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Frequently Asked Questions about Patio Awnings
What is the function of a patio awning?
Dating back to the Victorian times, patio awnings are developed and designed for use as a sun protection product, to provide shade to both the area underneath and adjoining internal room from the suns intense heat and bright light along with protection to the skin against damaging ultraviolet rays.
Additionally patio awnings prevent fixtures and furnishings internally from bleaching along with eliminating glare on tv / computer screens by diffusing incoming light. A further benefit is privacy is provided from overlooking neighbouring buildings and a new dimension and design element is added to the façade.
What size patio awning do I need?
The width and depth (projection – arm size) of a patio awning are vital to it serving the function it is required for. As a general rule of thumb, patio awnings should be sized as follows:
This should ideally be an absolute minimum of 500mm wider each side of the patio doors and/or windows the patio awning is going over. So for a 2.4m wide set of French Doors, the minimum patio awning width should ideally be 3.4m. This will help to ensure as the sun moves around the property, shading is offered under some of the patio awning as well as to the adjoining internal room.
Depth (Projection – Arm Size)
If the patio awning is going to be used to create an outdoor dining / entertaining area, ideally the projection should be 3m or greater to help ensure everyone sitting around a good sized table remains protected. For internal shading, a smaller projection should be adequate.
Remember the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, with temperatures reaching their highest level around noon and the sun’s damaging UV rays strongest between the hours of 10am – 3pm. The sun is lower in the winter but rises earlier and sets later in the summer. Make sure you check the movement of the sun around your property, see how trees, objects and other structures (fences) affect how the sun’s shadow falls on your patio area and adjoining internal room.
What pitch should my patio awning be set at?
The angle of our patio awnings is fully adjustable from as shallow as 5 degrees upto as steep as 38 degrees. The angle the patio awning will be set at will ultimately depend on the required front profile (walk under) height and the available mounting space on the wall. The steeper the angle and lower the front profile, the greater the sun protection offered to both the terrace and adjoining internal room when the sun is overhead.
Typically we will install (subject to mounting height and required front profile height) our patio awnings with a minimum pitch of 14 degrees as this is the required pitch to ensure they can be used for light rain shower shelter too.
Can my patio awning be used for rain protection too?
Whilst patio awnings are designed for use as a sun protection product, providing they have a pitch of 14 degrees or greater, as set out in European standard EN13561, they can be used for occasional light rain shower protection too, as this pitch (or greater) ensures rainwater will run straight off and not pool on the material. The below measurements detail the fall (drop) of a patio awning (from bottom of the patio awning to underside of the lead rail) set at 14 degrees over its depth, for rain shower shelter.
- 1.5m proj = 38cm drop
- 2.0m proj = 50cm drop
- 2.5m proj = 63cm drop
- 3.0m proj = 75cm drop
- 3.5m proj = 94cm drop
- 3.75m proj = 100cm drop
Patio awnings with a wet fabric (used in rain) should be allowed to dry out first before you retract them, however, if the fabric is rolled away wet (ie the rain is persistent) the patio awning should be opened up at the next available opportunity to allow the fabric to dry out and to help minimise any rippling and waviness in the material. Continuous use of a patio awning in rain showers will affect the look and appearance of the fabric.
How do I clean the fabric on my patio awning?
Our patio awning fabrics are impregnated with the most advanced TEXgard invisible protective shield around each individual fibre which creates a surface structure similar to the microstructure found on a lotus leaf. Closely arranged NANO chemistry carbon fluoride chains prevent dirt and water from clinging to the fabric surface generating a self cleaning effect. Loose dirt will still accumulate on the surface but when it rains (and you’re guaranteed that in the UK) the dirt is washed off, leaving a clean, dry fabric.
Substances, such as birds mess and tree sap which ‘stick’ to the fabric should be hosed off immediately to avoid any damage to the protective coating and for dried on sticky debris a sponge and mild soapy (circa 2% acidic) water solution should be used to clean it off, which then should be rinsed with clean water to ensure that no soapy remnants stay behind on the material.
How much wind will my patio awning withstand?
