Commercial awnings not only create shade for virtually any purpose, they draw attention to your place of business. Done right, commercial awnings can give you the shade you want and need when it’s hot, but they can do double-duty in other seasons, too. Depending on your type of business, they can expand your sales area or selling season, helping you generate more revenue.
When we think “canopy,” most of us probably picture an awning-style structure, with a roof but no sides. But what if you want sidewalls as well as a roof? What if you need them? An enclosed canopy can extend the value and usefulness of your shade structure in several ways.
Choosing an awning company doesn’t have to be difficult. You’ll make the right choice if you follow a systematic approach, to ensure you’re using the most appropriate criteria to choose that company. You want a good fit – a company that knows what they’re doing and demonstrates an obvious interest in working with you, regardless of the size of your project.
You do have awnings around your country club, don’t you? If not, it’s time to get busy planning some attractive awning designs, because they can add tremendously to the ambiance of your clubhouse as well as the comfort of your members.
Warmer weather is finally here. Everyone is emerging from their self-imposed winter hibernation, and they’re looking for great places to eat out. Is your restaurant canopy beckoning them this new season?
A canopy that beckons is a valuable sales tool. And one that sends the wrong message can literally drive people away. Here are three sure signs you need a new restaurant canopy:
1. Your canopy isn’t living up to its multi-faceted capabilities.
The right restaurant canopy ensures you can be found — not just by regular customers deliberately heading your way but also by potential new customers who might be walking or driving by. What better time than spring to plant those seeds of interest to grow your business?
The right restaurant canopy tells people who you are — not just your name or street number, it reflects your ambiance, whether you’re fun or flashy or cool and urban chic. You can post your menu by the door to tell people what kind of fare you offer, but it’s your restaurant canopy that attracts their attention in the first place.
The right restaurant canopy can transform the façade of your building, as a purely decorative embellishment for a plain-looking exterior or accentuating interesting architectural details.
Your restaurant canopy has a practical side, too, of course. It can shade people from the sun. And keep them dry when it rains. Even people who don’t eat at your restaurant – heaven forbid! – appreciate the cover as they’re walking down the street.
But adding a restaurant canopy can expand your seating and service areas, too, significantly increasing your ability to grow revenue without the expense and hassle of a remodel. And, let’s face it: people like to eat and drink outdoors when the weather is pleasant.
If your canopy isn’t living up to all these attributes, you’re missing out.
2. Things have changed.
The last thing you want is for potential patrons to be confused about your restaurant. Did you recently purchase this place? If you’re a new owner or the name is new to people, getting a restaurant canopy that correctly identifies you is a first priority. Or maybe you’ve changed your concept or menu, with a new logo and thematic colors that reflect that change. An outdated restaurant canopy is a marketing liability, pure and simple.
Have you added outdoor seating or an entertainment area on the back patio? Or you’re adding sidewalk or waterfront seating? You’ll need a canopy that provides adequate shade and helps define that special space. Have you considered a pergola?
3. You’re tired of your old canopy.
Hey, it happens. It’s a few years old, now, and you’re simply ready for a change. It’s your business, so you should have exactly the restaurant canopy you want. You’ve undoubtedly changed your menu over time, why not give your canopy a facelift, too?
Maybe you’ve seen a new style you especially like. Or you want to create an entirely unique structural design that will be particularly eye-catching to set you apart, a canopy that leaves no doubt about what diners can expect from your restaurant in the way of food, atmosphere and other clientele.
Or you’ve noticed your neighbors are busy installing new canopies. If your restaurant canopy is starting to look a tad worn, it will look worse if everyone else on the block is upgrading their façade.
You want to be a trend-setter – the best-looking place in the are neighborhood — especially if any of nearby businesses are other eating establishments. You need a restaurant canopy that says ” pick me! ”
Even if nothing at all has changed, this is a great time to take stock. Spring means renewal. Time to refresh. Is your current restaurant canopy doing everything it could to help build your sales and reputation?
Photo Credit: tombothetominator via Flickr
Spring and summer are certainly when we most think about shade, but there are other weather conditions to think about, too, when you’re looking at awning designs. Unless you want something you can dismantle once the weather cools, you should focus on awning designs that are durable enough to withstand winter weather, too.
