AWNING INFO - About Awnings4x4 Awning Construction

4x4 Awning Construction

One of the first things you want to know before buying an awning is how well it’s going to stand up to regular outdoor use. That really depends on two things. The first is the materials it’s made from, and that’s easy to find out from reading the manufacturer’s specs. The second isn’t so easy to work out though, and that’s the methods and quality of the construction. It doesn’t matter how good the fabric and tubing are if it’s badly stitched or held together with flimsy joints.

When we review an awning we read up on the materials used, because that’s valuable information. Things we look for include the type of fabric, because we’d rather have a tough canvas awning than one made from cheap, flimsy nylon. We’re also interested in any coatings or treatment the fabric has. These can be tough to pick up in a review, because you’d be pretty impatient if we waited around for ten years to see if something was really UV-resistant like the factory said. There are plenty of things we can spot though. Is the fabric good quality with an even weave and no flaws? Do poles feel flimsy, or solid and reliable?

We pay alotof attention to how things are put together. We’ll look for good quality stitching, reinforced seams and neatly finished ends. That all makes a big difference to how long stuff lasts. We check to see if poles fit together snugly, with no wobble, and if they look like they’re struggling under the load. We’re looking for attention to detail and good design work, and when we decide something’s tough enough for proper use we’ll let you know.

When you’re choosing an awning one of the things you want to know is how well it’s put together. Build quality is an important factor in how well it works and how long it will hold up to being used. If you’re going to evaluate that you need to know something about how an awning works and how the parts should be assembled. You might be familiar with all that anyway, but if not here’s a quick guide.

If we look at a basic awning there are two main parts to it. One is the frame and the other is the awning canopy itself. The frame obviously needs to be pretty sturdy, because as well as supporting the awning when it’s up it holds it to your vehicle. Almost every frame we’ve ever seen is made from aluminium. Usually this is extruded, profiled bars for the base and the end bar – which need to have channels in them – and hollow tubes for the side struts and legs. Apart from minor issues with the finish it’s not likely you’ll find any problems here. Where you might find poor materials or build quality is in the fittings that hold it all together.

The strongest material for fittings is steel. To avoid rusting you want fittings made of stainless steel wherever possible. Cast alloy tends to be weaker and should be avoided if possible. Plastic fittings can be tricky. Some of them are extremely strong, others are not. For a mid-priced or budget awning we would tend to avoid plastic where we could and look for steel.

The legs and probably the side struts are likely to be telescopic. This means they need some kind of locking mechanism to lock the sections once you’ve got them at the right length. Some cheap awnings have flimsy plastic collars. These aren’t likely to break, but they can wear quite quickly and stop working properly. That’s not so good when your awning decides to lower itself, especially if you’re cooking under it.

Hinges are another possible weakness. We like to see steel hinges with self-lubricating synthetic bushes, but whatever type of hinge is fitted make sure it swings smoothly and with no wobble. A wobbly hinge is going to wear out rapidly and get even looser.

The canopy of your awning will probably be some kind of canvas. Workmanship and attention to detail are very important here. Fabric can be really tough, but it also tends to fray around the edges if it’s not properly finished. Seams are weak points too, both for strength and water resistance. The good news is that a well made awning will do a lot better.

Good things to look for in an awning canopy are neat stitching, with double stitching anywhere that will be under stress. Double layers of fabric at corners are also good, as is any kind of protective trim. That all helps protect the edges from fraying. Check to see if seams are taped, too. Even completely waterproof fabric will leak along stitching lines, so you need taping to prevent that.

Most of the awnings on the market are well enough put together to last you well. It never hurts to check that you’re getting the best possible quality, though, so hopefully you’re now happy about what to look for.