Author: Holly Yielding

Awning Alternatives

Flexy Awning

When Will A Retractable Awning Work For You

Retractable awnings are a popular solution for outdoor shade. Because they can be partially or fully opened and closed, either by hand crank or motor, they allow a homeowner to control the amount of sunlight or shade that a patio, deck, or porch receives throughout a day. Traditional retractable awnings, though, are not ideal for every homeowner or every situation. Luckily, not all are built the same. Two alternatives which often meet the specific needs of many homeowners are Fiesta patio and freestanding awnings.

Fiesta patio awnings are an ideal option for shade when a patio, deck, or porch receives a significant amount of direct sun throughout the day. In a situation like this, retractable awnings are not necessary because homeowners may wish to have their outdoor living area shaded at all times. The Fiesta patio awning is simple and does not retract. Because of this, the Fiesta is supported by its own legs at the front of the canopy, unlike with a retractable awning which has no front support legs. The advantage to support legs is that they take a large portion of the awning’s weight off of your home’s outside wall to which the awning is attached. That weight is then distributed to the support legs. The frame on a Fiesta patio awning is constructed of a rugged and heavy duty galvanized steel tubing for superior strength and durability. Some additional features of a Fiesta include a choice of multiple widths to accommodate just about any size patio, deck, or porch as well as a choice of valance styles.

Another alternative to retractable awnings are freestanding awnings. Freestanding awnings, unlike retractable or Fiesta patio awnings, do not attach to the side of the home. Instead, the awning’s legs are mounted to a deck or sunk into the ground, or they are supported by two freestanding bases. Freestanding awnings are an ideal choice for shade when mounting a structure to the side of a home is not desired or simply not an option. These awnings offer a great deal of flexibility, too, which cannot be matched by awnings that attach to the side of a home. A freestanding awning can provide room-sized shade on the porch, patio, and deck, but also in the garden, by the pool side, or in any sitting area that is situated away from the house. The freestanding awning has the ability to tilt from front to back to provide the best coverage throughout the day as the sun’s position changes in the sky. In addition, the canopy on some freestanding awnings retracts with the help of a patented drawstring. This feature allows homeowners more control over the amount of shade or sun to which they are exposed.

To ensure that Fiesta or freestanding awnings stay in top shape for the duration, they should be protected from heavy snow accumulations. In the case of Fiesta patio awnings, this means taking down the canopy top and storing it away until spring. For the freestanding style, this means closing the canopy and using a protective cover to keep harsh weather out. No matter which type of patio awning is preferred, one feature that every homeowner should insist upon is a high quality, durable, and weather-resistant fabric canopy. A fabric, such as Sunbrella fabric, that blocks a significant amount of ultraviolet rays, is resistant to mildew and fading, and is easy to clean is the best choice and will last for many years.

Overall, when retractable awnings are not a viable or desirable option for providing shade, it’s good to know that there are alternative types of shade that will more than adequately meet the needs of any homeowner.

Retractable Awnings

Retractable Awning

Making the Best Choice for Outdoor Shade

Retractable awnings for decks, porches, and patios offer an ideal solution for outdoor shade. Screened-in enclosures, on the other hand, while they provide much desired protection from sun and many weather conditions, do not offer the kind of flexibility that many homeowners seek. Retractable awnings allow you to choose how much sun exposure or shade you’d like, and adjusting them is usually fast and easy. Knowing a little more about them can help you make the best decision when it’s time to purchase.

Retractable awnings are either manually operated or motorized. One of the more obvious advantages of manually operated awnings is that they require no electricity to operate. If an electrical outlet is not conveniently located near the awning, it doesn’t matter. These awnings come with a hand crank that should allow you to fully open the awning quietly and smoothly in less than a minute. Motorized awnings, on the other hand, come with a specialized motor and remote control which allows you to easily open and close the awning from the comfort of your seat or even from inside your home. They plug into any standard outlet, so a visit from the electrician is not required if an outlet is located close by. The clear advantage of motorized awnings is that they offer convenience, but they may also be a better choice for homeowners who have physical limitations that would prevent them from using a hand crank.

In general, retractable awnings, whether manually operated or motorized, should be able to attach to most types of siding, including wood, masonry, stucco, brick, aluminum, and vinyl. They should also be able to attach to either the outside wall of your home or to an eave or overhang. While retractable awnings can be installed by the handy homeowner, it may be preferable to hire someone with prior experience to complete the installation. This will cost a little more, of course, but the extra cost will most likely save you a significant amount of hassle and frustration.

Also important to consider is the fabric that comes standard with retractable awnings. Insist on only the best quality, durable outdoor fabric with the ability to protect you from damaging UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, awning fabric should be waterproof, resistant to mildew, and easy to clean. Settling for cheaper fabrics initially will inevitably turn out to be a regretable decision because poor quality fabrics tend to fade and wear quickly and are expensive to replace.

