What Is An Awning?

Why Do Awnings All Look Different? 

Retail Commercial Fabric Awnings  | Image: Vestis Systems

Awnings & Architectural Products

As a leading manufacturer of American-made architectural products, Vestis Systems has perfected the design and construction of the aluminum awning system. Our company has been in business for nearly 150 years. It is proud of our team’s work to create awnings and canopy systems that are easy to install and aesthetically pleasing for building owners and customers alike. Over 2,000 projects have been completed with Vestis products, with more added every month.

Vestis Systems manufactures architectural products like aluminum awnings, canopies, and sunshades. In the world of architectural products, we continually see the confusion between products like awnings, canopies, and louvered sunshades; to us, these are separate product lines because they serve different purposes, with each having its specialties. This isn’t always the case with other architectural product companies. Because the world of architectural products is vast, you have other companies that make similar products but loosely refer to these products as the same, similar, or utterly different…no wonder you’re confused. With so many companies offering different architectural products, we decided somebody needs to explain what these products do and what makes them different.

Awnings, canopies, and sunshades are interchangeably used to describe architectural products. But to us, each product is very different and has unique features and functions. Our team thinks it’s essential to help our potential clients understand the differences between the products.

Awnings VS Canopies

There may be very little difference between an architectural awning or canopy to the untrained eye, but to the team at Vestis Systems, there is a big difference between the two. Let’s start with the look. At the basic level, awnings are a sheet of canvas or other material stretched on a frame and used to keep the sun or rain off a storefront, window, doorway, or deck. Vestis awnings are indeed sloped and can be made of metal or fabric. Business owners can even customize a fabric awning with their colors or logo to help make their branding more noticeable and potent, a bonus for a commercial awning.

(Left) Storefront Fabric Awning Compared To C-channel Canopy (Right) | Image: Vestis Systems

Awnings are primarily used exclusively over windows or doorways, but canopies can be designed to cover much larger areas, especially using a lightweight metal like aluminum compared to steel. Vestis aluminum canopies are manufactured entirely out of aluminum and are attached and suspended from the side of a building. They have a distinctive, industrial look, with exposed C-channel edges and corrugated aluminum. Like awnings, canopies offer shelter from the elements but can be utilized to span a more extended area. The use of aluminum makes it possible to lift and install Vestis canopies without heavy equipment or a large team.

Awnings and canopies can both be used to accomplish the same goal of offering shade and shelter while at the same time upgrading the curb appeal of your business or building. Both offer their advantages, which should be evaluated when deciding which Vestis product is right for your project. Vestis commercial awnings provide a more classic architectural look with a lower entry point and can be fabricated using fabric or metal over the frame. Our commercial canopies are durable and have a modern look, they are perfect for spanning the entire frontage of a commercial building.

concrete building with louvered sunshades

Aluminum Canopy. | Image: Vestis Systems

Architectural Products


Vestis aluminum awnings offer a ton of customization options. We offer aluminum framed awnings with fabric or sheets of aluminum for coverage options, depending on which material works better for the aesthetics and design of your building. The fabric awning is the more traditional, classic look. Awnings are ideal for installation at windows and doors and help make spaces more welcoming to patrons as they approach your business. Awnings costs are generally low compared to other architectural products.

Fabric Awnings

Probably the most common architectural product is the fabric awning. Almost everybody has seen a typical fabric awning, like this Outback Steakhouse example. They are budget-friendly and simple to install, the downside is that they tend to show their age fairly quickly due to the fabric fading or tearing, and they have fallen out of style for most new modern commercial projects. Fabric Awning frames vary on material depending on what company you are working with; Vestis only uses aluminum frames on all of our modular architectural products because it’s light and will not rust. Fabric awnings are great for low-budget commercial projects. The most common commercial projects that use fabric awnings are restaurants and commercial building walkways.

Metal Awnings

We also offer a metal awning, they are very similar to a fabric awning, but we swap the fabric out for aluminum. Metal awnings are probably the least common architectural product; generally, architects and general contractors opt for a canopy instead of a metal awning. That said, metal awnings generally slope at an angle and have a long lifespan, much longer than the fabric awning. The problem is metal awnings are caught in-between the fabric awnings and architectural canopies, making the metal awning ok at several things but not really great at anything. Most commercial projects are better suited for other architectural products.

