Since the easing of the lockdown restrictions back in July, the hospitality sector has pulled out all the stops to welcome us back with open arms. The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ government scheme enabled us to dine out at a discounted rate, but as the British summer comes to an end, many temporary outdoor covers including brollies, parasols and pop-up marquees are showing the strain and are unlikely to survive the less clement weather the next few months will bring.
By Stuart Dantzic, Managing Director, Caribbean Blinds
As the COVID-19 restrictions don’t seem to be easing any time soon, now is the ideal time for restaurants, bars and hotels to look into weather-proofing their outdoor dining areas for the long term. Investing wisely in the right terrace coverings for your outdoor space can help keep your business going through the colder months.
Awnings, louvered pergolas & external blinds
As we transition into autumn/winter, many commercial establishments are realising how important their outdoor space is. Due to the current social distancing rules, indoor seating options have been hugely restricted and a more robust solution for the winter period is now required.
It is likely that the more temporary covers such as brollies and parasols won’t stand up to adverse conditions and although retractable awnings can protect and shelter customers from sun, shade and light rain showers at the touch of a button, they can be susceptible to damage from high winds. Modern pergolas with either sliding fabric or rotating aluminium louvered roofs and sides offer a more pragmatic solution, providing protection from heavy rain, gale force winds and even snow.
The framework of any terrace covering should ideally be manufactured from powder coated aluminium, as this super-strong, corrosion resistant and highly durable material can survive the knocks and bumps of bustling environments.
A minimum of two hi-tensile tear resistant stainless-steel cables that tension twin heavy duty double coiled springs are essential if using folding arms on retractable awnings. This ensures the fabric is under optimum tension, staying crisp and taut and able to withstand gusts of wind. For exposed locations, having folding arms with double the quantity of cables will offer increased wind resistance and tension.
No matter the type of outdoor fabric canopy used within your commercial space, it is more likely to stand the test of time if manufactured from acrylic fibres – one of the highest quality materials currently available for use within these types of products. Fit for purpose and dimensionally stable, acrylic will not warp or stretch when under tension. In addition to this, the material will not fade due to the solution dye that impregnates the colour right through to the core of the yarn.
Despite this, the material should still be treated with a nano tech coating such as TEXgard, an invisible protective shield embedded into the fibre that essentially generates a self-clean effect by preventing dirt and debris from settling, whilst also repelling water. The latest generation of acrylic, CBA (Clean, Brilliant Acrylic), ensures up to 50% less dirt adhesion in comparison to regular acrylic.
As the default mechanism within most outdoor canopies, motorised operation allows for consistent movement as well as an effortless extension and retraction process, subsequently lengthening the lifecycle of your product as a result.
Integrated motors safeguard against exposure to the elements, whilst secure rolling codes and frequency guarantees no interference. Intelligent sensors (in particular wind protection sensors) are highly recommended as once incorporated into the install, they can allow for closure of the product when left unattended.
As a potentially sizeable investment, adequate research around the most suitable all-weather canopy system (as well as the installation company) goes without saying. Your chosen specialist should boast a wealth of experience within their field, provide a range of solutions for your application and finally be open to your specific requirements and budget.
Wherever possible, choose a supplier that manufactures its products in the UK. Should anything go wrong, you can rest assured that it will be resolved quickly. Also, with an authentic ‘Made in Britain’ product, outstanding quality is usually guaranteed, and lead times are typically significantly shorter.