The Pulse Guide to Awnings

Well into the fall, shade over outdoor gathering areas remains a hot commodity. Michael Mere, president of M&M Sign & Awning in Islandia, Great Neck and Southampton, lifted the veil on current trends in the awning industry and shed light on the options and maintenance requirements for home shading.

What are a homeowner’s options for awnings?
You basically have two choices: stationary or retractable. A stationary awning is permanent and can stay up for three seasons. And it’s not affected by the wind, whereas a retractable awning can’t stay out in heavy wind. Stationary awnings are made of heavy galvanized steel and can create any shape—if your deck has a curved front, these can be custom-made. And they can fit very large sizes; we’ve made them for country clubs and catering halls up to 130 feet. It’s really the most versatile option. Freestanding cabana awnings around pools are also very popular right now.

Is there any new technology for retractable awnings?
Wind and rain sensors. If your awning is left in the out position and it starts to rain or wind kicks up, it will automatically retract (the sensitivity of the sensor can also be adjusted)… The newest thing is RTS electronics, which are wireless controls. The switch can either mount on a wall or be a handheld remote. And this includes wind and rain sensors.

What’s new with fabrics?
99 percent of all customers choose Sunbrella fabrics. It’s been around for 100 years, they have a 10-year warranty, they’re solution–dyed so they won’t fade (they’re warrantied against that) and they come in hundreds of different patterns—stripes, solids, etc. It’s a breathable fabric and it’s 100-percent acrylic and doesn’t mildew or shrink.

Any new design trends?
Shade sails are just getting to the East Coast. They’re very big in California and Arizona and have been for about 10 years. They’re basically sails made out of triangles that are overlapped in different colors. They use very large, 4-inch square poles out in the yard with mounts on the house and the triangles are stretched from the poles to the house in layers, one way and the other, in multiple colors. Aesthetically, that’s something very new. People are really going after the architectural look of these.