An Awning Buyer's Guide
Top 11.5 tips and tricks to avoid getting torn:
1. Buy directly from an awning manufacturer! There are many companies in Charlotte that sell awnings and canopies, but don't make them. They'll buy awnings wholesale and install them on your home. Ask to visit their production facility. Many of these companies only sell retractable awnings. And years after they're gone, nobody can get parts for these retractable awnings, and they're long gone. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Retractable awnings are AWESOME for protection from the sun. That is where the benefits end with a retractable.
2. Explain what your expectations are with your new awning project:
Are you trying to stay dry or just get some shade? A good awning salesman will ask you several questions about what YOUR expectations are with a purchase. Assuming that a cookie cutter solution will work for everyone is always a bad idea. A good salesman with LISTEN to your needs and build their solution to solve your problem. Ever buy a product that you don't need or that doesn't solve your particular problem? Awnings will not solve all the worlds ills. Sometimes a commercial size gutter would better solve your problem... A company with INTEGRITY will tell you if an awning for your particular situation is a bad idea.
3. And so the awning guy that just came out told you that you need a new frame:
Is it an older pipe frame that has been up for years? Chances are that you DON'T need a new frame. Every situation is different. Get more than one opinion if you are in doubt. Two or three heads are better than one!
4. Choosing the right awning supplier or awning contractor in Charlotte:
Maybe you're one of those people who searches for the awning company that has been in business the longest amount of time in the Charlotte Area. Did you know that many of these older companies have changed ownership over the years? Buying a company doesn't necessarily mean that you buy all the experience or the liabilities that the company has accrued. Patriot Awning Company has been in business since 2012 and so we are busy building a reputation, not resting on one. Choose a contractor that you think is best suited for doing the job. Different awning companies in the Charlotte area invest in different things. Some invest heavily in graphics, others invest in their own extrusions, heavy equipment to install large awnings requiring core-drilling and other complex engineering methodologies, others invest in being able to build an awning out of the absolute thinnest wall metal using inexpensive fabric from overseas. How will you know who you are choosing? By asking questions.
5. Get more than one quote and examine it carefully:
Before calling the first awning company (which should be Patriot Awning Company) bring a notepad out with you to take notes with the salesman. You'll want to have everyone on the same page that comes out. You'll want to make sure that we all quote the same size, shape and propose using the same materials. Have all the companies on the same page. If you need additional options after we or any one else gives you a quote to put us back on the same page just let us know! Read the proposal. Is it complete? Is everything on there or are they leaving out key things like the type of fabric or how the cover is attached? There should be NO QUESTION on what you are buying by looking at the proposal - it will become part of your contract - if something is missing ask to have it added in before you sign! Everyone hates surprises - and change orders.
6. Fabric Attachment - Lace vs. Staple:
How the fabric attaches to the frame is a key component to your awning. When it's time to recover the awning you will find that the awning may need to be removed to be recovered. If this happens to be a patio canopy with lights, fans, sprinklers, heaters, and a small Volkswagen Bus that is mounted on the underside of the awning, this could become a huge undertaking and for no real upside. We in the awning industry call this a "disaster looking for a place to happen."
Lace On: Frame generally does not have to be removed to be recovered. The cover laces to the frame using grommets or a special material called E-Z Lace. This type of situation can save you money down the road on a recover but the cover is more likely to have a wrinkle or two down the road. If you don't like brass grommets or seeing lace underneath your awning than this option may not be for you. This is the best option for patio canopies and large awnings.
Staple System: Frame will need to be removed to be recovered. Everything attached underneath will also need to be removed. A PVC insert covers the staples and is typically the same color as the fabric or clear. If you have an unusual shape awning (such as a ball-cap or kite) this is probably the best option for you. There is a little money that is saved on the front end to build an awning this way. A staple system frame can be recovered about 4 times before it must be replaced or modified to accept a lace-on cover.
7. Ask about the fabric:
There's been a lot of technological improvements over the years as it relates to thread and fabric. Choosing the right fabric for your project can yield several years of enjoyment of your awning. Choosing the wrong fabric could mean that you get wet! Hate getting hosed? Does your awning need to be water-proof? Choose a water-proof fabric. Is it just a window awning? Chances are that you don't need waterproof fabric. Our favorite source for fabric is the United States of America.
8. Ask about the thread:
Ever seen an awning split at the seams? We've seen hundreds. Polyester rots. 138 Polyester will last about 5-6 years before it looses over half of it's tensile strength. Ask for Gore-Tenara by name! This thread is US made and it WILL NOT ROT before your cover does. Sunbrella fabric now has a 10 year warranty. Don't sew it with a 5 year thread!
9. How to join the panels:
Fabric roll widths are anywhere from 46"-108" wide. When we make awnings we typically have to join these fabric panels together. There are two ways to do this: 1) Sew them or 2) Weld them. If you don't want them to come apart or leak you should have them welded.
10. Check us out:
Ask for references. View reviews on Google or Angie's List. Go check out some of our work. and talk to out prior customers.
11. Price vs. Value:
Price isn't everything and most of the time when you buy something on the cheap there is a cost of ownership that increases! IE: Buying an awning with sewn seams using polyester thread. The awning comes apart in 5 years vs. 12 years. Educated consumers are the best to deal with because they understand that cost and value are two separate things. Buying an awning on the cheap may be a good idea if you are trying to sell your house and simply don't care about spending an extra $50-$500 on a quality product. Every situation is different.
11.5 Choose Patriot Awning Company:
We want your business and are willing to compete for it. Charlotte's awning specialists, Patriot can assist you. We are a full-service awning contractor in Charlotte serving the Carolinas and beyond.
Patriot Awning is Charlotte's Awning Manufacturer!
We are excited to discuss your project! You can email us plans for your commercial or new construction awning project at the below email address! We don't get many people that come by our awning manufacturing facility, but we will be happy to schedule a tour so you can see how awnings are made in our plant! Everything listed on our website is made by us except for retractable awnings!
Fabric Awnings and Canopies
Corrugated Metal Awnings
Curtain Enclosures with Clear Windows
Architectural Aluminum Louvers
Shopping Center Awnings