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choosing the right folding-arm awning choosing the right folding-arm awning

How to choose your folding arm awning?

So you've decided: you are going to treat yourself to a folding-arm awning, so that you can make the most of your outdoor area and expand your living space with a shaded terrace. At Dickson, we believe that an awning adds more life to your home, as well as extra space in the form of a cocoon-like area on your terrace. But it is important to choose the right one Here are some tips to guide you in your choice.

A folding arm awning is an investment

Of course, budget is an important factor, but it is important to look at all the criteria closely, not just the price! A folding-arm awning is a long-term investment that will multiply your opportunities for quality time in the shade while extending your living space by adding a well-protected outdoor area to your home. It could even increase the value of your property.

investment folding-arm awning investment folding-arm awning

Taking the environment into account for your folding arm awning

Various criteria come into play when you are choosing a folding-arm awning: region, configuration of the home, orientation, age of the home, windows and doors, size of the terrace, etc. Contact an established fitter in your area to make sure you get expert advice and end up fully satisfied with your choice of folding-arm awning.

One of the biggest advantages of the folding-arm awning is its versatility. It will protect you against glare, UV rays and heat, as well as light rain and summer showers. No need to seek shelter inside as soon as you feel a raindrop if you choose an  awning with water-repellent or ultra-waterproof (MAX) fabric !

Folding-arm awnings are also adjustable: you can choose the projection you need to provide the amount of shade you want.

Measuring the right size of your folding arm awning

Define the projection of your folding-arm awning

The projection is the depth of the awning from the point where it is attached to your home. The bigger the projection, the more shaded space you will have. Nonetheless, the orientation of the terrace must also be taken into account when calculating the shaded surface area. To work out what you need, measure on the ground how much shade you need and add around 1.5 metres of depth to work out the dimensions of your awning. Here are some guide figures:

  • 2 metres on a small balcony: offers 1 metre of shade.
  • Awning with 3.5 m projection on mid-size terrace: around 2.5 m of shade
  • Awning with 4 m or more projection on large terrace: 3 m of shade or more

Calculate the width of your folding-arm awning

Generally, folding-arm awnings can go up to 6 metres wide, though some models are available in widths of 10 or 12 metres. Around 1 metre extra should be added to each end of a window or patio doors to provide enough shade and equally effective protection against glare inside the home.

Plan the height of your folding-arm awning

You are advised to allow for a height of around 2 metres under the bottom rail of the folding-arm awning for comfort and safety purposes. This measurement should be adjusted according to the height of your windows or doors and the presence of shutters, which the awning should not prevent from opening or closing.

The projection and angle of your awning must also be taken into account when calculating the height, because an awning with a large projection must be more tilted and therefore installed higher up.

It is worth noting that the angle (adjustable between 5 and 15°) can compensate for a lack of shade from a small awning, on a balcony, for example.


The possible dimensions for your folding-arm awning can vary greatly. Awning manufactures can advise you and offer you a custom-made folding-arm awning that suits your home perfectly.

Choosing the right quality and technical option for your folding arm awning

One of the biggest advantages of the folding-arm awning over other forms of solar protection is the fact that it is not connected to the ground, so it leaves all the space underneath it free to be used for a big table for hosting family and friends, a comfortable garden furniture set, or even a play area for children. You can design the terrace of your dreams in order to make the most of this extra living space, which will become an extension of your home.

Full-cassette, semi-cassette or monobloc folding-arm awning which is the best for you?

Basically, there are 3 types of folding-arm awning:

1. Full-cassette folding-arm awning

  • Premium model with maximum protection against the elements (wind, rain, pollution and dust), fading and general wear: its frame, articulated arms and fabric fold away into the cassette.
  • A sleek solution: once folded away, the awning looks really discreet on your façade.
  • Maintenance – of which very little is required, as the awning is well protected – must be carried out by a professional.

