What 2 Look 4
Do you know what to look for in a retractable awning?
Retractable awnings or lateral arm awnings are self-supporting shading systems that are used for protection from the sun’s harmful rays. These units are mounted to a solid structure with no vertical supports and should not be used in severe weather (strong winds and rain).
Retractable awnings are a lot like automobiles – there’s a large variety to choose from. From a distance, most cars appear to be similar – they all have fenders, doors, wheels, etc. Much of the value is unseen or unclear until it is pointed out to you. Price depends on what you want in terms of quality,
comfort, durability, maintenance, options, and all the other goodies you can add to a car to make it just right for you. You get what you pay for. Retractable awnings are much the same way. There are many models to choose from, it just depends on what your individual needs are. Listed below are some of the features you should look for in a "quality" retractable awning as a
long-term investment for your home.
The purpose of
the torsion bar is to absorb movement and flex from the complete system. All
mechanical parts of the awning are attached to this "backbone" bar.
Durasol offers the choice of a steel or aluminum torsion bar on their S4000
units. Typically, we would recommend the steel torsion bar for the high amount
of energy absorbing load that they can handle. We’ve engineered our
thick-walled aluminum bar for seashore areas where an added level of corrosion
protection is desired.
roller tube is what the fabric is attached to and where the tension is
provided on the fabric when the awning is extended out. Durasol incorporates
steel roller tubes into their shading products. Steel roller tubes allow for
21’ wide by 10’ projections without the use of a center support. Aluminum
roller tubes have much more deflection from the tension and weight of the
fabric, which would require a center support at shorter widths and lesser
projections than steel. Aluminum roller tubes may require the use of center
supports for widths as small as 13’.
RETRACTABLE LATERAL ARMS:
The role of the lateral arms is to work in conjunction with the front bar and
the roller tube to keep the fabric taut. The benefit of having lateral arms is
that you can easily walk underneath the awning without having to walk around any
side supports or poles. When comparing lateral arms, consumers typically take
notice of the arm cables. Lateral arms usually come with either one steel cable
or two. Durasol uses a single 4mm stainless steel cable constructed of
128-strand aircraft quality, 10,000 pound-test cables. Numerous awning companies
will use two
cables in their arms, but the two
cables that they use are not 4mm.
These companies rely on two 2mm cables to handle the stress needed to keep the
fabric taut. Imagine trying to pull a tree stump out of the ground using pull
chains and a truck. Would you prefer to use two smaller chains hoping that if
one broke the other can support the weight load, or would you use a single
heavy-duty chain? Hopefully you would use the heavy-duty chain to ensure you
have a high-quality product to do the job effectively. Arm cables work in the
same manner; the larger arm cable can handle the weight load of the awning more
Connection from the arm to the torsion bar is made with the arm shoulders. With
arm shoulders, you want to have a minimum number of parts to avoid play and
instability. When the shoulder is extruded, it consists of parts that are bolted
together. Casted arm shoulders require a much greater investment in moulds and
dyes, but they provide a "cleaner" look and a more stable awning that
requires less "readjustment" after installation.
These sturdy mounting brackets attach to the wood frame studs or masonry of your
home. Durasol utilizes a bracket that can be mounted on both walls and soffits.
To accommodate every type of mounting area, this bracket, combined with
additional parts, can also be mounted on the roof of your home. If you have less
then an 8’ clearance or desire a longer projection, we strongly recommend you
consider a roof mounting application. The vacuum-injection cast molding of these
brackets provides unsurpassed strength and durability. Over the years, we have
recognized that customers may move or put an addition on to their homes, thus
requiring the removal of their awning. The versatility of the installation
brackets allows for the customers to have their local dealer re-install the
awning on a different mounting surface or area. Many customers are happy to know
that they can go from a wall mount to a soffit mount and vice versa, without the
purchase of additional parts.
The arms, fabric and valance are all connected to the front bar. The front bar
is the outer most point of the projection. On lateral arm awnings, the fabric is
only connected to the roller tube and the front bar. When the wind gets
underneath the awning, the arms will bend or react to changing weather
conditions, thus allowing the awning to billow up. All the stress of this
billowing is transferred to the connection on the roller tube and front bar.
