Last updated on March 19th, 2021
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Is your patio umbrella getting in the way of your garden furniture? Do you all have to huddle close under it for a bit of shade? Maximise your outdoor space and bring the indoors outside with a garden awning. Awnings protect you and your home from the sun’s rays and from light showers. They also enhance the visual appeal of your home and garden. Living outside surrounded by your delightful garden is too good an experience to pass up.
In our Best Garden Awnings review we look at manual or electric awnings. Choosing between these is your first decision. We discuss each awning and list its pros and cons. We finish each section with a summary and indicate why we recommend that product.
Our Buyer’s Guide provides additional information about awnings in general, highlighting your options for the different features. Our FAQ section answers the most commonly asked questions. We then wrap everything up in our Final Conclusion.
Our Best Pick of the garden awnings is the Greenbay DIY Patio Retractable Manual Awning. This awning comes in a variety of sizes though we review the 3.0m by 2.5m model. It’s a manually retractable awning that has a sun- and water-resistant canopy. This is probably the best choice for most people, a mix quality and affordability.
The Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning is the Runner-up for our Best Awnings review and it’s also our Best Electric awning. It comes with a remote control and the canopy adjusts by up to 30 degrees to provide shade wherever the sun is. Looking for something a little more hands-off, this is well worth considering.
Top 10 Best Garden Awnings Reviews
1. Greenbay Patio Retractable Manual Awning (Available in many sizes)
The Greenbay DIY Patio Retractable Manual Awning is an awning that has many of the features that you need. (See our Buyer’s Guide). The awning we looked at is 3m by 2.5m which is a standard size and covers a large dining table and its chairs or a few sun loungers but there are other sizes available.
The weight of the fabric of the canopy is 300gm2 which is found on most other awnings. The polyester is UV coated for sun protection and will keep off light rain so the cloth is as waterproof as they come. All of these elements combine to make this canopy long-lasting. As well as the size of awning that we review here, you can choose from a variety of other sizes depending on the area you want to be shaded as already mentioned.
- Manually retractable awning with crank handle on the left side.
- Comes with two brackets to attach awning to a concrete or brick wall.
- Awning is 3m by 2.5m for a significant amount of shade.
- Additional sizes are available to fit your patio whatever it’s size.
- Torsion bar and aluminium roller are already fitted making the awning more durable.
- UV-coated water-resistant 300gm2 polyester fabric for summer sun and rain.
- 1-year warranty for peace of mind.
- Canopy is not fully waterproof in heavy rain although this is expected as most models have this issue.
The Greenbay DIY Patio Retractable Manual Awning is a solid and durable manual awning. As with most other awnings the crank winding handle is on the left side. This awning comes with two brackets to attach it to an outside wall but large versions do have 3 brackets too. We only really recommend putting this onto a solid concrete or brick wall. However, if you’re putting the awning on a wall of Thermolite or lightweight block, make the hold stronger by using chemical anchor or it may not hold.
Reviewers online have some concerns about the Greenbay DIY Patio Retractable Manual Awning. Some have complained that, even though it’s a relatively heavy polyester, the fabric of the canopy is more flimsy than they might be expected and fades in the sun. (See the Buyer’s Guide for information about the features of the most popular canopy fabrics.)
We’ve chosen the Greenbay DIY Patio Retractable Manual Awning as the best retractable awning for these features, especially it’s choice of sizes and for its affordable price. Although it does have a few complaints here and there, so do all other awnings we have reviewed and this is most certainly one of the best which is why it was named our best pick. A good quality model which is well worth considering.
2. Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning
Unlike the other awnings in this review, the Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning is not a manual awning. It’s powered by electricity and you just press a button to open or close it. Or you can use the remote control which is super handy (included). The cassette/canopy box contains the internal electric control box already so you don’t have to worry about the electrics when you install the awning. Just run the cable to an inside plug socket or outdoor waterproof socket, plug it in and you’re ready to go. Couldn’t be easier, much easier than they use to be to install.
