Awnings Vs Canopy

Awnings Sydney Helioscreen

Awnings and canopies are excellent ways to utilise your outdoor space, especially for relaxation and entertaining guests. When shopping for either, the difference may not be exact, especially when the terms are used interchangeably. Let’s explain.

What Is the Difference Between Awnings and Canopies?

The primary difference between awnings and canopies is in the design. Awnings are usually attached to the building along the width. They can be fixed or retractable, but remain attached to the wall.

Canopies on the other hand, are free-standing, and usually have posts that support the fabric.

In terms of size, awnings depend on the building they’re attached to. You can only have a width that’s as long as your wall and a projection as far as your porch or verandah allows. Also, an awning can only extend so far without compromising structural integrity and performance. For canopies, the size depends on the free space you have available.

Awnings and canopies are often confused with pergolas. Pergolas are outdoor structures that consist of columns supporting rows of beams and rafters at the top. The roof structure may often be left uncovered or covered to provide better protection. Pergolas are permanent and may be free-standing in a yard or connected to a wall.

Selecting an Awning or a Canopy


While both awnings and canopies offer excellent protection against weather elements, they vary in functionality. You can use awnings on doors and windows to protect your home from direct sun rays. It’s an excellent way to regulate internal temperature.

However, canopies are stand-alone structures and are best used on lawns and open spaces, where you can entertain guests. If you’d like to host large groups of people in your yard, canopies are the way to go. However, you cannot use a canopy to influence your home’s internal temperature.

Generally speaking Awnings are much easier to retract quickly, allowing natural sunlight to enter the courtyard or deck, and filter through to the interior. Then when shade cover is required they are easily deployed.

Canopies can be taken down but it may not be very easy or convenient to do so, and are often left up permanently.

Courtyard Awning
cassete awning in backyard area


Awnings are restricted in size due to the length of walls, mounting situations, and mechanical constraints.

As an awning is deployed out from the wall, its cantilevered weight must be properly supported.

This limits the projection of most awnings to 4.0m max (4.5m max from premium suppliers).

Canopies however can be made to large custom sizes, to accommodate larger groups of people.


Awnings are permanent structures attached to a wall. They do not move location and cannot be stored when they’re not in use.

However, retractable awnings can be folded against a wall and discreetly blend into the facade.

Canopies can be assembled and disassembled as needed if they are mounted in an easily accessible location.

You can store them away after the season to protect them from weather elements.

Folding Arm Awning Brisbane

Prices for Awnings Vs. Canopy?

Retractable awnings are generally more expensive than canopies. Off-the-shelf awnings are affordable, at up to $1000 (depending on size). Custom sized awnings cost above $1500 and can go up to $10,000 when you factor in size, finishes, sensors, and electrical costs for motorised awnings. Canopies for residential applications, generally cost between $500 and $900. For accurate cost estimates, as always, it’s best to consult your awnings and canopy supplier.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Awning or Canopy

  • Are you looking to cool your home?
  • Does it need to be easily retracted?
  • The size of the space you are looking to cover
  • The budget you have available

When taking these things into consideration, you’ll be able to confidently narrow down your choice of awnings vs canopy.

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