Awnings: how to choose

09.23 — Product

In the outdoors or as glass walls protection, awnings are the essential furniture to enhance the light and climate comfort of any place, reducing at the same time the energy consumption. A simple motion of the cover is enough to determine the light and temperature need and – not least – the intended level of privacy.

Thanks to the wide offer of arm, vertical and dome awnings, any context can find its customised solar shading, counting on an essential design, great covering performances and the comfort of intuitive automations, which can be easily remote managed.


1. Awnings for the outdoors

T-Hide arm awning
T-Hide arm awning

Shading is the aim, but is not the only one. Awnings today are more than simple solar shadings, being also furniture accessories, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors for longer and more comfortably; as it is for folding arm awnings.
High performing technical fabrics favour ventilation, or protect the space from light rains, whereas the integrated light converts the outdoor awnings from sun shading systems to elegant light sources, to use the dehors at night too.

When a window or a glass wall has to be sheltered, there are many solutions of awnings available, such as the vertical ones, with a discrete design offering a full covering, and the dome awnings, customisable with logos and graphics, conceived for a different purpose, since they enhance hotels and restaurants facades without forgetting functionality.

With this wide range of solutions, the first step for choosing the best awning for your project is to identify the covering needs and its main use, in order to identify the most suitable model and technologies.

2. Arm awnings

As the name suggests, folding arm awnings are characterised by an aluminum frame allowing the canopy to reach great sizes, thus protecting the space on the zenith plane and creating big shaded surfaces. Not only, the combination with the extractable valances, placed along the front bar give folding arm awnings an effective protection, even when sunrays are lower. Once closed, all the elements roll up in a small space, with a result that is always compact and elegant. Certainly more indicated for those who wish to shelter from sun (or light rains) the open air spaces of gardens, terraces and rooftop.

The new generations of motorised arm awnings propose a remote or phone-controlled handling, to check the status of the awning anytime and anywhere. A benefit that Pratic range elevates to a higher level, with the optional integration of weather sensors that define the degree of opening and closing of the awning, in case of sun, heat, wind and rain.

3. Drop-down awnings

T-Zone Drop Awning
T-Zone drop awning allows large windows to be shaded from the sun

The transition from the zenith protection to the vertical one is easy, thanks to drop-down awnings. These structures, wall or ceiling installable, are designed to filter or totally block the sunlight (depending on the chosen fabric). Therefore, they are perfect to be placed as protection of windows, doors and glass walls, as well as on the veranda or along the perimeter of a terrace with roofed ceiling.

The drop-down awnings for the outdoors have the advantage to absorb UV rays and thermal radiation, thus helping to keep indoor spaces cool, reducing consumption, emissions and– therefore – costs. Raising or lowering the cloth, it’s possible to manage the lighting depending on the season, but the features of the drop down awnings allow the spaces in&outdoor to be sheltered from indiscreet glances.
The most cutting-edge models, such as those proposed by Pratic, are equipped with an aluminium box with Led lighting. When on, the light reflects its light beam on the canopy, thus creating a glare making the space impenetrable to an outside gaze , even at night, and with the lights inside the building on. The best privacy therefore, but also the best user-friendlyness, since the roller awnings for the outdoors offer home automations and innovative systems for the tension and the protection of the cover in case of strong breezes too.

4. Dome awnings

Pratic Dome awning
Pratic’s Dome awning combines historicity and elegance

With its peculiar round shapes, the dome awning is a true icon of the outdoors. Patented over sixty years ago by Pratic, this one has soon stood out for style and functionality, thus becoming the favourite shading device for shops, private houses, restaurants and hotels. That’s because its retractable aluminium structure allows a great versatility, shading windows and doorways, but also creating a shelter against light rains.

Today dome awnings are equipped with automated operation, weather sensors and, as regards Pratic products, a wide range of technical fabrics giving this awning a contemporary design, that can adapt excellently to many historical and modern contexts. Just like it used to be, the dome awnings may be customised in shape and colour, with the possibility to screen-print logos and graphics too.

