Choosing Your Shade Fabric

Choosing Your Shade Fabric

There are so many different shade fabrics out there, all with different features and properties. How do you go about choosing a shade fabric and how do you know which one is right for you? Every project is different, so it’s always best to seek professional advice for your situation. Here are a few things to think about to help you get started.

What do you need?

First, think about what you need from your sail and why you want it. 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 New South Wales has a range of resources to help you. They can provide advice on the shade you have and the shade you need to best protect your family. Remember the sun moves across the year, 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 freezing and unusable in winter. Knowing what you need is the first step towards figuring out which fabric will be the best for you.

How to choose your shade fabric

How are you attaching 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. 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 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. Then you might need to consider a different design, several smaller sails or using a stronger fabric.

Maintenance and Lifespan

A quality shade sail is an investment that should last a long time. Depending on the fabric supplier, sailmaker and installer 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 get someone else to do maintenance. 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 are several 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 New South Wales Ministry of Health works closely with the NSW Cancer Council to develop sun safety regulations and guides. Any new shade sails will have to meet the site’s sun protection policy, which usually includes specifications for the minimum level of UV protection from the fabric. The policy can also include requirements for the fabric and overall design of the structure. The Cancer Council can assist you with shade assessments to help you establish the quality required of potential new shade solutions. 

If you’re applying for shade sail grants they often reference these standards as well. It’s always best to check with your local and state government bodies for the exact details to help in choosing your shade fabric. 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 can meet a range of priorities. Whether you want bright attractive colours, light transference, heavy-duty sun protection, easy maintenance or anything in between Newcastle 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.