DIY Awning

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Introduction: DIY Awning

Hurricane Ike hit us in 2008 and knocked out power for a few days.  My residence was not designed with energy efficiency in mind and so relied 100% on AC to keep it cool.  I made this awning in attempt to keep it cooler inside by blocking the radiant sun energy.  Indeed, it was about 3 degrees cooler inside with the awning than without the awning.  After the power was restored this awning served to lower the energy bill.  I did not measure that, however I'm sure it did.

In all the whole thing cost about $20.  Here's how I made it and what I would do differently next time...

Step 1: Frame

Start by making the frame.  You'll need 1/2" PVC pipe, the T's and elbows shown here, PVC cutters, and primer/cement.  Visit your local Home Depot or Lowes.

The amount of pipe depends on the width of your window.  Mine window was about 5' wide, so a 6' wide frame was selected.  A main reason 6' was chosen -- I'll say this now -- is that the awning material (canvas drop cloth) is available in a 6' width.

I would not make the awning much bigger than this without more frame support structures.  A 3' gap (like mine) is about the maximum I would recommend.  I base this on having watched how it handled windy days.

Don't use solvent/cement yet.  You can dry-fit parts for now.

Step 2: Awning Material

The awning material is a 6'x9' canvas drop cloth.  This is the cheapest canvas drop cloth I could find.  The 6' width fits the 5' window and window frame nicely.  Maybe I was lucky here -- you need to measure your own window frame to be sure there are flat places to mount the awning.

So I wanted a little flap to overhang from the front of the awning.  Your choice if you don't.  Form the drop cloth into an inside-out loop as shown.  The drop cloth has a plastic backing; this should be facing out.  If you're good with a sewing machine, great!  I'm not.  I took this to a neighborhood alterations place.  They sewed it for me for $7.

When done, you can invert it to canvas-side out.

Step 3: Slide Canvas Onto Frame

Dry-fit the frame and slide the canvas over the top.  Adjust the fittings to make sure the canvas is taut.  Make a few pencil marks, remove the canvas, and prime and cement the frame.  When dry (few minutes), slide the canvas back over the frame.

Add the mounting elbows (shown in the last pic) but do not glue these yet.

Step 4: Tack the Canvas to the Frame and Mount the Top Portion

I tried a staple gun, but that didn't work at all.  The only thing I found that worked to hold the canvas in place were carpet tacks.  But, beware, these will RUST.  Stainless hardware might be available, but would significantly increase the project cost.  I could not find aluminum tacks.

With the canvas tacked, the next step is to hang the awning from the top.  For this you need to have used T's on the upper corners.  The small portion of the T that extends from the canvas is used to hold the awning in place.  Go to the electrical aisle and get 3/4" conduit clamps.  I primed and painted mine to match the house color.  (I had the spray paint already.)

Use #8 pan head screws, about 1".  I did not use stainless here either.

The awning should hang straight down.

Step 5: Add the Support Brace

Choose a length of PVC and elbow so that the awning hangs at a desired angle.  I picked the about 45 degrees .  I wanted to be able to still see out of the window, so if you do too, test the angle with someone inside.

The support brace on each side is similar to the top mounting brace.  I did not glue this piece.  I think the dry fit is tight enough so that the whole assembly is going nowhere even in a stiff wind.  I think I recall one time when one side came off.  Your choice if you want to glue it.  I didn't.

Step 6: That's It!

And there is a $20 awning.  It took me about an afternoon to make, if you don't count the trip to the store.

What to change, depending on how long you want the awning to last:

- Use a mildew-resistant cloth.  The drop cloth mildewed after a month or so.  I sprayed some dilute bleach solution, and that helped, but I think I waited too long.  (The bleach also probably accelerated the corrosion of the carpet tacks.)  I live in a hot & humid climate; if you live in a hot & dry climate this may not be an issue for you.

- Use corrosion resistant tacks.

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    46 Comments

    0
    susanjadams5000
    susanjadams5000

    Question 19 days ago on Introduction

    I don't understand how to tack material to pvc frame. Do you just hammer the tacks in, or do holes need to be drilled?

    0
    bclamore
    bclamore

    Answer 19 days ago

    I used carpet or upholstery tacks, which rusted, btw. They are sharp and are tapped in with a hammer easily. If you can find them in aluminum, that's a better fastener.

