Q: How is Thatcher Retractables different from other awning dealers?
A: Thatcher Retractables is the only local Chicagoland company that manufactures, installs and services retractable awnings. Other dealers may sell and install awnings, or manufacture and ship the awnings to you, but we are the only company to offer our customers an easy, one-step process. This results in world class customer service, expert awning installation, and most importantly, we can offer higher quality products for guaranteed low prices.
Q: Does Thatcher Retractable serve my community?
A: Thatcher Retractables serves an area in a 75 mile radius of Burr Ridge, IL (I-55 &I-294.) This area includes Cook, DuPage, Will, Kane, Kendall, McHenry, and Lake County in Illinois and Porter and Lake County in Indiana. We also serve southern Wisconsin. In these areas, we will provide an in-home consultation. If you have a vacation home where you would like a Thatcher Retractable installed, contact us locally or bring photos to our showroom. We have installed awnings throughout Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. If you have questions, give us a call or send an email.
Q: Can I install a retractable awning myself?
A: It is possible for some customers to install a retractable awning, but most people choose to leave this job to a professional installer. If you are thinking of installing the awning yourself, you should make sure that you can perform the following:
Be able to lift 150 lbs. with two people.
Locate the studs of the house and accurately attach the brackets to the home or locate rafters to attach the home to the roof.
Be prepared to identify problems and adjust the awning after it is installed. Note:very few awning dealers will service an awning that they did not install.
In addition, you should be prepared to take financial responsibility for any damage to the awning or your home. When you install the product, you become the general contractor.
Most importantly, installing the awning yourself will not really save money. If you compare Thatcher Retractables installed prices with competitors that do not install, you will find that the prices are competitive. Additionally, there are no hidden charges, such as delivery. Plus, Thatcher Retractables guarantees all of our installations, which saves you money and headache!
Q: Why are there no support poles on Thatcher Retractable awnings?
A: All Thatcher Retractable Awnings are lateral arm awnings. A lateral arm retractable awning uses spring-loaded arms to provide tension to the fabric as it rolls from a tube. The springs push out the arms to keep the fabric taut while the awning is extended. This style of awning is superior to the RV-Style Awning that drops from the side of the house. The RV-Style requires manual adjustment of side poles. Additionally, many customers find the RV-Style poles to be unsightly, and a barrier to moving around the deck or patio.
Q: How much wind can a Thatcher Retractable awning handle?
A: Retractable awnings are not meant to be left extended in harsh weather conditions. A good test is whether you could comfortably read a newspaper on your deck or patio.
For in depth information on this topic, check out our blog at www.chicagosawningexpert.com
Q: What sizes can a retractable awning be made?
A: Thatcher Retractable Awnings can be made as small as 3' or 4' for windows, and as large as 40' for large commercial awnings or an ambitious residential project. Our lateral arm awnings can project to a maximum of 16'. The homeowners choose awnings that suit their individual needs. The most common sizes are between 11’ & 18’ wide, with a projection from the home of 10’- 13'.
Q: How long will the installation take?
A: Professional installation usually takes between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the size of the awning and the complexity of the installation. As a part of the installation process, the installers will make sure that your expectations have been met, and demonstrate how to operate and care for the awning.
Q: What is the fabric and how long does it last? How many colors are there?
A: Thatcher Retractables uses only 100% Solution Dyed Woven Acrylic Fabric. The advantage of this type of fabric is that the color is dyed completely through the material. This makes the fabric more resistant to the fading caused by UVA and UVB Rays (harmful Ultra-Violet Rays from the sun, which have been proven to cause sunburn and skin cancer). In fact, these fabrics block 98% of UVA & UVB rays, and are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Because the fabric is woven, it is strong enough to withstand years of being stretched by the arms of the awnings and endure our harsh Chicago weather. Sunbrella and Para fabrics are under warranty for a period of 10 years, and typically last 10-12 years.
Thatcher Retractables offers over 600 shades and patterns of Dixon, Sauleda, Para, Sattler and Sunbrella colors. These materials provide optimum quality and offer the greatest selection of colors and patterns.
Q: I live in a home that has a homeowner’s association. Are these awnings allowed?
A: Many homeowner associations already have rules regarding retractable awnings, and Thatcher Retractables can comply with the existing rules.
In addition, Thatcher Retractables has worked with many associations, small and large, to create standards that work for both the individual home owners and the association board. Thatcher Retractables has gone through the extensive process of setting up a set of easily adopted bylaws with specific restrictions that will allow homeowners to enjoy an awning while maintaining the desired appearance for the community. Additionally, Thatcher Retractables has a legally vetted RESPONSIBILITY WAIVER that indemnifies the association if any damage occurs or the product is improperly maintained. We have successfully implemented this process at Savanah Landings, Aspen Shores at Sunset Ridge, and two dozen other communities small and large in the ChicagoLand Area.
Some communities that we have worked with are: DelWebb Shorewood, DelWebb Elgin, DelWebb Huntley, Carillon Lakes, Carillon, Grand Haven, Carillon StoneGate, and many more.
Q: What do I do with the awning in the winter?
A: Even in the case that an awning is under an eave, or the awning was installed with an optional protective hood, it is always advisable to remove the valance for the winter. This is a simple process, and we provide full instructions on how to slide the valance out of its track in the front bar.