Durasol uses a four-chambered front bar that has been unmatched in its quality
to prevent sagging, bowing and deflection. There are items you can buy to lock
down the front bar, such as legs and poles; however, keep in mind that most
awning manufacturer’s warranties are void if you utilize such a product.
Remember, a lateral arm awning is designed to have the fabric billow up and the
arms fold inward during wind. This eliminates stress on the wall and the rest of
the system. When the wind dies down, the arm extends back out using the fabric
as a cushion.
Retractable awnings are self-storing when retracted, but, the need for
additional protection may be required depending on the mounting area. The
majority of units we sell will require a protective hood if the unit will be
roof mounted or mounted on a wall that does not have an overhang or soffit in
close proximity. The hood may also be utilized to protect the unit from snow or
any other type of harsh weather when the awning is not in use. A hood will also
keep the fabric cleaner and help to protect the enclosed motor from the
Many people question the option of whether or not to motorize their awning. Over
85% of the awnings that Durasol produces are motorized. The average time it
takes to extend a motorized awning is about 20 seconds, using a hand crank can
take up to 2 minutes. By simply pushing a button, you can save considerable time
and effort, as well as avoid possible unit damage associated with rolling it up
wrong or extending it too far. Another thing to consider about motorized awnings
is the various electronic options that can further suit your needs. Durasol
offers an assortment of electronic options including remote controls, indoor and
outdoor switches, and weather sensors.
The first thing to consider is what type of fabric will best meet your needs.
The fabric choices today for lateral arm awnings are acrylic or vinyl. The
waterproof nature of vinyl fabrics makes them ideal for commercial applications
and for use on trailer-type awnings. These types of systems have limited
dimensional stability requirements for fabrics, relying mostly on the unit’s
framework. The lack of dimensional stability found in vinyl fabrics does not
them an ideal candidate for lateral
arm awnings. With changing weather conditions, vinyl covers will heat up and
stretch, affecting the performance and factory settings of your awning – not
to mention the smell of the plasticizes leaching out.
Today’s acrylic fabrics are woven
specifically for use on retractable awnings. This heavy-grade acrylic fabric
provides protection from harmful UV rays, while allowing most of the sun’s
energy to be deflected. Acrylic fabric on your lateral arm awning will allow the
area under the awning, as well as the nearby indoor areas, to be much cooler.
Acrylic fabric is woven, which it allows it to "breathe" and increase
resistance from moisture and mildew. Durasol uses solution dyed acrylic fabrics
from Sunbrella and Dickson – both woven by the world’s leading producer,
Glen Raven Mills. Solution dyeing (adding color while still in a liquid state)
locks the colors into the acrylic fibers. This process reduces fading and
increases the aesthetics of the product, making each fiber much like a carrot
– the same color all the way through. The second thing to consider is which
color will work best. Durasol offers over 200 designer colors and patterns to
choose from. Many consumers wonder if they should choose a dark or light color
fabric. Dark color fabrics will provide anywhere from 95-98% UV protection,
while light color fabrics will resist 94-96% of these rays. If you are
considering an awning to conserve energy, then lighter color fabrics are your
best choice. Please keep in mind that the lighter the fabric, the more dirt will
typically show over time, which may require periodic cleaning.
You can purchase various systems from many dealers in your area. The only place
you can purchase a Durasol awning is from your local Durasol dealer. Durasol
dealers are factory trained and will ensure that your awning is professionally
installed and serviced. Consider that a 200+ pound awning will be mounted
directly over the heads of your family. Do you want to risk having an
installation failure? Why not leave your installation to the professionals –
it’s money well spent. Our dealers are selected to provide you with
peace-of-mind – knowing you have chosen a quality local company that stands
behind their work and can provide references on request.
A LAST WORD:
Durasol awnings are not the least expensive, nor are they the most expensive.
They are, however, the best-engineered and designed system for a retractable lateral arm awning today. Durasol is one of the few, if not the
only, awning manufacturer that is not concerned with how many dealers carry
their product line, but rather are more concerned with the quality of the
dealers that they partner with. Not everyone can be a Durasol dealer – only
the best will do. That’s why we have over a 98% nation-wide customer
satisfaction rate. Your investment in a quality long-term shading product,
installed by professionals, will prove to be a decision that you and your family
will enjoy for years to come. We back your purchase with a factory-registered
warranty, something unheard of in the industry.