Retractable awnings are a great way to add shade and comfort to your outdoor space. They can also help you save energy and protect your furniture from fading. But before you buy one, you need to know how to measure for a retractable awning that fits your space and your needs.

Step 1: Measure the Height

The first thing you need to do is measure the height of the wall where you want to install your awning to make sure you have enough wall space. The ideal mounting height to give you the best pitch is using the 3/12 pitch rule. That means that the brackets on a 10 ft. projection awning should best be mounted at 9’ 6” high to give you the best pitch. That gives you about 7 feet under the front bar when the awning is extended. The back roller assembly is then mounted 30” higher, or 9’ 6”. On larger projection awnings, the awning should be mounted higher using the same 3/12 formula. Mounting the awning with this pitch allows the awning to function properly when extending and retracting and gives you the best possibility of rainwater flowing off the awning to give you that extra protection in light to moderate rain. Keep in mind that a retractable patio and deck awning is primarily used for sun protection and if you are using the awning for rain protection it must be monitored at all times. Also, projections larger than 11’ 6” do not shed water very well even with a good pitch. Retractable awnings also require a minimum height of 7’6” in from your deck or patio floor to the bottom of any roof, eave, or overhang. At 7’ 6” high, the awning will be mounted lower than normal and will be very flat also as it extends and retracts. Water will not shed off the awning when mounted flat or lower than on a 3/12 pitch. If you have a lower clearance, you may need to install the awning on the roof. Sunair makes roof mount brackets that adjust to the pitch of your roof. These brackets get bolted down into the roof rafters through your shingles and need to be caulked properly. The most common type of mounting brackets are wall brackets, which require 8 inches of clear, unobstructed horizontal space along the entire width of your awning at the height it is being mounted. If you don’t have enough wall space, you can use soffit brackets, which are installed on the underside of an overhang. Beam Brackets are also available to mount the awning underneath exposed wood beams.

Step 2: Measure the Width

Next, you need to measure the width of the space you want to cover with your awning. The width of the awning will be the exact measurement of its defined size. For example, to cover a 12-foot space, you will order a 12-foot-wide awning. The actual fabric width is usually a few inches less than the total awning width. Make sure you don’t have any down spouts in the middle of the wall, and make sure you have a full 12 ft or wider run that is not impeded by heavy conduits or downspouts. You should also consider how much shade you want and how big your patio or deck is. You may want to measure your patio area and add six inches to each side for optimal coverage as the fabric width is normally 5” less than the width of the awning frame. You can also keep an eye on the sun’s path and see what time of day you need shade the most. If the deck or patio faces South, you want to make sure the awning is as wide as possible, so you get more protection when the sun is lower in morning and late afternoon and evening from both sides.

Step 3: Measure the Projection

The projection of the awning is how far it extends from the wall when fully opened. The projection depends on the size and model of the awning, but it usually ranges from 5 feet to 14 ft. If the deck or patio faces West, you want the projection to be more, so you get more shade when the sun gets lower at end of the day. If you don’t maximize and install a 14 ft projection awning when deck or patio faces West, you can add a Valance Plus retractable valance as an option. The Valance plus retractable valance lowers up to 4 ft, so you get extra protection from the sun when it gets low on the horizon. This valance can be made of the same acrylic awning fabric as the top but can also be made with mesh fabric which lets more air through and gets you some visibility as well to enjoy the view. Valance Plus can also be motorized as an option, but you will need to upgrade to a multi-channel remote like a Situo 5 so the awning top is on Channel 1 and the valance plus is on Channel 2.

After many years of enjoyment, the awning frame can be recovered with new fabric. To measure projection for a fabric recover you should measure the projection of the fabric while the frame is fully extended, then add 12" to allow extra wraps to stay on the roller tube when fully extended. Make sure you measure the slope of the fabric and not out from the wall along the ground as it is different. The finished width of the fabric should be the same as what is on the existing frame.

You should also make sure that there are no obstacles or obstructions in the way of the projection, such as trees, fences, or power lines. You should also check that there is enough clearance for the arms and brackets of the awning.

Step 4: Choose other options like Hood cover, and Manual vs. Motorized options.

If the awning is mounted on a two-story house with an open exposed wall, it is a good idea to add the optional Hood Cover. The hood cover protects the awning when the fabric and awning is retracted up against the side of the house and not is use. It keeps dirt and snow from laying on top if the fabric and soiling it prematurely.

You may be giving it some thought whether you want to add and spend the extra money to motorize your Sunair awning you want to purchase. Usually the major factor is price, and everyone has a budget. The decision to motorize the awning is an important one. For awnings, the two most important factors to consider are the size of the awning and how often you will be using it. If you decide to motorize the awning, you also need to decide which side you want your electrical cord to hang down from your awning as you face the house, left or right as you stand on the deck or patio facing the house. It should be closest to your electrical outlet or power source. It is best not to install a motor in a corner next to an adjoining wall since the Somfy motor is a tubular design. If the motor ever has to be pulled off the frame, you need to make sure there is 2 – 3 feet of open wall space to pull motor out of the tube. Most motors today are controlled by remote, but the old hardwire motors are still available if you wish to simply have a wall switch inside your house. Home automation has also experienced massive technological changes and been made less expensive and simpler to integrate. We all want this technology for its convenience and the comfort it provides. Today it has become very easy and affordable to control your Sunair motorized awnings with a smartphone or tablet. Making a decision to motorize your new Sunair® awning is an easy one.


Measuring for a retractable awning is not difficult if you follow these steps and use a standard tape measure. You can also consult with your local Sunair® awning dealer or installer if you have any questions or doubts. Once you have your measurements, you can order your retractable awning and enjoy its benefits for years to come.

We hope this blog has helped you learn more about how to measure your awning. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Sunair awnings at 800-548-0408 or visit for more info. We would love to hear from you!