If your awning’s fabric cover is exposed when retracted for the winter, a Winter Cover can be purchased that protects the fabric and valance. Our Winter Covers are manufactured from high-quality vinyl, and custom fit to slide easily over your awning. We have a several colors to choose from, to ensure that the Winter Cover suits your home.
These measures are done to extend the life and beauty of the fabric, and are not truly necessary for the awning to operate correctly. The powder-coated aluminum frame will withstand years of exposure to the elements.
Q: Should I get a motorized or manual awning?
A: In most cases, a motorized awning is recommended. An awning can be operated manually, but some strength is needed to bring the awning in against the tension of the arms. The majority of people choose a motorized remote control operation, because the ease of operation outweighs the slight cost difference.
Q: What if I have limited space below my soffit or overhang?
A: Thatcher Retractable Awnings require approximately 8” of space between the top of the windows or doors and the bottom of the soffit or overhang. All awnings should be at least 90” (or 7’6”) off the ground, in order to provide sufficient clearance and comfort during use. If your home does not have those conditions, don’t worry. The awning can be installed using special roof mount brackets. This is a desirable installation on Tri-Level and Ranch style homes. Note- No need to worry about the brackets causing your roof to leak. We guarantee the installation!
Q: Can an awning be installed on vinyl siding, aluminum siding, brick, stucco, etc.?
A: Thatcher Retractable awnings can be installed on any siding surface. Each installation requires different specifications; your installation will be explained by one of our experts.
Q: Do I need to get an electrician to hook up the motor?
A: No electrician is needed to install the electric. The motor comes with an outdoor cord that plugs into your existing 3-prong grounded outlet.
Q: Will a Thatcher Retractable protect me from rain or snow?
A: Thatcher Retractables are engineered to handle light rain and wind. Water should never be allowed to pool on the fabric, so supervision is, as always, required when using the awning in light rain. Thatcher Retractables are NOT engineered to handle any kind of a snow-load. If you are looking for a product to handle these conditions, check out our Gennius Outdoor Rooms.
Q: Do I need a protective hood for my awning?
A: If the awning is under a soffit or eave, you do NOT need a hood. If the awning is exposed to the elements, you may choose to purchase the optional hood. If you choose to do so, it is important to note that we recommend removing your valance in the winter as this is not covered by the hood. In Chicago, many extreme weather conditions occur in the winter and our winter cover is also a cost-effective solution.
Q: How do I get shade when the sun is lower in the sky?
A: Our most popular accessories are our Front and Side Solar Screens. These are manufactured of an open-weave mesh material that enables you to look through the screen without obstruction. At the same time, our Solar Screens provide additional sun protection, no matter the angle of the sun.
Q: How do retractable awnings affect the temperature on my deck or patio? Inside my home?
A: Thatcher Retractable awnings reduce the temperature on your deck or patio by up to 20 degrees. Also, our fabric awnings reduce heat gain by 55-65% on Southern facing windows and 72-77% of Western facing windows. These properties make retractable awnings an excellent way to save on cooling costs.
Q: What is the InvisiSeal Process and why is it better?
A: Thatcher Retractables uses the InvisiSeal Process to heat-seal the widths of fabric together. This has two benefits over traditional double needle sewing. The first benefit is the strength of the seam. By using heat and pressure, the material fuses together and has a much smaller failure rate than thread. The other benefit of this process is that the seam is virtually invisible. Lesser awning manufacturers use automated machines to sew the fabric to increase the speed of production. For this reason, they do not change the color of thread to match the awning. Many home owners are dissatisfied with the unsightly visibility of the thread on the seams.
Q: Is the awning fully extended even though the arms are not completely straight?
A: Yes. The arms must always have tension outward against the fabric in order for the awning to operate correctly. Thatcher Retractables typically sets the outward limit of the motor to allow for a slight amount of fabric stretching to occur over time. It is also important to note, that by setting the limits of the motor too far out can result in premature wear to the motor. This occurs because the motor must work extra hard to "break" the arms free from a locked out position.
Q: What is the most common service concern for a lateral arm retractable awning?
A: There are actually two common service concerrns and they are related. (1) There is no power to the outlet the awning is plugged into. It is VERY common for a GFI outlet to pop. In fact, they are designed to work this way. Simply resetting the GFI fixes the issue in most cases. (2) The battery in the remote control needs to be replaced.
Other Common Service Concerns:
(1) The binding on the valance has worn over time and does not look good. Thatcher Retractables will repair your valance on your lateral arm retractable awning for FREE provided that you purchased your awning from Thatcher Retractables. Simply remove the side cap from your front bar, loosed the small locks that keep the valance in place, and send the valance to us. We will repair it and ship it back to you.
(2) One side of the awning is slightly lower than the other, OR the pitch has lowered over time. Thatcher Retractables can typically adjust the shoulder mechanism to even out your arms and adjust the pitch to the position you desire. Sudden large changes in pitch can be a sign that there is a problem with the installation or a component on your awning. If you experience this circumstance, you should contact our service department immediately.
(3) If you purchased your product from someone other than Thatcher Retractables and you are uncertain whether the product was installed correctly or is in proper working condition, Thatcher Retractables will still service the product. Call our service department to set up a field service call.