A shade sail is a great addition to your outdoor space but finding the most appropriate shade sail fabric for your needs will depend on several factors.

Let’s look at the 11 steps in the process of choosing the right fabric for your shade sail so you can make an educated choice.

Firstly though, what is a shade sail? Loosely based on the technology of a ship’s sail, a shade sail is a product used to create shade in outdoor areas. Generally made using a shade cloth fabric, a shade sail is anchored by posts at certain points across a patio or any outdoor space that requires shade. Read on for the steps you need to cover to find the perfect shade sail fabric fit for your purpose.

1. Work out the primary reason for your shade sail

Until you’ve worked out the details regarding the area you want shaded, it’ll be difficult to determine things like fabric, colour, size, UV protection rating and so on. Think about the area where you want to have shade and make a list of the requirements you’ll need before shopping for your shade sail.

2. Choosing the right shade cloth colour

Like most fabrics, shade cloth comes in many colour choices. For optimum results, it’s often best to choose a lighter colour, as this will be more effective at reflecting the heat of the sun as compared to darker tones. Ultimately, the choice can depend on aesthetics. Lighter colours tend to offer less UV protection.

3. What size shade sail do I need?

Accurately measure up the area where you want to install the shade sail before going to the supplier or manufacturer to order your shade cloth. There is a degree of flexibility in shade cloth, but you still need accurate measurements for a perfect fit. If unsure, have a professional do the measurements for you.

4. Different types of shade cloth

Technically, you could use practically anything as a material to create shade, but there are fabrics of choice that perform way better. You’ll want a shade cloth fabric that offers maximum UV protection. The higher the UVP rating, the better the protection against harmful UV rays. Read the next step to find out.

5. Which shade sail fabric is best?

Knitted high-density polyethylene made with a round monofilament yarn is the fabric of choice if you wish to install a product that requires no ongoing maintenance. This fabric offers good UVR protection and is easy to clean. Another popular option is to install a PVC textile, which not only creates shade, but protects against the rain as well.

6. How long will the shade sail last?

You don’t want to go to the hassle and expense of installing a shade sail that will only last a short while. Quality shade cloth will have a life expectancy of 10 years on average, so it pays to buy quality fabric. You’ll save money and labour in the long run. A bonus would be to use a fabric that comes with a supported warranty.

Shade sail fabric

7. Choosing the shade sail shape

Shade sails can be made in a variety of shapes, with triangular pieces being one of the most common and easiest to install. Having said that, you can opt for squares or rectangles, depending on your specific requirements and area you must cover. There’s also no limit to how many shade cloth fabric pieces in your shade sail you decide to use.

8. Take the weather into consideration

If you live in a windy area, this could determine the type of shade sail cloth you ultimately go with. If your area experiences strong, gusty winds regularly, you’ll want to discuss this with your supplier to determine the strongest material and best shade sail setup for your needs.

9. Does your area need to be well-lit?

Darker coloured shade cloth will naturally block out more light compared to white or other light colours. If you don’t want your shade sail making the area beneath dark and gloomy, choose a lighter colour. Alternatively, you can go dark if allowing in natural light is not a specification.

10. Custom-made or off the shelf?

You could buy your shade cloth fabric and installation materials off the shelf at one of the big hardware stores if you like, but it might be a better idea to have your shade sail custom-made to the exact dimensions you want it. This aspect really depends on your requirements and how specific the size needs to be. If you buy off the shelf to install yourself, knowing about the shade fabric supplied and what features are offered will be the best way to ensure longevity.

11. Find a reputable supplier

For the best shade cloth, competitive prices and reliable customer service, you’ll want to source a reputable fabric supplier. Ricky Richards has been supplying Australians with quality shade cloth and many other textiles for decades, so give us a call and have a chat about your requirements.