Before air conditioning, awnings were often employed to block the sun and reduce the amount of heat entering the house. Now, in the 21st century, people are resurrecting low-cost, environmentally sound methods to reduce exterior heat from sunlight. But the cost of installing an awning over your door can be less than cheap. It can be free if you put in some leg work and labor.
Scrap Metal and Wood
Before you find your free materials, go to the library or search online for a specific awning template. Once you have the design in mind, along with the necessary materials and tools, you can always get in your car or simply put on your walking shoes and take a stroll around the neighborhood on garbage day. One person's junk is another person's treasure. But if you are looking for specific metals and woods to construct an awning over your door, try looking for websites that specialize in free stuff, such as Freecycle and Craigslist, where you can find general or specific tools and materials to fit your needs. People may require you to pick up the materials, but free is free.
By sewing your own awning you can choose to keep things very simple (one cloth and two supporting poles or chains) or add a little complexity to your design. Find a fabric with a design that goes with your home and which will successfully block the sun and significantly lower the heat beneath the awning. For the design, consider mimicking the sun screens placed under windshields to keep the car cool. Search online or in your garage or closet for appropriate material. Once you have a durable, aesthetically pleasing block of fabric, grab a ladder and attach the awning to your house (depending on the house exterior, you'll need screws, nails or glue or a combination of these products). To support the outer edges of your fabric awning, either erect two metal or wood poles or attach chains or ropes to the fabric and to the house.
A used door, preferably made from aluminum or plastic, offers a simple solution to shading your front entrance from the heat of the sun. This strategy is especially beneficial if you have an old door in your garage or basement that matches your current front door. Awning manufacturers such as Screenhouse advertise features in their metal awnings such as built-in front rain gutters and easy installation. But most doors have grooves that could work to channel the rain, and installing one single metal or plastic piece can be very easy. Additionally, manufactured awnings often only block the sun when it is directly overhead, but with a door-awning stretched lengthwise across the wall, you can block the sun from other directions. To install a door awning, you may need to cover a window or screen with scrap metal and then seal and paint the structure before installing the piece onto your wall.