Throughout history, awnings have been used to protect people and their belongings from the harsh rays of the sun. In America, awnings shaded windows since the 18th century, but they started gaining popularity early in the 19th century when they were used for commercial purposes. They were often placed on the front of stores to protect patrons as they window-shopped and to protect window displays from fading in the sunlight. At this time, they were simple and practical. Awning frames were typically made from wood or cast iron, and the fabric was usually cotton that was simply nailed to the frame.
Around the middle of the 19th century, iron plumbing pipe became more available and affordable. This material not only lasted much longer than wood, but it also could be bent into different shapes, so it quickly became the popular option for awning frames.
With this new frame, more options were available for the size and shape of awnings, but canvas still remained the standard material until the 1950s, when the new and affordable aluminum awning was desired among homeowners. The biggest appeal was the fact that aluminum could withstand the weather without tearing or fading, which the previous canvas awnings were known to do.
Throughout the next couple decades, improvements to both the fabric and the frame made canvas awnings more appealing again. Today’s awnings are made from a variety of materials. Aristocrat awnings are made from solution-dyed acrylic fabric and aluminum frames. They’re maintenance free and backed by a manufacturer’s warranty—twelve years for Northport series fabrics and a limited lifetime transferable warranty on the frames.