The awning is 3.0m by 2.5m which is a standard size for most awnings. The canopy is made of 300gm2 polyester. This fabric is coated with a UV finish for a sun protection factor of 50+ that blocks 98% of the sunlight. You won’t have to worry about being sunburned under this awning and for an electric awning the fabric is as thick as they come at 300g. You can keep in the shade by adjusting the angle of the canopy. The front of the canopy lowers by up to 30 degrees and while this makes the area of shade a little smaller, you are still covered wherever the sun is.
The Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning has a 30-day return guarantee and a two-year warranty which is a good warranty for an awning as most come with 1 year.
- Retractable electric awning with an internal control box so the control box is well protected.
- Fully remote controlled to operate the awning from a distance; also has a manual opening handle.
- Easy electric installation, just run the power cord to a suitable socket and plug it in.
- Crank handle to open it manually if the motor has problems.
- Awning is 3.0m by 2.5m and provides more than enough shade for a garden dining set.
- Canopy is made from 300gm2 UV 50+ polyester to block out 98% of UV rays.
- Adjustable canopy lowers up to 30 degrees for shade anytime.
- 2 years warranty for full peace of mind.
- Could do with better bolts as the ones supplied are a little debatable, however, most people have not had issues.
- The instructions are aa little hard to read.
- Comes without a plug.
The Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning is easy to install an is a great alternative to a standard manual awning. As well as the regular installation process of attaching the brackets to your outside wall and fitting the canopy cassette, all you have to do for the electrics is to fit the plug and plug it in, as simple as that. A remote control for the system is included along with a crank winding handle for manual operation which is always handy just in case.
Online reviewers report that the bolts supplied with the awning aren’t strong enough to hold it but this seems to be a common complaint with all models we did research on. If you’re in doubt, it’s best if you supply you own bolts for the extra few pounds. (This is a frequent complaint for awnings in general.) You also have to provide a plug to fit on the power cable, would be nice to come with one but I assume this is in case you connect directly to a fused spur rather than using a plug. Installation would be easier if the font used in the instructions was larger too.
The Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning is the Runner-up in our review and the Best Electric Awning. We chose it for its convenience and features, including the UV 50+ protection it gives.
We recommend this awning if you like the convenience and minimal effort along with your shade.
3. Primrose 3.0m Manual Awning
The Primrose 3.0m Manual Awning has most of the features of more expensive manual models. It’s retractable and you use the crank winding handle on the left side of the canopy to open and close the canopy. The awning is the standard 3m by 2.5m which should cover a sizeable part of your patio. The canopy is made from 300gm2 polyester with a protective UV coating, plus it’s also waterproof. Its 50+ sun protection factor stops 98% of the UV rays from reaching you if you’re in its shade. Whatever the weather you will comfortable under the canopy.
If you need to move the shaded area to keep out of the sun, the front of the canopy can be lowered anywhere from 10 degrees to (a steep) 35 degrees. Starting at 10 degrees means that the canopy isn’t totally horizontal after installation. You can also use this feature in rain to let the water run off the awning.
- Retractable manual awning with a winder handle on the left side opens the awning smoothly.
- Size is 3m by 2.5m for shade for the whole family.
- Canopy is made from 300gm2 polyester that is waterproof and has 50+ UV protection for your comfort.
- Aluminium arms are powder coated for durability.
- Adjustable from almost horizontal (10 degrees) to downwards 35 degrees for sun protection whatever the season.
- Clean awning with a sponge and soapy water for easy removable of stains and dust.
- 2 year warranty for full peace of mind.
The Primrose 3.0m Manual Awning is similar to the Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning but it’s manually operated. This 3m by 2.5m awning is easy to clean with a sponge and soapy water. Your awning will always look great. The water and sun-proof coatings on the 300gm2 polyester also help in keeping this awning fresh.
Online reviewers make the usual awnings complaint that the included wall plugs and expansion bolts are not strong enough to fit the brackets to the wall and counterbalance the weight of the open awning. If you’re in doubt we recommend that you buy your own fittings from the hardware store such as B&Q. In addition, reviewers have reported that the canopy isn’t as resistant to water as they expected but again this is a common complaint with nearly all awning.
