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Blake Co., Inc.

Awnings & Flags


Awnings Frequently Asked Questions


1. What will awnings do for my home or business?

2. How long will fabric awnings last?

3. Is there any maintenance required for an awning?

4. Sunbrella Fabric Frequently Asked Questions.

5. How do you clean Sunbrella awning fabric?

6. Dos and Don'ts of Fabric Awnings.


1. What will awnings do for my home or business?

Awnings offer both beauty and function to your home or business.

  • Awnings can add "curb appeal" to any home and draw attention to a business by adding style, character and color.
  • Awnings will help to keep your home or business cooler by keeping the sun’s heat outside.  Drapes, shades or blinds will stop the sun’s heat but only after it is already inside.  Plus you loose your view when the shades are closed and you need to turn lights on because it is dark.
  • A home with awnings has been found to be 7 to 15 degrees cooler inside then the same home without awnings.
  • Awnings will save you money on cooling costs when you run your air conditioner since it will not have to work as hard to keep your home cool.
  • Awnings will save you money by keeping the sun’s harmful rays from fading your drapes, carpets, hardwood floors and furniture.
  • Awnings may help to keep the rain off your windows.  This means that you may be able to leave your windows open and not have to worry about rain coming in and causing damage.  And you may not have to wash your windows as often, too.

2. How long will fabric awnings last?

Under normal conditions the metal frame should last your lifetime.  The frame is reused when it is time to replace the fabric.

The life of the fabric will varies based on factors like the amount of sun and wind it sees.  7 to 10 years seems to be an average life for most fabric awnings.  But with favorable conditions and proper care they can last longer. 


3. Is there any maintenance required to an awning?

It is recommended to inspect your awnings at least every spring and fall.

  • Check the frame to see if it is still properly attached to the building.  Usually just a screw driver or pair of pliers may be needed to tighten any loose hardware if necessary.
  • Check to see if any stitching on the fabric has come loose or any holes have formed.  Often the fabric "cover" can be re-sewn or patched to extend the life of the fabric.  The sooner you catch the worn out sewing or holes the easier it is to repair.  And just like most things, the longer you wait to fix it the more it usually cost.
  • To further extend the life of your awning keep your awning clean.  A clean awning will never mildew.
  • Regularly throughly rinse off the fabric with a hose to help remove any dirt before it becomes imbedded in the fibers of the fabric.  Doing this monthly would be ideal, preferable a warm sunny day.  Brush off the underside with a clean broom.

4. Sunbrella Fabric Frequently Asked Questions.

Q: Is Sunbrella fabric waterproof?
A: Because Sunbrella fabrics are designed to be breathable, they are water repellent, but not completely waterproof.  Over time, the water repellency can be refreshed by using 303 High Tech Fabric Guard.

Q: Will Sunbrella fabric mildew?
A: Mildew will not grow on Sunbrella unless there is food, dirt or other organic matter on the fabric.  Keeping Sunbrella clean is the best defense against mildew.  Bleach and other mildew removers do not affect Sunbrella, so cleaning mildew is easy if it is addressed early before it stains the fabric.

Q: Can I hose down Sunbrella fabric?
A: One of the best ways to keep Sunbrella fabrics looking good and to delay the need for deep or vigorous cleaning is to hose fabrics off on a monthly basis with clear water.  This practice will help prevent dirt from becoming deeply imbedded in the fabric and eliminate the need for more frequent vigorous cleanings.  In most environments, a thorough cleaning will be needed every two to three years.  Remember after hosing down the fabric to allow the fabric to air dry.

Q: How can I clean bird droppings on my awning?
A: For those stains that are beyond our normal care and cleaning instructions, such as bird droppings, roof run-off, acid rain, pollution, rust, tree sap, insect stains, etc., we suggest the following products: an off-the-shelf product such as Goo Gone Grease Cutter (a hand cleaner), Greased Lightning, Clean Rite Purple Power (available at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc.).  Rub product into fabric, allowing penetration. Brush with a soft brush, rinse THOROUGHLY and repeat if necessary.

