Design Loads for Awnings and Canopies

Loads for Awnings and Canopies are extremely important and must be designed for each structure. These Design Loads are categorized in the following ways:

Dead Load:  This is the self-weight of the awning or canopy frame, fabric, and hardware. This needs to be included with other design loads since it is always acting on the structure.

Wind Load:  Wind Loads are one of the most critical loads on most awnings and canopies. Important aspects of wind loads include speed or velocity, exposure, gusts, drag/lift, return period (time interval that is the basis for establishing the required design wind speed).

Snow Load:  Required Snow Loads are determined by maps published in building codes. Important considerations while designing for are ground snow, exposure, flat roof snow load, drifting, and return period.

Live Load:  These loads are from forces associated with humans, furniture, equipment, etc. Because these loads are moveable, the stipulation is an allowance for the most severe anticipated condition or case.

Ponding:  This potential load on an awning or canopy is to be addressed in one or a combination of the following actions – design must be taken structurally, keeping the fabric properly supported and taut, remove snow before it melts creating “ponds” of water.

Seismic Load:  This type of load is due to earthquakes or earth tremors and are to be designed according to specifications. Awnings and canopies typically fare well in earthquakes because they are lightweight and lighter structures have less mass resulting in smaller seismic forces being created and they are also typically small, secondary assemblies that are not usually subject to the significant destructive forces absorbed by the larger buildings.