Awnings sometimes need repairs done to their frames due to stuck leaves, malfunctioning joints, or a bent rod, but many people forget to take a look at the material that forms the cover of the awning. It's not until a gaping hole starts letting sunlight through that people realize the material has been damaged. In fact, smaller spots of damage can form well before any huge holes open up for a number of reasons. If you know what to look for, you can spot these early and have the material patched.
If your awning is near a tree, then the awning material becomes a handy runway for pests like squirrels and raccoons. If the awning is angled, and it most likely is, then the animals might use their claws a bit for traction. That can poke tiny holes in the material and make it fray. Check the material, or have an awning company check it, for spots of excessive wear if you know that backyard creatures are traversing the top of the awning.
One more animal to look out for is a cat. Be it your own or a neighborhood vagabond, a cat's claws can definitely do damage to a fabric awning. Note that not all animals will actually damage the material, but if you know they're up there, then you need to inspect the awning to be sure nothing bad is happening.
The idea that your awning can deteriorate simply by existing is a frustrating one, but it shouldn't be surprising. Just as sunlight can cause carpet to fade, or make plastic parts in your car's passenger cabin dry out and crack, so too can it make your awning material fade, stiffen, and crack. Just had a hot summer? Call in an awning company to check out the top surface.
Bashed by a Branch
You should keep your trees' branches trimmed back from the house and awning, but of course that doesn't always happen as frequently as it should, and those branches grow back, anyway. If a branch, not a twig, but a branch, falls on the awning during a storm, it can scrape the material and create premature wear. If you have to inspect your roof or trees after a storm, take a look at the awning, too.
Awnings are tough; you're not dealing with gauzy material that fails at the slightest touch. But you still need to keep an eye out for the material's integrity given the environmental conditions it can encounter. For more help, reach out to a company such as Lockhart Gene & Son Canvas Awnings.