What’s Better, a Patio Cover or an Awning?

For an outdoor living area to live up to its full potential, it has to create an environment that’s perfect for engaging in all your favorite activities, whether it’s wowing the neighbors with your grilling skills, keeping fit with morning Pilates, or getting into the swing of things in your handwoven hammock. And no porch, patio, or deck can do this unless it provides an adequate amount of protection from the elements. Without something overhead, even the most idyllic afternoon can be ruined in the blink of an eye with a special delivery from one of our feathered friends. Falling leaves and branches, excessive heat, blinding glare, and rain can also prompt a hasty retreat inside. The solution is, of course, to add something that provides shade and shelter, and while there are many options to choose from, they fall into two basic categories: fixed-framed structures and retractable awnings. So, what’s better, a patio cover or an awning? Let’s break it down.


Generally speaking, awnings are less expensive than patio covers. This is because awnings are easier to install, so initial labor costs are lower. The materials they’re made from are also cheaper since fabric is more modestly priced than components made of stainless steel, aluminum, wood, or fiberglass—although obviously awning frames are made from various metals. While the cost of adding an awning to your home will be lower, it must be weighed against the economic advantages of a permanent structure, since even the best-made awnings need to be replaced every five to ten years.


Awning fabrics come in a vast array of colors and patterns, with some manufacturers offering hundreds of selections. Patio covers, on the other hand, are usually limited to just a few frame colors, the two most popular being white and beige.  But this is an apples to oranges comparison. Patio frames can be painted to match or complement exterior features. What’s more, they are available in more configurations, including attached and detached models. Awnings can be either fixed or retractable, but they must be attached to the exterior of the home. Freestanding fabric coverings are called shade sails.


When it comes to longevity, patio covers have a clear advantage. Canvas awnings are vulnerable to moisture damage, mold and mildew growth, stains, and tears. Even more durable materials such as acrylic fabrics are still susceptible to algae stains and color fading due to prolonged exposure to the sun. Furthermore, awnings are not designed to handle high wind loads and must be retracted quickly when conditions deteriorate. With their rigid, floor-anchored frames and substantial roofs, patio covers can withstand storms far better than an awning. Premium patio covers can also withstand heavy snow accumulation. That’s something to keep in mind if you live in a region of the country with harsh winters.


An awning can provide ample protection from the sun when extended. It can also keep the rain off you, provided the wind doesn’t pick up. But in blustery conditions, blowing rain can easily soak anything below. And as mentioned above, awnings must be retracted when wind speeds increase. With their sturdy frames, patio covers can be affixed with retractable side screens that lower to create a full enclosure. This provides additional protection not only from blowing rain, but also bugs, glair, and airborne irritants like pollen.


Retractable and fixed awnings require regular maintenance if they are to continue looking good and functioning properly. Cleanings are recommended at least annually, and preferably every six months. That means scrubbing down the fabric with mild cleaners to remove buildup and checking for rips, frays, and other damage. Aluminum-framed patio covers can be cleaned easily with just a quick spray from a garden hose. Consider covers that have an electrostatic finish, since it also resists chipping, scratches, scuffs, and color fading.

If you’re thinking about adding a patio cover to your home in San Diego County, the company to turn to is Pacific Patio. Reach out to us today to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our representatives. We’ve been providing top-rated TEMO patio products to customers since 1989.

Company Logo

Spring Valley, CA

Servicing all San Diego County


Monday - Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: By Appointment
Learn More About Our Outdoor Living Remodels