Our patio awnings are built to withstand fresh – strong breezes (dependent on version) and the occasional gusts of wind, however, they are not designed to be left out in gale force wind speeds (greater than 30mph) or adverse weather conditions of any description including hale, snow, frost, thunderstorms, lightening etc. The fabric on our patio awnings should be still, occasionally moving with light breezes but if it is flapping around and the mechanism is flexing this is a sign that it should be immediately retracted.
As a general rule of thumb, if you feel comfortable sitting under a patio awning, without being blown off your chair or sitting in a windproof jacket, the patio awning should be perfectly fine but if you are in any doubt always retract your patio awning away, ideally before high wind speeds or extreme weather is expected as even retracting a patio awning away during high winds or the start of for example a snow shower can cause damage.
And under no circumstances should anything be hung from patio awnings (even string lighting) and be sure when retracting your patio awning that there are no foreign objects in the way (ie small broken twigs sitting on the fabric) or allowed to roll within the fabric / cassette.
Why do awning fabrics ripple?
Our patio awning fabrics are high performance materials designed to provide both a functional and decorative role, however, despite meeting the highest European standards and laboratory tests, they can only be manufactured to a limited degree of perfection even with today’s state of the art machinery.
Waviness and rippling occurs both around the seams (where the panels of fabric are joined – every 1.2m) and along the side hems (where the fabric is folded on the sides) due to the arrangement of the made up patio awning fabric, with double layers / thicknesses of material where the fabric is joined (seams) and where it is folded (side hems). This results in the fabric assuming two different diameters around the rollertube.
The tension put on the fabric by the spring loaded folding arms causes the areas where there are double thicknesses of material (seam, side hems) to press down harder on each other resulting in waviness and rippling immediately adjacent to the seams / side hems. This effect also occurs in the centre of the panel when water is allowed to gather on the fabric forming a trough of water in the material, along with use of patio awnings in windy conditions, which puts additional pressure and strain on the fabric seams and hems.
This particular natural characteristic is more noticeable on plain (solid) coloured patio awning fabrics with mid-dark fabrics including warm reds, royal blues, forest greens etc the most noticeable. Striped patio awning fabrics tend not to highlight this characteristic as much due to the varied colours of the stripes which ‘hide’ to a degree the waviness / rippling that occurs with all patio awning fabrics.
Does my patio awning need to be serviced?
Our patio awnings have been constructed in such a way that the only maintenance required is a little TLC by you from time to time. Corrosion resistant aluminium profiles and stainless steel components featured on our patio awnings do not rust. Integrated motors concealed within the fabric barrel stay protected from the elements and the unique NANO technology coating featured on our materials prevents the impregnation of dirt and other environmental influences in the fabric.
However, to keep your patio awning looking like new and to ensure it keeps protecting you we would suggest that both the fabric and hardware (metalwork) is hosed down (garden hose) a minimum of every 3 months to remove any loose dirt, with more stubborn stains (ie birds mess / tree sap) which should be cleaned off immediately, removed using a sponge and warm soapy water (max 2% acidic).
When cleaning your patio awning never use any abrasive cleaners, rough cloths (ie scourers) or stiff brushes as this will damage the protective coatings to both the fabric and hardware.
Will my patio awning fabric fade over time?
Our patio awning materials are produced from 100% spun dyed acrylic fibres. This simply means that as the acrylic fibres are spun into yarn, they are dyed in a chemical bath to give them their colour. This solution dying (also referred to as dip dying) process colours the fibre all the way through to the core, locking it in the fibre to ensure the colour remains true and brilliant over the life cycle of the patio awning fabric.
This means on a striped patio awning fabric, the pattern is not simply printed on top, it is made up of thousands of yarns that are woven in specific positions to create that specific design.
Our materials are all tested on the blue-scale which measures their colour fastness. All of our premium patio awning materials are rated a maximum 7-8 / 8 on the blue-scale thanks to the solution dying process which means they will never fade over their lifetime and even beyond that they will not fade visibly to the naked eye.
Think of the colours in our patio awning fabrics a bit like a carrot. A carrot is orange on the outside and when you cut it in half its orange all the way through, the same as the colour in our solution dyed patio awning fabric fibre.
