Greenovision Awnings: Create a Welcoming Entryway with Natural Light

It is important that a home’s entryways have roofs above the doorways, protecting the doors against weather. Snow, rain, sleet, hail and extensive UV radiation all have damaging effects on a home. Entryway roofs protect the threshold into the home from damaging moisture and creates a safe, snow and ice-free entry and exit. Most homes have ‘hard roofs’ over their entryways. By ‘hard roof,’ I am referring to a non-transparent, typical layered roof system, such as sub sheathing over rafters, flashing, tar-paper, then asphalt or metal roofing. These type roofing materials are expensive due to the labor of multiple applications of materials and in the end, create a dark and rather gloomy experience of entering into a home. Welcoming guests into the home is much more comfortable when the visitor and host can see one another well. Being able to see well breaks down feelings of uncertainty and makes for a more cheerful, less awkward welcoming.



In order to create a more friendly and welcoming entry, it is beneficial to increase natural light levels. However, it is still important to break down UV light and to protect the threshold and doorway from the elements. I have found that by designing and building awnings made with polycarbonate panels (greenhouse glazing), I can create a well-lit entry with the benefits of protection from weather and sunlight. The type of polycarbonate I use has a UV filter; it protects and preserves finished wood, increasing the lifespan of doors and other exterior materials.

In snow country, polycarbonate roofs, if given a minimum slope of 3/12, will usually slick off snow as soon as it falls.  If snow does collect, it slides off the awning when the temperature is above freezing. Having a snow-free roof keeps the light transmittance up and the snow load down. Reduced snow loading allows the roof to be constructed with fewer rafters, giving a simple, modern, less-cluttered appearance.

What if your entryway is too bright? Polycarbonate roof panels are an excellent sunlight filter. There are different filter ratios designed into polycarbonate, which can be used to reduce sunlight levels. Polycarbonate has some interesting qualities that can also be used to create various visual effects. The panels are made of square cells that when lit, give off prismatic effects that broadcast over its surfaces.  At night, lights can be aimed at the awning, causing the polycarbonate to look like a luminaire. This effect makes a home’s entryway stand out and come alive at night when guests are arriving.

Polycarbonate panels are sold in four-foot widths and can be cut at any length. No mid-span rafters are needed if the panels are fastened around the perimeter correctly. I usually custom-build the frames with welded metal for longevity. The metal frame will last through multiple polycarbonate re-roofs, but the polycarbonate panels will need to be replaced, as does all roofing. Polycarbonate is given a typical 10 yr warranty, but in my experience, it lasts much longer. Most of the time, I use a 16 mm triple celled panel, which has very good strength to weight ratio. Polycarbonate is flexible, unlike glass, which enables it to take hits from falling objects like hail, branches, and ice falling from roofs above.

Polycarbonate awnings can also be placed over large windows to protect them from Montana’s fierce hail storms. In Spring 2010, Bozeman, Montana was hit by a hailstorm that shot golf-ball sized hail. Most all Bozeman homeowners needed to replace at least one broken window. A polycarbonate awning placed over a window prevents this hail damage. A polycarbonate awning is also helpful during Montana’s hot summer. Although polycarbonate allows light to penetrate to the window, it breaks down heat and strong sunlight rays. This helps the home stay interior stay both cooler and naturally-lit.

The shadow line is of a filtered light, not completely dark

The proper design of each polycarbonate awning is crucial. Every home has its own unique architectural style, color schemes, layout issues, and structural details. It is important that each awning be designed to take these variables into account so that the results are aesthetic, efficient, strong, and add to the entryway a sense of welcoming.

I really enjoy building these unique polycarbonate awnings and have built them in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. A Greenovision Awning can be a beautiful and functional improvement to your home. Please check out the awnings section of the Greenovision website for more examples of previously built awnings.

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