If you're looking to expand your outdoor living space, few things can get the job done for less money than a retractable awning. Whether you're adding a retractable awning to your back deck or front patio, you'll have an affordable solution for shade and protection from the elements.

Here are some features and upgrades you should consider when adding a retractable awning.

Finding Your Fit

Retractable awnings broadly fall into three categories: sail, roll-up, and collapsible. Finding the right fit for your needs and budget is a great place to start the process.

  • Sail: The least expensive option. Sail style awnings are easy to install, store, and move. Because sail style retractable awnings do not require bulky hardware to set up, they can be shipped for a fraction of the cost of other retractable awning options. The drawback to sail style retractable awnings is that they don't always provide protection from rain and can't be upgraded like other retractable awning styles.
  • Roll-up: The most common retractable awning option. Roll-up style awnings open like a giant window shade set on its side. Because roll-up style retractable awnings have a large center spindle and are made from stout fabrics, they can be expensive to ship. Some of the biggest upsides of choosing roll-up style retractable awnings is that they can provide protection from the elements and can be upgraded to included nifty automated features.
  • Collapsible: A cross between sail and roll-up style retractable awnings. Collapsible units open and close like an accordion. Because these units are lighter than roll-up style retractable awnings, they can be shipped for an affordable price and provide protection from the elements. One major drawback of collapsible style retractable awnings can be durability. If you choose a collapsible style retractable awning, make sure your contractor uses a durable material like reinforced plastic or a polyester composite.

Upgrade Your Shade

Like any home improvement project, there are endless ways to upgrade and modify your retractable awning.

  • Smart: Some of the top retractable awning manufacturers and contractors are outfitting units with a host of tech upgrades. For instance, you can have your retractable awning contractor install a unit that can be opened, closed, or modified from your smart phone. You can program your retractable awning to open and close when the weather changes or when you open your back door. When choosing a smart retractable awning, make sure you understand the manufacturer's warranty to ensure that your unit works for the life of the product.

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