Why do you use cable not chain tensioned arms?
Our patio awnings feature 2 (or more) folding arms with internal springs. These springs are stretched (put under tension) when they are folded back and therefore want to push the patio awning open so they can return to their natural (unstretched) positions. This is what extends the patio awning when the motor is operated and what ensures the fabric stays taut at every position.
There are two key ways to tension the springs within a folding arm, via either a chain (similar to a bike) or tear resistant stainless steel cables. Whilst both methods of tensioning the springs can put the same tension on the fabric, there is one big difference – the weakest link.
In cable tensioned folding arms, the tension the springs create is spread throughout the entire length of the intertwined stainless steel cable, with the cable directly connecting and looping around the end of the spring, returning back on itself.
On a chain tensioned arm, the tension the springs create is put on the links between each section of the chain, with the highest pressure on the first link, meaning the arm is only as good as the weakest link.
All our patio awnings feature cable tensioned arms using 2-44no. heavy duty tear resistant stainless cables for optimum tension, which are sheathed, so if the patio awning is used only part open they are visually pleasing to the eye.
Can obstructions be overcome?
As well as our standard range of fixing brackets for mounting our patio awnings direct face fix to the façade or top fix to an overhang such as soffit, we design and manufacture our own bespoke fixing brackets to overcome all types of obstacles and fixing limitations, so whether there is a fixed soil pipe in the middle of the location where you require a patio awning, your property wall is staggered or there is no space above your doors/windows to install a patio awning, we have the skills and expertise to design and install a custom fixing solution specifically for your application.
What does the CE marking on patio awnings mean?
The CE marking is a declaration by the manufacturer (in this instance us – Caribbean Blinds UK Ltd), that their products meet all the appropriate provisions of the relevant legislation implementing certain European directives. It is a form of safety tests to give the purchaser peace of mind that the product they are purchasing meets high levels of safety and quality standards and are fit for purpose.
All patio awnings must carry the CE marking to show they meet minimum standards as set out in European Directive EN 13561 titled ‘External Blinds – Performance requirements including safety’. There are 19 different sections, however, the key mandatory section is wind resistance. There are 3 classes within the test: Class 1 – Beaufort 4 (17mph) wind resistance, Class 2 – Beaufort 5 (24mph) wind resistance, Class 3 – Beaufort 6 (30mph) wind resistance. The test is carried out by applying weights (which simulate different wind loadings) to the framework of the largest size patio awning within each particular range, releasing them and testing for damage
All our patio awnings have been tested by the renowned independent quality standard body TÜV and certified to either class 2, which equates to a fresh breeze or the highest class 3, a strong breeze.
Do I need planning permission?
In the majority of instances our patio awnings do not require planning permission, as they are retractable and therefore not classed as a permanent structure. If you are in a conservation, green belt or area of outstanding natural beauty you will most likely need to obtain permission, however, other than stipulations / limitations over the colour / finish, planning permission should be granted without problems.
If in any doubt you should always contact your local planning authority or visit the planning portal website: www.planningportal.gov.uk
What guarantee do you provide?
Our patio awnings come with a fully comprehensive 5 year parts and labour guarantee. The guarantee covers the patio awning system including framework, mechanism, fabric and electronics (not including consumables ie transmitter batteries). All accessories; bespoke fixing brackets, lighting strips and heating units come with a 1 year guarantee. As with any product, terms and conditions do apply, for example, we don’t cover fair wear and tear or misuse and our patio awnings need to be cared for and maintained as per the provided operation and maintenance manuals.
Full details available on request and clearly detailed within our quotation documents.
What are your payment terms?
As our patio awnings are all made to order to your exact specification in our UK production facilities located in Suffolk, we ask for a deposit of 50% to commence with manufacture and then the remaining balance is due at completion of installation. Our payment methods include all major credit and debit cards along with bank transfer.
If you place an order with us in your home (or at an exhibition or your place of work) you have a 14 day cooling off period to cancel your order should you change your mind. For this reason, your deposit payment is normally processed on the 15th day after your order is placed, unless you have given us permission to commence work within the cooling off period or placed an order via email or post, in which instance the deposit is taken immediately.