Fabrics and framing define awning designs.
Darker colors won’t make it warmer under your awning, but the fabric you select may make a difference. Consider the underside of your canopy, too. You can get fabrics that are a lighter color underneath, so you have shade without darkness.
Many fabrics are specifically designed to be UV-resistant, which is especially important to protect people, furnishings and whatever is inside your windows from the sun’s damaging rays. That’s important year-round, not just during the hottest summer days.
Most fabrics are water-repellant but not completely waterproof, although there are some exceptions – one more reason to think beyond spring to identify awning designs that will perform best for you.
You should also consider wind, especially if you’re contemplating a retractable awning. Generally speaking, if the breeze is light enough for you to feel comfortable sitting outside, your awning will be comfortable, too. Otherwise, it’s probably too windy for retractable awning designs. They just aren’t as strong as permanently-installed canopies.
Local building codes and covenants often specify structural requirements for awning designs, but they can also limit colors or styles or other visual elements. Check your city’s regulations about drainage, too, because that can affect awning designs.
Consider the magic of digital printing.
Weather-resistant doesn’t have to mean boring. With digital printing, you can create awning designs that are literally anything you want. You can have color that exactly matches your logo, building trim or tablecloths. And you can put any graphics anywhere on your awning. Or all over it.
Digitally printed graphics not only look better, they’re weather-tough. Not just for spring sunshine and showers but beaming-hot summer sun and frigid winter temperatures that come with pelting rain and snow. The spring-fresh look of your awning designs will keep looking great, all year long.
Spring cleaning isn’t just for your house.
Whatever awning designs you choose, your canopy will last longest if you take good care of it. And a clean awning is ready for any weather. A periodic wipe-down with a damp cloth is easy and can make a tremendous difference, especially if you’re located in a grimy, gritty, damp or salty area. If you have an existing awning, now’s the time to inspect it, clean it and fix any small problems.
Just say no to DIY.
Spring brings out the handyman (or woman) in many people. But you should resist the temptation to install any type of awning designs yourself. It’s not as easy as it may seem, and improper installation can lead to poor performance or breakage. You could also go wrong buying awning designs online or off-the-shelf, as they may not meet your weather-resistance needs.
Whatever you choose, you want awning designs that will provide a good return on your investment. Second-rate materials or iffy construction may cost a bit less up front, but you can count on problems later on – repair costs and tatty looks that reflect poorly on your business. A quality awning company uses consistently top-quality fabrics and framing materials. And they have skilled craftsmen who can manufacture your awning to the highest standards.
A professional expert will give you personalized advice and share creative ideas about awning designs. You’ll get an awning you love – one that’s tailored exactly to your space and usage specifications and your specific location. One that provides an eye-catching, just-for-you look.
And with a pro on your side, you’ll know you’ve chosen the best materials for awning designs that match your weather conditions – not just for spring, but for years to come.
Photo Cedit: jenny downing via Flickr
There are a lot of reasons to live in the city, but feeling “back to nature” isn’t one of them. The sun shines plenty hot in the city, though, and shade structures are a must. Choose a pergola, and you can add your own touch of nature to any urban landscape.
Pergolas are the shade structures that can turn a plain outdoor area into someplace irresistible, turn waves of heat into cool refreshment, turn the grays and browns of urban brick and concrete into a veritable rainbow of color and turn that “city” smell of diesel and who-knows-what-else into a symphony of inviting fragrances.
With just a few plants, you can literally bring your pergola to life. Shade structures that use greenery for cover don’t just shade people and patios, they can actually cool the air underneath by as much as 15 degrees.
Pergolas are the perfect companions for plants.
Pergolas are usually constructed of wood, a natural material in itself. They can be free-standing or attached to a wall. You can create shade structures that appear entirely casual or highly sophisticated, to complement any architecture or size or shape of space.
Traditional pergolas are topped with separated cross-members. You can accentuate the natural look of these shade structures with Southwest-style “latillas” – narrow sticks or bamboo that filter the sun more closely and provide beautiful shadow textures as the sun moves across the sky.
