Awnings Vs. Canopies: Which Is Right for You?

An awning on a patio with a view of a lake.

Wait a minute — aren’t they the same? And don’t awnings have canopies? It’s enough to make your head explode.

But awnings and canopies are different things that serve different purposes.

Awnings Vs. Canopies: The Differences


  • Awnings are permanent or semi-permanent structures attached to a building’s exterior. They consist of a frame with a cover made of fabric or metal. Awnings can be retractable or fixed.
  • Canopies are more like portable tents. They have a frame and a fabric cover designed to be set up and taken down quickly. Canopies are free-standing structures.


  • Awnings protect you from the sun and rain. They’re often installed above windows, doors, or outdoor spaces to create a shaded area.
  • Canopies provide temporary shade for outdoor events, picnics, trade shows, farmer’s markets, and various activities.

Installation & Portability

  • Awnings typically require professional installation. They’re securely attached to a building and can’t be moved.
  • Canopies are designed for easy setup and mobility. They can be assembled and disassembled by people without special skills.


  • Awnings can be customized in terms of design, material, and color to match the aesthetics of the building or outdoor space.
  • Canopies are available in various sizes and styles, but customization options are limited compared to awnings.

Scope & Size

Awnings are generally smaller and more compact. The building they’re attached to dictates their size. However, some awnings can stretch across broad outdoor seating or dining areas.

Canopy sizes vary dramatically. They can be as small as a 10x10ft tent for personal use or large enough to cover an outdoor wedding reception. Pop-up canopies, or pit tents in motorsport shows, are a familiar sight at sporting events and trade shows.

Sun Control

Awnings provide consistent shade. They keep a space cool and protect furnishings from harmful UV rays. Once installed, they don’t need adjustment. They’re all set to do their job.

On the flip side, canopies offer a more flexible solution for sun control. You can move them to different locations as needed. A canopy in your garden gives you instant shade for an impromptu picnic or an outdoor reading session.

Unlike awnings, canopies require periodic adjustments as the sun moves across the sky. While they may not offer the same level of UV protection for indoor spaces, their adaptability makes them an asset for outdoor events.

Rain Protection

Here, awnings take the prize. Since they attach directly to the building and are made with durable materials, they shield your windows, doors, or outdoor spaces from downpours. Their angled covers prevent water pooling.

Canopies use lighter materials and are not attached to a building, making them less effective in heavy rain. However, they offer some protection during light showers or drizzles.


Awnings are designed to withstand the elements, be it rain, sun, or snow. They’re made from robust materials like metal and heavy-duty fabric. A well-maintained awning can last for well over a decade.

Canopies are lightweight and portable, designed to be set up and taken down quickly. They may not stand up as well to harsh weather conditions over time. But if stored properly when not in use, a good quality canopy can serve you well for many years.

Cost Comparison

Cost is often a significant factor in the awnings vs canopies debate. Awnings, particularly custom-made ones, are more expensive upfront but add value to your property. Canopies are budget-friendly, making them the preferred choice for short-term needs.

Which Is Right for You?

If you want permanent sun and rain protection and are willing to invest more upfront, awnings may be the way to go. On the other hand, if mobility, versatility, and budget are overriding concerns, canopies might be the better choice.

Talk to us at Aero Shade. We’ve been in the awnings business for 50+ years and know their ins and outs, their pros and cons. It’s not about choosing between awnings or canopies — it’s about finding the right solution for you. All consultations are free. Call us today.

FAQs: Awnings Vs. Canopies

Q: Are awnings suitable for residential use?

Awnings are a fantastic choice for residential use. They offer elegance and sun protection, making your outdoor space more comfortable.

Q: Can I install a canopy by myself?

Canopies are known for their ease of installation. Most come with straightforward instructions for hassle-free setup.

Q: Do awnings require professional maintenance?

While not mandatory, professional maintenance can extend the life of your awning. Regular cleaning and inspections can prevent issues.

Q: Can I use a canopy during windy conditions?

We don’t recommend using canopies in strong winds. They’re designed for mild weather conditions.

Q: Which is more budget-friendly: awnings or canopies?

Canopies are typically cheaper, making them an excellent choice for those on a tight budget.

Q: Can I customize the color and design of my awning?

You can customize the color, design, and material of your awning to match your preferences.

Q: How long does it take to install an awning?

It depends on the size and type of awning and the location. Professional installation can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. DIY installation may take longer.

Q: Can awnings increase the value of my property?

High-quality awnings can add curb appeal and value to your property. They also provide additional outdoor living space, which attracts potential buyers.

However, this may vary based on the specific market and location.

Q: Are any additional features or upgrades available for awnings and canopies?

Both awnings and canopies have options for additional features like motorized operation, LED lighting, and side curtains. Contact us at Aero Shade for more information on customization.