Australian Shade News 2019

Shade Sail News

Welcome to Australian Shade News 2019

Shade sails are an ever-growing part of Australian life. Practical and still beautiful, shade sails are enhancing outdoor spaces across the country. Australian Shade News is here to keep you up-to-date with everything shade sail. Whether you’re planning to invest in a shade sail, or you already have one, Australian Shade News is the authoritative source of all of the news and information that you need.

News From SuperExpo 2019

In June this year, the Blind Manufacturers’ Association of Australia and the Specialised Textiles Association joined forces to put on SuperExpo 2019. It was the largest Australian trade show for specialised textiles, blinds and awnings. The four-day event attracted 112 exhibitors and nearly 4,000 visitors to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. The trade exhibition showcased a range of exciting new products and technologies.

Gale Pacific Dual Shade

DualShade 350 by Gale Pacific

Gale Pacific’s DualShade350 is a bold and unique new fabric. Their revolutionary new knit pattern allows this shade fabric to be a different colour on each side. DualShade 350 is a high-performance, durable and easy to maintain fabric that offers up to 93.6% UVR protection.  In a variety of modern and bold colour combinations, these sails can enhance any space.

SX Transparent Series by Hiraoka

When you need protection from the elements, but don’t want to lose natural light, Hiraoka has a solution. The SX Sundream Series is an innovative new range of heavy-duty waterproof fabrics. They can block harmful UV radiation while still letting light through. The Sundream H blocks up to 99.9% of UV radiation with up to 62% light transmission. It is also available in various colours. The Sundream Cool includes a heat-shielding layer. It reflects up to 30% more infrared light, reducing solar heat gain. The Sunclear is the most transparent fabric that Hiraoka produces. It has 65% light transmission while still blocking up to 99.9% of UV rays.

New Hardware from ProRig

Introducing the latest innovation for shade sail hardware: the ProRig Original Design Ezi Hold Dee Ring With Eye. A D-ring is a key part of any shade sail, it’s stitched into the corners of a sail and used to attach it to the fixing points. This new design, as the name suggests, now includes a retaining eye. The eye stabilises the connection and prevents the sail from pulling over to one side at the corners. Less movement means less wear and a longer life for the shade sail. This high-quality product is made of marine grade stainless steel. It also comes with a machine polish finish for added corrosion resistance.

Community & School Gardens

School gardens and greenhouses are becoming more and more popular around Australia. There are endless learning opportunities, for all ages, in a school garden. Gardens give kids a chance to get their hands dirty and engage their senses while learning. Teaching gardens are not just for helping to teach natural sciences. Taking care of a school garden can also promote cooperation, responsibility, sustainability, a sense of community, and healthy living.

Establishing a school or community garden can seem daunting, especially if you’re not gifted with a green thumb. There are plenty of support and education resources that can help you out. The Queensland Government Healthier Happier initiative has collated a range of helpful information to get your community or school garden started. 

Plants need different levels of light exposure to grow at their best. But did you know that there is more to it than light and shade? Plants are susceptible to all parts of the visible and invisible light spectrum. Today’s shade fabrics can filter UV rays and even specific colours. That means horticultural shade fabrics can help you create the right environment for any plant. They can also protect from birds, insects, sunburn and even hail.

Give your new garden or greenhouse plants a head start with horticultural shade netting. So what kind of shade netting is right for your plants? See our handy guide below to get started or give us a call to discuss the colour and weight options that are best for your garden.

Shade Sail for Community Gardening
Suggested Shade Factor %  Suggested UV Block %
Asparagus & Leafage 42 43
Alstroemeria (Inca Lilies) 26 35
Beans & Spinach 18 50
Berries 21 30
Carnations & Chrysanthemums 30 30
Clivias 30 30
Cucumbers 73 73
Cycads 60 60
Ferns 76 76
Grapes 14 25
Herbs 22 32
Nectarines & Citrus 14 20
Orchids 72 72
Palms 70 70
Pears, Plums & Apples 16 20
Peppers 23 37
Pot Plants 36 38
Roses 51 55
Seedlings – Fruit & Vegetable 32 35
Shrubs 30 30
Strawberries 30 30
Tomatoes 25 35

How Hot Is Your Playground?

As the Australian summers get hotter and awareness rises, shade and temperature have become two big concerns for parents. Play equipment is often too hot to use, and more and more cases of burned hands and feet are being reported. The temperature and available shade now play a huge role in parent’s decisions. They influence the parks that they visit, and even the school that they enrol their children in.

