The use of the word ‘Pergola’ has changed way beyond its true original meaning in the UK a few years ago, with so many products being described as pergolas in the outdoor living market.
So what are our ‘retractable pergolas’ here? Our retractable pergolas have originated from around 2010 when large retractable fabric canopy systems were introduced into the UK being like an awning but supported by 2 front posts, offering far greater sizes than a self supporting, knuckle arm awning could offer. It is generally a product for providing larger sizes, greater wind resistance and also used to protect from rainfall as the fabric cover is generally far more taught with support from all 4 sides in the case of any of the models with ‘zip’ channels to the sides.
The pergola system does not use extending arms and acts more like an extending blind which also has the fabric neatly hidden in a cassette when closed, for protection when not in use.

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The Basic Principal

A Retractable Pergola should be your only choice if you are looking for a retractable fabric solution which is for sun and rain protection. It is the next step up from a retractable awning and has far higher wind ratings with extra taught fabric from the mechanics which also means set at the right angle the fabric will cope with rainfall protection too. It is an ideal domestic and commercial retractable canopy product with the benefits of being able to totally close up when not in use. Our retractable Pergolas are ALL electric operated as standard with various control methods and safety detection systems for when the wind is too strong.

Explanation and Principal

The modern ‘Pergola’ as a modern UK domestic household product is truly redefined and way more useful than a simple timber open structure for plant training growth and defining a seating area. The modern retractable pergola is a product to truly define and utilise outdoor space for additional comfortable space in any household. Create an area for using most of the year round and when adding outdoor kitchen appliances, lighting, heating and additional wind protection, you can entertain in style and comfort with family and friends, all enjoying our newly discovered love of outdoors since the Covid pandemic, with the health benefits and more often than not extra space you wouldn't find indoors without major remodelling.
A retractable fabric pergola offers levels of weather protection many other products cannot provide and you can extend and retract to suit at the push of a button, along with control of lights and heating too from the same remote handset.
Our retractable pergolas are mostly made to measure and with a massive choice of fabric colours along with framework colour options and finishes you can co ordinate to suit your home or preferences.

Extra Weather Protection

For the more bespoke models we offer the lighting and heating options are almost a must have option. However you can also add extras such as front mounted drop down vertical screens to provide additional weather protection but also privacy too. Manually operated or electric operated, retractable, drop down front valances, which can go right to the floor, offer the protection required on those cooler Autumn evenings, but also sun protection when your house garden or patio faces South or West and the low lying sun becomes an issue when outside.
Superb new types of special fabrics have developed over time to offer partial vision with fine perforations in the super tough special fabrics used on these valances. You don’t feel totally enclosed and can see your garden and other profiles from underneath your pergola.
There are some other excellent products for blocking the wind or low sunlight such as retractable, horizontal operating fabric pull out blinds or rising glass balustrade systems, all sold within our online shop.
Telescopic posts in some models also allow you to drop the height on one or both sides of your pergola when required to deal with low lying sun or to direct rainfall off one corner.

Large Size Sun Protection

The fabric retractable pergola systems are capable of larger sizes than a self supporting awning. If you have a large terrace or patio and truly want to create a covered area for many people then the Pergola is definitely a winner. The fabric can project up to a massive 6m from the back of the cassette housing and up to 6m wide (5m when projecting 6m). Basically you can cover up to 30 square meters in one unit. The units can then also be coupled together as twin units up to 10m wide and triple units if required.
As we have already said the wind speed rating is far higher than a normal awning and the fabric is kept taught at the sides with the ‘zipped’ channel model options. The fabric is pulled out from the cassette housing with a tensioned pulley system, dragging the front aluminum profile outwards, driven by the internal tube motor drive. This creates the tension on the fabric from front to back at all times.
What many customers say they really like is the fact they can have excellent sun shading, BUT it does not block out the sunlight and create a gloomy dark area like a solid louvre roof system will do. The very high quality and robust fabrics let light bleed through at different levels, depending on the final fabric choice.

Make it an ‘Outdoor Room’

Carefully specified you can install the right textile pergola system with both the sides and the front set up with retractable fabric protection blinds. Installed with the right infra red heating units and also LED lighting you can create a perfect space outdoors for use well into the evenings and also used for many more weeks of the year when cooler winds have arrived.
(images of the Weinor Plaza with front and side blinds) LED lighting is now so good with technology advances and incorporated either into the rear cassette or in the front support posts or side channel sections you can take control of some wonderful ambient or full blown lighting to create the perfect outdoor space in the evenings.
The infra red heating units are also so good nowadays and there are so many options in terms of wall mounted or floor standing units depending on your requirements. We don’t sell the widest range of infra red heaters and if you do want a floor mounted mobile system then you will find plenty of good quality systems online. What we do offer are the highest quality wall mounted or structure mounted heaters all designed and built to incorporate with the relevant brand and system chosen with colour co ordination in many cases too.

