In Gardening

How to choose the right shade material for outdoor shade structures

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During the hottest months of the year, a lot of customers consider shade structures, and it’s not without reason. These structures not only enable people to spend more time outside but also offer protection from the sun. However, even when the temperature drops, having a shade structure can still enhance your outdoor experience. 

There are numerous advantages of having an outdoor structure for shade, including protection from various weather conditions like sun, rain, and snow, enhancing the architectural appearance, safeguarding vehicles or equipment, and complying with accreditation requirements.

It’s essential to invest in a high-quality shade structure if you’re thinking of purchasing one. The material used in shade structures, whether it’s a canopy, awning, or shade sail, determines their quality. As a result, it’s critical to select the material carefully, and opting for a low-priced shade structure typically means sacrificing quality.

Common Outdoor Shade Materials

Some of the most common materials used in outdoor shade structures include:

shade fabric metal and wood
  • Fabric

Shade structures made of fabric are lightweight, easy to install, and provide excellent UV protection. They are available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and textures. However, the durability of the fabric depends on the type of material used, with some fabrics being more durable than others.

  • Metal: 

Shade structures made of metal, such as aluminum or steel, are extremely durable and can withstand high winds and heavy rainfall. They are often used in commercial settings or public spaces where durability is essential.

  • Wood: 

Shade structures made of wood, such as cedar or redwood, are popular for their natural beauty and durability. They require regular maintenance, such as staining or sealing, to protect against rot and decay.

How to Choose the Right Outdoor Structure

Now let’s look at some of the common factors to consider when choosing the right material for rollac outdoor shade structures:


The first step in choosing the appropriate material for shade structures is to ensure its suitability as a canopy shade fabric. Among the numerous shade fabric materials, HDPE, knitted polyethylene, and woven PVC shade cloth are the most suitable choices. These fabrics are capable of enduring the extreme weather conditions in Australia and are highly durable, with shade structures made from them lasting up to 15 years.

  1. Durability: 

The primary function of a shade structure is to protect people or objects from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and other weather elements such as wind, rain, and snow. A durable material is one that can withstand these conditions over time and remain functional. The material used in shade structures must be able to resist fading, tearing, or other forms of damage caused by exposure to sunlight and other weather elements.

  1. Installation Requirements: 

The method and complexity of installation can vary depending on the material and design of the outdoor structure, and these factors can affect the cost, durability, and functionality of the shade structure.

For example, materials such as metal or concrete may be more suitable for large, permanent shade structures that require a foundation or anchoring system to ensure stability and safety. These materials can be more challenging to install and may require specialized equipment, skills, and permits.

In contrast, materials such as fabric or lightweight metal may be more suitable for smaller, temporary outdoor living structure designs that can be easily installed and dismantled. These materials are typically less expensive and require less complex installation procedures, making them ideal for events or seasonal use.

  1. Waterproof: 

Using waterproof materials in shade structures is essential to protect people, equipment, and other objects from rain and other forms of precipitation. Rainwater can not only cause discomfort but can also damage equipment and surfaces, leading to costly repairs or replacements.

Waterproof materials are designed to prevent water from penetrating the surface, keeping the area below the shade structure dry and comfortable. They can also prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can be a health hazard and cause structural damage over time.

Additionally, waterproof materials can enhance the durability of the shade structure by preventing water from seeping into the underlying structure and causing rust, rot, or decay. This can extend the lifespan of the structure and reduce maintenance costs.

Waterproof materials can also improve the versatility of the shade structure by allowing it to be used in a wider range of weather conditions. With a waterproof cover, the shade structure can provide protection from both rain and sun, making it suitable for use in a variety of outdoor events and activities.

  1. Transmission of light: 

Selecting shade structure materials that enable natural light transmission is crucial while planning its installation. Woven PVC, HDPE, and knitted polyethylene fabrics are effective as they allow a significant amount of light to pass through. Fabrics with lighter shades are better at transmitting light, but it’s important to note that they scatter and reflect more UV radiation.

  1. UPF rating: 

It’s important to select shade structure materials that provide adequate protection from UVR. The UPF rating of a shade fabric determines its ability to block out UV rays. The higher the UPF, the more effective the fabric is at providing protection against UV rays.

Cheaper shade fabrics typically have lower UPF ratings. To ensure maximum protection against UVR, it’s recommended to opt for high-quality fabrics with a high UPF rating. While HPDE, woven PVC, and knitted polyethylene fabrics have a moderate UPF, Global Shade’s fabrics are treated specially, providing outstanding UVR protection of up to 99% in our shade structures.

  1. Maintenance requirements: 

Selecting low-maintenance materials for shade structures is crucial, as you wouldn’t want to deal with frequent cleaning after installing it. Global Shade ensures easy maintenance of our shade structures, as our specially treated shade fabrics prevent mold growth. Additionally, our fabrics are resistant to fading and deformation over time, and they don’t accumulate dirt easily.

Other Factors

It is also noteworthy that location also plays a role in determining the ideally suited material for shade structures. The weather conditions, including temperature, humidity, wind, and precipitation, can vary greatly depending on the location, and different materials may be better suited to different environments.

For example, in hot and dry regions, shade structures may need to be constructed using materials that can withstand high temperatures and resist cracking or fading caused by intense sunlight. In contrast, in areas with high humidity or rainfall, materials that are resistant to rust, corrosion, and mold growth may be more suitable.

Additionally, the location of a place can affect the strength and frequency of wind gusts, which can impact the stability and durability of shade structures. In areas with high winds, materials such as metal or concrete may be necessary to ensure the shade structure’s stability and prevent it from being damaged or blown away.

Besides, the location of a place can also affect the aesthetic considerations of a shade structure. For instance, in areas with a strong architectural tradition, designers may choose materials that complement the local architectural style or reflect the cultural heritage of the region.

The location of the shade structure can also affect the installation requirements and the materials used. For example, structures installed on uneven or sloping terrain may require specialized design and installation techniques to ensure stability and safety.

Finally, the budget allocated for the shade structure can also influence the choice of materials used in installation. More expensive materials may be necessary for structures with high installation requirements, but this may not always be feasible or cost-effective.