We recommend the Primrose 3.0m Manual Awning if you need a manual awning that keeps most of the sun off you and is a great alternative to our best pick.
4. Costway 3m x 2.5m Manual Awning
The Costway 3m x 2.5m Manual Awning is another retractable manual awning that has useful features. You operate it in the usually way by turning the beige winding handle that hangs down on the left side of the canopy. The canopy measures 3m by 2.5m. The standard size in awnings. This is large enough to provide shade for your outdoor lunch dining. The manufacturers state that the 300gm2 polyester canopy is UV resistant and that it’s 100% water resistant. This means that little sun and no rain make it through the canopy to you below. The only thing to note that it’s water-resistant, not waterproof so heavy rain will get through the fabric.
The canopy is adjustable to 45 degrees below the horizontal position. This makes more of a slant than the other awnings we review here, maybe providing a little more shade. Slanting the canopy will keep out the sun when it’s lower in the sky as well as let the water runoff more easily. This Costway manual awning is delivered with the canopy adjusted to the optimal angle.
- Retractable manual awning comes with a steel winding handle for easy operation (left side; beige).
- Size is 3m by 2.5 metres of cool shade.
- Frame is white powder aluminium coated for a lightweight and durable awning.
- Canopy is of 300gm2 polyester that’s 100% water resistant and UV-coated to keep most of the sun out.
- Adjustable canopy from horizontal to 45 degrees for daylong shade.
- Doesn’t have a cassette/box to go into when retracted.
- Not easy to change the angle of the awning.
- Not enough instructions for some parts of the installation.
The Costway 3m x 2.5m Manual Awning has a white powder-coated frame made of aluminium for strength and durability. It won’t rust if the powder coating isn’t scratched which is a plus. The canopy is sun-resistant and 100% water-resistant so you don’t need a dull dry day to sit out in your garden buts it worth mentioning it will leak in heavy rain.
There isn’t a canopy box for it to roll into which some people may not like. When you close the canopy it rolls onto the pole and the last part of the roll sits in the open. The sun may fade the exposed part of the canopy and rain may cause mildew to form if it’s left closed for a long time.
We recommend the Costway 3m x 2.5m Manual Awning if you like to be outdoors in any kind of weather and its well worth considering.
5. Outsunny 3 x 2.5m Manual Patio Awning
The Outsunny 3 x 2.5m DIY Manual Patio Awning is a manually retractable awning that handles all weathers. The 280gm2 polyester canopy is showerproof and coated with UV protection but is slightly thinner than other models in this review that are 300gm2.
This awning is the usual size of 3m by 2.5m which provides shade for a few sun loungers or a dining table. The canopy is easily removable for winter storage or if you go away. At an additional cost, you can buy a storage bag for this awning. Your canopy won’t accumulate dust and grime in the garage or shed.
The canopy is adjustable to block out the sun at any time of day. Adjust the canopy by between 5 degrees and an impressive 45 degrees. Use the 45-degree angle if you’re still on the patio when the sun is becoming low in the sky.
Installation is straightforward if you have someone helping you. If you get confused, watch the video demo on the manufacturer’s website which is a nice idea if you don’t know where to start.
- Manually retractable awning with a 1.5m winding handle for ease of operation.
- Size is 3m by 2.5m for ample shade for your family or friends.
- Showerproof, sun proof and made from 280gm2 polyester for sun and light rain.
- Awning is easily removable for storage during the winter.
- Installation can be done by two people so you don’t need to hire professional installers.
- Warranty is a two-year for peace of mind.
- Mixed reviews about whether this awning is easy or difficult to install.
The Outsunny 3 x 2.5m DIY Manual Patio Awning is showerproof and has a UV protection coating. This manually retractable awning needs two people to install it as do most models but there’s an online video to help which most other don’t provide. The awning comes with a two-year warranty in case anything breaks or goes wrong which is another plus.