But unlike most shade structures, what really sets pergolas apart is their value as a landscape feature.
If your view skyward is less than appealing, any shade structures can eliminate that. But pergolas can give you a canopy of greenery, a living room that provides both shade and beauty. You can create a lush urban jungle or just a small accent – a single vine or hanging basket that adds a touch of nature but allows your pergola to remain the focal centerpiece of your outdoor space.
As shade structures, pergolas can cover walkways or eating and seating areas, all of which benefit from the addition of plants. Create a simple entryway trellis or shade your entire patio. You can completely cover your pergola’s pillars with luxuriant vines or variegated ivy. Add potted plants – shrubs and perennials as well as the usual annuals. Hang a few baskets. Create living walls.
Add pretty wood lattice side walls to your pergola, for extra visual definition. Plant them with leafy vines and you can curb a breeze or add more privacy. Hang a swing from your pergola. That’s something you can’t do with other shade structures, and everyone will compete for that seat.
What should you plant?
You can grow almost anything in a pot. Or you can plant vines or climbers in the ground at the base of each pillar, if you have open soil. You can use cooling colors – whites, blues and greens – or vibrant colors like reds, purples, oranges and yellows. Or hot pink. Complement your color scheme or create an eye-popping contrast.
You can choose evergreen or semi-evergreen perennial climbers or fast-growing annual vines. Annual vines are fun because you can do something entirely different from year to year. All these are good options:
- Climbing roses or hydrangea
- Boston ivy
- Virginia creeper
Plant hardiness is something to think about, as is the way your shade structures are oriented to the sun. Consult your local professional nursery for advice. Use a variety of plants that bloom at different times, so you always have a good show and it’s always changing for your regular customers.
Pick plants that complement your pergola most dramatically, with interesting flowers, knock-your-socks-off fragrance or subtle perfume, multi-seasonal interest with dried seed pods or winter berries. Even in the dead of winter your shade structures will offer the promise of another spring and summer to come.
Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr
Finally! It’s time to store the parkas and fleece-lined footgear and get out the sunscreen and patio chairs. Instead of incessant snow, we now have shade structures on our minds. And not a moment too soon. It’s been a long, tough winter.
For backyard living enthusiasts, spring means one thing: it’s time to spruce up your patio. For restaurateurs of all descriptions – and for other types of businesses, too — sprucing up your patio now can bring a smile to your bottom line at the end of the year.
Adding shade structures can make your valuable outdoor real estate even more appealing. You’ll want to use your patio more often, and you – or your patrons – will be more comfortable doing it. It doesn’t get better than that.
Patios are hot.
Hot as in trendy, that is. But there’s no reason your patio has to be hot as in toasty. Shade structures can make any size patio more inviting. You can create a tiny, intimate hideaway space or multiple shaded areas around a spacious patio, dividing it into functional or visual “rooms” without interrupting the wide-open feel and traffic flow.
Whether you’re working to spruce up your backyard or your business establishment, you can use shade structures to improve all kinds of outdoor areas, including:
- Seating areas.
- Barbeque or outdoor kitchen.
- Bar area.
- Lawn for croquet or bocce.
- Kids swing set or sandbox.
- Walkways and sidewalks.
There are shade structures just right to spruce up any patio.
Shade structures can be as fancy as a gazebo or as simple as a retractable window awning. There are several types, each one with great benefits but an entirely different look. Any of them can be very small or quite large.
Awnings. This might be your first thought when you hear “shade structures.” Awnings – also called canopies — are typically attached to a wall. Old-fashioned versions always had a simple cantilevered shape, and often they were retractable. These days, you can design awning-style shade structures in other shapes that are rounded or squared off, as well as slanted.
Though these alternatives shapes are usually found on commercial buildings, there’s no reason you can’t have an interesting shape to shade your home patio, too. And of course you can create canopy shade structures that are free-standing instead of attached.