Q: In your cleaning instructions, you use the term "Mild" or "Natural Soap".  What is "Mild" or "Natural" soap?
A: By "Natural" or "Mild" soap we mean Ivory Snow, Drift or Woolite.  These gentle soaps rinse out easily and will not diminish the water-repellent "finish" applied to the fabric.  Regular laundry detergent will not harm the fabric, but the water-repellent "finish" will be removed sooner (laundry detergents do not affect the stain and UV resistance).  BE SURE to use cold water and to air dry the fabric when using laundry detergent.  In addition, after several cleanings you will need to retreat the fabric with a water repellent product, such as 303 High Tech Fabric Guard.

Q: Do Sunbrella fabrics provide UV protection?
A: Sunbrella fabrics have been tested and proven to provide up to 98% UV protection from harmful effects of the sun when used in shade applications.  Sunbrella fabrics have been awarded the "Seal of Recommendation" by The Skin Cancer Foundation, an international organization dedicated to the prevention of skin cancer www.skincancer.org.   Whites and lighter colored fabrics provide less protection than darker fabrics, which have more depth of color.  This protective factor is inherent to the product and will not be reduced by usage and/or fabric exposure to the sun.


5. How do you clean Sunbrella awning fabric?

TAP or CLICK HERE to view/download the Sunbrella fabric cleaning instructions - PDF file.

TAP or CLICK HERE to view/download the Sunbrella fabric stain removal chart - PDF file.

One of the best ways to keep Sunbrella fabrics looking good is to hose off the fabric on a monthly basis with clear water.  This practice will help prevent dirt from becoming deeply imbedded in the fabric and eliminate the need for more frequent vigorous cleanings.  Remember after hosing down the fabric to allow the fabric to air dry.

NEVER USE A POWER WASHER TO CLEAN AWNING FABRIC.  You run the risk of damaging the fabric by weakening the fibers, making holes in the fabric, driving the dirt further into the fibers of the fabric, and removing the water-repellant treatment.  This can shorten the life of the fabric, cause expensive repairs and void any warrantee.

Sunbrella fabrics should be cleaned regularly before substances such as dirt, roof particles, etc., are allowed to accumulate and become embedded in the fabric.  The fabric can be cleaned without being removed from the frame.  Brush off any loose dirt, roof particles, etc.; hose down and clean with a mild natural soap (like Ivory Snow, Drift or Woolite) in lukewarm water at no more than 100 degrees F.  Rinse thoroughly to remove soap.  DO NOT USE DETERGENTS like Tide.  This can remove the water repellency and which can require expensive retreating or replacement to restore.

For stubborn stains soak the fabric for approximately twenty minutes in a solution of no more than ½ cup (4 oz.) of bleach and ¼ cup (2 oz.) natural soap per gallon of water at approximately 100 degrees F.  A non-chlorine bleach is recommended for "Sunbrella Plus" because of the urethane coating.  Rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove all of the soap.  Note: Excessive soaking in bleach can deteriorate sewing threads.

Sunbrella fabrics can be machine washed if it will fit in a washing machine.  You can use your own washing machine for small awnings.  For larger awnings you can usually find larger machines at most laundry mats.  Take down the awning.  For most residental awning you remove the frame from the awning much like a curtain rod by sliding the frame out of the awning pockets.  Brush off any loose dirt and debris with a rag or soft brush.  Wash the awning in water no more then 100 degrees using the normal wash cycle.  Use the recommended amount of a mild natural soap like Ivory Snow, Drift or Woolite for the machine that you are using along with the recommended amount of non-chlorine bleach.  Example: If you use 1 cup of soap, use 1 cup of bleach.  The bleach will help to kill any mildew and may also whiten the boarder's binding if it is white.  If you use a detergent like Tide it will not harm the fabric.  However, this may remove the water repellency and require expensive retreating or replacement to restore.  Line dry the awning or just put it back on the frame then back on your building for drying.  Sometimes the awning my need to be re-sewn after washing.  Check the sewing by lightly pulling on them.   If the thread brakes loose just bring the awning fabric in to us to be re-sewn.  Re-sewing usually doesn't cost much and will extend the useful life of your awning.