Metal Awning Compared To Fabric Awning. | Image: Vestis Systems

Aluminum Canopies

Vestis Systems aluminum canopies can be used in various ways – from sheltering windows and doors similar to our awnings or even being customized to cover larger areas like outdoor courtyards or seating areas. A single canopy could even be designed and prefabricated to span an entire storefront. This is made possible by using aluminum over heavier metals like steel. Our aluminum canopies are also fabricated and assembled entirely on our premises, requiring no field assembly and simply installed by a two-person team in about 5 hours. Architectural canopies have become very popular over the last decade because of their unique modern look, durability, and versatility.

Pre-Designed Canopies

Our pre-designed canopy system is an innovative modular system that is pre-engineered and lean manufactured to expedite turnaround times and accelerate commercial projects. We offer a set of pre-designed customization options like face types, lengths, widths, and colors. Pre-designed canopy systems are excellent for modern commercial projects that don’t have custom needs that fall out of the scope of our options. You can install our canopy systems with only a two-person crew and no field assembly needed.

Custom Canopies

Need a canopy with some custom features? Well, that’s when our Vestis Systems custom aluminum canopy comes into play. Our custom canopies are built from aluminum but can be designed to custom fit your project’s needs. Some commercial projects require custom face types, colors, lengths, and widths; with our custom canopies, we can build any architectural canopy design you need. Our custom canopies can be spec’d in and designed to fit any architectural canopy needs.

(Left) Custom Canopy Compared To Pre-Designed Canopy (Right) | Image: Vestis Systems

Innovative Canopy Features

At Vestis Systems, we are constantly pushing the limits of our systems and looking for new features that can unlock additional value for our clients. We have added advanced functions and features to our pre-designed canopies and custom canopies. 

  • Vesti Heat: This is a feature we believe is particularly valuable during the global pandemic. Our canopies can be fabricated with infrared heat systems, making them perfect for outdoor dining areas during colder months.
  • Vesti Mist: Like Vesti Heat, the Vesti Mist feature adds a misting system to your canopy – great for public spaces in the summer months.
  • L.E.D. Lighting and Security Cameras: These added features help make your commercial projects safer and more functional. 

Louvered Sunshades

Louvered Sunshades are one of the newest architectural products; louvered sunshades differ from our canopies and awnings. It is adjustable and can still allow some natural sunlight when needed. Our system features a strong aluminum frame with aluminum blades, and since the sunshades are louvered, you do not have to worry about snow loads. We even offer upgradable rotatable blades to allow natural sunlight to be controlled. Our louvered sunshades allow commercial buildings to become more sustainable and can help buildings pass stricter commercial regulations. Installing louvered sunshades is an excellent way for businesses to upgrade their building’s appearance and manage their energy costs and usage. Vestis louvered sunshades are built with the same commitment to detail and lean manufacturing as our awnings and canopies and are light, durable, and simple to install.

Best Use Of Commercial Projects

Best uses for commercial awnings, canopies, and sunshades.

Commercial awnings are best deployed to provide a budget-friendly shade and shelter system. A commercial awning adds value for businesses or residential buildings with visual appeal and functional utility as well. Aluminum Canopies provide a bigger projection and can offer more shade and shelter than awnings. Canopies are completely aluminum; this allows for a much more durable and modern look for commercial buildings. Louvered sunshades are unique because they can provide natural sunlight (check out the workplace benefits) and you don’t have to worry about snow loads. This helps building owners save on their energy costs by lowering cooling costs in the summer with extra shade and bringing down heating costs in the winter by allowing more sunlight; plus, you don’t have the worries of snow gathering on the sunshades.

Awnings, Canopies, and Louvered Sunshades can be installed over windows at schools or apartment complexes to help cut down on cooling costs during the summer by providing shade with a sustainable focus. Retail businesses like shops and restaurants help cut cooling costs while also offering the added benefit of giving customers a suitable entrance or exit with protection from rainy days.

