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What Is the Difference Between an Awning and a Canopy?

What Is the Difference Between an Awning and a Canopy?
Wait—there’s a difference? Absolutely!
The words awning and canopy are often used interchangeably, but the fact is that they are two different structures used in different ways to solve slightly different problems.


The basic difference is actually very simple: An awning is attached to a building—in this case your house—while a canopy is free standing. Canopies generally need no other support and are mounted simply on the ground.

Advantages of a Canopy

Canopies have a number of advantages:
  1. You have more flexibility where you place the canopy, and can take into account aesthetics and when your patio gets the most sun. You can use a canopy to cover a patio or seating area that is a distance from your house.
  2. Canopies are cheaper – often a lot cheaper. A canopy will run you less than $1,000, depending on its size, whilst some awnings can be several thousand dollars.
  3. Canopies are easier to install, and thus can be DIY’d or will take less time and thus less money to install.
  4. Canopies can handle higher winds than awnings, including retractable canopies. You may be able to leave your canopy extended in winds of up to 80 mph. Check with your vendor on the exact limits for your type of canopy.
  5. Canopies can be larger, with some reaching 21 ft long and 30 ft wide. This means they are vital if you hold a lot of parties.
  6. You can disassemble and store your canopy if it is in the way or at the end of the season.
  7. Smaller canopies are portable; you can take them with you to a sporting event, party, or when camping.

Advantages of an Awning

If canopies are so much cheaper, then why would you spend the money on an awning? The answer is that there are a number of advantages to an awning:
  1. Awnings also shade the interior of your home. Particularly in hot and bright environments, an awning can reduce furniture fading. They can even lower your air conditioning bill, and, in some climates, with that savings an awning will pay for themselves.
  2. Because a retractable awning can easily be retracted, it’s less likely to be damaged by high winds and weather. You can even get smart awnings that sense sun, rain, and wind and extend or retract on their own.
  3. Awnings never get in the way and you don’t need to disassemble them for the season or because you need to use the space in another way.
  4. Awnings protect your windows and patio doors from water damage, if you get the right kind; some awnings are designed for shade, and some more for rain protection. Talk to your installer about the exact type of awning you need.
  5. Being permanent, awnings have a greater positive impact on the resale value of your home.
Both canopies and awnings can provide shade and/or rain protection to an outdoor seating area, making it more useful. They help you extend your living space into the outside. Which you need depends on your lifestyle and the configuration of your house, patio, and yard. For example, if you have a pool with a large patio area on its far side, you will be best served by a canopy. Meanwhile, if you have a high A/C bill in the summer, the extra sun blocking power of an awning may be well worth the cost.


You should talk to a specialist vendor about installation (although you may be able to assemble and disassemble a canopy on your own, it does take some practice and you should get the vendor to show you how the first time) and whether you need an awning or a canopy. Patio Covers of Idaho can also help you work out exactly what kind of protection you need and what product will best serve your household.

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