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Folding Arm/ Retractable Awnings – choosing the right type for your space.

Folding Arm/ Retractable Awnings – choosing the right type for your space.

A great practical choice for the exterior of your home or work space, acting as a supplemental roof or cover that helps control intense sun exposure and heat. Retractable Awnings, also known as Folding Arm Awnings are perfect for extending an outdoor living space as well as having the capability to withstand the Australian climate.

Folding arm awnings provide even more benefits compared to standard awnings by being able to retract. There are also many different types of folding arm awnings, making them useful for various locations and structures. The three major types of folding arm awnings are full cassette awnings, semi cassette awnings, and open style awnings.

Having multiple options can make it difficult to choose the best one for your space  Here’s all you all you need to know about folding arm awnings and how to choose the best one for your structure:

Unlike a normal awning, folding arm awnings can expand and retract as needed. This is done by having multiple extendable arms drive the fabric through the front bar of the awning. This means you can capitalise on your awning when it’s most convenient — have it out to shade from the glaring sun, but pull it back in on those cloudy days when you want more light.

The Benefits of Retractable Awnings are:

Sun Protection

The greatest benefit of your folding arm awning is the sun protection it provides. Having guests under your awning will make them much cooler and more comfortable. More importantly, your awning can prevent any harm or damage caused by the sun. Not only are UV rays harmful to people, but they can also damage your furniture by causing discolouration. Inside your building, the sun can easily create glare through windows and off of reflective surfaces. This is not only irritating but also damaging to people’s eyes. Folding arm awnings are an effective way to protect against such.


Reduced Energy Costs

Having sunlight enter your home directly through your doors and windows may seem nice, but it can be a detriment to your energy bill. The direct sunlight increases the temperature in the building. During the hot seasons, this generally means running the air conditioner harder to reach a comfortable indoor temperature. Folding arm awnings are an effective way to reduce your energy bill, as they block the direct sunlight from entering your building. Unlike with standard window blinds, this will still allow some natural light inside while keeping the temperature down.


Expanded Space

The usable area you have in your property doesn’t need to be limited by your interior space. Utilising patios and yard space isa fantastic way to expand your usable room without any expensive renovations. Folding arm awnings allow you to take advantage of the space you already have while also letting you connect to the gorgeous outdoors.


High Durability

While high winds and torrential rain can damage some awnings, you don’t need to worry about that at all with folding arm awnings! Because they aren’t locked into place, you can easily retract your awning when the weather turns sour to keep it safe and secure. On top of that, buying a high-quality folding arm awning means having a building upgrade that will last you at least 30 years.


Simple Maintenance

Folding arm awnings are easy to maintain with just a bit of effort. As long as you keep it retracted during bad weather and occasionally clean your awning, you can be sure it’ll last its projected lifetime. The fabric will only need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, making folding arm awnings an easily worthwhile upgrade.


The Different Types of Folding Arm Awnings

Folding arm awnings have different brands and models of varying qualities. Also, some functional or aesthetic options will be limited depending on your chosen brand or model, such as the available dimensions and colour options for the awnings.

As mentioned above, the three main models of folding arm awnings are the full cassette awning, the semi cassette awning, and the open style awning. Here’s a full description of each of these models and why you might choose one over the other.

Full Cassette Awning

A full cassette awning is one that’s enclosed or covered when it’s retracted.

Because folding arm awnings need to be able to move, they have mechanical components that project outwards to open up the awning. These mechanics are always visible when extended, but many people find this part of the awning unattractive. Therefore, when the awning isn’t in use, the full cassette models are able to hide their mechanical parts to appear more aesthetically pleasing.


Why choose a full cassette awning?

Because of their design, the mechanical section of full cassette awnings is more protected from the elements. This makes them a good choice for durability. Their capacity to hide the mechanics of the folding arms also makes full cassette awnings the perfect aesthetic choice. Those with a keen eye for details will appreciate this functionality. This also makes them the best choice for locations in which visual design is very important. .However, full cassette awnings also have their limitations. For example, some models can only be mounted on the extreme ends of the awning, which restricts where they can be installed. Of course, other models do have more flexibility in where they can be mounted, so this may influence which full cassette model you would require.

As there’s a bit more going on with the full cassette models, they’re more expensive than the semi cassette and open style awnings.

With any model, you need to be careful that you’re paying for a high-quality product. As there are some low-quality full cassette folding arm awnings entering the Australian market, it’s essential to stick with trusted brands that have delivered high-quality awnings for years.


Semi Cassette Awning

Semi cassette awnings function similarly to full cassette awnings, working to at least partially cover their mechanical parts when they’re not in use. Generally, they’ll have an extruded aluminium hood or pelmet along with a broadly shaped front rail. Depending on the model, these front rails can go so far as to cover the mechanical components, giving it a nearly full cassette look.


Why choose a semi cassette awning?

Semi cassettes are an attractive choice and work as a less expensive option for design-sensitive locations. Moreover, the fabric trays on semi cassettes are superior to those on other folding arm awnings, making them the strongest and most wind-tolerant models available. However, that’s only true for the semi cassettes that have fabric trays incorporated, as it’s possible to purchase models without. We would suggest buying the models with the fabric trays, as those are of higher quality than the ones without.

On top of that, some semi cassette awnings allow you to adjust the angle of the awning, improving its sun protection early in the mornings or late in the evenings.

As with any other model, there are dimension and colour limits to what’s available. Knowing where you intend to install a folding arm awning and what kind of design you’re looking for will help narrow down which model you would want.


Open Style Awning

As you may be able to guess at this point, an open style awning is one that doesn’t bother hiding the workings of the folding arms. These awnings provide a more traditional look and are a great option for older homes. However, models with sleek trims and contemporary colours are available if you want one to complement your modern-style building.


Why choose an open style awning?

As there isn’t as much going on with these folding arm awnings, they are the least costly choice. But don’t think they’re your worst option just because they’re the cheapest! These awnings come in a nice variety of styles and colours that work well to elevate your space. Especially in the cases of a backyard, courtyard, or terrace, there isn’t a need to go all-out on the semi or full cassette models.

Many of these models, offer custom colourisation to really make this the perfect addition to your home or building. As with some semi cassette models, plenty of the open style models allow you to adjust the pitch of the awning to improve performance at different times of the day.


Automate Your Setup!

While only some models of folding arm awnings can be manually operated, all of these awnings can be motorised. This means you can easily have technology applied to your folding arm awning to make operating it much easier and more convenient. Implement voice commands and smartphone operation technology to maximise convenience. Even protective products such as wind sensors, motion sensors, rain sensors, and timers can be included to ensure your awning is retracted as soon as necessary.


What About Retractable Awnings?

Retractable awnings are similar to folding arm awnings, but they’re not quite the same. The primary difference is that the retractable roof system has a permanent frame on which the fabric extends and retracts. Unlike the folding arm awning, these systems are waterproof and wind-resistant. Some models even offer a gutter and downpipe option to ensure your outdoor space remains dry in wet weather.

Retractable awnings are a perfect all-weather outdoor living solution, while folding arm awnings are ideal shade solutions. Which one is best for you depends on how you intend to use your outdoor living space.

When correctly done, a high-quality folding arm awning will increase the value of your building and improve your usable space.

Undercover Blinds & Awnings has been an industry leader for 40 years and counting, and we know our stuff. We’ll be able to give you the ins and outs of different brands, including actual sizing limitations (some brands will say they can go bigger than they really can). Most importantly, we can customise the awning that will benefit your structure the most.

To learn more about Folding Arm and Retractable Awnings speak to our team at Turnerarc.


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