I've been looking at fabric awnings on the 'net for the last few days,
visiting sites all over the US with a focus on DIY kits. I am amazed at the
cost of these things -- it's a couple of swaths of canvas sewed together
draped over an aluminum frame and prices range from $200 apiece and up.
They typically only come with 5 year warranties at that! This is insane --
why on earth are these things so expensive??
I make tents.. (well, small pavillions) for a hobby, and
the materials for a 12x12 square marquis with vertical sides
costs me in excess of $300, including poles, spikes,
metal fittings, grommets, nylon carpet-thread, and expected
needle breakage, these are substantially larger than a window
awning, but the specialized fittings probably more than make
up for that.. People are unlikely to take down their awnings
when it gets blustery out, nor are they usually willing to
put out storm-stays. So the hardware has to be pretty robust.
And 5 years of near-continuous exposure is really about all
you can expect for a fabric structure.
I used to be a steel erection contractor. We did ornamental metal (wrought
iron), awnings, and welding repair and construction.
We used Raven Mills Sunbrella fabric. It would easily last five years, and
realistically around ten. It had to be made correctly, and tensioned
periodically. I sold the company years back. But I have purchased welding
and fab equipment to make more of these and other items for my properties
and for sale on ebay.
One can make quality awnings from tubular steel and Raven Mills Sunbrella
for a VERY reasonable price compared to what contractors get. Rocket
science they ain't. Even if you don't weld, you can find a garage shop guy
to get the frames made for a reasonable price. Canvas is a no brainer, and
can be done labor only by almost any upholstery guy. If you do have a
wirefeed and a saw, you got most of it right there.
Lots of bang for not too many bucks.
Now, if you are a contractor, you have to tack on a location, security,
bonding, licensing, insurance, advertising, labor, theft, phone,
electricity, printing, gasoline, maintenence, tool purchases, tool
replacement, equipment purchases, equipment replacement, bottled water,
tenant improvements, phones, fax, computers, cell phones, office furniture,
walkie talkies, safety equipment, fasteners, consumables, and about fifty
other things, so, YES, Martha, the price goes way up when buying even cheap
stuff from a supplier/manufacturer.
Oh, I forgot to include any profit in the above paragraph.
I was thinking of using grommets to connect three panels of fabric to the
framing. This would both look good (IMO at least) as well as do double duty
by allowing air to circulate.
Our current awnings are aluminum and attach to the same wood as the window
mounts -- I figured this would be strong enough to hold fabric awnings,
especially since aluminum are much heavier of course.
<Chuckle> This is true.
That would be good to see -- I enjoy viewing others' works in progress plus
it's always good for ideas. I'll be doing some more major rennovations in
my house in the coming months -- I'll likely do the same on my site as well.
Thanks for the info!
I went on a trip once when I was first making awnings. The trip was to
Disneyland, and southern California. I saw many examples of the use of
canvas, and got a lot of new ideas. Many were just what you refer to. They
were triangular pieces of canvas that were mounted in various
configurations. They allow shade at certain times of the day/year, and
sunlight in the complimentary time space. They allow for air flow, letting
the high pressure release, and reducing lift. I did see several
applications, though, where ropes were sewn into the fabric all along the
edge, and the loops on the ends were used as the anchors instead of
grommets. This made them a little sturdier during windy periods.
Grommetting is acceptable, but it depends on the quality of canvas and the
quality of the grommets/grommetting, and may have to be taken down during
periods of high winds. But, that is what makes them so easy to take down or
put up. A few upright poles in the back yard with triangular sail shaped
panels on them would give one a very colorful functional large shady area.
Correctly orienting it to the sun would allow for morning sun, but provide
afternoon shade. Fabrication would be very reasonable, and possibly done by
the DIYer who had or had access to a sturdy sewing machine.
The ideas are endless, and really not a lot of work. In many places, the
panels can be attatched to existing fascia, fence, post, eave, rafter end,
tree, etc. with eye bolts, and then either bungeed on or tied on with ropes.
Even airplane cable harnesses would be very easy and durable. A three point
attatchment between the house, a tree, and a post would allow one to put up
a very large sun shade in the back yard. Using other points of attatchment
would allow for multiple "sails." Your backyard could easily become a
multicolored area with more shade.
Speaking of airplane cable, you could put two parallel runs of it, and put a
rectangular grommeted canvas in there that would then be retractable,
sliding on the cables.
I believe that canvas and ornamental metal framing are some of the most
overlooked solutions to various problems and design criteria there is.
Again, you get a lot of bang for the bucks. I mean, stringing some colorful
sail shaped pieces of colorful canvas here and there to get new shade areas.
Totally changeable. Totally removeable. Very versatile. Some metal
framing with canvas work inserts.
I just had a 60" awning recovered locally for $275. I removed the frame
from the condo & delivered it to the shop, picked it up when completed.
Reinstalled it myself. They wanted an extra $75 to come remove/install it.
$200 sounds like a deal, as long as the fabric is of good quality.
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