Specifying a Canopy – What to Consider

Specifying a Canopy – What to Consider

I sat down with Joshua Foord our Project Account Manager and asked him, what are the key points to remember when looking at specifying canopy, shelter or shade system for the education sector.  He said one might think canopies are there to protect against inclement weather, they can so do much more.  You need to look at the environment the canopy is required in and what does the canopy need to give your client to give the best result.  By getting in touch with us in the early stages of you project we can discuss this and suggest the best product to use.

Canopies, shelters and shade systems continue to grow in popularity within the education sector, with contractors increasingly funding themselves working alongside canopy specialists, due to the products’ wide range of uses; for instance, outdoor classrooms, parent waiting shelters, free flow play areas and playground shade. Whereas one might think canopies are there to protect against inclement weather, UV protection is of equal importance – school canopies can do so much more than protect from rain and snow.

At Able Canopies, we offer a range of wall mounted and free-standing canopies and will work closely with a contractor to deliver a system that is the most appropriate for the job in hand.

For any project, there are four main questions to consider:

  1. How is the canopy going to be used? For example, if it is to provide shelter between two buildings, there are some specialist walkway systems that can offer a cost-efficient solution. However, if the project is ambitious and complex, for example, a large area is looking to be covered for outdoor dining, activities, outdoor learning, or school events, then the wider structure needs to be considered – such as the number and position of the supporting posts required and how this could impact on the flow of pupils and teachers.
  2. Will the specified canopy fit into the available space?
    It may seem like an obvious point, but it pays to get an expert opinion who will assess the space, think about the access points and also make recommendations for any extra materials that may be required to make the system blend in, or indeed stand out. They will also consider areas such as the fixings, guttering and drainage. A design can be expertly developed to incorporate elements that ensure the project meets customer needs and provides practical elements, such as drainage.
  3. What material is the most suitable?
    There is a wide choice available. Aluminium is used in most canopies for schools as the material offers a strong, yet light framework. Steel is also popular, as it is strong and can be galvanised for ultimate corrosion protection. Glulam timber is a sustainable choice that offers a contemporary feel, and an alternative look using a natural material. It is perfect for large spaces. An array of roof panels are available, including polycarbonate, glass, and waterproof tensile fabric. Polycarbonate is often the most popular choice for schools for a cost-effective, safe, and high-quality solution, while glass is specified for its professional aesthetic and acoustic protection. Solar panels are eco-friendly and slow your client to meet CSR commitments – waterproof tensile fabric is a durable roof covering which offers high UV protection.

  1. How can I achieve a hassle-free installation? The key to any profitable canopy will be the installation. The earlier the project needs can be discussed and surveyed, the smoother the installation will be. For example, if bespoke fittings or fixings are required, the sooner these can be built into the specification, the better.It must also be accurate with safe working practices and cause minimum disruption (especially if this is taking place during school hours). It is crucial that a supplier is selected that will meet the specialist needs of the project. Pre-site visits are recommended, as they ensure that all aspects have been assessed and checked before the installation takes place. In an education environment, it is also crucial that projects are finished on time to avoid more disruption than is needed.

    In summary, commercial canopies are proving to be a great way to enhance a school environment for a variety of reasons. In order for a successful installation to take place, there are many aspects that should be examined in the design stages. Any complications can also be avoided by early coordination with a canopy expert who is able to advise on the correct structure for the customers’ requirements and help ensure a successful and effective process.

    For more information and to find out how to can assist you with your next project, call us on 0800 389 9072, or email sales@ablecanopies.co.uk In the meantime, download the below specification guide for our most popular canopy; The Coniston.

Able Canopies Ltd. design, manufacture and install commercial grade canopies, shade sails, awnings and shelters across the UK. We specialise in servicing the education, leisure, healthcare and retail sectors and have extensive experience working with architects and contracting firms on small and large projects.
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