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Canopy Material Guide

Canopies offer a simple, modern way to transform a commercial facade. However, you can’t just plop any old canopy at the front of your business and expect it to impress your client base. You’ll really want to think about the type of canopy or awning materials you use, and how those can complement the structure’s design and the aesthetic of your building. The base materials — as well as any additional materials used to change the look or functionality of the canopy — will greatly affect the end result and determine how well a canopy serves your specific needs.

But if this is your first time ever considering a canopy for your business, you’ve probably got a lot of questions. For instance, what is the best material for canopies? What kind of longevity can you expect from different canopy materials? Do specific canopy materials have unique functions? Finally, where can you find quality, custom canopies made from the best materials on the market?

In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, so let’s get started!

What Material Are Canopies Made Of?

You may think of generic polyester or vinyl fabric when you imagine a canopy, but these materials are typically reserved for informal, temporary structures. For example, you might see a hard fabric canopy at a picnic, a family gathering, or a tailgate. Alternatively, more permanent architectural canopies are made using materials that see far less deterioration when exposed to the elements. Some of the best materials for outdoor use include aluminum, treated wood, and glass. These also happen to be some of the most popular architectural canopy materials.

In the sections below, we’ll take a closer look at each of these canopy materials and help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as their look, functionality, and durability.


There are a lot of reasons that aluminum is the go-to material for outdoor canopies. First and foremost, it has a sleek, modern appearance, and it is often used with designs that have clean lines and symmetry (though customized designs can vary). Additionally, aluminum is cost-effective and lightweight, especially when compared to heavier metals like stainless steel. Despite its lightweight composition, aluminum is extremely durable and can last for decades without much (if any) maintenance. Another great benefit of choosing aluminum is its ability to resist corrosion. Aluminum creates its own protective oxide when exposed to air, and this extra layer of protection greatly reduces the risk of corrosion and rust. Thanks to its versatility, aluminum can be used on its own or in conjunction with other materials, like glass or wood.

Though aluminum is likely the most popular material for canopies, it does have one or two drawbacks. Depending on the design, a canopy with an aluminum roof might make more noise when there’s inclement weather. The metal appearance might also not be the right fit for certain buildings or aesthetic preferences. For example, if your business has a classic “country store” exterior, the addition of a modern aluminum canopy may be a little jarring or uncharacteristic for your brand. Fortunately, custom louvered aluminum canopies can provide a more classic look that also helps improve airflow when the temperature rises.


Business owners have been using wood to create canopies and awnings for centuries. It’s practical, eco-friendly, durable, and potentially even more cost-effective than aluminum. It can also embody a lot of different aesthetics, from contemporary and clean to homey and rustic. It all depends on the finish. Speaking of finish, it’s necessary that wood is adequately treated so that it can withstand rain and snow without deteriorating. And while wood is quite durable, it is more prone to wear and tear than aluminum. For this reason, wood is often used as a complementary material, though it can be perfectly functional as the structure and roof of a canopy.


Finally, glass is a material that has gained more traction in recent years, particularly among urban businesses. Whether it’s frosted to reduce visibility or it’s completely clear, glass works well for the roof and any non-load-bearing additions to a canopy. Unlike wood, glass is not capable of being used on its own; it is best when combined with aluminum, wood, or both. Louvered glass gives canopies a unique look and structure that can keep out (or redirect) rain while allowing sunshine through.

The principal drawback to glass is that it’s not quite as durable as wood or aluminum. Sure, a glass-roof canopy can last for years without any issues, but glass canopies are at greater risk of cracks or other physical damage. It’s also important to consider that, without the right finish, glass is completely clear. If you want your canopy to be a source of shade and you also want to use glass, you’ll need a design that incorporates more opaque materials as part of the roof.

Canopy Material Coating & Finish

In most cases, you probably won’t want to use the base material in the form it has when arriving straight from the manufacturer. This look may come across as unfinished, which is why it’s usually a good idea to add some type of coating or finish that can really enhance the appeal of the materials and the canopy as a whole. The right coating or finish can not only make your canopy more eye-catching, but it could also help make it more resistant to erosion or water damage. Here are some popular coating and finish options:

  • RAL Black – Sometimes known as “jet black,” the RAL Black finish provides a deep and uniform black coating that embodies a sense of strength, durability, and modernity.
  • Bronze Matte Metallic – This subdued bronze finish offers a low-gloss, non-reflective surface that is both sophisticated and contemporary.
  • Black Matte: Black Matte works well in a wide range of environments, as it provides an understated black finish that won’t reflect a lot of light or become distracting.
  • Anodized Silver – Anodized Silver gives you the metallic sheen of silver, while also providing your canopy with a durable and resistant finish.
  • White Fine Texture: A white finish with a fine-grained texture, this option can help your canopy stand out visually and look clean and crisp at any time of day or night.

It’s also important to note that, if you choose a quality provider like Duralux, you can get customized coatings, finishes, and glosses to give your canopy material the perfect look.

The Most Popular Canopy Styles

Now that you know a little more about canopy materials and how they are used, let’s take a look at some of the most popular styles and products requested by customers. At Duralux, we have years of experience building custom canopies to fit all tastes and needs, but we’ve seen that the following options are most popular among business owners:

  • Alumilux – Alumilux is our signature extruded aluminum canopy that has various customization options, including multiple frame profile sizes, add-on options, reveals and indents, and roof pan designs.
  • Black Matte – While the finish and color is something that’s specific to each business, black matte is the most popular choice by far. It combines the power and sophistication of black coloration with the understated style of a non-reflective matte finish.
  • Hanger Rods – Hanger rods ranging from 0.3 inches to 1.0 inches in diameter tend to be the most popular hanging system, as they are durable and can be combined with cantilevers for additional support.
  • Downlights – Downlights can be installed into a recessed part of the canopy, ensuring that your lighting system doesn’t take up unnecessary space. Additionally, downlights are a popular option because they can function as focused spotlights or broader floodlights.

The Best Canopy Material For Businesses

Do you want an architectural canopy that will complement or enhance the visual appeal of your building? Are you looking for quality, durable materials that will look great and stand the test of time? Lastly, would you prefer to work with a trusted provider who can bring your custom canopy designs to life? If so, Duralux is the answer.

At Duralux, we source the top aluminum, wood, and glass materials to create our customized canopies. We also provide a variety of coating options, finishes, and gloss levels to match your specifications or desired look. If you want to get professionals to create something truly beautiful and functional for your front entrance or facade, our team can see your project from the planning stages all the way through to the final design and installation.

Are you interested in learning more about the best canopy material for your next project? Reach out to the experts at Duralux today!