The Humble Awning - Beauty With Functionality


As the warm weather breaks, spending more and more time encircled by the great outdoors becomes an increasingly popular event. While awning acts as a protective measure against excessive sunshine and the surrounding humidity of a hot, summer day, a variety of styles and materials allow people to express themselves in many different ways.


Today, awning may display stripes, solid colors, or use attractive fabrics. Not only do homeowners enjoy awning for their windows, doors, porches, patios, and RVs, but storefronts and restaurants also find use.

Throughout history, the functionality, appeal, and allure of awning have served the public for many countless centuries. While the methods of construction and use of materials have evolved over time, the invention of such a resource is one enjoyed since ancient Egyptian and Syrian civilizations. Homes and market stalls thriving during this time period used woven mats as the first awning. In 50 BC, a Roman poet by the name of Lucretius made mention of awning in his writings, which were constructed from linen and held by crossbeams and poles during his time.

In America, the use of awnings became commonplace during the first part of the 19th century. It was at this time that cast iron posts and timber were used to fashion awning that stretched across the edge of sidewalks. A front cross bar served as a link for the rest of the apparatus. When larger pieces of awning were erected, a front cross bar was usually attached to the façade of a building.

Canvas draped over a series of hooks and bolted bars to form a valance. Depending on its use, ornamentation may have accompanied the metal posts, such as filigree or additional decorations, such as embellished spear ends or balled ends.

At first, awning was made as a covering that could be rolled up against a building when the excessive sun or impending rain did not pose a particular threat. As winter approached, awnings were made with removal and storage for the season in mind. This was the proper way to maintain the longevity of the awning. When analyzing photographs depicting the middle of the 1800s, bare framework decorating the streets suggested that coverings were used only when necessary.

The type of material used to create awnings throughout the 1800s was canvas duck, which was strong and showcased closely woven cotton fibers. This was the same kind of material used to make tents and sails for many centuries, primarily because of its low cost. Although the canvas was quite versatile, it possessed a rather short shelf life, and didn�t stand up very well to the unforgiving elements of the weather.

Soon, the public began to increasingly embrace the idea of awnings, especially after the Civil War, which now highlighted iron plumbing pipe in the latest framework. Now, the production of awnings offered consumers their choice in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Newer frame designs and fabric options soon followed and awning began to pop up about storefronts and windows across the country.

During the second part of the 19th century, retractable awning was introduced and allowed shopkeepers and homeowners to adjust the amount of coverage they would receive through increments they controlled. Individuals now had the power of preparation against sudden rainstorms, a cloudy day, or random gusts of wind. Unfortunately, early models posed problems with bunched up fabric or ragged appearances after a nasty bout with bad weather.

The coming years would bring additional modifications throughout the awning industry, such as the introduction of corrugated fiberglass, aluminum, and other materials used to make awning more durable. Different colors were also marketed to complement the changing styles and preferences of homeowners and storekeepers. Overall, awning is a popular sight to see within today's society, where some of the latest designs are now hanging over restaurant windows, retracting from RVs, or decorating the front of a house.