Awnings are a great way to keep your outdoor space cool and dry. They provide a covered area for the children to play, for parties at your home, to dry clothes and generally make your house look better. They also provide cover over external staircase or verandah.
There are 2 main types of awnings today in Malaysia. Rigid awnings with a metal or timber frame, and retractable awnings with a fabric cover.
Awning design, and material has progressed significantly in recent years. Obviously, the choice of material plays a large role in determining the design you want.
Polycarbonate awnings are quite popular since it is light, and don’t require a heavy frame. The material allows light to shine through so that your house is not too dark even on a cloudy day. At the same time, UV rays are reduced so that your furniture and curtain can retain their color longer.
Plycarbonate awnings comes in a variety of color so you can choose the color of the awning to suit the overall color of your home.
The main disadvantage of polycarbonate awnings is the noise they tend to produce when it rains. Due to the light weight, they don’t absorb noise and may even amplify the noise.
Another type of awning that is popular with higher end houses are glass awnings. Glass awnings however lend a modern and classy look to your house. This type of awning tends to be expensive since heavy tempered and laminated glass is used. It requires a heavy supporting structure to ensure safety for those underneath the awning.
Glass awnings do not block out much light unless you choose those with a darker tint. If you want to use it for a large area, you can install retractable sun screen under the glass to block sun light on a hot day. The sun screens can be retracted on cloudy days to let in more light.
Glass awning has many advantages. They are quiet even when it rains, looks modern with clean lines, and can be installed in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The main disadvantage of glass awning is the glass can create a greenhouse effect by trapping heat underneath. They also do not shade against the sun unless they are a darker tint. Finally, glass is heavy, thus it requires strong support structures.
Retractable awnings are common for commercial building, and are getting popular with homes too. With such awnings, you can retract the awning over a garden area, and extend it only when it rains.
This is especially useful if you have nice garden and want to use it for outdoor functions. Retractable awnings are a good choice if you prefer to show the natural design of your home, and only be extended if the weather is too hot or when it rains.
You can have the option to operate it with an electric motor so that you can extend or close it with a touch of a button.
If you want to shade a small area, a fixed awning is usually more practical. They are more durable since there are no moving parts compared to a retractable awning. In high winds, retractable awnings can flap about.
You may be forced to close it even when it is raining to prevent it from being blown away in areas of high wind. Thus, it may reduce the effectiveness of having the awning in the first place.
There is another type of awning that is not really common in Malaysia. The membrane awning. For this type of awning, a membrane of thick fabric is stretched tightly over a rigid frame, or from several anchor points.
For use at home, several vertical posts are required as you can see in the photo above. The advantage of this type of awning for use is that a frame may not be required. The fabric do not create much noise when rain hits it.
The interesting thing with membrane awning is the design. They can be design with a variety of shapes by height and the location of the anchor points. They can also cover quite a large area without any supporting post in the middle.
However, you need to plan it well for water run off. Other wise rain water could be pouring down at the wrong location. This type of awning is not common, therefore it does create a unique look for your home.
You can see membrane awnings at monorail stations, or some stadiums in Kuala Lumpur.
Watch a video explanation of the different types of awnings.