Choosing Your Shade Fabric
There are so many different shade fabrics out there, and they all have different features and properties. So how do you know which shade fabric is right for you? Every project is different and it’s always best to seek professional advice for your situation. To help you get started here are a few things to think about when you’re choosing your shade fabric.
What do you need?
Start by thinking about what you need from your shade sail. Answer a few questions for yourself:
- What do you want to do under your shade sail and when?
- Do you need waterproofing?
- How much area do you want the sail to cover?
- Are you protecting people or vehicles from damaging UV rays?
If you’re looking to create shade to protect your family, the Cancer Council Queensland has a range of resources to help you. The QUEST program provides strategies, resources and ongoing support for sun safety and health and wellbeing for organisations. These resources can also help individuals plan the shade you need to best protect yourself and your family.
Remember the sun moves across the seasons, it’s higher in the sky in summer than in winter. It’s important to consider your property and what kind of shadows are cast around the year. You don’t want to create a cool and shaded spot for summer that is dark and cold in winter. Knowing what you need is the first step towards figuring out which fabric will be the best for you.
How are you installing the sail?
Are you fixing it to free-standing posts, a wall or roof, or covering a pergola? Your fabric choice informs the installation and design of your sail. For example, if you’re looking at a waterproof sail you’ll need a sharper angle to allow the water to run off easily. You’ll need to consider those fixing points and if you can create the angle you need. If your sail doesn’t need to be 100% waterproof a tightly-woven shade fabric can still minimise water coming through and won’t need as much pitch.
Maybe you’re revamping an old pergola or another structure and want to roof it with shade fabric. Think about if the sail will catch or rub and how you can avoid or counteract that. You might consider altering the structure or using a higher GSM or heavier duty fabric.
If you’re looking at a particularly large sail you’ll need more supports and fixing points to take the weight of it. Think about your space and where you could attach the sail to your home or where posts could go. Posts in the middle of your sail can help support it but that might not be an option over a pool or playground. You can use a stronger fabric or reconsider the design. For example several smaller sails or a hipped structure.
Maintenance and Lifespan
A quality shade sail is an investment that should last a long time. Depending on the fabric supplier, sailmaker and installer your warranty can vary. There is not usually one warranty for everything, the fabric itself, stitching, hardware and installation can all have different lifespans. It’s important to check what the different warranties cover and for how long.
Some fabrics are also easier to maintain than others. Think about what kind of maintenance you would do yourself or if you’ll pay for maintenance services. Balancing how long you want it to last, how you’ll maintain it and your budget can help you narrow down your options.
Government Requirements for Schools
There is a range of state and local government shade guidelines and regulations designed to protect children from overexposure to UV radiation. These guidelines apply to education and care providers, like schools and daycares. They can also affect sports clubs and other community groups.
The Queensland Department of Health outlines design considerations and local councils also have their own policies on shade structures. These specify the fabric’s level of UV protection, but can also include further requirements for the fabric and overall design of the structure. Most shade sail grants, including the SunSmart Shade Initiative, reference these standards as well. It’s always best to check with your local and state government bodies for the exact details. For more general advice see our articles on school shade regulations and the Australian Standards for shade fabric.
Compare Shade Fabrics
There is a wide variety of shade fabrics that suit a range of purposes. Whether you want bright attractive colours, light transference, heavy-duty sun protection, easy maintenance or anything in between Sunshine Coast Shade Sails can help. With a range of fabrics and years of experience, we can help you find the shade fabric perfect for you and craft it into a fully customised shade sail. Contact us today for your free design a quote.