Patios are generally designed to catch the sun. Not necessarily, in warmer areas, the heat of the midday sun, but enough sun to give you that good sense of relaxation and well being that we get when exposed to lots of vitamin D.
Patios are also a hub for family-centered activities: a place for meals; for children to play; for lengthy conversations that lead to important decisions; and for friends to gather outside around the barbecue.
However, it is possible to have too much sun. Patio awnings allow you to enjoy the sun’s warmth without becoming burned by the sun, and provide protection against passing showers too. Patio awnings, canopies or shades are a very useful addition to your outdoor comfort.
An awning can be either fixed or retractable. A fixed awning, as its name suggests, stays in the same position all the time. It is usually some type of shade cloth fixed to a permanent frame of steel or aluminium. Retractable awnings can be swiftly stowed away, and are available in either powered or manually operated versions. In climates where permanent awnings must be dismantled at the approach of winter and erected again in spring, retractable awnings, which can be left in their cassette all year round, are especially useful.
An alternative to a complete awning is a shade sail. Shade sails can be custom made to any size you require, or you can combine a number of smaller ones to cover a larger area (the solution you choose will depend partly on your site, and partly on your budget). Shade sails work by a tension system – the sails, often triangular in shape, are anchored to tension points which may be attached to the walls of the dwelling or to the tops of poles sunk into the ground. They have the advantage of being portable: if you sell your home, you can move the sail to your new home and reinstall it for the price of new tension points.
Shade structures were once all made from canvas. However, today there are many colourful acrylic fibres that are woven together to make shade cloths. The cloths are long lasting and tough, making damage from wind or storm unlikely. The closeness of the weave creates different levels of protection against the sun, giving the consumer yet more choice about the amount of protection desired – and cost, too.
Shade protection given by patio awnings and shade sails keeps the sun-lover safe from painful overexposure to the sun. They can also reduce glare, and can be found in colors to suit any existing color scheme.