Awnings and Canopies What is the Difference?

Table of Contents

If you’re considering outdoor shading solutions, you’ve probably heard of awnings and canopies. However, many property owners don’t know the difference between the two. Most people incorrectly assume that canopies and awnings are the same.


In truth, these shading solutions operate differently from one another and provide different benefits as a result. Knowing the difference between these two sun-blocking aids can help you make informed decisions when designing your outdoor spaces.


At Sunshades of Pennsylvania, we’re outdoor shade solutions experts specializing in retractable awnings in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. We put together this guide to the differences between awnings and canopies, as well as factors to consider when choosing the best fit for your patio or other outdoor areas.


For more detailed information and answers to your questions, reach out to our staff today.

What Are Awnings?

Awnings are fixed or retractable shade coverings that attach to exterior walls. The primary purpose of an awning is to prevent harsh sunlight from entering a home or business. This targeted shade protects furniture, products, window displays, and other valuables from the damaging effects of concentrated light.


Manufacturers construct awnings using various materials, including metal, wood, canvas, and more. In most cases, awnings are customizable to match a home or business’s architecture, design scheme, and other preferences.


A retractable awning can be motorized or hand-operated. Motorized retractable awnings typically carry a higher price tag but are easier to operate.

What Are Canopies?

Canopies are free-standing shade coverings. This type of coverage is usually collapsible, but some homes and businesses build permanent canopies to shade an area. In most cases, canopies are temporary fixtures used for a one-time event or to cover pop-up outdoor seating.


Like awnings, canopies come in various materials, sizes, and colors. Buyers can customize their canopies to fit a theme, color scheme, or other preferences.

awnings and canopies

Canopies are not motorized because they do not permanently attach to a building. You must manually construct the canopy for each use.


What Is the Difference Between Awnings and Canopies?

The primary differences between canopies and awnings involve their installation and use.


Canopies are free-standing coverings, often lifted on poles or other temporary structures. In contrast, awnings attach to exterior walls and are more permanent structures. For this reason, awnings are typically smart investments for business owners with permanent outdoor areas or homeowners who regularly entertain outdoors. Canopies are better suited for emergency seating needs and one-time events.

Key Considerations in Making a Decision

If you’re considering outdoor shade solutions, you may be wondering which option is the best choice. When choosing, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind. For more help selecting the best outdoor covering for your needs, speak to a professional today.


The most important thing to consider when choosing between canopies and awnings is the purpose you want the covering to serve. Are you looking for shade for a one-time event, or are you in need of permanent, dependable outdoor space coverings?


Next, consider the size you’re going to need. Retractable awnings come in different sizes, suitable for everything from small window overhangs to larger outdoor dining spaces.


Motorized retractable awnings make covering large spaces a breeze, but they have their limits. If you’re trying to provide shade for a very large area or a space without any adjacent walls, one or more canopies might be the only option available.


Purchasing a custom-fit awning is the best way to ensure that the covering will fit your space perfectly. Speak to a professional to determine if retractable awnings in Pittsburgh are suitable for your needs.

Aesthetic Appeal

Another critical element to keep in mind is the overall aesthetic appeal you want your outdoor area to have. Both awnings and canopies are fully customizable, offering a wide selection of materials, prints, colors, and other choices to help property owners create the ideal outdoor space.


Awnings and canopies have different levels of flexibility. Awnings are typically permanent fixtures and will change how your outdoor space looks even when retracted. Alternatively, you can completely disassemble canopies, allowing for a different level of flexibility and customization of an outdoor area.

Get a Quote for an Awning at Sunshades of Pennsylvania

At Sunshades of Pennsylvania, we understand the value of a beautiful, well-shaded outdoor recreation or business space. We have over 30 years of experience providing customers with quality outdoor shade solutions, including motorized retractable awnings in Pittsburgh, PA, and surrounding areas.

Sunshades of PA Logo

To find more information about shading solutions, get answers to your questions, or request a retractable awning quote, contact Sunshades of Pennsylvania today.


Call or text (412) 7902-520  or fill out our convenient web form to get started on your outdoor project involving retractable awnings in Pittsburgh.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *