Nothing calls to mind romantic summer nights more than watching the sunset, drink in hand, under a beautiful, vine-draped pergola. Pergolas, or overhead arbors, are typically freestanding, though they can be attached to a structure such as your home or other building. While it is not necessary to cover them with greenery, they are traditionally adorned with flowering vines or hanging plants.

A pergola adds visual interest and can define the space of your outdoor entertaining area. Depending on the spacing, width and angle of the rafters, your pergola can also offer some shade. Additional protection from the elements can be had by adding outdoor fabric or lattice to the sides or even the top of the pergola. Today, manufacturers have extended the usage of pergolas even further by incorporating retractable canopies into their design. These shade pergolas can be designed to cover large areas, giving them many applications for commercial properties, outdoor cafes, seating areas at marinas and golf courses, senior living facilities and other large-scale locations where patrons seek sun, shade or protection, but are still affordable for the private homeowner. Shade pergolas give outdoor environments the best of all possible worlds – a traditional look with a retractable awning that is waterproof, windproof and fade resistant.

So if you like the look of a romantic Italian villa, love the smell of climbing roses or honeysuckle, or simply want to add a distinctive look to your outdoor entertaining space, a pergola may be the right choice for you.

When it’s 90 degrees and you’re sweating over your grill cooking for a crowd of thirty, sure, it’s hard not to focus on getting that awning – NOW. But unfortunately, Rome wasn’t build in a day, and neither is a quality outdoor structure, especially when it’s the busy season. Just like when the first snowflake falls and our thoughts turn to skiing and sledding (or, shoveling and plowing!), it’s not uncommon to find the shelves of our favorite sporting goods supplier bare and not a bag of rock salt or a single shovel to be found. So when the temperatures creep up and the flowers start to bloom, our thoughts naturally turn to outdoor living and entertaining and it can be disappointing to hear that your awning won’t be ready for that graduation or July 4th party.

So as it is with any snowstorm, luck favors the prepared. If you want to enjoy your awning for the entire summer, or if you have a particular event for which you’d like to have it, start your planning well in advance and, if possible, consider starting your project in the off season. Winter is a great time to start the consultation process and place your order. Scheduling your installation in February will ensure that you have your pick of service dates and, if you have an awning or structure that needs to be stored for the winter, scheduling take down and storage in the early fall ensures that your structure is safely stored before it can be damaged by the first snow storm.

With a little bit of planning, you can avoid the stress of the seasonal rush and enjoy your outdoor living space from the first blooms of spring to the last leaf of fall, all under the comfort and protection of your custom awning or outdoor enclosure.

Everyone knows that awnings and external shades provide visual interest and shade for homes, but they can also provide significant energy savings especially during the hot, summer months. Rising energy costs and tighter household budgets are bringing to light how this one-time investment can play a significant role in reducing energy consumption and expenses.

A 2012 study funded by the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA), shows that fabric awnings or exterior shades can save homeowners as much as $200 annually on their cooling costs.

“Homeowners often ask how well awnings and roller screens will help to cool their home and make them more comfortable. So PAMA initiated this study to develop credible information about the performance of window shading, as we work to educate home owners and the industry,” says John Gant, PAMA’ s Energy Committee Chairman. “This research uses complex computer simulations for a wide range of variables to generate predictions of the energy conservation.”

The study incorporated information about weather and energy costs, and included a number of variations including location, shade design and fabric. Energy savings varied depending on the number of windows, type of glass in the windows, window orientation and regional climate. The study focused mainly on older homes that are typically smaller and less insulated than newer construction with results supporting awnings and solar shades as “smart” retrofits to help make these older homes more energy efficient.

Full details of the study, can be found at www.awninginfo.com.http://www.awninginfo.com

Anything you create will only be as good as what you put into and that’s why we only use the highest quality parts and materials from only the trusted leaders in the awning and enclosure industry. We have spent decades researching and testing materials for use in our projects. We have worked hard to find and developed relationships with the leading suppliers of outdoor materials, motors, and components, companies with the same commitment to quality and service on which we pride ourselves.

When you purchase an awning or enclosure from us, you can feel confident that you’re getting only the best of the best. Whether it’s durable, weatherproof fabric; a reliable and smooth operating motor; or strong, structural elements to support your outdoor enclosure, you can count on us to deliver quality, reliable parts and service time and time again.

Some of our most valued partners include:

Dickson  |  Firesist  |  Para Industrial Group  |  Sattler

Serge Ferrari  |  ShelterLogic  |  Somfy  |  Sunbrella

When we are called out to service awnings for repair, we frequently find that the issues the owner is finding have resulted from use of low quality materials. We will always repair or replace using the top quality materials that our reputation is built on.

Based on the mission of a non-profit organization, Destination Imagination programs offer students the opportunity to solve open-ended “challenges” that incorporate STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), the arts, and service learning disciplines. Elementary, middle, and high school students form teams of up to seven members, and each team selects one of seven challenges to address. With the guidance of a teacher or parent, each team creates an action plan, and then the members work together for weeks, or sometimes months, to create a solution that solves the challenging problem. Each year, more than 1,200 teams from countries around the world – the U.S., China, Poland, Columbia, Brazil, and others – advance from local, regional, and national tournaments to earn a spot at the Destination Imagination global competition held in May at the University of Tennessee, where more than 15,000 attendees celebrate creativity.