Sunbrella may be dry cleaned but a water repellent treatment must be applied to the fabric after dry cleaning to re-establish water repellency.  Sunbrella is made from 100% acrylic fiber and is heat sensitive.  When washing or cleaning, DO NOT SUBJECT TO EXCESSIVE HEAT as the fabric will shrink.  DO NOT STEAM PRESS OR DRY IN ELECTRIC OR GAS DRYERS.  Allow the fabric to air dry.

Be careful not to get petroleum based insect sprays on the fabric.  They will stain them!


6. Dos and Don'ts of Fabric Awnings.

The appearance and life of your awnings depend a great deal on the way you use and care for them.   Your awnings are made from the finest awning fabrics available and have the best available water repellents and mildew retardants built into them.

NEVER USE A POWER WASHER TO CLEAN AWNING FABRIC.  You run the risk of damaging the fabric by weakening the fibers, making holes in the fabric, driving the dirt further into the fibers of the fabric, and removing the water-repellant treatment.  This can shorten the life of the fabric, cause expensive repairs and void any warrantee.

Even the most durable materials require a certain amount of care.  Fabric awnings are no exception.  But with only a minimum amount of attention the beauty and serviceable life of your awnings can be extended.  Here is a list of Dos and Don’ts to help you care for your awnings.

Do:

  • Do keep your awnings clean.  You wash your clothes to keep them looking good, so should you clean your awnings.  This is also the best protection against mildew.  Even on mildew resistant fabric mildew can grow on accumulated dirt or foreign materials.  If left on the surface mildew will eventually damage or stain the fabric.  We cannot be held responsible for such damage.
  • Do wash down your awnings.  If they are vinyl coated, brush lightly with a cloth or soft brush to prevent scratching the vinyl.  You can use a natural soap (like Ivory Snow), but rinse thoroughly and immediately.  A little bleach on the white binding of the awning border may help to keep it looking new.
  • Hose off your awning with clean water occasionally, every month or so, to help keep the dirt from building up.  We recommend that you do this on a warm sunny day so they will dry faster.
  • Do keep the underside of your awnings clean.  Simply brushing them with a clean household broom.  Watch out for wasp nests!  They like the shade under awnings.
  • Do keep your shrubbery and vines away from your awnings.  Many contain an acid which can be harmful to your awnings.  And any branches that rub on your awnings will only cause the fabric to wear out sooner.
  • Do check the condition of your awning frames.  Rust is not likely to form, but if it should it might cause deterioration or staining of the fabric.  Also check to see that the hardware is tight.

Don’t:

  • Don’t cook or have fires beneath or near your awnings.  Even flame retardant fabrics will be damaged by heat and smoke.
  • Don’t get insect spray on your awnings.  Some may impair the water repellency of the fabric and also cause staining.
  • Don’t force or yank your awnings if you raise or lower them.  Do it gradually.
  • Don’t drag your awnings across any abrasive surfaces, such as cement, asphalt, or the awning frame.
  • Don’t allow leaves, twigs, dirt, etc., to remain on your awnings.  They will cause staining and mildew.
  • Don’t allow water to stand on your awnings.  This can cause pocketing which will stretch the fabric and also cause staining.
  • Don’t allow excessive snow to build up on your awnings.  Your awnings are designed to handle a "normal" snow fall.  But if a heavy snowfall is allowed to stay on your awnings, it can change to ice adding tremendous weight.  This added weight can damage the awning, frame, and possibly even your house if the hardware pulls out.  Carefully brush off the snow before it can change to ice.  But do not use the end of a stick or broom handle from underneath.  You may poke a hole in the fabric.
  • Don’t overlook small rips, tears or holes.  They should be repaired to prevent farther damage.  If left alone, they will only get worse making a minor repair into a possible major replacement.
  • Don’t wash your awnings with a harsh or strong detergent.  This will remove the water repellency of some fabrics and require expensive retreating or replacement to restore.
  • Don’t fold or roll your awnings in cold temperature.  Vinyl coated awnings are especially susceptible to cracking in cold weather.
  • Don’t store your awnings when damp or wet.  Mildew is a fabric’s greatest enemy.  Mildew can grow on the surface of a damp awning and permanently stain the fabric in as little as 24 hours.