Five Reasons to Choose a Translucent Canopy

Canopies serve many purposes. They can highlight an entryway, ease transitions and provide shelter. As the use of outdoor spaces grows following the pandemic, so does the value of incorporating canopies into new building designs or retrofits.

Therefore, it’s important to understand the material options when it comes to canopies. There are four main categories: fabric, metal, glass or a translucent solution, such as polycarbonate or fiberglass reinforced polymer (FRP).

Each of these materials has different qualities, but in many cases, a translucent canopy solution offers the most benefits.

Low Maintenance

Canopies require maintenance, like anything else, but they can be easy to neglect. They’re an odd, in-between structure that doesn’t easily fit into interior or exterior maintenance roles. You need to take safety precautions to clean the top of a canopy, and metal structure can easily corrode.

Translucent FRP canopies have few maintenance requirements. Not only can they be man-safe, so maintenance staff can easily walk across the top without additional safety features (unlike glass), but an FRP panel like Kalwall offers self-cleaning properties. This means simple rainfall will wash away dirt and debris, so frequent cleaning is less necessary. Plus, since the panels are translucent rather than transparent, debris cannot be seen from below.


Glass breaks. Translucent FRP doesn’t. If you need a canopy that stands up to the weather, Kalwall’s canopy panels are completely shatterproof and impact resistant, even meeting windborne debris protection codes up to Wind Zone 4, Missile Level D.

Kalwall panels are also mildew, fungus, corrosion and termite resistant.


As outdoor structures, canopies aren’t often thought of as daylighting structures. But if you stand under a metal canopy during broad daylight and find yourself immersed in darkness, you might realize the benefits of daylighting your canopies. Some metal canopies even have to resort to electric lighting during the day.

Glass canopies let in the light but also create issues with glare. This can be problematic, especially for entryways where sudden changes in light contrast ratios create visibility issues and increase the risk of trips and falls, especially among the elderly.

You can create a safe and smooth transition space with a translucent canopy. Kalwall panels diffuse light for glare-free spaces with balanced light contrast. Save on energy costs by relying on daylighting under canopies and create a better experience for users.


When the sun goes down, canopy lighting may be necessary. But when you use a translucent solution, you get an additional benefit: The artificial light is diffused outward in this case, creating a soft glow that further highlights a building and can help with wayfinding at night.

Bonus: Single-Source Solution

Regardless of the material you choose for your canopy panels, you still need a structure to hold them. A simple canopy can become expensive once you take into consideration the on-site coordination of multiple trades, including welders and painters.

Kalwall’s strategic partner offers a single-source solution. Structures Unlimited, Inc. provides complete canopy systems using translucent Kalwall panels over box-beam aluminum structure. These canopies are prefabricated and factory assembled to provide a streamlined process on site. And Structures Unlimited offers total responsibility from design assist and delegated-design engineering through to installation.

Many canopies use steel structure, as it’s already common at building sites. But aluminum structures are lightweight, durable, corrosion resistant and require less maintenance.

For an ideal translucent canopy solution that will save time and money while creating a better experience for building users, consider Kalwall and Structures Unlimited.

We’re here to help with your project. Kalwall technical representatives are highly trained and equipped to be an integral part of your team.

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