Creating shade isn’t just about protecting children from UV rays, it is also about lowering the temperature in outdoor areas. The Cool Schools Initiative is based on a research project from Western Sydney University. The study examined the surface temperatures at three outdoor play spaces in early learning centres in Sydney. The hottest surface that they found was a horrifying 105 degrees. Even common playground products like soft fall rubber and AstroTurf were dangerously hot. They averaged temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees, with a peak of 98°C.

Cool Schools Infrared Imagery

Keeping Kids Safe

Playgrounds and outdoor spaces at schools and early learning centres are designed to keep children safe. So how did these surface temperatures get so bad? We know that heat stress affects children more than adults, but, at the same time, minimal research has been done into ambient temperatures and children’s thermal comfort. The research generated from the Cool Schools Initiative is the first close look into outdoor spaces designed for children.  

There are many guidelines and sources of advice available from government bodies and not-for-profit organisations. They show how to create safe, fun and educational outdoor areas. Shade structures are recommended, but, recently, evidence has shown that outdoor areas are generally being neglected. The trend has been to rely on air conditioners, denying kids time outdoors in summer. This does keep them cool in the short-term. However, in the long-term, we all suffer. This approach often leads to those spaces being overlooked and not maintained properly, which makes them even hotter and unpleasant to use all year round. All of this adds to the worrying trend of children spending less time outdoors and engaging in less physical activity. The Cool Schools Initiative aims to direct change based on current research, and guide further research to help protect our kids.

Cool Schools Findings

The initiative believes that, while significantly more research is needed, there are several things we can do right now. One such thing is to create shade with purpose and careful planning. Just putting up a shelter isn’t enough. The ideal shade should protect key areas that children use at peak danger times. It should be designed using passive cooling principles. This includes allowing for cross-ventilation and choosing materials with low heat transference. The structure should reflect radiation away rather than absorbing it. 

The area around the shade structure should also not absorb heat. This can be achieved with specialist paints or ‘cool coatings’ for buildings. Or, in open areas, grass, natural soft fall and low-density vegetation can achieve this. Plastic and metal equipment should also be replaced. Alternatives that are made from natural materials reach lower surface temperatures, and help to keep the area cool. 

Natural & Built Shade Working Together

Climate change is hitting Australia hard. The need to protect ourselves from the harsh Australian sun without further harming the environment has become increasingly important. Heatwaves have been increasing in duration, frequency and intensity since the 1950s and are only predicted to get worse. The CSIRO expects that extreme weather events will also continue to become more frequent and severe.

When you’re looking to create more shade, a combination of built and natural shade is a durable and environmentally friendly option. 

Why not use natural shade on its own?

Trees can be a great all-round solution. Planting trees can create shade and help to improve the environment. They also look great, and can provide habitat for native wildlife. But, there are some issues to consider. A tree is a living thing, it will grow and change over time. That fact can limit the types of trees that you can use in an area. It can also take years for a tree to grow enough to provide useful shade. Trees can also be expensive to take care of. Most large shade trees need regular pruning and protection from pests and diseases. You may also need to invest in extra fertiliser, mulch and water to support the tree’s growth.

Trees with wide and dense canopies are considered the best for shade. However, these trees will often have matching wide and dense roots, which can damage footpaths and other nearby structures. Overhead and underground power lines can also have an impact on the choice of trees planted. These large trees can additionally become dangerous as they age. Unpredictable and extreme weather can wear them down. High winds, lightning, and too much or not enough rain, can all contribute to these trees dropping branches or even uprooting entirely. 

Built and natural shade working together

Built Shade Options

There is a range of built shade solutions; from permanent roofed structures to portable shade, like tents and marquees. Shade sails are a great middle ground. They are cheaper than many permanent structures, and are more durable than temporary or portable structures. Shade sails are also attractive and easy to care for, making them a popular option around Australia.

Many types of shade fabric are also recyclable, they can be reformed into new sails or a range of other products. Shade sails are great at protecting from direct sun exposure, but, with their open sides, they offer little protection from indirect and reflected UV radiation.

Combination of Natural & Built Shade

Creating shade that can stand up to extreme weather is key to a safe and long-lasting shade solution. A combination of natural and built shade can give the best of both worlds. Many of the concerns related to natural shade are because of large shade trees. But, there are many other shade plants to choose from, including smaller trees and shrubbery. These options are often overlooked as they cannot provide large spans of direct overhead protection from the sun. However, these shade plants still have many advantages. These include less invasive roots, flexibility in strong winds, and easy maintenance. There is also a wider variety of native options for different soils and climates around Australia.