We didn’t find many online reviews that critiqued the Waltons 3 x 2.5m DIY Manual Patio Awning. However, there was a discussion about whether or not this awning is difficult to install. The DIYers with the correct tools seemed to install it easily. People unused to DIY work and those who didn’t have the correct drill bit found it more difficult but this could probably be said for all awning.
We recommend the Waltons 3 x 2.5m DIY Manual Patio Awning for those who stay on their patio late in the day.
This Buyer’s Guide contains information about awnings in general and explanations of their specific features to be aware of.
Awnings are usually folding devices with a roll of fabric as the canopy. Their main purpose is to shade parts of a building or the ground, perhaps on a patio. Awnings can protect you from sunburn and keep you dry. If they’re installed outside a window, they shade that room. This helps the environment as you may not need to use an air conditioner in that room. The shade they throw also protects your carpet and furniture from fading. Awnings also contribute to the outside décor of your home and of the exterior space.
Types of awnings
This review looks at retractable awnings. These are the ones that you roll up when not in use or in a high wind or rainstorm.
The two main types of retractable awnings are standalone ones and those you attach to an outside wall of your home which our reviews focused on. (There are also standalone models that attach to a built structure). Both kinds are retractable (open and close). You can place a standalone awning anywhere in your garden as long as the ground is reasonably flat. For attaching an awning to a wall, be sure that it’s strong enough to hold the weight of the awning. Brick or concrete walls will work.
Awnings attached to a wall can be manually expanded and retracted or you can purchase one that opens and closes electrically. You may be able to get a remote control with this awning so you can be farther away in the garden and operate the canopy. Manual awnings on your home need you to open and close them by turning a crank winding handle that hangs down the side, (usually on the left as you face your home).
Standalone awnings have manual controls to roll out the canopy. If the frame is shaped like an upside down V, you may be able to roll out the canopy on each side separately.
For all retractable awnings, the amount of drop is how far you can lower the canopy at the front. It’s measured in degrees and means that your shade can follow the sun.
The frame of an awning is usually made out of plastic, aluminium, or stainless steel. Aluminium and steel may be powder coated to protect the metal from the environment.
The most commonly used material for awnings is fabric. Here are the most commonly used fabric.
Acrylic is mostly used as a protective coating for other fabrics. If acrylic is made into a full canopy, it’s easy to maintain and it holds its colour well. This fabric is “breathable” so it lets air through the canopy to make it cooler underneath.
Awning canopies can be made from aluminium, though this metal is usually found in standalone sail curtains. Aluminium provides weather resistance and the most durability, though it’s the least flexible material. It’s naturally resistant to mildew and UV.
Canvas is a classic fabric for an awning canopy and the only natural material used for canopies. It’s one of the more long-lasting fabrics but it tends to be affected by exposure to the environment. Canvas has more strength than everything except aluminium, but it’s much more flexible. Canvas canopies often have an acrylic coating on top.
Polyester has many advantages as it’s the least expensive material, other than PVC (which is not as good). It’s the most resistant fibrous material. Polyester is naturally water resistant and naturally mildew proof.
PVC was the first synthetic material to be used in canopies. As a plastic, it has the same qualities as other plastics but is the weakest fabric used. It’s flexible and waterproof and is naturally resistant to mildew.
Awning operating mechanisms are either manual or electric.
The usual manual operating mechanism is a crank handle. The handle is usually vertically situated (though horizontal is also found) on one side (usually the left) of the canopy, hanging down from the frame. To extend and retract the canopy you just turn the handle, though this does take some effort. A manual awing is not prone to the technical problems sometimes found with electric models.
Electric mechanisms are generally found only on retractable awnings. You have the convenience of pushing a button to move the canopy. The electric motor takes care of all the effort. This easy opening may increase the lifetime of your awning. However, you may encounter technical problems and electric awnings are more expensive to repair than manual ones.
When selecting your awning to make sure that it will to cover the area you want to be in the shade. One way to do this is to measure the patch of sun at that place at many times during the day until twilight. The furthest measurement that the edge of the sun is out from the way will be at least the depth of the canopy. The width of the canopy depends on you. The width of canopies can range from 3 inches to over 20 feet wide; the length of the canopy can be anywhere from 4 feet to over 13 feet. The size of awnings is usually written as length by depth.
