Drop Arm Awnings Vs Folding Arm Awnings – What’s The Difference?

Retractable Awning Sutherland Shire Helioscreen

When choosing an awning for your property, you have probably come across the drop arm vs folding arm debate. You may be wondering which of the two awning styles is best for your property, needs and budget? 

In this article we will look at the difference between drop arm and folding arm awnings, the pros and cons of each and which one is best suited to your needs. 

What is the Difference Between Drop Arm Awnings and Folding Arm Awnings?

The two most common types of awnings, drop arm and folding arm awnings, can offer varying benefits and applications for your home. Both awning types are fantastic for sheltering your home from the hot sun during the summer, however there are certain differences between the two.  

A folding arm awning is a retractable awning that extends and retracts with two (usually motorised) arms. They are a modern style of awning that offers sun protection over large areas of space.  

A drop arm awning is a retractable awning that pivots in an arc. They are a more classic style of awning typically used for sun protection and decorative purposes.

What Is A Drop Arm Awning? 

A drop arm (or pivot arm) awning is an externally fitted retractable blind typically made of canvas or mesh. They pivot to 90 degrees or more, and extend away from the opening they are sheltering. 

Drop arm awnings are a great option for controlling light, privacy and blocking heat from entering your home.

Pros and Cons of Drop Arm Awnings


  • They project away from the opening. This allows greater airflow behind the awning and can minimise heat build-up on the fabric.  
  • Fantastic option for keeping your house cool as sun can’t seep through the thick fabric. 
  • Great for privacy. 
  • Most stores and restaurants use drop arm awnings for decoration and advertising. 


  • Typically only suited to second story or outward opening windows 
  • Often operated manually, however they do have the option to be motorised for your convenience. 
  • Predominantly used for shade protection rather than weather protection. 

What Is A Folding Arm Awning?

A folding arm awning is a retractable awning that extends and retracts with spring loaded arms that keep the fabric tight. They are a versatile and reliable option for home and business owners wanting to add style and functionality to a space. 

As folding arm awnings don’t require posts or framework, they are a cheaper alternative to permanent structures like pergolas. They easily create an outdoor area perfect for entertaining all year round.  

Pros and Cons of Folding Arm Awnings


  • Allow the user to retract the awning to any length, or fold away completely. 
  • Do not require a support structure. 
  • Typically motorised, so can be raised or retracted with the touch of a button. 
  • Create a whole new outdoor living space that can be used all year round. 
  • Sun, rain and wind sensors can be fitted to ensure the awning is retracted in severe weather. 


  • Typically more expensive than drop arm awnings. 
  • They require more clear or suitable space than drop arm awnings.

What Awning Is Best For Your Home? 

If you’ve decided your home needs awnings, you may be wondering what awning type is best suited to your needs.  

For an effective and budget friendly awning, drop arm awnings can be a great option. They are perfect for those looking to reduce heat in the home, increase privacy and allow windows to stay open in rainy weather.  

Folding arm awnings are extremely popular in Australia as they provide a modern, durable and stylish addition to your home. Folding arm awnings are usually the preferred awning type for those looking for a shade structure to entertain under. They shelter you for the sun during summer and allow you to bask in it during winter.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Drop Arm or Folding Arm Awning?

There are a number of variables when it comes to how much you will need to pay for a drop arm or folding arm awning.  

The price of a folding arm awning can range anywhere from $2700 for a small manually operated awning to over $10,000 for a large motorised system. For a detailed outline of how much a folding arm awning can cost, see our article here   

Drop arm awnings are typically a more cost-effective awning option, however the price can still range significantly. A manual drop arm awning can start from around $400 and go up to over $4000 depending on materials, automation and more.

Choose Australia’s Quality Awning Supplier

The right retractable awning for your home makes a more comfortable experience for your family and brings life and functionality to your property’s exterior. 

When choosing an awning for your home, it’s important to prioritise a durable and functional retractable awning that will provide a long-lasting shade solution custom made to your outdoor area.  Helioscreen is Australia’s leading supplier of retractable awnings for a variety of residential buildings. Contact us for more information. 

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