Finally, accessories for Sunsetter retractable awnings, while they may not come standard with the awning, should be available to purchase so that you can customize your awning for additional comfort and protection. A wireless wind sensor is one handy accessory to consider for motorized awnings if you happen to live in an area that experiences occasional high winds. The sensor will automatically close the awning if winds become strong enough to potentially damage it. Another helpful accessory is a screen panel that can be attached to the side or front of manually operated or motorized awnings to create even more protection from sun, wind, rain, or other weather conditions. Yet another practical accessory is an awning cover that protects retractable awnings when they are closed and not in use. The cover helps keep awnings clean and free of dirt, cobwebs, leaves, and other debris.

A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to making significant purchases for your home. Even though retractable awnings offer superior outdoor shade for much less money and effort than a screened-in enclosure, it is still important to take some time to understand the product before buying. Knowing what to look for and what to insist upon in retractable awnings will allow you to make the best possible choice. When a decision is made with care, the choice you make is always the right one.

Shade Canopies

Goliath Shade Canopy

Versatile Outdoor Protection

One of the most versatile and useful structures for the outdoors is the shade canopy. Shade canopies, which are often portable, have four sturdy poles and a durable, weather resistant canopy top that provides instant shade in just about any location at any time of day.

Portable shade canopies can go with you anywhere and set up quickly and easily. Many come with their own tote bag, which makes carrying and storing your shade canopy much easier. There is no limit to the number of situations in which these structures can prove useful. Create a shady spot over the sandbox, kiddie pool, or outdoor play area. Enjoy a comfortable, shady picnic at a sunny park or even in the back yard. Protect yourself from the harsh sun during all day garage sales, soccer games, or visits to the beach. Many people prefer to keep a portable shade canopy in the trunk of the car because it comes in handy more often than expected.

Larger, less portable versions of the shade canopy have more permanent uses. For example, there are some that can serve as a spare garage for an extra car or recreational vehicle. They protect your vehicles from a major portion of the direct sunlight that they might otherwise be exposed to throughout a day. They also decrease the amount of snow that can pile up on your vehicle during winter storms. Enclosed shade canopies offer even more protection for your vehicles and belongings because, in addition to the standard canopy top, they have walls to keep out the weather. Enclosed structures can be used for any number of purposes. Create your own outdoor room at home or at the campsite. Use it as an outdoor play space for the kids and their friends. Host an outdoor party, and never worry about rain showers spoiling the fun.

Shade canopies, whether portable or more permanent, provide an inexpensive solution for anyone wishing to create more shade and more protection for people or possessions. They are easy to put up and easy to take down, and their durable construction ensures that they will be able to withstand many years of steady use. No matter how you use them, shade canopy structures keep you covered when it counts.

Outdoor Patio Heaters: A Great Commercial Asset

Commercial Patio Heater

Patio Heaters Provide Heat to Outdoor Restaurants and Bars

As of November 2009, 35 states in the U.S. have enacted statewide bans on smoking in most, if not all, enclosed public places, including restaurants and, in many cases, bars. During the summer, smokers can sit outside on patios, decks, or in gardens. But when the weather turns cold, many smokers may prefer to stay home rather than dine out, which can seriously damage the restaurant business. In response to this problem, more and more owners and managers in the restaurant industry are investing in outdoor patio heaters. By using patio heaters, restaurants and bars can help their smoking customers feel welcome and warm and prevent drops in their revenues during the colder seasons.

Patio Heater Fuel Types

There are three fuel types used to power patio heaters: natural gas, propane, and electricity. For restaurants, natural gas could be the best choice because the heater hooks up to the gas lines and never needs refueling. Natural gas heaters cannot be moved, however. If you plan to move the heater, for catering or other purposes, propane heaters may be the best choice. Propane patio heaters run on tanks and can be set up in about 10 minutes.

Patio Heater Safety Features

Of course, safety is always a major concern for businesses. Many patio heaters are built with this concern in mind, so they come with excellent safety features. One important feature is an automatic emergency shut off. If the heater is turned over, or even hit too hard, it automatically turns off. Another common feature is a piezo electric starter, which does not require a pilot light.

Choosing Between Various Patio Heater Options

When looking through the various commercial grade heaters, one of the most important considerations is the heater’s power, which is rated in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The average heater rates at about 45,000 BTUs, enough to make a 20 foot heat circle. Keep in mind the size of your outdoor eating and gathering space; this will determine if more than one patio heater would be needed to keep your customers cozy. Another factor to consider is style. The heater should fit comfortably with the decor of your establishment, whether traditional or modern. Some models, for example, are reminiscent of a classic iron lamp post and bring a traditional elegance to the environment. Other models offer a more sleek, modern, even futuristic appearance.