Frequently Asked Questions

  •   What is a Retractable Pergola compared to a Traditional Pergola?

    The word ‘Pergola’ has been adopted over the last few years by the blind and awnings industry to describe various framework supported structures, usually in aluminium, which have either a retractable fabric canopy built in or more recently aluminium blades. Google has also adopted this word of course so now there is often confusion. The traditional pergola is a wooden structure in a garden to train plants and create a very slightly shaded but defined area. No rain protection at all and minimal sun shade, especially when the sun is at full height.
    We refer here in this context to an electric operated, retractable, fabric canopy, which is driven in and out of an aluminium cassette using a tensioned belt system hidden in the side of the channels, which also have the fabric zipped into on some models for extra tension on the canopy. A modern retractable pergola system is an ideal choice for anyone wanting sun and rain shade and usually a slightly larger system than a normal awning can achieve, especially in the projection from the supporting wall. It will have a higher wind rating with the fabric not being supported only by arms and will also generally cover up to 30 square metres in one system, with a maximum projection of 6m. It is the next step up from the retractable awning and there are also higher performance systems with rain guttering incorporated, which can have sides and front infilled too. These systems use a much thicker fabric which is fully waterproof and many have a snow loading too.

  •   Does a Retractable Pergola cost more than a normal Awning?

    Yes is the straight answer, unless maybe you don’t compare like for like size. The pergola is far more complex and has more material involved. There is an aluminium framework structure and then the retractable fabric system which is built in and is always electrically operated because of the tensions involved and also because they are usually far greater projections than an awning.
    Pergolas of any worth require the support posts to be properly fixed to a foundation to hold the entire system steady in higher winds. There are self supported pergola options and also they can use weight boxes for free standing when ground fixing is impossible or tricky.

  •   Do you require planning permission for a Retractable Pergola?

    The answer often depends on the exact situation and proximity to neighbours and other factors such as height and even colour in a conservation area. Every local authority could have a slightly different view on a pergola fitted with slightly contentious aspects.
    Normally most retractable pergolas can be fitted, just like an awning can be without any need to ask permission or obtain planning permission, mainly because the product is categorised as a temporary structure. Keep the height to a minimum and no one can bother you about it unless you are perhaps in conservation areas and the like.
    Obviously if you are looking to fit a very large pergola, which is out of keeping and also out of proportion with your house size, then you might invite complaints if it can be seen by others or indeed blocks any of their own light in their garden. This should be common sense.
    Fitting the system high in the air on a platform and above 3m from the ground could also invite issues and complaints. Every situation is slightly different but we have never been asked to assist with planning permission on any retractable pergola so far, assuming this to mean it isn’t a problem for most households in the UK. If in doubt a quick call to your local council should provide the answers you require.

  •   Can you retrofit a modified retractable awning/pergola system to an existing timber pergola?

    The answer is yes of course you can, BUT a lot will depend on your expectations on what you want to achieve by doing this? If you want some sun shade and sun shade only then it might be a lot easier to achieve this with several retractable belt driven blind systems designed to run horizontally and also built for outdoor use. There are plenty of these systems manufactured by specialist companies for exterior awning and blind products and we offer a few on our site to consider. Many different fixing brackets sill help ensure you can fix securely to your timber structure and bear in mind that it is highly likely a timber pergola outside will move from season to season with swelling and twisting, depending on the quality and species of timber you have used to build your pergola with.
    If your timber pergola is next to a house wall you could of course simply add a retractable awning above the timber structure and not fit to the structure at all.
    If you want the retractable fabric system to provide rain protection then you have to consider far more in terms of rainfall drainage and more protection from wind too. It is possible but might cost more than you think or often what you have already paid for your timber pergola structure. Done properly however this can be a great product combination for outdoor weather protection.

  •   Are the Retractable Pergolas made to measure?

    es, most of the retractable electric pergola systems we offer are made to measure on the width and the projection and also can be adjusted for the angle of the canopy cover and side channels to suit your property. We do also offer a range of standard size pergolas in limited sizes and colours which are all electrically operated still.

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New Awning on our victorian home 
After 24 years our two 'side by side' full cassette awnings (3.5m and 4.0m) started to show their age, so found Awnings Online to seek replacements. We were very impressed with the advice and knowledge of the products, and it was wonderful to discover that we were able to have one 7.0m awning. The sales person coprihensively showed us the quality and showed us the design of the Markilux 1600 awning, and this is what we ordered. Your sales person completeled the order for us promptly and the awning is now installed. We are delighted with the product, and we were very pleased with the efficiency and helpfulness of the whole Team at Awnings Online. Thank you.

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