5. Awnings for gardens

To protect the wide open-air spaces of the garden, the best solution is certainly the folding arm awning. Wall-installed, the awnings by Pratic can reach 6 meters in width and over 3 meters in depth for each single module, sheltering cosy open-air living rooms or kitchens or outdoor dining rooms. The pleasant shade and the airflow are guaranteed by the filtering fabrics that, depending on the weave, gives a less or more intense protection against the UV rays. If you prefer instead a cover resistant to light rains, there are many waterproof options.

Besides the functionality, the awnings for gardens stand out for their style. Essential and refined for Pratic structures, it can count on an aluminum box – that can be coated in any colour – it contains and protect the closed cloth becoming at the same time an element enhancing the beauty of the building. The box of the awnings for garden has another advantage: a lighting system with dimmable Leds with white warm light, lightens the dehors even after sunset, creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

6. Awnings for terraces

The T-Square vertical awning
T-Square: the ideal vertical awning for screening terraces and balconies

The arm awnings show their versatility and efficacy also when placed on terraces and rooftop of any dimension. If the outdoor view is fully open-air, this kind of awning for terraces meets perfectly the need of creating cool and shaded outdoor spaces, to enjoy even in the warmest hours.

When the terrace has a closed ceiling, the protection can be enhanced by installing along the perimeter some drop down awnings that fully close the space. The result is a truly intimate and comfortable dehors in thermal terms. The drop down awnings contribute to protect the environment, and the rooms inside the house take advantage from it too. To optimise this process, there are weather sensors that activate the awnings drop in case of sun and high temperature, whereas they roll them up at night or in case of bad weather.

7. Awnings for balconies

Although with reduced floor space, the balcony can become a precious corner for relaxation if adorned with the appropriate outdoor awning. In this case, the options range from folding arm awnings to the classic dome awnings, according to the architectural context and needs of shielding.

Awnings for balconies with extendable arms offer several advantages: they are space saving, easy to install and feasible with custom-made dimensions. The most complete versions, such as the ones of Pratic, can be adjusted in opening and angle, thus making the most of the sun-shading action, also thanks to the valance placed on the front profile. In this way both balcony and glass access door will benefit from shelter.

The same functionality inspires also dome awnings, yet with a different design and mechanism. The frame, indeed, retracts and compacts itself while maintaining its rounded contour, thus adding character to the surroundings. This type of awning for balconies can be further equipped with a customizable front valance and with trendy technical fabrics. Besides that, the automated management makes your outdoor experience even more relaxing.

8. Awnings for shops

The dome awning is also a true icon among awnings for shops, which for over half a century has been chosen for its unique style and convenience. Ideal to shade wide shop windows and entrances, the dome awning adorns the facades of the cosiest boutiques by making any detail customized: from dimensions to shapes, up to colours – strictly matching the aesthetics of the building and the brand – logos and graphic inserts. A refined way to make your own business stand out, whilst raising visibility and comfort.

More modern in design, but always fully customizable are awnings for shops with extendable arms, which are the first choice for contemporary architectural contexts or if a vast shaded area is required.

When the aim is to have window shops completely shaded, then it is almost inevitable to opt for vertical awnings. These are highly suitable to avoid sunrays damaging the goods displayed as well to prevent the view of the indoors during closing hours.

9. Awnings for hotels and restaurants

Pratic's T-Code arm awning model for hotels and restaurants
Thanks to their large size, arm awnings enhance hotel and restaurant outdoor areas

There are plenty of usage possibilities of awnings within the Horeca sector as well as solutions to choose from.
Starting from suites and bedrooms, awnings for hotels embody elegance, comfort and privacy: the versions with folding arms provide shelter for balconies, transforming them into welcoming outdoor living spaces, whereas dome awnings flawlessly enhance and shade contoured windows and charming terraces. In both rooms and wellness-areas, drop-down awnings for hotels offer privacy and great view to the outside while at the same time impeding the inverse effect.

