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Different types of commercial shade systems explained

Commercial shade systems are everywhere – from cafes and restaurants to playgrounds, shopping centres, footie stadiums and high-rises.  

As well as providing protection from the elements, including sun, rain and wind, they can maximise outdoor space, enhance the visual look of a building or landscape, and even offer energy efficiencies and savings.

But, with so many commercial shade systems on the market, you might be wondering which is best for your commercial space or project. We’ve broken down each in detail to help you make the right decision.

Commercial shade sails

Commercial shade sails are outdoor structures that are based on the same principle as a ship’s sail. They’re made up of a flexible fabric or PVC membrane, free-spanned and tensioned between anchor points. They can be very cost-effective.

Recommended commercial applications

  • Council parks and playgrounds
  • School playgrounds
  • Landscaping projects (hotels, sports courts, zoos, airports)
  • Child care centres

 

A cost-effective commercial shade sail solution by Versatile Structures for Carina State School in Queensland.

Considerations when choosing commercial shade sails

  • Custom design or pre-fab
  • Shade efficiencies (UV, rain)
  • Site-specific engineering (wind rating)
  • Warranty (10-15+ is ideal)
  • Quality of materials (Australian approved recommended)

Commercial shade structures

Commercial shade structures are different to shade sails. They include an architecturally designed frame with structural steel members and a shade fabric. They can be used in various commercial settings and have a fixed shape.  

Recommended commercial applications

  • Construction projects
  • Council parks and playgrounds
  • School playgrounds
  • Landscaping projects (hotels, sports courts, zoos, airports)

 

An custom, architecturally designed commercial shade structure solution for a kids playground by Versatile Structures

Considerations when choosing commercial shade structures

  • Custom design
  • Shade efficiencies (UV, rain)
  • Wind rating (including cyclonic)
  • Site-specific engineering
  • Lifespan (10-15+ is ideal)
  • Quality of materials ( Australian approved recommended)

Commercial car park shade structures

Commercial car park shade structures are a type of commercial shade structure specifically designed to protect vehicles from the elements. They can range from covering just a few bays to rows and rows designed to house hundreds of cars.

Recommended commercial applications

  • Corporate office parking
  • Public space parking
  • Shopping centre car parks
  • Hotel and club car parks

 

A Commercial car park shade structures specifically designed for Brisbane Camperland to protect their vehicles from the elements.

Considerations when choosing commercial car park shade structures

  • Custom design
  • Wind rating (including cyclonic)
  • Steel coating for site-specific conditions
  • Lifespan (10-30 years is ideal)
  • Electrical fittings (lights, sound)
  • Quality of materials ( Australian approved recommended)

Commercial waterproof shade structures

Commercial waterproof shade structures include commercial shade structures and car park shade structures. However, not all waterproof shade structures are fully waterproof – so make sure you check the fabric/material. They’re very robust.

Recommended commercial applications

  • Commercial construction projects
  • Corporate office parking
  • Shopping centre car parks
  • Sporting club grandstands

 

A robust, waterproof shade structure specifically designed for Noosa Skate Park

Considerations when choosing waterproof shade structures

  • Custom design
  • Wind rating (including cyclonic)
  • Steel coating for site-specific conditions
  • Lifespan (10-30 years is ideal)
  • Electrical fittings (lights, sound)
  • Quality of materials (Australian approved recommended)

Commercial umbrellas

Commercial umbrellas are a type of umbrella that’s stronger than a standard sun or patio umbrella but are still lightweight and flexible. They come in various shapes and sizes and are great for maximising your useable outdoor space. 

