Best in the City for Awnings




We’ve created this page to help you discover the benefits of fabric awnings, find ideas for awnings for your home and discuss some specifications. Awnings are an affordable home accessory that will enhance a beautiful home, help to reduce energy cooling costs, redirect rain and provide protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Tropical J’s is proud to offer many types of prefab awning types and styles, as well as the ability to custom manufacture awnings to almost any shape, size, or material. This page will help you learn a little about each type of awning, and each type is more fully explored in their own page.



If you are looking for an awning with posts, you are actually looking for a canopy.  If you are looking for a fabric curtain or shade, please explore our rope and pulley or our wire guide pages.
I Heat Transfer

“Awnings can directly affect energy use by simply blocking the sun.  Heat gain through windows is one of the main reasons why buildings need air conditioners….”
— John Carmody, Director, Center for Sustainable Building Research, University of Minnesota

New data shows that fabric awnings & exterior shades can help homeowners reduce cooling costs from 20% to than 50%

• Save money through reduced cooling bills
• Increase comfort by reducing home’s internal temperature
• Potentially reduce size of and mechanical wear on the home AC unit

“People don’t realize that there are more eco-friendly ways to stay cool.” says Byron Yonce, MFC, chairman of PAMA. “While turning up the air conditioner results in higher energy bills, awnings and shades work with the air conditioner to keep your home cooler and reduce the need for additional energy.” 

Everyone knows that awnings provide shade for homes. But record hot temperatures this past summer, rising energy costs and tighter household budgets are bringing to light the tangible role awnings and solar shades can play in efforts to reduce energy expenses.

A new energy study funded by The Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA), shows that fabric awnings or exterior shades can save homeowners as much as $200 annually by reducing the load on air conditioners (depending on where a home is located). The study, released this week, calculates the impact of awnings in 50 cities across the United States.

The study focused on older homes that are typically smaller and less insulated than newer construction. Resulting data supports awnings and solar shades as “smart” retrofits to help make older homes more energy efficient.

“The sun’s rays through glass are responsible for almost 20% of the load on your air conditioner,” says Michelle Sahlin, Managing Director of PAMA. “Awnings reduce direct solar gain through windows.”


II Awnings Types

Click on the titles to go directly to that awning’s product page.

Drop Arm Awnings Drop-ArmAwning We are an authorized dealer and installer of ABC’s Drop arm awnings.  These awnings have the ability to close when needed.  Spring loaded arms provide constant tension to fabric that is rolled on a tube and suspended by brackets.  By using a crank, the operator can raise the awning up or crank it down, to provide total privacy/UV protection.  These arms are manufactured in specific increments which means the system is only offered in a fixed range of height/projections.   The widths are customizable to the 1/8″ up to 20′ wide.  The awnings are made to order and brought in from the mainland to keep cost down.

Awnings – Retractable  Retractable Awning Retractable awnings are deployable shade systems.  At the push of a button, or the turn of a crank, you can extend most systems out to a projection of about 13′, and they can be up to 40′ wide.  Perhaps the most famous of the awnings, these awnings are a great solution to sun shade in a low wind environment.  These awnings are marketed as a cheap addition to provide full weather protection, but the reality is that they don’t do well with rains or high winds.  But for deployable sun protection at the push of a button, these systems can’t be beat.  The loads generated on the supporting structure can be quite large, so there must be something substantial to attach to.

Awnings – Custom – Fixed DSC07729 If a prefab just doesn’t have the right height or projection, you may want to explore custom awnings.  We have the ability to manufacture custom awnings to almost any size or shape, and out of steel, aluminum or stainless.  Our professional salesmen and design staff are available to work with home owners and contractors to design awnings that best fit the unique needs of the homeowner.  Many different fabrics including Sunbrella and many more acrylics and vinyl’s are available.  The frames are also offered in white, black and custom colors.  These awnings are made to order and manufactured with pride here in Hawaii.

III Awning Styles
Awnings can come in any shape and almost any size.  The diagram below illustrates the more common styles.  These styles can mix together, go around corner, change size, etc.
IV Choosing Fabrics

Fabrics:  Awning  covers are made from two types of fabrics, Solution dyed acrylic weaves which we refer to as Acrylics, and Vinyl coated or laminated polyesters which we refer to as Vinyls.   Acrylics have a woven look similar to canvas and vinyls tend to be much smoother and shinier (although there are some exceptions).  Tropical J’s custom awnings can be made out of any material.  Premanufactured awnings such as the drop arm awning, the Elegant awning, and our retractable awnings all have unique fabric choices.  See their product page for more information.

Acrylics:  For residential applications, we do not have to use fire retardant fabrics.  This allows us to offer Sunbrellas complete Awning and Marine Grade fabric collection.  The woven construction of the material gives it a furniture grade finish which most customers relate to “residential”.  Sunbrella’s yarns are solution dyed, which means that the yarn is dyed before it is woven.  This gives each yarn better UV protection and much longer color steadfastness.


Sunbrella Awning and Marine Grade:  This collection has over 150+ solids and patterns to choose from.  8 year warranty

Sunbrella Firesist:  The mill coats this fabric with a film that creates fire retardancy and meets the current code for fire retardant fabric.  It’s an expensive process so they offer this collection in a much smaller color pallet.

Vinyls:  There are many options when it comes to vinyls.  Vinyls are composed of an inner weave, called a scrim, that is then coated with a manufacturer’s unique composition.  The thickness of the coating usually yields greater warranties and also increases the cost per yard.  The composition of the coating determines the sheen, and each manufacturer offers their lines of fabrics in unique color pallets.  Your salesman will help determine which vinyl will fit your needs.


Weblon Coastline:  A high performance value vinyl fabric.  Weblon does not have such a heavy top coating which gives it a lighter weight and shorter warranty of 5 years.  Roll width 60 inches.

Patio 500:  A high performance value vinyl fabric.  Patio 500 is very similar to Weblon but it is slightly heavier.  It carries the same warranty.  Roll width 60 inches.

Serge Ferrari Pre Contraint 502:  A very high performance vinyl.  Ferrari has a thick topcoat which hides the scrim and gives it a very smooth look.  It has an 8 year warranty.  Roll width 70.87″

Weathertyte:  A very high performance vinyl.  Weathertyte is unique in that after the fabric is made, it is run through two rollers that stamp it and embed a pattern in it that makes it look woven.  It has a warranty of 8 years.  Roll width is 74 inches.

V Valances

There are two types of valances, hard and soft.   An awning can have one, the other, both, or neither.    Both types of valances can give the awning a unique look and also can serve as a background for graphics.

Hard Valance:  Hard refers to the valance as being part of the frame.  This valance can be any custom height and can be used as a place to put graphics/addresses on.  Hard valances are usually anywhere from 6″-8″ but they can be any size specified.

valanceSoft Valance:  Soft Valances are a decorative fabric that hangs from the perimeter of the awning.  They are available for an up charge.  Valances are made from the same fabric as the main cover and are available in many styles as illustrated in the chart To the right.  They are finished with an accent fabric called “binding” which is available in many color options.  In the picture on the right, the light blue represents the fabric and the dark blue represents the binding.  Downloads of the valance styles and binding color options are available here or at the top of the page.

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