How To Install a Retractable Awning

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Stud finder
Electric drill and appropriate drills (refer to installation manual)
Laser level or chalk line
Hammer and wood block, or rubber mallet
Crescent wrench and assorted metric wrenches
Assorted SAE wrenches
Phillips and flat head screwdrivers
Lag bolts (refer to installation manual)
Drill bits for setting lag bolts.
Ratchet set

The ultimate in awnings is one that retracts and rolls out with an electric motor. these awnings are typically used in pool or deck areas, are large enough to cover a good sized area, and provide you with the ultimate in enjoyment on hot summer days In this article we will focus on how to install a retractable awning, plus some tips and do's and don'ts.

What Is A Retractable Awning?

A retractable awning is one that runs in and out on a lateral spring-loaded arm that provides proper tension to the fabric. Usually quite large, the beauty of the retractable awning is that it can be rolled out to any desired coverage area, making it useful as an adjustable utility. These awnings are usually quite large, with a non-motorized version that is 24 feet wide by 12 feet deep. When buying a large awning such as this, you most definitely want a motorized version. Not only are they much easier to retract, but when a storm suddenly comes up, you are able to get the awning retracted a sealed in its housing. If you purchase a motorized retractable awning, make sure that you get one that has an override to allow you to retract the awning by hand.

Sizes, Shapes and Color

Retractable awnings come is sizes anywhere from 5 to 40 feet in width, the distance they can project out from a wall generally cannot exceed 14 feet. They come in hundreds of sizes and colors, and can be custom made for any individual needs. Installation can be accomplished by a do it yourselfer with advanced skills. You may need an electrician if you need hard wiring done from inside to outside outlets.

Tools Needed

The average home workshop will have most of the tools needed to install a retractable awning. These tools are:

  1. Tape measure
  2. Stud finder
  3. Electric drill and appropriate drills for installation. Refer to the installation manual for sizes.
  4. Laser level or chalk line
  5. Hammer and wood block, or rubber mallet
  6. Crescent wrench and assorted metric wrenches.
  7. Assorted SAE wrenches
  8. Phillips and flat head screwdrivers
  9. Appropriate lag bolts for installation- refer to installation manual for sizes.
  10. Appropriate drill bits for setting lag bolts.
  11. Ratchet set
  12. Lots of help!


It makes things a lot easier in installation if the mounting bar and hood can be placed under the soffit or eaves. When installing, you must insure that the lag bolts penetrate into the sheathing of the house - the siding or brick veneer will not carry the weight. If the home is designed in such a way that you cannot hit the interior studs, you may need to install a header board. Follow manufacturer instructions if this is required. The mounting height of the wall brackets will determine the final clearances. The pitch of the awning should be 3 inches for every 12 feet of fabric.

Let's begin:

  1. Lay out a chalk line or use laser level to determine location of awning.
  2. Measure from a door or window to where the outer bracket will be installed.
  3. From the interior, measure from the same door or window to find the wall stud. Write down this measurement.
  4. Using this same measurement on the exterior, mark on the wall about an 7/8" below chalk line.
  5. Drill a 1/8" locator hole to the center of the stud.
  6. Lay out a vertical line 4 to 5 inches long.
  7. Place mounting bracket on this line, insuring it is level with the chalk line. Mark mounting holes of bracket.
  8. Drill 1/8" hole to insure you are on stud center. When you are sure you are on center, fill locator holes before mounting studs.
  9. Using lag bolts, mount bracket. Listen for cracking wood when doing this - you want to be absolutely sure you are on center to give adequate support.
  10. Fasten other end bracket in place using the same procedure.
  11. Lift awning to brackets, and press awning bar into brackets, insuring that it is properly seated. Use a rubber mallet if needed to seat the bar.
  12. Follow all directions to finish installation. Each manufacturer is a bit different.

Set the Pitch

Set the pitch to your preferences, keeping in mind that if too much, people may hit their head. If too little, water may pool in the fabric, and cause damage. Awnings will have adjustment bolts to set the pitch.

Test both the electric motor and hand crank to insure that the awning rolls out smoothly. If everything works smoothly without jerking or pinching, you are finished.

Remember to retract a large awning if a storm threatens. The general recommendation is if you feel uncomfortable sitting under the awning, it needs to be retracted.

Enjoy the outdoors in pleasure this summer. Install a retractable awning, and relax in the shade.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.