Recommended commercial applications

  • Cafes and restaurants
  • Pubs and hotels
  • Resorts
  • Sporting clubs
  • Commercial buildings

 

A robust, waterproof shade structure specifically designed for Noosa Skate Park

Considerations when choosing commercial umbrellas

  • Custom design
  • Branded colours
  • Minimum design wind speed 145KPH
  • 100% UV stabilised
  • Collapsable or fixed
  • Cantilever or centre post
  • Waterproof or non-waterproof
  • Coated steel for added protection
  • Electrical fittings (lights, sound)
  • Quality of materials ( Australian approved recommended)

Commercial awnings and blinds

Commercial awnings and blinds are more robust than their non-commercial counterparts and an excellent choice for enclosing an area and increasing usability in adverse weather conditions. Being retractable they allow the user to adapt to the changes of the day Blinds and louvres are fixed to the window and pulled up or down or open and shut; awnings are roof-like structure that extend out.

Recommended commercial applications

  • Commercial construction projects
  • Cafes, dining and retail
  • Swimming or sports centre
  • Corporate offices

 

Commercial awnings and blinds are an excellent choice for enclosing an area and increasing usability

Considerations when choosing commercial blinds and awnings

  • Custom design
  • Branded colours
  • Wind speed of 40km/h or above
  • Lifespan (typically 5-10+ years)
  • Motorised or manual
  • Wind sensors
  • Fixed or retractable (awnings only)
  • Quality of materials (Australian approved recommended)

Commercial polycarbonate roofing

Polycarbonate is a strong thermoplastic material that’s lightweight, shatterproof and can withstand very low and high temperatures. Polycarbonate roofing can be used for a wide variety for solutions, including roofing, cladding, skylights, façade, and shading.

Recommended commercial applications

  • Commercial construction projects
  • Cafes, dining and retail
  • External architectural structures
  • Nurseries and plant shops
  • Hotels and resorts

 

Polycarbonate is a strong thermoplastic material that’s lightweight and can be used for a wide variety for solutions, including roofing, cladding, skylights, façade, and shading.

Considerations when choosing commercial polycarbonate roofing

  • Custom design
  • Light requirements
  • UV stabilised materials
  • Extruded colour options
  • Lifespan of 5-10+ years
  • Quality of materials (Australian approved recommended)

Commercial insulated panel roofing

Insulated panel roofing offers a durable ceiling, insulation, and roof sheet all in one. A typical sandwich pane includes a low density, thermal insulating and sound reducing core with a thin skin layer (metal or polymer) bonded to each side.

Recommended commercial applications

  • Construction projects
  • Cafes, dining and retail
  • School roofing structures
  • Outdoor public seating areas

 

Insulated panel roofing offers a durable ceiling, insulation, and roof sheet all in one.

Commercial aluminium screens and sunhoods

Commercial aluminium screens and sunhoods are an aesthetic, durable and highly- functional addition to any commercial building.  Screens sit flush against the exterior while sunhoods protrude. Both provide sun control and energy savings.

Recommended commercial applications

  • Construction projects
  • Low, medium and high-rise
  • Residential and townhouse developments

 

Commercial aluminium screens and sunhoods are an aesthetic, durable and highly- functional addition to any commercial building.

Considerations when choosing commercial aluminium screens and sunhoods

  • Custom design
  • Range of colours and finishes (including Timber look)
  • Colourbond colour options
  • Standard or recyclable
  • Lifespan (20+ years is ideal)
  • Quality of materials (Australian approved recommended)

Commercial shade systems – choose the best investment

Commercial shade systems are an investment, so make sure you make the right choice for your space or project. While there’s a lot to consider, hopefully this has made your decision a little easier.  

If you’re looking for a quality commercial shade system, get in touch with our experienced team today. We can help you select and design the perfect solution for your space or project. Plus, we’ll install it quickly and safely.

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  • Versatile Structures Headshots

    Jamie Howard - Director

    Co-founder and Director Jamie has been hands-on in the shade and steel industry since leaving school. With over 15 years’ experience in shade, membrane and steel projects, Jamie is excited about the design opportunities shade structures offer in the commercial and industrial sectors. Jamie’s extensive design skills give him a competitive edge in situations with technical design complexity. He has won two personal industry awards for his designs, alongside many company-won awards.