Retractable Canopy or Awning: What’s the Difference?

Outdoor living is a popular lifestyle trend today. We have a few choices as to how we plan to enjoy our outdoor space either for ourselves, or for entertaining friends and family. For many of us, the biggest concern of outdoor living is the threat of rain showers or an unbearably hot sun. If you are like me, you prefer to be as comfortable outdoors as you are indoors.

The solution for shade and shelter from the elements is a retractable canopy or retractable awning (otherwise known as a roll-out awning). I prefer the retractable canopy for many reasons.


The first is that a retractable awning can only extend about 16 feet maximum (with a required 20 degree slope) from the side of your home. To me, this is like being chained to your house. It limits your entertaining and outdoor living area. A retractable canopy that fits on a pergola type frame can be any size or shape needed and can be designed to fit anywhere on your property. A retractable awning screwed to the side of your house appears to be an afterthought, not well planned for, something you usually see on the side of a mobile home or trailer with a few lawn chairs underneath. This is not what I would consider outdoor living; it is outdoor existing.


The protection that is offered between the two shade solutions creates a massive disparity. While retractable canopies are designed to shed water, retractable awnings will allow water to pool in the middle. Retractable canopies also have an advantage when it comes to withstanding wind, which usually comes paired with rainfall. Retractable canopies are designed to withstand rain and channel the water away from your entertainment area. A retractable canopy on a pergola type frame can also withstand most wind gusts up to 80 MPH when extended and higher winds when retracted. In contrast, retractable awnings are designed to be retracted in the wind.

Value Added

Retractable canopies also add value to your home. They are designed to fit with your homes exterior. Investing in a retractable canopy is like adding an outdoor room at less than one tenth of the cost. The addition of a pergola with a retractable canopy considerably adds more to an outdoor living space than a retractable awning attached to the back or side of your home.

Ultimately, traditional retractable awnings do not offer the flexibility or protection of retractable canopies mounted to a structure. Retractable canopies are an outdoor feature that enables your outdoor living lifestyle to be care free of the weather.