On the other side, outdoor areas, open-air lounges and relaxation areas nearby the pool can be enhanced by the pleasant shade provided by coverings with extendable arms. A highly effective solution to multiply the available seats of bar and restaurants.
To smartly enlarge the space, awnings for restaurants can be installed on the building’s façade, thus using the shaded patio beneath to place new tables or counters or create either small or big spaces, fully protected against sun and light rains and perfectly illuminated at night thanks to the integrated Led-lights.

10. Fabrics for awnings

T-Hide arm awning vertical volant
Pratic’s awning fabrics provide protection against light and weathering

For every shading need, its ideal fabric. By designing a solar shading system, the choice of the awning fabric is one of the most important elements to consider, since it determines the awning’s protection degree against sun, heat and bad weather, and consequently its potential use.

PVC fabrics for awnings are undoubtedly the most recommended, if you wish to have a waterproof covering to be used also in presence of rain. This is the case of folding arm awnings or dome awnings.
To create shade and meanwhile benefit from a pleasant temperature and air circulation beneath the awning, the yarns with guaranteed effectiveness are those made of acrylic, polyester and fiberglass, whose micro-perforated surface can be custom-weaved to achieve the perfect combination of light, breathability and UPF protection.
When combined with drop-down awnings, these fabrics and their microperforation have a great influence on visibility – and so on privacy – as well as on solar transmission and absorption values: dark colours for outdoor awnings and light colours for indoor curtains are indeed the winning combination to obtain the greatest thermal absorption and hence more comfortable rooms, with lower energy consumptions.

As for colours, this type of fabrics for awnings is aesthetically the most appealing one: wide array of colourings and customizations, plus a soft composition faithfully reproducing that of a traditional yarn.

11. Motorised awnings

No more need to operate your outdoor structure manually, since the latest generation products provide motorized awnings: a single gesture or a vocal command is enough to adjust the opening, closing or inclination’s degree.

Among the most commonly used automations for awnings are those operated per remote control, exclusively with more channels, so that any part of the covering can be easily managed from a single device. Technology and ease of use are increased thanks to home automation systems: the ones of Pratic are compatible with multiple home automation software, allowing the covering to be operated at any time and anywhere, directly from your smartphone.

In addition, there are also weather sensors, which activate in presence of sun, heat, wind and rain thanks to pre-set and custom-adjustable automations. Among Pratic’s latest innovations are voice-controlled awning automations: their use is simple and intuitive, and they are compatible with vocal assistants Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

12. Accessories for awnings

T-Way arm awning with Led lighting
With Led lighting, Pratic awnings make outdoor spaces cozy even at night

Along with automations, accessories for awnings can extend the functionalities and performances of any solar shading system. First among all options is lighting: refined Led stripes can easily transform the outdoor space into a cosy and versatile environment even in the evening hours. In Pratic products, Leds are usually placed beneath the aluminium box, containing the awning once closed, and on the front profile, such as in the versions with extendable arms.

Exactly the aluminium box represents a very useful accessory for awnings as it not only enhances the covering’s aesthetic but also prevents it from possible damages due to bad weather. Both dimensions and nuances are of course customizable. These latter can be chosen from the highly resistant colours of Pratic palette or from your favourite RAL shade.

However, in addition to accessories, also patents play a key role. Power Spring System is the device with gas springs allowing for a constant and homogeneous tensioning of the cloth for Pratic drop-down awnings, not only when the awning is completely open but also in any stopping position. The Flex arm awning features the Flexcontrol device, a special elastomer integrated into the arm-supporting bracket that compresses and decompresses to absorb wind stress.

13. Prices of awnings

Accessories, fabrics and dimensions allow you to create always tailored outdoor projects, and are the main factors determining the prices of awnings, which can vary depending on configuration chosen.
Precisely for this reason, it is paramount to contact professionals of the sector, who will suggest you the most suitable sun shading covering according to your needs and your budget, also taking into account the chance to access any tax contributions or incentives.

14. Images of awnings

By conceiving a shading project for your outdoor patio, a great tip is to draw inspiration from pictures depicting similar realisations as regards space required and needs. From images of awnings, it is possible to deduce potentialities, usages and unusual customizations to make your open-air experience completely tailored.

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