter, side fascia and hanger. The better quality awnings use extruded aluminum for all of these. The less expensive option is roll form. Many of the cheaper awning kits sold online use roll form gutter, hanger and side fascias. Some awning companies will use an inexpensive roll form hanger in place of the stronger extruded one any time they think they can get away with it. Be sure you have it in writing that the frame will be all extruded aluminum.
The awning posts are another option you will need to consider. Scroll posts are the least expensive and are usually offered in a starter package. You may want to pass on these. They are made with roll form tubes held together with scrolls. They were fine for many years, your grandma may still have them on her awning. They are just way out of fashion. Why not spend a few extra dollars and get the 3 "square posts? They are much stronger and give an aluminum awning a modern look.
The 3 posts are available in aluminum or steel. Steel posts will probably save you a few dollars. The cost of aluminum is high and the steel posts are actually a little stronger. Posts are also available in different lengths. They can be ordered as 8 ', 9', 10 'or 12' posts. Like the framework, make sure you see in writing exactly what posts you will be getting.
Another option you will have is the color trim that snaps into your extruded gutter and side fascias. You may have a few color choices or you may have dozens. These 2 "strips are used to match the awning to your home.
Your city permit application will talk about live loads and snow loads. These are obtained by a combination of post type and thickness, gutter type and panel style and gauge. There are a few other factors, like distance allowed between posts, but this is all detailed in the manufactures engineering specifications.
It is very likely you will need to have the engineering mailed to you before you purchase the awning. The engineering will be needed to obtain a permit. Do not buy an awning until you have the right, if you need one. A reputable company will gladly send the needed paperwork so that you can get you permit. When you order the awning make sure you are getting the same material highlighted in their engineering.
Do some research and use some common sense. Most aluminum awnings are custom made. A lot of work goes into putting together an awning package and getting it delivered to your home. A lot of work and whole lot of expense. One mistake could take away any profit the dealer may have and could wind up costing you weeks of time to get it corrected. Do everything on your end to make sure the order is exactly what you want.