    0
    Dr4gnzFly
    Dr4gnzFly

    4 months ago on Introduction

    This seems like a quick and semi-painless job! I've been looking for something this simple, so I'm going to try it this weekend. I have the top from an old patio canopy I might use.

    0
    NatashaS73
    NatashaS73

    4 months ago

    Edited: so 1" straps are too big lol but I added a piece of 1/2" PVC to the Ts and the 3/4 conduit straps worked fine. I swapped out the regular 90⁰s for male female 90⁰s and everything went together just fine! Thank you!!!
    ----
    I went to get started on this protect after buying everything and realized that 3/4" electrical conduit straps do not fit the 1/2" T's. I'll have to make another trip to the hardware store 😭 and upgrade to 1" conduit straps.

    20220527_200053.jpg20220527_200047.jpg
    1
    sabr686
    sabr686

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Great concept, and good job on making it. I live in a wetter-than-most climate, so I'm going to have to research what kind of material to use.
    I would think that grommets would work well here, instead of the tacks. That way you can line up the grommet holes to the PVC, then strap it on with zap straps.
    Again, great idea, bclamore!

    0
    MavisE
    MavisE

    Reply 5 months ago

    I like the idea of grommets. Then you can use nylon cord which stands up to weather very well

    1
    TygerCub
    TygerCub

    Reply 6 years ago

    One of the easiest ways to make cheap fabric stand up to sun and rain is to paint it with an exterior grade primer. Make sure to use enough paint to get a nice even coverage that soaks the threads. This plasticizes the fabric and makes it easier to repel water and mildew.

    0
    Harbrinn
    Harbrinn

    Reply 2 years ago

    Would you have to paint both sides?

    0
    bclamore
    bclamore

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I tried grommets on a BIG awning a couple years ago with the same dropcloth material. It was a windy area and so put a lot of stress on the grommets. The dropcloth is too weak to handle very much stress fro the grommets, so don't pull the rope (through the grommets) too tight. Maybe space them a little closer than what you think would be needed.

    0
    MavisE
    MavisE

    5 months ago on Introduction

    Now that you've fine tuned your fit, if you make the next one using a fabric like Sunbrella , it will last for a very long time. A bit pricier than the drop cloth, but so worth it in the long run.

    0
    Desert Wizard
    Desert Wizard

    Tip 1 year ago

    You might try waterproofing your canvas by soaking it in boiled linseed oil. It is typically the way most oilcloth fabrics are made and they are water repellant and should not develop mold/mildew as easily. Plus it is a relatively cheap solution to your problem.

    0
    bclamore
    bclamore

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey, thanks! I would have never thought of that.

    0
    SJ18
    SJ18

    6 years ago

    This is so great, thanks! I'm planning to build it.

    I have a question about taking the awning down in the winter to get more sun:

    I see how to take the support braces down - squeeze both ends in slightly and you should be able to move them out of the conduit clamps.

    But how about taking the top part out? I feel like if every year I take the screws out of the conduit clamps twice to put the awning up and down, I will quickly strip the holes in my house and end up with a damaged exterior.

    Any helpful advice from anyone would be appreciated!

    0
    AnitaP33
    AnitaP33

    Reply 3 years ago

    I was thinking of using something like this to anchor it too the siding.
    The set screw would be the only thing moving once it's installed.

    0
    bclamore
    bclamore

    Reply 6 years ago

    You can only loosen the top screws a little and after sliding rhe pvc pipe out snug then back down.

    0
    SharadG10
    SharadG10

    3 years ago

    Itried to make it, but 1/2" PVC pipes are a bit too flexible. It may not be stable in high winds and make flapping sounds. I used 1/2" cpvc pipes of good brand. In the pictures above the pipes look thicker, especially in the finished product. Perhaps the pipes I used have thinner walls than the ones used above. I abandoned the installation and will remake with 1" UPVC pipes with thicker walls and share the project at a later date.

    0
    AnitaP33
    AnitaP33

    Reply 3 years ago

    Look into electrical conduit. I believe it might be stronger. It's a little more expensive but that's what I'm going to look into.

    0
    FLfromNJ
    FLfromNJ

    3 years ago

    I think buying a heavy duty tarp would be better. Some are big so you can make more than one awning with it. Harbor Frieght has nice ones that do not cost too much.

    2
    DonnaS52
    DonnaS52

    6 years ago

    I thought about trying Velcro to secure material to frame. Has any one tried Velcro?