Pergolas. Rapidly gaining in popularity, pergolas are usually wooden shade structures that are beloved for the way they filter sunlight rather than omitting it. Because they have an open-work roof made of slats, they aren’t appropriate for rain or snow protection. But that open roof treatment and sturdy corner pillars make pergolas the perfect shade structures on which to grow plants. They can be attached to a wall or free-standing.
Tension membranes. Shade structures can look ethereal as well as sturdy. Tension membranes are made of lightweight fabric that’s held taut by wires, so they lend themselves beautifully to triangular or other unusual wing-like shapes. Their structural stability enables them to cover very large areas without a lot of visual bulk.
Umbrellas. A perennial favorite, umbrellas are the most portable shade structures. They can be used as an integral part of patio furniture, or they can be weighted to stand alone. You can move them around as you like, and they make excellent companions to larger, permanently-installed types of shade structures for those times when you have larger gatherings and need more shade.
Sprucing up your patio with shade structures is cool.
Not only will your patio look much more welcoming, it will actually be cooler when you add shade. Shade structures keep the sun off people, furnishings, plants and pets, protecting them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. But they also keep your patio itself cooler, so it radiates less heat.
So which shade structures will you choose to spruce up your patio this spring?
Photo Credit: htlcto via Flickr
For home or business, there’s nothing like an awning. Awning designs are so versatile, you can easily find inviting options no matter what you want to accomplish. But not every option is appropriate for every instance. And you don’t want just any awning, you want the right awning.
In order to make that just-right final decision, you’ll want to think things through carefully before you get started. Understanding these five common mistakes will help you make smart, informed choices by focusing on the best awning designs for you.
Choosing the wrong style.
Awning designs comes in lots of styles, but you need one that makes sense for your location and how you plan to use the awning. Retractable awnings, in particular, are often chosen for inappropriate installations. Consider these questions:
- Does your area face weather issues such as wind or heavy snow?
- Are you near the water, whether at the coast or alongside a river or lake?
- Are you in a potentially grimy high-traffic area?
- Are you considering awning designs primarily to protect pedestrians or patrons, or mostly to upgrade the appearance of your building or entrance? Or both?
- Will your awning be permanent or only used seasonally?
- Do you need lighting?
Certain awning designs lend themselves better – or not so well — to different sizes and shapes. And all these factors affect which awning designs will perform best for you.
Choosing the wrong materials.
Awning designs start with framing – typically aluminum or steel. Coverings can also be metal, though usually they’re made of fabric specifically manufactured for awnings. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to awning designs, but it can be extremely difficult for anyone other than an awning professional to discern true quality.
How long do you want your awning to last? If it’s a one-time thing, durability won’t matter, but you’re probably looking for awning designs you can use for years to come.
Taking the easy way out.
Even if your need something “simple,” awning designs vary. Grab-and-go may be fine for making selections at the grocery store, but it’s ill-advised when it comes to awning designs.
A quickie off-the-shelf choice may seem easy now, but you could wind up with an awning that starts to fade or fray long before you’d expect, or one that isn’t tough enough to stand up to your needs. Repairs and too-soon replacement can be costly and frustrating.
Besides, ready-made awning designs offer far fewer options than custom. Who wants the same thing someone else has? Especially if it’s for your business or a commercial building, you need a unique statement.
Overlooking valuable marketing advantages awning designs can provide.
Individually tailored structural design and individually designed graphics work together to give you a one-of-a-kind awning that will make your place stand out. It will make you easy to find, introduce your name to prospective customers and reinforce your brand with your logo or other graphic elements and colors.
Choosing a less-than-stellar awning company.
You need expert advice, but consultation is only as good as the source. That goes for workmanship, too. So don’t just open the phone book or go online and pick the first name you see. Insist on an awning company that has a long-standing reputation for quality and excellence.
Look for a company that will help you through the entire process, with personalized attention every step of the way. Make sure they have plenty of experience with awning designs like yours, and they use the latest production equipment and techniques to construct your awning and produce the graphics it will carry.
With the right awning designs, you’re making a smart investment. Taking the time to think things through and working hand-in-hand with a top-notch awning professional will help you get everything you need and probably more than you expected.
Photo Credit: angeloangelo via Flickr
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