Whether used for a commercial or residential property, awnings are excellent ways of improving the aesthetics of a space. However, when poorly maintained, awnings accomplish the opposite. When an awning is unmaintained and dirty, it gives the impression that the property owner does not care about their property or image.
While there are numerous material options for awnings, most people prefer to go for metal awnings. This is because the metal gives a polished look to a home and a professional, welcoming look for businesses.
Compared to other options in the market, metal awnings are also long-lasting with the ability to withstand outdoor changing weather patterns and elements. However, they eventually start to degrade and show their age over time. Regular cleaning and maintaining is recommended to keep them looking and working their best for longer.
With proper upkeep, metal awnings can last for decades while ensuring the owner enjoys all the benefits involved. Ensuring you properly clean your awning every so often is the best way to maintain its natural look and increase its life span.
Cleaning metal awnings
Awning cleaning is not as easy as most people assume. Contrary to popular belief, metal awnings are not resistant to staining. Different elements like dirt, rain, sun, snow, wind, and hail can leave damaging effects on the surface of the awning if they are not dealt with fast. Allowing grime, dirt, and film to accumulate on our metal awning over a long time degrades your investment and reduces the lifespan of the awning.
Because of the nature of metal, another common problem with metal awnings is staining from water exposure. Over time the streaks of water leave the awning looking dirty or rusted. These streaks are much more noticeable on light-colored metal awnings.
The best way to prevent the long-term effects of keeping dirty metal awnings is doing a deep cleaning exercise once every few months, preferably before the turn of the seasons. Here is everything you need to know about how to clean metal awnings.
7 Steps on how to clean metal awnings
What you need:
- A bucket of water or garden hose
- Dissolvable cleaning solvent suitable for aluminum materials
- A ladder
- A stiff brush
- Following the manufacturer’s instructions, combine the dissolvable cleaning solvent with water. It is important to ensure that the solvent you go for is specifically designed to clean aluminum surfaces.
- Using the garden hose, sprinkle water all over the awnings until wet. In the absence of the hose, you can use the bucket of water to splash water onto the awning until wet.
- While still wet, take your cleaning brush and dip it into the cleaning solution. Start scrubbing the surface of the awning.
- Once all the stains and dirt are scrubbed off, rinse the cleaning solution with clean water from a garden hose or the bucket. It is important to ensure you rinse the soap off completely to prevent a film from forming on the surface of the awning.
- Rinse off any cleaning solution that may have gotten on other parts of the awning, as leaving it on will attract dirt.
- Allow the metal awning to air dry.
- Repeat the cleaning steps for the underside of the metal awning.
Removing stubborn dirt
Sometimes, the cleaning solution and water may fail to get rid of dirt buildup on the awning during the deep cleaning process. Since you cannot soak an aluminum awning, you should use vinegar or your regular stovetop cleaner to get rid of the buildup.
Caring for your clean awning
Since you cannot always deep clean your metal awning, you can take steps to ensure it remains clean in between deep cleans.
Rinse off your awning regularly.
It is important to rinse your metal awning regularly. If you notice bird droppings or any other dirt, you should ensure you rinse them off immediately. The chemical from bird droppings can cause discoloring of the awning.
If your awning is under a space with many trees, you will need to rinse the surface more frequently as trees drop even more dirt on the awning. Rinsing off dirt regularly from your awning prevents the dirt from getting ‘baked,’ which is especially common in hot months.
Pollen, sticks, twigs, and other debris often find their way on the metal awning. It is important to try and get the debris off the surface of the awning as quickly as possible as it can potentially damage the awning. You can also trim the branches of nearby trees if they grow long enough to scratch the awning surface.
Mildew occurs when moisture collects at a given area on the metal awning. You can eliminate mildew using a mild detergent household cleaner or dish soap mixed in 3 quarts of water with 2 quarts of sodium hypochlorite 5% solution. You can use a brush or cloth to apply the soap mixture onto the mildew stain and scrub it off.
Repainting a metal awning
Sometimes, even after years of following the right steps on how to clean metal awnings, the metal awning may require repainting to cover the fading effect of exposure to weather elements. Here is how to paint a metal awning.
Use an oil-based primer
Most people prefer to get latex primers because they dry fast. However, these types of primer contain ammonia, which causes corrosion to the metal. Over time, white flaking starts to appear, which is damaging to the metal. Therefore, an oil-based primer is recommended for metal awnings.
Apply the oil-based primer and give it ample time to dry. This can take several hours.
Use 100% acrylic paint
Using 100% acrylic paint is recommended because of its ability to withstand changing weather patterns. Acrylic paint also lasts for many years before requiring reapplication since it does not fade or discolor quickly.
The bottom line
Ultimately, how long your metal awning lasts depends on how well you care for it. You can follow the steps on how to clean metal awnings highlighted in this article to ensure your metal awning is always looking its best, regardless of the weather.