With a shade sail doing the hard work protecting you from the direct UV rays, different types of shade plants can be used for protection from indirect sunlight, to break up strong winds, and to lower temperatures. A professionally designed shade sail will look great, and can withstand strong winds, rain and even hail. And complimentary easy-to-care-for plants can add to the aesthetic of your outdoor area, and can provide a home and food for native birds and other animals.

A combined shade solution can not only keep you cool and protected from the sun. It can also enhance the habitat for native animals, absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and enrich the soil. Natural and built shade can work together to help to protect you and the environment. 

Raising Awareness & Saving Lives

In the 80s, melanoma was the fastest-growing cancer affecting Australians. Diagnoses nearly doubled in men and women. This sudden spike was in part due to public health campaigns urging everyone to get their skin checked. Since then, we’ve learned more about the role that UV radiation plays in melanoma. Now, not only can we detect it; we can also prevent it. We have learnt to slip, slop and slap; and even more recently to seek and slide as well. Protecting ourselves while we’re young is the best way to prevent melanoma later in life. But, sometimes we can forget that this fast-spreading skin cancer can strike Australians at any age.

Early Detection

World Cancer Day this year was focused on improving early detection. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that if melanoma of the skin is detected in stage one there is a 99.2% survival rate. If it’s not caught until stage four, even with today’s technology, that figure drops to 26.2%. So how do we help young people detect melanoma earlier? The Instagram account Call Time On Melanoma is leading the way. This grassroots skin cancer awareness campaign was started by just one woman. Lisa Patulny was driven to start this campaign after her friend was diagnosed with melanoma of the skin. The highly successful account is helping young women to stay informed. It is assisting them to recognise the signs of melanoma, and encouraging them to get their skin checked regularly. With its simple tips in young people’s Instagram feeds, this campaign has already saved lives.

Melanoma Capital of the World

Did you know that New Zealand just beats Australia as the country with the highest rate of melanoma in the world? That being said, if Queensland were its own country, it would win. But while our rates of melanoma diagnosis continue to slowly rise, that’s not as bad as it might sound. The mortality rate has been sharply dropping since 2014. The more deadly variants of melanoma, linked to severe burning and higher UV exposure, are being seen less and less. And more and more people are getting their skin checked and catching melanoma in its early stages. Health campaigns like Sun Smart and Call Time On Melanoma are raising awareness, and, ultimately, saving lives.

Sun Exposure a Double-Edged Sword

From sunburn and premature ageing to cancer and cataracts, as Australians, we are well aware of all of the dangers of the sun, and the harm that UV rays can do to us. While we’re busy remembering to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide, it can be easy to forget that the sun plays a key role in our health. Higher levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a range of health benefits. These include strengthening the immune system, improving heart health, and even reducing the symptoms of depression. Yet, in trials, using supplements to increase patients’ Vitamin D levels doesn’t seem to have the same impact. This has led some health professionals to view Vitamin D as an indicator of sun exposure, and we really have the sun to thank for those health benefits. They are now studying what other effects sun exposure has on us, and how it improves our health.

Personal UV Sensors

The key to a happy, healthy and long life seems to be finding the balance. So how do you know how much sun you need? A team of RMIT researchers has developed a colour-changing, UV sensitive ink. It can be printed onto wristbands and even stickers to indicate how much UV radiation it is being exposed to. The prototype wristbands have four dots printed, with different sensitivities within the ink. As the band and the person wearing it is exposed to sunlight throughout the day, smiley faces appear on each dot.

The scale includes two sad faces that will appear if you are getting too much sun. There are several sensitivity options. These ensure that the sensors are as accurate as possible for different skin tones and genetic backgrounds. Cheap to produce, and with a child-friendly design, the researchers hope to see the sensors used as educational tools. They also hope to see the ink used to measure the UV exposure of outdoor equipment. Making it easy to measure deterioration and improve equipment safety and reliability.

Personal UV sensor bracelet

Wearable Tech

If the ink is a little low-tech for you, scientists and engineers at Macquarie University are developing a finger-nail sized sensor that can measure the UV dosage absorbed by the skin. The sensor can distinguish between UVA and UVB radiation. It can warn people when they are getting too much or not enough sun. The university wants to see this sensor in more traditional wearable tech, such as smart-watches. But the scientists and engineers are also working to make the technology small and sturdy enough to be integrated into sunglasses and even swimsuits.

