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What Is a Canopy? Are They Better Than Awnings?

are canopies better than awnings

If you have an outdoor space in your home that you want to cover, the choice you are probably trying to make is whether to fit a canopy or awning as the cover for the space.

While outdoor spaces are lovely in cooler months, they can be unbearably hot in summer and spring, not to mention the long-term health effects of spending too much time under direct sunlight. This is why shading an outdoor space is recommended.

Before you consider a canopy over an awning for an outdoor cover, it is important to understand what it is and how it differs from an awning.

What is a canopy?

A canopy is s type of structure created to provide shade for an outdoor space such as a patio or deck. Unlike an awning, a canopy is a freestanding structure since it is not attached to a house or building wall. It can either be a permanent structure that resembles a pergola or gazebo or a mobile one such as a canopy umbrella.

Permanent canopies can be built over a larger outdoor space detached from the main house, while portable options are mainly ideal for covering small spaces.

Some advanced canopies come with motorization or manual retraction capabilities that allow you to adjust the opening level depending on the weather and how much sunlight you want to allow in.

Are canopies better than awnings?

Both canopies and awnings offer different benefits to suit different user needs. To be able to determine whether canopies are better for you than awnings, you need to make a comparison of the features and uses.

Here is a comparison between canopies and awnings to help you make an informed selection.

The design

The number one difference between canopies and awnings is the design. A canopy is a freestanding structure that can be built anywhere, while an awning is mostly constructed as an extension of a home or building.

The awning gets support from the wall and thus does not need posts or beams, as is the case for canopies.

However, both structures can have similar cover options made of either fabric, wood, or glass, depending on preference.

Uses and benefits

When determining whether a canopy will be ideal for your home or not, it is important to consider the different uses between awnings and canopies and their unique benefits.


Canopies are an excellent option if you are looking for a shading solution over a usable area outside the main house. They are also excellent for empty yard spaces you want to turn into functional areas for outdoor relaxing or hosting friends and family without a patio or deck.

A canopy will provide an excellent living space outside your house where you can set an outdoor dining area, bar, or sitting space under a cool shade. The good thing is that these shades can be portable, and you can take them anywhere on your road trips, including for a day out on the beach.

Generally, canopies are excellent shade options for outdoor spaces detached from the house and can be structured anywhere in your yard.


In contract, awnings are extensions of the main house that are attached to the wall of the house. While they can be retractable or stationary, they cannot be moved to offer shade to other locations once installed.

The greatest benefit of awnings is that they are as functional as they are decorative. Apart from boosting the curb appeal in your home, awnings also help to lower cooling costs by promoting natural cooling around your home.

Attaching an awning to your window controls the amount of solar heat entering the house, keeping temperatures low. This also protects your surfaces and furniture from premature fading caused by sun rays.

When the temperatures are lower around the home, it means that you rely less on your air conditioner for cooling. You can save up to 43% on energy bills by simply installing awnings on your windows.

Sizing differences

Canopies are excellent options for covering a very large area as they do not come with size restrictions. Some canopies are spacious enough to host weddings and large events.

On the other hand, awnings come with size limitations since they are attached to existing wall spaces. Contrasting them too big may hinder their stability and compromise the integrity of the walls they are attached to. In most cases, awnings can only extend a few meters from the point of attachment, making them highly limiting in terms of size.

Storage differences

The best thing about canopies is that they can be stored away at any time. You simply need to disassemble them, fold and store them away in your garage in colder months when you do not need shade around your property. Setting down a canopy is also easy and will take an hour or less, depending on the size.

On the other hand, awnings cannot be easily removed and stored away once built since it takes a lot of effort and engineering knowledge to safely detach them from the wall and put them back up when needed. The closest you can come to setting down an awning is removing the fabric cover to clean it or installing a retractable awning that opens and closes on command. However, this is not possible for other cover options like glass or polycarbonate.


While both canopies and awnings last a long time, canopies have a better chance of lasting longer since they are not constantly exposed outside. They spend a considerable amount of time tucked away in storage spaces when not in use. Awnings wear out faster since they are exposed to different weathers throughout the year.

Are canopies better than awnings?

There is no correct answer to this question because the choice ultimately depends on individual needs and preferences. Canopies are ideal for outdoor spaces detached from the house that need covering or simply for creating livable outside spaces around your garden or yard.

Following this comparison guide will go a long way in helping you decide on the perfect shade option for your home.

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