Retractable Awnings vs. Pergolas: Which Is Right For You?

After what has felt like an extremely wet winter and spring, we’re coming into warmer months now. As the days grow longer and sunnier, it’s the perfect time of year to rethink how we use our garden spaces. External solar shading solutions like awnings or pergolas provide a sheltered spot to rest on sunny days, letting you soak up every moment of these glorious months. A high-quality shading solution can also protect you from unexpected showers and cooler weather, helping you to make the most of your garden all year around.


Pergolas are robust, permanent structures that allow you to define new outdoor living spaces on your property. Traditional pergolas were built from wood and consisted of vertical pillars and crossbeams in a lattice pattern. Modern pergolas have louvred or fabric coverings that allow for full protection from the sun or unexpected showers. A pergola turns any outdoor space into a peaceful retreat, offering protection from the glare of the sun while still allowing a breeze to pass through.

Benefits of pergolas

  • Pergolas provide a constant source of shade from the sun or shelter from the rain.
  • While retractable awnings must be installed on the side of your house, pergolas can be freestanding – offering flexibility in placement.
  • They excel at creating new outdoor spaces to enjoy in large gardens, such as dining or lounge areas.
  • Because pergolas are permanent structures, you have the chance to get creative with their décor. Climbing plants are traditional, but string garden lights are a quick and easy option for creating a cosy ambiance.
  • They usually require little maintenance.

Drawbacks of pergolas

  • If you choose to install a pergola over your patio, the use of metal poles can intrude on the usable space and make it feel more confined.
  • Similarly, if your pergola is placed close to or along a wall of your home with windows on it, it can block sunlight from entering your home during the colder months.
  • Despite their sturdiness, pergolas can suffer damage from severe storms and generally have a shorter lifespan compared to retractable options because there is no way to remove them in extreme weather conditions.
  • The fixed structure of pergolas means less flexibility to change the setups as your needs evolve.
  • Pergolas with extensive designs and optional extras can end up being quite costly.

Retractable Awnings

Awnings offer unparalleled convenience and versatility for gardens and patios. Mounted over windows, doors, or directly above outdoor areas, they can be extended to provide instant shade and retracted to let sunlight flood in. Retractable awnings are made from durable, weather-resistant materials to protect from sun or showers. Their ability to be adjusted quickly makes them an excellent option for those who love to entertain outdoors. With additional options like motorisation and automatic weather sensors, retractable awnings ensure your outdoor space is always comfortable despite the weather.

Benefits of retractable awnings

  • Retractable awnings offer a clean look with no permanent poles.
  • They are space-efficient; when retracted, they free up your garden or patio for other uses.
  • Awnings can be beneficial for controlling indoor temperatures as well – extend them to prevent your home from overheating on sunny days, potentially reducing your energy costs and protecting your soft furnishings from UV damage.
  • The lifespan of retractable awnings is generally longer since they can be withdrawn in bad weather.
  • Adjustable settings allow you to modify the pitch of your awning, adapting to the sun’s position throughout the day.
  • Retractable awnings can be motorised for convenient use. Some even have weather sensors that close the awning automatically if bad conditions are detected, preventing damage, and keeping your awning in good shape for longer.

Drawbacks of retractable awnings

  • If accidentally left out during bad weather like storms or snow, retractable awnings may be damaged.
  • While they offer many advantages, retractable awnings can be a significant investment – especially if you want features like motorisation, weather sensors, and ambient lighting.
  • They require maintenance a couple of times a year to prevent issues like rust on metal components or accumulation of dirt on the fabric.

Bespoke awnings and pergolas from Littlehampton Blinds

For most people living in the UK with average-sized gardens, the versatility of a retractable awning makes it the most practical choice. It provides the flexibility to enjoy your garden in any weather, without committing to a permanent structure.

However, if you have a larger garden or a desire for a more permanent outdoor feature, a contemporary pergola cold be the ideal fit – especially for creating a dedicated outdoor living space.

Eager to explore more about these options and discover which one is right for your home? Contact us today or visit our showroom to get your awning or pergola installed in time for the summer.

Our Top Picks For 2024

2024 is all about sustainable materials, discreet smart technology, and a design ethos that is classic yet timeless. We have carefully selected products that epitomise

Read More »

Christmas Opening Hours 2023

Our Christmas Opening Hours Littlehampton Blinds Christmas Opening Hours 23rd December – CLOSED 24th December – CLOSED 25th December – CLOSED 26TH December – CLOSED

Read More »