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Awnings are designed for a number of purposes, such as shading your patio, protecting your furniture, and providing an area for al fresco dining/entertaining. So whether you want an awning for your patio at home or for your restaurant, pub or café, here we outline the different types of awnings available in the UK and what you should consider when buying one.

There is now a wide range of awnings on the market today but they are generally split into two categories: fixed and retractable awnings. However within the retractable awning category you can choose from electric operated awnings, manual operated awnings, drop arm awnings, folding arm awnings, and many more.

Fixed awnings

Fixed awnings are designed to stay extended all year round and are made from resilient fabric to withstand all weather conditions. You will find there are many different shapes and sizes of awnings to choose from, such as traditional awnings, patio canopies, dome-shaped awnings and even custom-made frames. When buying a fixed awning it is worth asking for a fabric that will not fade and is easy to clean - yes these do really exist! It will mean you have little or no maintenance costs and your awning will last a long time.

Fixed awnings are mainly used as decoration to a building, and that is why you usually find them attached to businesses such as restaurants, pubs and cafes. However, this type of awning can also be used to highlight an entrance or as a covered walkway over outside stairs.

Retractable awnings

If you want an awning that you can extend as and when its needed, then a retractable awning is the best option for you. Retractable awnings can be extended during the summer months so you can sit out in the summer months without exposing yourself to the sun's harmful rays, but they can be retracted during the winter months when you'd rather sit indoors than on the patio.

However, retractable awnings are not only useful for the home. They can also be used by businesses such as restaurants, pubs and caf├ęs to provide an outdoor dining area during the summer but not in the winter months.

There is a wide choice of fabrics, colours and styles available for retractable awnings, but they are not the only consideration when it comes to buying this type of awning. You also need to decide what type of mechanism you want to use for the movement of the awning. Do you want an electric remote controlled awning? Some of the more hi-tech versions even have built-in climate and wind sensors so when the temperature reaches a certain level, or the wind is too brisk, your awning will retract or extend automatically. Perhaps you'd prefer a manual lever to move your awning, but if you choose this option do you want a folding or drop arm awning? It is worth discussing these options with your awning supplier to ensure you get the best type of awning for your needs.