Nice to haves
Your awning will usually come with the frame and the fittings, and the canopy. However, you don’t need to stop there as you can add features on to your awning
Consider buying a storage bag to keep you awning clean and dust-free when you store it. We recommend taking them down for winter which is usually a fairly straight forward process.
Some awnings have integrated lighting on the cassette/canopy box for a warm and romantic glow at night. If your awning doesn’t have this feature, consider buying you own lighting and install it yourself.
For the cooler days, or if you want to stay out far into the evening, consider installing an infrared heater. The heater fits under the canopy to keep you toasty.
Check out our reviews of the best wall mounted patio heaters, perfect for placing under a awning but not to close.
For those with electric awnings, a weather sensor, also known as a storm sensor or a wind sensor, is a great comfort. These sensors can tell if the wind is picking up or if the canopy is wet and they’ll close the canopy for you automatically. You don’t have to worry about leaving the awning open and not being at home to close it. Most domestic models do not have this advanced feature though.
Alternatively, you might want a sunshine sensor that opens the canopy when the weather becomes sunny.
Some electric awnings come with a remote control that lets you control the canopy from within the control’s range. For example, if it’s going to rain you can close the canopy from the shed.
Or you can go one step further and get a system with an app that remotely controls the canopy from your smart phone or other home automation device. You can set a timer for the canopy to open or close, turn the integrated lighting on or off and set the weather sensor. All this with just a click. Bear in mind though that only the top-end awnings may have this functionality.
Warranties and Guarantees
It really goes without saying that you should check the guarantee and warranties associated with each awning. Look at which parts of the awning are guaranteed for how long and if the warranty is for repair and/or return. Most warranties are around 12 months but some come with 3 years and even a 30 day money-back guarantee.
How long do retractable awnings last?
If the frame part of the awning is made of metal, it can last 20 years or more, especially if it’s powder-coated. The lifetime of the canopy depends on what it’s made of. Aluminium is the most durable and PVC is the least. Not taking care of the awning will reduce its life. We recommend taking awning down for winter which will significantly increase the lifetime of the canopy.
Please go back to the Buyer’s Guide to see more details about canopy fabrics.
Can retractable awnings be used in the rain or the wind?
Awning manufacturers recommend that you retract the awnings in times of high wind or heavy rains. Many awnings are water resistant so they can handle a light rain shower. For any wind other than a light one, also retract your awning.
In the “Nice to Have” section of the Buyer’s Guide we mention the types of weather sensor you can buy to automatically adjust your canopy. (But only if you have an electric canopy and one with advanced features which most domestic ones do not have.)
How long do fabric awnings last?
The most durable awning is made out of aluminium. Canopies made of specialist fabric (e.g. Sunbrella) are generally more suitable for outdoor use. They will last around 10 years. In order of durability (from the most to the least) the other common fabrics are: canvas; polyester; acrylic, PVC.
We’ve explained a bit about these in the “Materials” section of our Buyer’s Guide.
If your cantilever umbrella isn’t giving you enough shade in your garden or on your patio, consider a garden awning. With a retractable awning you roll it up when bad weather is setting in or you’ve finished using it. Operating an electric awning is as quick and easy as pushing a button (which is what you do). A manual awning takes a little more effort as you crank the winding handle around. For a luxurious experience staying in the shade of an awning, look at weather sensors, sun sensors, LED lighting and heaters. You won’t want to go indoors ever again.
Our Best Pick is the Greenbay DIY Patio Retractable Manual Awning. Various sizes of this awning are available to suit your shade needs.
The Primrose 2.5m Electric Awning is the Runner-up choice and also the Best Electric Awning. Easily operate this retractable awning by pushing a button or using the remote control.
If an awning is too big for your garden and patio or it’s not what you want, check out our Best Garden Patio Umbrellas for an alternative way to provide shade in your garden or perhaps consider a gazebo.
Last update on 2021-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API