Have you also experienced this? You are fumbling for your keys at your front door, while icy rain drops are finding their way into your shirt collar. Before you know it, you are wet, cold and miserable. If you had a motorized retractable awning or a roll up awning, you would have been dry, rather than dripping...

By installing roll up awnings or one of the motorized, retractable models, you will be adding value to your property. Your entertaining capacity will be extended, you will add color and vibrancy to your home for enhanced curb appeal and your furnishings will remain bright for longer. But what do you need to look for in a patio or deck awning?

1. Invest in a trusted brand with a solid re[censored] tion and excellent service backup. Make sure that you will be able to locate replacement hardware down the line, should you need it. Check the warranty to make sure that you will be covered for an adequate period. Quality parts such as a Somfy motor add to durability. Remember that the cheapest price may not always give you the best value in the long run.

2. The framework should be corrosive free. Acrylic fabrics of a high standard need to be used to cover the framework. Make sure that the material is UV resistant, water repellent, fade resistant, flame resistant and treated to remain mold and mildew free. You even have to check that the right kind of thread is used to seam fabric together, as this is crucial for long term durability and robustness. Gortex thread might be more expensive, but is much stronger than polyester thread and will thus strengthen roll out awnings.

3. If you choose an aluminum roll up awning, you won t have to worry too much about maintenance after installation. You will also get a fairly robust covering. The main drawback is that you won t have such a wide range of color and design options.

4. Canvas roll up awnings come in all shapes and sizes, with more than enough shades and patterns to coordinate with your patio furniture and the architectural style of your home. However, they will demand a bit more from you in terms of care.

5. Motorized retractable awnings or roll up awnings offer you the best of both worlds. You get adequate UV protection during the summer months, while you can still bask in the sun during the winter. Here you get push button comfort, especially if you can make use of a remote control unit.

In fact, you can even take comfort further by opting for a model with rain and wind sensors. These ensure a totally automatic device that will retract on its own according to information it receives from the sensors.

6. Manual models make use of a hand crank, which is usually fairly easy to operate. A little less luxurious, perhaps, but also more affordable if you are on a tight budget.

7. Don t try to skimp on size. Make sure that you get adequate protection by taking the drop of the covering, as well as the window position into account. If a window faces south for instance, you will need less of a drop.

If you love patio living and entertaining, motorized, retractable or roll up awnings are bound to remove some of the sting of the summer months. But don t be surprised if, apart from comfort and shade, you also gain a few very envious neighbors...

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