This year, both of my sons’ teams competed at DI Global, and they came in 6th and 32nd in the world. Thanks to donations by fellow companies in awning and marine businesses, all the materials that we used to meet the challenge were recycled or scrap pieces. We gratefully acknowledge their donations, and invite readers to donate their leftover materials for DI program participants to recycle. Check with your local school system for details, or visit www.DestinationImagination.org for more information.

Malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is diagnosed in approximately 160,000 Americans each year, and overexposure to UV radiation, commonly known as sunburn, in children is one of the biggest risk factors contributing to Malignant melanoma. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends limiting UV exposure as one of the most effective means of preventing Malignant melanoma. As an integral part of its SPOT Skin Cancer education and prevention program,  AAD offers a Shade Structure Grant Program for public schools and non-profit organizations.

The AAD Shade Structure Grant Program awards grants of up to $8,000 for the purchase and installation of permanent shade structures for areas where children play or learn outdoors such as playgrounds, pools and recreation spaces. Since 2000, the American Academy of Dermatology has awarded more than 307 Shade Structure Grants to organizations across the country. Together, these structures provide shade each day for more than 600,000 individuals across the country.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be a non-profit organization or public school which serves children between the ages of 4 and 18. Applicants must also be sponsored by an AAD member dermatologist and demonstrate that they have an active sun safety program that has been in place for at least one year. AAD will begin accepting applications for the 2015 grant cycle on October 1, 2014. For more information on how to apply, please visit www.aad.org.

This Article is from Bob Vila, this content originally appeared Here.

Homeowners looking to reduce air conditioning costs and shield interior furnishings from the sun’s harsh glare may want to consider adding awnings.

Fixed or retractable awnings can significantly reduce a home’s air conditioning usage in the summer, saving an estimated $200 or more annually, according to a study from the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA).

“The sun’s rays through glass are responsible for almost 20% of the load on your air conditioner,” says Michelle Sahlin, managing director of PAMA. “Awnings reduce direct solar gain through windows.” The study found that awnings not only save money for homeowners but also contribute to a reduction in demand for energy, making them an environmentally responsible choice for homeowners concerned about greenhouse gas emissions.

“People don’t realize that there are more eco-friendly ways to stay cool,” points out Byron Yonce, chairman of PAMA. “While turning up the air conditioner results in higher energy bills, awnings and shades work with the air conditioner to keep your home cooler and reduce the need for additional energy.”

The American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends that homeowners use “optimized and/or moveable external shading devices, such as overhangs, awnings, and side fins” to minimize a building’s heat load. A fabric awning reduces heat gain by 55% to 65% during those hours when the sun shines directly on southern-facing windows or glass doors. That figure jumps to between 72% and 77% for western exposures.

Several different types of awnings are commonly available, including portable, fixed, and retractable designs. One important benefit of the latter is that they can fold up in winter, allowing the sun’s rays to penetrate through windows and glass doors, reducing energy usage by contributing to the temperature indoors.

Some retractable awnings are motorized and can be retracted or extended with the push of a button. Manual styles use a simple pulley-and-cord system. Most awnings have variable settings, so they can be opened partially, fully, or halfway.

Awnings can be aesthetically pleasing, especially as homeowners may choose among an array of fashionable fabrics (woven, coated, laminated and mesh) and trendy colorations (solids, stripes, and patterns).

Most awning fabrics are treated with water-repellent, plus soil- and stain-resistant finishes. Some are treated with a flame retardant. Awning frames are typically constructed of either galvanized steel or aluminum.

If you are looking to cut down on air conditioning costs and beautify your home’s exterior, add an awning… and beat the heat!

On July 18, 2013, Atlantic Awning was acquired by AvalaTec Awning (AvalaTec).

Founded earlier this year, AvalaTec is owned and operated by Cheryl Yennaco and Mark Horton, former Managing Partners of Atlantic Awning. Cheryl and Mark started their new company to follow their vision of a more high-tech approach to the design and installation of awnings and are pleased to bring this highly efficient and accurate approach to Atlantic Awning customers.

Select Atlantic Awning sales and operations staff will be retained as employees of AvalaTec. Atlantic’s Senior Managing Partner, Doug Yennaco, will retire and Jeff Yennaco will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

There’s no denying the classical beauty of an open-air pergola adorn with a fragrant web of summer blooms, but it’s traditional, open-topped design does little to protect you from damaging UV rays or a passing rain shower. AvalaTec Awning has partnered with ShadeFX Canopies to offer an attractive and durable alternative that combines the traditional beauty of a pergola with the practical protection afforded by a retractable awning.

Shade Pergolas combine the aesthetic beauty of a classic pergola shape with the comfort and protection provided by a retractable canopy. Shade Pergolas are waterproof, windproof, fade resistant, and attractive. They can be designed to cover large areas making them ideal for commercial installations such as restaurants, marinas, golf courses, hotels and resorts yet still affordable to the average homeowner. ShadeFX Canopies can be added to virtually any existing pergola, arbor, trellis or other outdoor structure to extend the usefulness and comfort of your outdoor living and entertaining spaces.

For more information on Shade Pergolas, contact the awning design professionals at AvalaTec Awning today.