Awnings over decks, doors and windows have been commonplace in Europe for many years. High energy costs for air-conditioning is a major factor in their popularity. As well, European homes often incorporate outdoor living spaces which are greatly improved with awnings.
Retractable awnings are becoming increasingly popular in North America. Home and business owners are learning that awnings can have a significant return on investment. Air-conditioning costs can be dramatically reduced and outdoor living spaces can be much more comfortable. Both outdoor and indoor furniture will last much longer shaded from the sun. Retractable awnings have a much longer lifespan than stationary awnings, as they can be retracted and protected when not being used. As well, they provide the convenience and flexibility of being there only when you want.
With the expansion of the awning market in North America, consumers find they must navigate through a lot of options when trying to decide which awning best suits their needs.
The two main research criteria are product quality and service.
Judge the product quality carefully. While many awning providers will come to your home to help you choose, it is also worth the time to go to the provider’s showroom and see their products in action. Ask about product and manufacturing certifications such as TÜV.
Current inspection certifications can be produced upon request. Look for customer testimonials on the company’s website or social media pages as well as third party sites. You can also ask the company representative to put you in touch with other customers. Find out how long the company has been in business.
The importance of quality increases with the size of the awning. It is critical that large awnings are built to exceptional standards. A large awning, when open, is a significant ‘sail’ and wind can create pressure on moving parts and points connecting to the structure – your house. If you are looking for a smaller awning, consider the manufacturers of larger awnings. If the manufacturer has the expertise to produce large awnings, they will produce quality smaller ones as well.
Entry level awnings, while economical, will have few options and will come in standard sizes. They will be constructed with lighter, less durable materials. Quality awnings will be built to custom size and will have a variety of models and options to ensure you get exactly what is needed. They are of robust design and construction, and because Europeans have been enjoying awnings for so long, they are experts! European parts and manufacturing processes set the standard of quality awning products.
While Sunbrella is a standard choice for awnings, Sattler (of Austria) and Para (of Italy), are major producers of elite fabrics. These fabrics are made from 100% solution-dyed acrylic fibers. The fabric breathes, therefore dries quickly, and doesn’t trap heat. Colours are long lasting and the material is resistant to mold. Vinyl and plastic awnings are less resilient and have a ‘cheap’ look.
For motorized awnings, Somfy motors set the standard. These motors will bring years of maintenance and worry free operation of your awning.
Customer Service Begins with First Impressions.
Your impression of the company starts with first contact. Is their website easy to navigate, visually appealing and informative? Does a live person answer the phone? Is that first call informative? When you meet the sales representative at the showroom, or at your home, is he or she professional? Does he or she seem interested in finding what works for your home? A good sales rep will be someone you can trust to guide you through the various options, making sure you are getting the best product for your home or business: the focus being on the solution, not the product.
You also want assurance that you will receive good customer service beyond the point of ‘closing the sale’. Ask about:
• How long the awning takes to be manufactured and delivered,
• What the installation process looks like,
• What the product and service warranties are.
Awnings are significant investments. They will be on your home for many years. Take the time upfront to make sure that the awning you purchase will:
• Create shade where you want it,
• Add aesthetic value to your home or business,
• Function to your expectations,
• Operate for decades with minimal maintenance.
Call or visit us today, to find out what awning is best for your needs!