A Couple of Tips

If you plan on moving the heater, be sure to get a model with wheels. The wheels are often hidden, and so they will not affect appearance.

Having too much wind where you put the heater can adversely affect its performance. This problem can be solved rather easily, though, by using screens, shades, or other wind breakers.

An Asset to Restaurants

Patio heaters have undoubtedly proved their usefulness to restaurants and bars. Fortunately, as their popularity has increased in recent years, they have become much more affordable. So it is now easier than ever to use patio heaters to help your business maintain old patrons and gain new ones.

Outdoor Fireplaces, Chimineas, Fire Bowls, and Fire Pits

Outdoor Fire Pit

Multiple Ways to Cozy Up In the Cold

Outdoor living areas are increasingly the most occupied spaces in a home during the warmer months of the year. Whether you spend mornings alone by the pool with a good book or evenings on the patio dining with friends and family, spending as much time as possible outside in the fresh air is a priority for many home owners. When the weather turns too cool for lingering outside, though, it’s often with reluctance that home owners retreat from comfortable backyard living spaces into the home for the long winter. Luckily, the season for enjoying those exterior living areas can be extended significantly with the use of an outdoor fireplace. Outdoor fireplaces come in a variety of types, including the traditional outdoor fireplace, chimineas, fire pits, and fire bowls. Making the best choice can sometimes feel daunting, though, but knowing more about each option can help in your decision.

For the most part, the traditional outdoor fireplace looks similar to a fireplace you might see on the inside of a home. Many traditional outdoor fireplaces are rectangular in shape and feature a mesh metal door which swings open to allow easy access, and swings closed to keep sparks from flying out of the fire. Traditional outdoor fireplaces are not boring in design, though. Whether your preferred style is one of clean lines or of romantically ornate decor, there is an outdoor fireplace to match that preference. In addition, most outdoor fireplaces provide you with 360 degree warmth, which creates an inviting space large enough to entertain multiple guests on chilly evenings.

A more utilitarian style of traditional outdoor fireplace is available, too, which suits many families’ needs while at home or while on camping or other outdoor vacations. These fireplaces boast a round body and sturdy, often tubular metal legs. Some models of this kind of outdoor fireplace have two wheels which allow the units to be moved easily to different locations. This more utilitarian of fireplaces offers the essential features without the fussiness of decorative elements.

Chimineas are a different kind of outdoor fireplace. Chimineas were originally developed in Mexico as a means for heating the home and cooking food. The design of chimineas, which is reminiscent of the pot belly stove with a round, mostly enclosed firebox and tall stack, allows fires to light quickly and burn longer than in a traditional outdoor fireplace, which has an open firebox. Additionally, the design of chimineas prevents rain from extinguishing the fire. Chimineas were traditionally constructed of clay or terra cotta and worked well in warmer, drier Mexican climates, but for superior durability and performance in colder climates, the preferred material for backyard chimineas is heavy duty metal, such as cast iron or cast aluminum. In cold temperatures and harsh weather conditions, clay or terra cotta chimineas tend to flake, crack, or crumble. Metal chimineas are beautifully designed and easily become the decorative focal point in any elegant outdoor living space. Chimineas are outdoor fireplaces with real character and style.

Fire bowls and fire pits are yet another type of outdoor fireplace available. Fire bowls and fire pits are usually smaller than traditional outdoor fireplaces, and the depth of the bowl or pit varies greatly. Larger capacity fire bowls or fire pits will hold more firewood and provide more warmth for those surrounding them. Fire bowls and fire pits can also be found in a wider variety of styles than traditional outdoor fireplaces. For example, materials used to construct fire bowls and fire pits range from sturdy and attractive metals like aged bronze, copper, or stainless steel to stone such as slate, marble, or granite. Additionally, some fire bowls and fire pits are adorned with tastefully decorative elements like ceramic tile, metal scroll work, or outdoor motifs. Fire bowls and fire pits are versatile, too. Some fire bowls and fire pits can double as a grill for cooking out, and some can be found at the center of a backyard dining table or patio table, making cozy dinners and quiet conversations all the more inviting. Many fire bowls and fire pits come with a mesh spark arrestor to help prevent embers from jumping out of the flames.

Choosing an outdoor fireplace to fit your personal style and needs may be the most challenging task, but it is important to know that outdoor fireplaces are not appropriate for every exterior living space. Before selecting from the many traditional fireplaces, chimineas, fire bowls, or fire pits, be sure that one can be used safely in your home’s exterior living area. For example, many outdoor fireplaces cannot be used on or near wood decks or other wooden structures. While some of the portable fireplaces can be taken into grassy areas and campgrounds, an ideal location for most of the outdoor fireplaces discussed in this article would be a stone, brick, dirt, or concrete surface.