After moving into an apartment with an open balcony I wondered if there was a way that we could cover it to add some shade. I did a bit of research and found some great canopies that are suitable for a small balcony. These seem like a perfect solution for how to keep a balcony cool during the summer months, so I decided to write up this post in case other people might find it useful.
So, how do you cover your balcony to add some shade?
Balcony canopies (also known as awnings) are a great way to add shade and style to your outdoor space. Awnings come in various sizes to fit large and small balconies. Some provide more protection for your balcony from rain, snow, and other elements depending on the material they’re made from.
Let’s take a look at some popular balcony canopies that are available and see why they’re so popular. We’ll also go over some tips on how to pick one that suits your needs.
Which Awnings Provide the Most Shade?
Awnings made from fabric materials usually provide the best shade. Polyester is the most common fabric that is used, because it is light, durable, and fairly inexpensive. Usually they are coated in PU (polyurethane) to make them water and UV resistant.
Although polyester awnings are a great option, there are a few caveats you should be aware of before purchasing one. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons to owning a polyester balcony awning:
Polyester Awning Pros
- Provide the best shade
- Come in long sizes
- Some are retractable
- Adjustable drop (angle)
Polyester Awning Cons
- Wear and tear over time
- Not completely waterproof
- May discolor
The nice thing about awnings is that you can find one small enough to fit a balcony that’s the size of a window, or large enough to fit one that’ll cover a storefront. We’re going to focus on some of the smaller ones in this article, because our apartment balcony is quite small.
If you’re living in a home where drilling holes is not a concern then there is a huge range of awning options available for you. One of the most popular ones we found was the Outsunny 8’ x 7’ Retractable Awning. Here are a few reasons why we like it.
- It’s very easy to install
- It opens smoothly and quietly
- It has an aluminum and steel frame
- It comes in a variety of colors
When it comes to installing awnings you’ll need several inches of space above your balcony opening to attach it to. For the Outsunny one you’ll need at least 6 inches above your door frame to mount it. Keep this in mind when you’re shopping for an awning and measure your balcony area beforehand to avoid purchasing one that may not fit.
How Are Awnings Installed on a Balcony?
So if you’re interested in getting an awning to enjoy some sweet shade on your balcony, you’re probably wondering how to install one. The installation method will be different depending on if you’re living on a rental property versus one that you own.
Properties You Own
If you own the property you wish to install an awning on there are many options available to you. Regardless of if your home is made of wood, concrete, stucco, or other material, you’ll be able to find an awning that’ll suit your needs.
The most secure awnings will require drilling into the side of your home. This will help to hold them firmly in place during heavy wind, rainfall, and snowfall. However, you might want to consider a retractable one that you can close when the weather gets bad. This will prevent excessive wear and tear, and will help your awning to last longer.
If fabric awnings aren’t your thing, maybe consider getting a polycarbonate one. Here are some of the pros and cons to having a polycarbonate awning:
Polycarbonate Awning Pros
- Allow some light to filter through
- Are waterproof
- Come in a variety of colors
- Come in many sizes
- Usually inexpensive
Polycarbonate Awning Cons
- Can collapse under too much snowfall
- Not retractable
- Can’t adjust the drop (angle)
- Must be screwed into the side of your home
If you’re living on a rental property there are probably rules against drilling any sort of holes into the walls. Most apartment contracts have stipulations that prevent you from permanently altering the building in some way.
This greatly limits your number of awning options, because most are installed by drilling holes into the side of the building, and attaching them securely. You can check with your rental office to see if it’s okay. If not, something like the vidaXL Manual Retractable Awning might be a good alternative, because it’s an awning that’s held up by tension rods.
Tension rods will probably be okay for most normal weather. However, you may want to consider taking the awning down if strong wind or a big storm (snow or rain) is approaching.
You might want to consider getting a balcony umbrella if you’re living in an apartment. They usually have one flat side that allows them to sit all the way against the building without any gaps. These are a nice alternative because you can collapse them and store them away when they aren’t needed.
If shade is your only concern then there are many small canopy options that are available to you. The only real questions are how you plan on installing them and what kind of budget you have. Some of the cheaper ones start out at around $30, but the more expensive ones can cost $300 or more.
Either way, there is definitely a good solution out there for you!