Protect Yourself Now

These new technologies are exciting. But what can you do to monitor your UV exposure right now? You may know that, when the UV index is above 3, it’s important to take extra steps to protect yourself from UV radiation. But the reporting of the UV index can sometimes be confusing, and, in Queensland, the UV index is 3 or higher pretty much all year round. So, what can you do?

The Cancer Council’s free Sun Smart app is here to help. The app makes UV index information easy to understand. It provides 7-day forecasts and sun protection times wherever you are in Australia. You can even set up personalised alerts based on UV levels. This makes it easy to know when it’s fine to stay in the sun, or whether you need to find some shade. It also includes a sunscreen calculator, which can tell you how much sunscreen you need to use and remind you when to reapply for the best protection. The app is available for iOS and Android devices, and is also compatible with some smartwatches.

Fact Check: How Long Do Shade Sails Really Last?

Shade sails are great solutions for creating shade and reducing heat. And they’re attractive additions to any property. But still, some people can be wary of shade sails. Part of that comes from the misconception that shade sails only have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. This idea is based on the lifespan of low-quality and basic shade sails on the market. However, a high-quality tensioned architectural shade sail should last for at least 10 years. Not only is that the case, but proper care and maintenance can make sure that your sail will still be protecting you and looking great for years after that.

Quality is Key

The lifespan that you can expect from a shade sail depends on several factors. High-quality shade fabric doesn’t amount to much if the stitching and workmanship or the hardware are not excellent as well. Remember, you won’t find quality shade fabric at your local hardware store. These commonly-seen shade fabrics do have a shorter lifespan, and that has skewed people’s perceptions of what a shade sail is capable of. Most architectural shade fabrics have a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. So you can be sure that your shade sail fabric won’t lose its effect or unravel in a few years.

The fabrication of a shade sail is also a highly-specialised skill of an experienced craftsperson. A well-designed and made shade sail needs minimal maintenance. It shouldn’t sag, collect water, or flap around in the wind. A shade sail is designed to be out in the elements, so the stitching on your sail should be strong and weather-resistant too. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) thread is the gold-standard for shade sail threads. More commonly known by the brand name Teflon, PTFE thread is virtually chemically inert, UV resistant, and non-flammable. Shade sails made with cheaper threads will have a shorter lifespan for the stitching. Because we use PTFE thread, we can offer a 10-year warranty on our stitching as well.

Quality hardware is also needed to get the best life out of your shade sail. The tension and pressure on a shade sail means that not just any fitting will do. When the wind picks up, you want to be secure in knowing that your shade sail will not break free and damage the sail, or even your property. Marine-grade stainless steel hardware, and the correct number of fixing points, is essential. That way, you know that the metal doesn’t rust or degrade quickly, and that pressure is evenly distributed to all points.

Maintenance For a Long-Lasting Shade Sail

A tensioned architectural shade sail should last at least 10 years. However, with some basic care, the lifespan of these sails is more impressive than that. A basic cleaning, which you can do yourself, is recommended every 6 months. Using sugar soap and a soft-bristled brush, work the soap into the fabric and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with your ordinary garden hose. That’s it. Don’t use bleach or any acid-based cleaning products, or a high-pressure hose, as they can damage or discolour your sail. It’s also recommended that you have an annual inspection performed by a shade sail professional, who can perform any repairs or re-tensioning as needed.

A Long-Term Investment

A quality shade sail is not a temporary structure; it is designed to last. Often, people are confused by the price difference between prefabricated shade sails from a hardware store, and custom-made and designed architectural shade sails. People try to compare the two; but they are vastly different. Even though they are both called shade sails, they can’t really be compared. They are different in quality, and they have very different lifespans. A tensioned architectural shade sail is more comparable with solid roofed structures, like free-standing carports or patio roof extensions. Once you know the difference, and realise how long a shade sail can last, it becomes clear why Australians love a good shade sail so much. 

Legislation update

Australian Standards Update

In its latest review, Standards Australia has updated its requirements for Knitted and Woven Shade Fabric. They have made changes to the requirements for the classification, performance and labelling of shade fabrics – making it easier to compare the human protection properties of shade fabrics. The key change for consumers was the introduction of the Ultraviolet Effectiveness (UVE) scale.

