Commercial Sun Shelters: A Buyer’s Guide

Posted by in Al fresco areas, Commercial outdoor areas

Choosing the right outdoor cover for your pub, bar or restaurant

With the sun finally shining, revellers up and down the country will be looking for the perfect place to relax and enjoy a cold beer, and as a business owner, no doubt you’ll be hoping to get a piece of the action. A well presented outdoor area is essential if you want to capitalise on the al fresco living trend and fight off the competition, and large, commercial sun shelters are central to this.

Commercial sun sheltersAwnings, parasols and retractable roofs can be used to protect your customers from the burning sensation that many of us Brits know too well. This in turn will help your pub, bar or restaurant to attract more visitors and encourage them to stay for longer.

But with so many different commercial sun shelters on the market, how can you be certain of making the right choice? This buyer’s guide will help you make the best decision for your business and your customers.

Commercial parasols


Parasols are ideal if you would like to provide shelter for your customers but don’t want anything too permanent. Having said that, you can also get large commercial parasols that are designed to be left up all year round and can even withstand gale force winds. These are particularly handy for big open spaces where a wall-mounted awning or fixed canopy would be out of the question.

Retractable awning

Retractable awnings

If your outdoor area adjoins a wall, a wall-mounted retractable awning may well be the most cost-effective solution. Awnings have come a long way since the striped fabric covers used to shade shop fascias in days gone by, and now you can get large, fully cassetted models that extend and retract at the touch of a button, should you so wish.

Freestanding awnings

Freestanding awnings

Freestanding awnings are a great alternative for outdoor areas that are not adjoined to a wall. Also known as butterfly awnings, these are fixed into the ground by means of a central pole but like wall-mounted awnings, they can be extended and retracted as and when the weather demands. Planning permission is usually required for freestanding awnings as they tend to be a permanent fixture.

Fixed canopy

Fixed canopies

If you’re looking for something with an altogether more permanent look and feel and are certain that you can get planning permission, a timber- or metal-framed fixed shelter is probably the best solution. Choose one with glass panelling to admit light and keep out the wind and rain, or opt for timber if you’re aiming for a more traditional look.

Retractable roof

Retractable roof systems

A folding retractable roof offers the best of all worlds. Usually made from a robust but flexible material like PVC, these extend and retract concertina-style, admitting rays on sunny days and providing reliable coverage when the weather takes a turn for the worst. They can even be fitted onto standalone frames with sliding glass wall panels to create fully adjustable ‘outdoor rooms’.

Once you have chosen a commercial sun shelter, all you’ll need is some decent outdoor furniture, a few plants for decoration and some outdoor lights. Add infra-red outdoor heaters, cushions and blankets, and you may struggle to get your customers to leave at all.

Inn-fresco supplies and fits a range of quality commercial sun shelters and offers a specialist outdoor design service to help businesses get the most out of their al fresco areas. Visit or call 0870 80 30 199 to enquire.