Blue tressel hanging from building

Guide to buying a canopy or awning for your home or business

It’s that time of year again where the sunny weather and warmer climes get us in the mood to get outside, let loose, relax and top up our faded tans, but sometimes that heat can get a tad too much (yes, even in Britain!) and you’ll need to be able to cool off in the shade. That’s why having the right awning or canopy for your home or business is absolutely essential, making your home the go-to destination for BBQs or your customers wanting to return to your business time and time again.

To help you get to grips with all of the various designs and materials that are available to you and where best they are utilised, this month we’ve developed a canopy and awning guide to help you choose and purchase the perfect design for you, ensuring that you can get the most out of the British summer! But firstly, just so we’re all on the same page here:

Canopy & Awnings - Paul James Blinds

What are canopies and awnings?

Though at the basic level these terms may seem interchangeable, with both canopies and awnings attached to the exterior of a building adorning, usually, a window or door to provide shelter from sun and rain, canopies can also be structurally independent of a building. They come in many shapes and sizes, with some retractable and others permanently positioned.

The telltale difference between the two is that awnings are characterised by a fabric draped over a light frame connected entirely to a building, but a canopy features stanchions that support the shelter normally at either end.

Now, with that out of the way, we can focus on the nitty gritty of what you need to be thinking about when it comes to buying a canopy/awning.

The Checklist:


It’s important that you think closely about the space in which you want to set up a canopy or awning, particularly so if the fitting you’re fond of is a retractable or adjustable one in order to guarantee that when it opens fully it does so unhindered. If you fail to do so, you could find that when your canopy or awning is set up it is prone to faults or unnecessarily limits space people can comfortably enjoy it in.

Rain / Snow

At some point, particularly so for non-retractable and permanent fixtures, you’re going to have to deal with the weight of rain and possibly snow on your canopy or awning lest it suffer and buckle under the weight. Proper angling of your canopy or awning so that there are adequate drainage avenues will see to this, but you must plan ahead so that the weather doesn’t get the better of you.

Lighting & Heating

If you’re looking for a change then you might consider taking your dinner outside in the evenings to eat under your brand new canopy or awning. For those who hope to use their new overhead for this reason, you’ll need to consider whether or not you’ll also need a heater, and then where that heater will go. Once the sun disappears behind the fence the temperature can drop quickly, and a heater will see to it that just because the sun has gone it doesn’t mean you have to pack up and head indoors. Appropriate lighting will also ensure that your guests will be able to see one another as night descends!


Depending on what you’re expecting from your awning, you may want it to be motorised so that you can reel it in or out at your pleasure and achieve the look you want. This may cost a little extra, but the flexibility it provides we can assure you would  be very much welcome once installed.

The canopies & awnings on offer

The type of canopy or awning that’ll be perfect for you depends entirely on the aesthetic and functional desires you have. You should discuss the specifics with your local awning expert, but here are a few of the design shapes you can expect to find in your search.


For awnings, popular designs include:

  • Concave awnings
  • Dome awnings
  • Dome awnings with a drop-down valance (a fabric wall you can lower from the end of the awning to protect against weather and ensure privacy)
  • Casement awnings
  • Traditional awnings with hip ends

Canopies you can expect to come across are:

  • Rounded canopies
  • Patio canopies
  • Pyramid canopies
  • Gabled entrance canopies

There are a number of other canopies and awnings on the market, so shop around to find the perfect design for you.



Paul James Blinds are the expert blind, awning and curtain specialists of the Colchester, Sudbury, Colchester, Braintree & Bury St Edmunds areas. We use the best brands in the field to provide top quality and reliable products at a price you can afford. Our awnings and canopies are perfect for use in both domestic and commercial settings, on patios and above windows and doors. For a free no obligation survey of your home, contact our friendly team today.


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