What’s the Difference Between Sunshades, Canopies, and Awnings?

Awnings & Aesthetics

In the late 1800s, awnings gained national appeal as striped canvas shades became a popular way to dress up Victorian homes. By the 1940s, fabric awnings were replaced by aluminum as other factors began influencing sun control solutions including style, durability, and price. This still holds true today. Now, awnings are primarily used for aesthetic reasons—helping to break up a commercial design by adding pops of color and different size and shape elements between other types of sun control methods such as sunshades and canopies, which are primarily used for purposes beyond aesthetics. 

Sunshades & Sustainability 

With the advent of today’s environmental concerns, the need for canopies has strengthened, and the development of sunshades was born. With a hyperfocus on sustainability practices, architects and developers turned to sun control products that support energy efficiency. Sunshades were the answer, expertly engineered to dissipate solar radiation while enhancing natural daylight, the interior’s atmosphere, and visibility. 

Canopies & Protection Against the Elements

As you can see, sunshades are typically employed for both form and function. They are used for both purposes of sustainability and design aesthetic. Canopies, too, are used for these two reasons, but there is one thing that sets the two sun control solutions apart. 

While sunshades are similar to architectural canopies in appearance—generally flat in shape—they differ greatly as they are not impenetrable structures. Sunshades allows filtered light and precipitation through them while canopies are solid structures. This makes them the perfect choice for a sun control solution that also provides ample protection against inclement weather. 

When to Use Which Sun Control Solution

Commercial Properties

Architectural sunshades and canopies are very popular sun control solutions for a variety of property types and commercial buildings. In fact, we’re seeing that architects love including all three on commercial buildings—for instance, mixed-use properties—to meet various needs: Canopies help with protection against the elements, and they offer a more industrial look while awnings add pop of color, dimension, and softness; sunshades additionally offer an element of design while providing an energy-saving solution that reduces harsh sunlight from entering the building and the need for extensive interior cooling.

Further, we’ve noticed that aluminum canopy systems are rising to the top as the most-used sun control solution for commercial buildings because of their practical natural and functionality. They are made of a durable, easy-on-the-eye material in a variety of shapes, styles, and designs—and are highly customizable, taboot. They also add an inventive way to mount branding and signage to buildings, and it even extends a property’s usable space.

Easier said than done, right? Figuring out what works best for your project can be a challenge. For some helpful tips and best practices to glean inspiration from, check out our recent blog written by your New Jersey sun control solutions experts! Good luck, and get creative.

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