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Deciding between a wall-mounted or freestanding canopy for your school is easy when you make the considerations listed here.

Installing a canopy at your school is an excellent idea that you won’t regret. But there are some considerations you will need to make to determine whether a freestanding canopy or lean-to canopy is the right option for you.

Keep on reading on to discover what you need to know about both.

What Are Canopies For Schools?

Canopies for schools are structures that provide shade and shelter from the elements. You’ll find most canopies on school premises that are not shade sails are either stand-alone canopies or lean-to canopies.

The beauty of school canopies is that they have multiple practical uses in schools such as:

  • Covered walkways
  • Outdoor dining shelters
  • Outdoor classrooms
  • Additional classrooms or storage
  • School entrance shelters
  • Playground shelters
  • Covered seating areas

What Canopy Designs Are Available For Schools?

Most school canopy designs are aluminium or steel framed structures with polycarbonate or ‘tepee style’ roofs and optional side infills which can include shutters, doors, or side infills with windows. Adding side infills turns a shelter into a fully-fledged room that you can add light and heat too. 

While the structure of a school canopy often remains the same, the canopy design that you choose for your school will differ.

For example, you might choose a canopy design for a school walkway that looks like a long corridor. But in a different school, you might need a school walkway that doubles up as an extension to your school premises.

The most crucial element of your canopy design, with the exception to the materials, size and shape of the structure is whether you’ll choose a freestanding canopy or a lean-to canopy. 

What Is A Wall Mounted Canopy?

Wall-mounted canopies, also known as lean-to canopies, are canopy structures which are attached to the school building. The wall provides support to the structure, and in many designs, the joining wall will replace some of the steel supports.

What Are The Benefits Of Adding A Lean-to Canopy To Your School?

Lean-to canopies bring the following benefits:

  • Enhances the space directly outside your school premises without exposing anybody to the elements, which is perfect for providing shelter for students and parents who wait outside class at the end of the school day. Lean-to structures are also great for storage.
  • Reduces the number of posts that you will need, which further optimises the use of your sheltered space.
  • Can lower the cost of installation in some situations.
  • The school building provides additional shelter from the elements without the need to install side infills. 

What Considerations Do You Need To Make When Installing Lean-to Canopies?

Lean-to canopies are a fantastic idea, but there are some situations where a freestanding canopy would be a better choice. Here are some things you will need to consider:

  1. Wall-mounted canopies can limit the canopy’s applications
    Some schools install canopies to create extra classrooms or to provide comfort and shelter in all weathers. And of course, in British weather, we need warmth for a good part of the year. 

Lean-to canopies only provide some shelter. They wouldn’t be suitable for heating unless you install sides at the joining wall too, which can be counter-intuitive especially if you opted for a lean-to canopy to save space or installation costs. They can also present additional problems such as reducing the amount of natural light that comes into the original building.

  • There are critical structural considerations that you need to make

You need a wall strong enough to hold a lean-to canopy, and it’s vital for the success and safety of your installation. Fortunately, if you hire professionals, they will be able to advise you on what you will need to install a lean-to canopy.

It’s also critically important that you have permission from the owners of the wall you’re attaching your lean-to canopy to. You cannot install a wall-mounted canopy without this permission.

  • You will be restricted by design limitations

Lean-to canopies are only useful if you have the school layout to accommodate them. There is no real reason to install a lean-to canopy if it doesn’t work with the design of your school. 

What Is A Freestanding Canopy?

A freestanding canopy is a stand-alone structure. You can install it anywhere on your school premises without needing to fix it to an existing wall. 

What Are The Benefits Of Installing A Freestanding Canopy?

Freestanding canopies have the following benefits:

  • You can install free standing canopies wherever you want
  • You can install practically any size of canopy you need
  • Freestanding canopies can turn into all-season classrooms

What Considerations Will I Need To Make When Installing A Freestanding Canopy At A School?

Unlike the lean-to canopies, free standing canopies don’t have any limitations. The biggest issue you’ll need to consider is the cost. They can be higher priced than lean-to canopies, but their potential outweighs the cost by far! 

What Are The Pros and Cons Of Stand Alone Canopies?


  • Versatile
  • Can be all-weatherproof
  • Made to almost any size requirements
  • Potential to turn it into classroom or dining area
  • Long-lasting


  • Can be higher priced than a lean-to
  • There will be more uprights

What Are The Pros and Cons Of Lean-to Canopies?


  • Lean-to canopies are a convenient way to add shelter to your school
  • Can be less expensive than free standing canopies
  • They’re a great option for extending your classrooms or providing comfort for your students and staff who need to walk around your school premises


  • There are design and installation limitations with lean-to canopies
  • Although not impossible, it’s not practical to turn lean-to canopies into all-weather fully enclosed shelters

Deciding on whether to choose a wall-mounted or freestanding canopy for your school will depend on two main factors; first, what you want to use the shelter for and second if it’s safe and practical to install a wall-mounted canopy to your school premises.