2. Semi-cassette folding-arm awning

  • The semi-cassette, meanwhile, protects the fabric and motor but not the valance, if there is one, and the arms fold on the outside, under the cassette.
  • The fabric is protected from most weather and wear if it is under the eaves.
  • The frame under the cassette is not very attractive in the closed position and more exposed to dirt.
  • Repairs are facilitated by easy access.

3. Monobloc folding-arm awning

  • This awning is less bulky, and despite its lack of cassette, it is quite sturdy.
  • The fabric and the arms, which are not as well protected, will require more regular maintenance. This type of awning is ideal under eaves or under a balcony, so that it is less exposed to the elements.
  • More affordable, less attractive solution.
  • Easy repairs.

Which opening system for your folding arm awning?

To open and close your folding-arm awning, there are various options available. They will impact both the cost of your awning and user comfort. Here are the main options:

opening folding-arm awning opening folding-arm awning
  • Manual-opening awning: If you will only use your awning now and again, try a manual folding-arm awning, with a crank handle opening system. This manual system is only available for small awnings (projection of less than 3 metres) and is the most affordable option, but some effort is required every time you use it !
  • Corded motorised awning: A switch installed inside or outside the home will open or close the awning. Installing this easy-to-use, practical system requires some building work, to pass the electrical cables through.
  • Remote-controlled motorised awning: Wireless remote, quick installation! You can open or close the awning from a distance, without needing to drill into the wall. On top of that, you can create an even smarter system with several sensors that control the awning remotely. Only automated awnings can offer real energy savings while ensuring optimal thermal and visual comfort.

Choosing the right fabric for your folding arm awning

The quality of the fabric you choose for your folding-arm awning will dictate how long the awning will last:

  • Polyester: this is the most affordable fabric on the market, but polyester is sensitive to UV rays. The fabric will soon fade, so its longevity is limited.
  • Micro-perforated fabric: this protects against around 80% of UV rays. Its colour lasts well over time and it is resistant to tearing. It is also breathable, so the air under the awning is pleasant. Please note, though, that the micro-perforations mean this fabric is not waterproof. Weight approx. 360 g/m².
  • Solution-dyed acrylic fabric: this is a must for awnings in terms of both resistance and longevity. The colour pigments permeate the fibres when they are manufactured, so the colour penetrates the thread, resulting in a long-lasting finish. This fabric is resistant to UVA and UVB rays, water-repellent and treated against mould and damp. Dickson Orchestra awning fabrics, which come with a warranty for up to 10 years, are available in 173 different designs, including solid colour, textured or patterned.


Dickson® fabrics block up to 95% of glare and heat and, depending on the colour, 90% to 100% of UV rays.

For more tips on choosing your awning fabric, read our articles: ‘How to choose your folding-arm awning fabric' and ‘What colour to choose for your folding arm awning fabric'.

choosing the right fabric choosing the right fabric

LAURIE Landry © LAURIE Landry

folding-arm awning options folding-arm awning options

Which options for my folding arm awning?

Depending on the model, various options will be available, so that you can make the most of your folding-arm awning:

  • Roll-up valance to filter out horizontal rays.
  • Side panel
  • Installation of a wind or sun sensor on a smart awning
  • Installation of heating or LED light under the cassette or arms


All of these options can be offered by your Dickson-approved awning manufacturer, who will advise you on the best to choose for your project.

LAURIE Landry © LAURIE Landry

Quality guarantees for your folding arm awning

Before making your choice, ensure your awning carries CE marking. This marking is mandatory for folding-arm awnings sold in the European Union. It is based on the EN 13 561 standard, which sets out the expected performance in terms of:

  • colour longevity (resistance to UV rays)
  • the fabric's mechanical strength
  • the system's resistance to wind


CE marking also indicates that your awning is compliant with safety standards.

Before making a final decision on the folding-arm awning model you will go for, ask for advice from one or some of our Dickson-approved awning manufacturers to benefit from their expertise, compare quotes and choose the product that suits you the best for optimal solar protection.

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