If your business is in an area that sees a lot of snowfall in the winter and you are worried about how your awning is going to hold up, you are not alone. While small business owners in places where the sun is shining all the time have to worry about things like sun damage to their awnings, some have the opposite problem. In areas that experience large buildups of snow over the winter, there is potential for a weak awning to give way and collapse under the weight of all that snow. You hear horror stories about it every year, and as a small business owner, it’s extremely important to avoid mishaps like this. The good news is that you can minimize that danger by purchasing the right type of awning.
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering which awning to buy from a snow load standpoint isn’t the fabric, it’s the frame. The structure is what the awning snow load will primarily depend on. The frame manufacturer will be able to give you the estimated snow load, which you can compare to the type of snowfall you receive in your area.
When you think about it, it makes sense that the frame determines most of the strength of an awning. It’s what is really bearing the weight of what’s on top of the fabric. It’s the foundation of the awning and provides the support. It’s important to choose an awning frame carefully because there are plenty of poorly designed, inferior or inadequate framing materials out there that will collapse under the slightest pressure. Frame thickness and type of metal ( aluminum vs steel ) often contribute to the strength of the frame. Look for high quality frames from manufacturers with a good reputation. With all that being said, there are still fabric considerations that need to be made.
Snow buildup has a lot to do with the pitch of the awning. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but a flat awning is going to have significantly more snow buildup than an awning that has a smaller angle when it comes to the pitch. High-pitch awnings will basically let the snow slide right off; there’s nothing for it to build up on. The problem with this is that often a flat awning is built that way to accommodate many guests standing or sitting and eating under it, so buildup can matter even more than it normally might.
This is where snow removal can come in. If your business location experiences heavy snowfall and the temperatures are such that things don’t start melting for a while, it’s your responsibility as a business owner to ensure that snow doesn’t build up to an unmanageable height or weight. Awning snow removal services can take care of this for you. The more proactive you are about stopping snow buildup, the less you’ll have to worry about unfortunate leaks and / or collapses.
When it comes to awning leaks, how safe you are depends on the fabric. Woven fabrics absorb water and snow and often let it leak through, whereas some fabrics -- Herculite’s included -- are made to be waterproof. When fabrics absorb water from the snow instead of repelling it, they become compromised. They start to sag, and in locations where snow is a constant for much of the year, they pretty much stay wet. This can lead to mildew problems as well as just general unpleasantness when it comes to appearances.
Waterproof fabrics help to combat snow buildup in the first place. If your awning is made out of a fabric that actively repels water, it will also actively repel snow, which means snow generally won’t build up enough to get to a point where collapse or damage is a concern. These types of fabrics are also good for resisting leaks, which is important in any awning, even without snow-specific concerns.
Want to learn more about awning fabrics before making your next awning purchase? Download our free guide, "Five Factors to Consider when Determining Awning Fabric Quality"