Australians aren't exactly strangers to humidity, and Melbourne is one of the most humid places in the world. The average relative humidity in any given area is something that influences many building projects, even seemingly minor ones. When you're installing outdoor awnings at your home, should the average humidity in your neck of the woods influence your choice of awning? Here's what you should know.
Water Vapour in the Air
Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air, and although it's generally associated with hot weather, cold places can be humid too. A generally high level of humidity should affect your choice of outdoor awning since an excessive amount of water vapour in the air can result in many fabrics intended for outdoor use developing mildew. Does this mean that your choices are fairly limited when it comes to outdoor awnings? Not at all.
Synthetic Is Best
There are numerous types of awnings that are better equipped to handle humidity than others, so your choices won't be limited at all. Synthetic awnings work best in humid conditions, so your chosen awning should be entirely acrylic, acrylic that has been coated with polyester, or even an acrylic-coated poly-cotton blend. Most outdoor awnings are largely synthetic anyway, although primarily vinyl awnings have shortcomings when it comes to dealing with humidity.
An awning's ability to withstand UV light is not entirely related to its fabric, with any outdoor awning receiving an additional UV protection coating as part of the manufacturing process, so choosing a synthetic awning to best cope with humidity will not compromise the awning's ability to repel UV light. The colour of the awning will make a difference, regardless of the material, with particular colours (namely lighter colours) having a far superior performance when it comes to the absorption, reflection, and general transmission of UV light.
Although humidity isn't necessarily indicative of heat, synthetic awnings can react to extreme heat. This isn't a major problem, but the potential for shrinkage (however minor) in hot weather can place undue stress on other components of the awning, such as its tension cables and torsion bar. You should check these components on a regular basis (especially during temperature extremes) and adjust them as needed to offset any shrinkage.
So when humidity is a factor (as it is in much of Australia), make sure your outdoor awning is up to the task.