The Best Put Their Trust In Vestis Systems

Over our company’s long history, some of the largest, most recognizable brands in America have put their trust in Vestis. Leaders like Wendy’s, T-Mobile, Ulta, Blaze Pizza, Domino’s know they can count on Vestis to deliver a quality, long-lasting product that meets their exact specifications every time. Vestis is also proud of our partnerships with local small businesses in our home city and state. Our team puts the same level of effort and attention to detail into fulfilling orders for multi-national corporations and mom-and-pop restaurants and boutiques alike. Every Vestis client is essential and treated the same. Our team spares no detail when considering every aspect of our modular architectural products. We are constantly keeping an eye on the industry and architectural trends to ensure our architectural products are keeping pace and remain innovative. We work hard to make sure we are offering our clients the best products and services possible.

Why Choose Vestis Systems

Vestis Systems is an industry leader in commercial awnings and architectural products. We are focused on true dedication to American-made quality manufacturing. We take pride in working efficiently to deliver a quality product that is durable, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to install. Every aspect of our awnings, canopies, and sunshades are pre-engineered to make for easy ordering and rapid turnaround times. That’s the Vestis difference.

vestis systems american made architectural products

American Made Architectural Products. | Image: Vestis Systems

Aluminum Makes All The Difference

Vestis commercial awnings, sunshades, and canopies are unique in that their frames are fabricated entirely from aluminum; this is beneficial for 4 core reasons. 

1.) Price- Aluminum is traditionally a more expensive material than steel, but you get what you pay for; aluminum cost of ownership with maintenance and durability quickly makes up the price difference.

2.) Installation- Installation time and cost are a big reason why you need to choose aluminum over steel. The average steel commercial canopy takes a full crew and heavy equipment to install.  And still, aluminum canopies are a third of the weight, making it much easier to work with, and no extra equipment like a crane is needed.

3.) Maintenance- Aluminum canopies have a much lower maintenance cost and look great for a much more extended period. Unlike steel, aluminum does not have iron in its composition. It can not rustVestis Systems chooses to finish their commercial canopies with a powder-coat finish, which allows for a protected, affordable finish that is resistant to chipping, scratching and fading.

4.) Look- The traditional steel canopy paint finish doesn’t last as long as anybody would like. You need to invest more upfront with aluminum canopies, but trust us, you get a superior architectural canopy that looks modern and is much more cost-efficient over time.

Our team has worked tirelessly to perfect our design and manufacturing methods using aluminum, and we believe it makes a world of difference for our clients. Aluminum is an underrated architectural material, but the engineers and designers at Vestis have tapped into its properties to create systems that offer distinctive forms and functions for our customers. An aluminum awning or canopy can be entirely prefabricated in our shop and shipped, ready to install in the field with no assembly required. Check our article on Aluminum VS Steel for more info.


aluminum canopy manufacture

Aluminum Makes The Difference. | Image: Vestis Systems

Lean Manufacturing

Every architectural product system is Lean Manufactured and American Made. We proudly design and manufacture everything in Spokane, WA. Lean manufacturing is in our team’s D.N.A., and every aspect of our design has been analyzed tirelessly in-house to maximize efficiency, minimize waste materials and allow us to deliver our finished products extremely quickly – with savings passed on to our customers. We go the extra mile in our design and manufacturing process to make sure your time is not wasted in the field.

Quality is at the heart of everything we do, and our small team works together as a family to make sure that all of our clients are given top-notch customer service. We are proud to treat each customer as part of our extended family and make service a part of our overarching mission. Every single Vestis Systems product that leaves our shop must meet the exact specifications of the customer. That is something you can trust.

Simple Installation

Allows you to take advantage of modular architectural aluminum systems. We engineer our architectural products to be simply installed on-site with no field assembly required. The average install time is 5 hours with only a two-person crew! Vestis awnings, canopies, and sunshades mount easily to buildings using an our simple installation process. Our team has worked tirelessly to optimize the structural design of our products, guaranteeing that they are no heavier than necessary. This makes installation easy. Your team won’t need to spend an entire day struggling to put the pieces together or rent a crane to lift the awning into position. Choosing Vestis products guarantees your team won’t waste additional hours struggling to build or mount your awning or canopy.

canopy installation

Canopy Installation | Image: Vestis Systems

Vestis Systems | Fast. Simple. Quality.

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