The Ultraviolet Effectiveness Scale

Using comprehensive testing methods, the UVE scale is the most accurate gauge for sun protection. It ranks products into three categories: effective, very effective, and most effective sun protection. The previous Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) and Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) protection ratings had limitations. They didn’t take into account the strength, weave or colour of the sail, as well as a range of other factors. Some shade fabric could have a great UPF or UVR protection rating under test conditions, but consumers did not get those results in real life.

UVE Rankings for shade sails

Why Schools & Daycares Should Know

Government departments across the country use the Australian Standards for shade fabrics. They set clear and measurable guides for how much quality shade must be available to protect children. These rules not only apply to schools and childcare facilities, but also sporting clubs and a range of other community groups. The Cancer Council of South Australia and the Cancer Council of the Northern Territory, along with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), are already using the new standards and the UVE rankings to describe best practices for shade and sun safety. Other government departments and organisations will follow suit soon. Understanding the UVE ratings will be key to interpreting incoming legislation and the terms for shade grant programs.

Are You Eligible for a Shade Sail Grant?

Using high-quality shade is still considered one of the best ways to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. But did you know that providing shade also increases the use of outdoor spaces? And it has been linked with higher levels of physical activity in children and adults. Governments and not-for-profit organisations around Australia are investing in creating shade in schools, playgrounds, sporting facilities, and other community spaces. These funded initiatives come in a variety of forms, including specialist shade grants, public health grants, sport and physical activity grants, and general community grants. 

Shade structures are highly versatile, with a range of benefits; and good quality ones can be expensive for small community groups. This makes them great projects to seek funding for. There is a range of annual grant programs available across Australia that can help to ease the cost of installing a new shade sail. The Cancer Council Queensland offers the Sun Smart Shade Creating Initiative every year, which will match funding for shade structures. The New South Wales State Government has the annual Quality Learning Environments program. This grant is for community preschools and early childhood centres, to help them to improve their learning environment. Even local councils offer a variety of programs, including the Brisbane City Council’s Healthy and Physical Activity Grants. This local grant scheme provides funds to local community groups to help improve participation in sports and physical activities and increase health. The Sunshine Coast Council has several grants programs, all designed to fund projects with broad community benefits as well.

There may be plenty of grants out there, but more groups are applying for funding. These grants can be highly competitive, and may not be open for very long periods of time. It’s important to be on the lookout for programs that can help your group, and to get your application in quickly. If you are looking to improve your shade sail funding application, try the Australian Shade News’ Specialist Grant-Writing Service. With an expert writer working with you, our service can help your organisation stand out from the crowd. For a superior grant application that will help your organisation gain the funding you need for a shade sail, contact us today.

Your FAQs

Replacing a damaged shade sail through insurance

Each issue, we strive to answer your questions about anything shade sail. This time, the question is: “Is my shade sail covered by my insurance?”

Australian Shade News Answer:

“This deceptively simple question isn’t so easy to answer. Our best advice would be to check with your insurance provider. They can tell you if your shade sail is included with your policy, and how it is covered.

The key thing to do is find out whether your insurer covers a shade sail as part of the home or contents. Some insurers specifically mention shade sails and how they’re covered. But what do you do if your insurer doesn’t cover your shade sail? You might consider your new shade sail to be a permanent part of your home, but your particular insurer might not. 

Most insurance companies include ‘permanent fixtures’ as part of the building policy. But what makes a fixture permanent? Generally, it is defined as something that cannot be removed without causing damage to a structure. In that case, the sail itself would be categorised as part of the contents of your home. But the sail mounts themselves, and other fixtures, could be insured under your home insurance.

Once you know how your shade sail is insured, it should be covered for everything in the applicable policy. It is important to check your PDS for any exclusions for shade sails so that you know exactly what is covered and under which circumstances it is covered. For example, your sail might be covered by your building policy, which could include impact cover. In that case, if there are no exclusions for shade sails, and a tree falls and damages the sail, you can make a claim for the damages.

If your sail is considered as part of your contents, there can be more exclusions. Some policies will refuse to cover anything left outside. However, other policies may cover items designed for outdoor use, such as shade sails. But they may have a reduced payout for replacing or repairing those contents.

Your best option is always to speak with your insurance provider. They can provide you with more exact information for your circumstances. They can even alter your policy to get you better coverage for your shade sail.”

If you are looking for more answers, please contact us to submit your question or take a look at our previous issues.

Happy shade sailing!