Lateral arm awnings--the residential equivalent of those old-time shop awnings that were cranked out each morning--are slowly gaining popularity in this country.
Long a fixture in Europe, the awnings get their name from the two pivoting support arms that eliminate the use of posts at each corner. I've had a 14-foot-wide lateral awning on my house for several years now and it has provided excellent shelter from the sun and little or no shelter from rain.
The problem is that rainwater collects on the surface, forcing the fabric--and the support arms--to sag. I've never had a breakdown, but after one bout with moisture, I had to readjust the position of the support arms.
A Hollywood Hills homeowner confirms my observations. He recently installed a Perma System lateral arm awning purchased from Windowtech Custom Shading Systems, 1436 S. Shenandoah St., Los Angeles 90035. He shields a west-facing balcony with the retractable awning, allowing him to grow bromeliads that can't stand excessive sunlight.
When it rains, however, he cranks up the Swedish-made awning. The units cost from $915 for a 10-foot-wide awning that projects 8 1/2 feet to $1,114 for a 17-foot-wide unit that projects just under 6 feet, according to Kathleen Chriqui, president of Windowtech.
Arno Zwarg of Inter Trade Inc., 3175 Fujita St., Torrance, sells high-quality lateral-arm awnings from West Germany, European-made roll shutters and fixed and movable canopy awnings. He said that canopy awnings--most often seen on multifamily residential projects and stores--offer protection from both the sun and the rain.
"It's true that lateral-arm awnings were never intended to shelter an area from rain or high winds," Zwarg said. "They are for sun sheltering only. Canopies, with their rounded profile, shed water instead of collecting it."
Zwarg added that canopies, fixed or retractable, are all custom made; the price depends on the size and the number of units ordered. The photo accompanying this column shows canopies on a condominium in Mission Viejo.
Ganahl Lumber's fall class schedule for its school of woodworking and home building lists courses in furniture finishing, router principles, cabinetmaking, cabriole legs, woodcarving, decoy carving, home plumbing, home electrical, drywall repair and installation, window installation and door installation.
A schedule of classes can be obtained from Janice Slife at Ganahl Lumber Co., 1220 E. Ball Road, P.O. Box 31, Anaheim 92815-9880.