Ipswich Hospital walkway installed by Versatile Structures

How to buy the appropriate Commercial Shade Sail

 Jamie Howard      In

These days it’s not hard to find cost-effective, low maintenance commercial shade structure solutions for and an established and trustworthy supplier can give you a wide range of modern, high-quality solutions, including shade sails.

Also known as sun sails, commercial shade sails are versatile for any business outdoor area that requires reliable and effective shade against rain and sun exposure and owing to their versatile nature, commercial shade structure applications cover theme parks, council parks, playgrounds, sports clubs, universities, hospitality, schools, and childcare centres.

Shade structures are investments and assets that can add value to a commercial property while enhancing its aesthetics. With many different types of buildings and outdoor spaces, it can be challenging to choose an appropriate product that meets your aesthetic and functional requirements while ensuring sufficient protection and cover. Keep reading to learn how to buy custom shade sails in Brisbane.

Know the types available

Commercial shade sailscan be made from high-quality PVC fabric. They come in the following options:

  • Waterproof – Water-resistant commercial shade structures protect against UV rays and light rain, and they may be leak-proof or waterproof during torrential downpours. These shade sails are low-maintenance as they are self-cleaning with rainwater.
  • Retractable – Flexible and can electronically or manually open or close as needed, making outdoor areas useful all year. They are perfect for alfresco and outdoor lounging areas. Restaurants and cafes may extend their outdoor areas with retractable custom shade sails in Brisbane.
  • Fixed – Larger and wider, these shade sails span greater distances without support structures, making them suitable for car parks, grandstands, and swimming pools.

Mind the material

High-quality commercial shade structures can block up to 99 percent of harmful UV rays. They are made from high-density polyethylene with UV additives to absorb or reflect UV light and should last up to 30 years. Where needed fire retardant shade sails are also available and tested to AS1530 Parts 2 and 3 to ensure their performance.

Work closely with the supplier

Partnering with an established and reputable custom shade sails supplier in Brisbane will provide the best results. A commercial shade structure project requires site inspections with a draftsman who will consider the overall shape, 3D geometry, and location, and an installation team to ensure secure and accurately measured install posts. The best suppliers also offer a regular maintenance program and a 15-year warranty on their commercial shade sails.

How to choose the right shade sail

Your installer will help you choose the right fabric, hardware, and structure to meet your needs. When installing the shade sail your installer will pull the shade fabric taut and stretch it as far as possible. With this in mind, we recommend a shade sail at least 12 inches smaller than the area you intend to cover.

What GSM should a shade sail be?

A grams per square meter (GSM) of 200 is the sign of high tensile strength. The higher the GSM weight the higher the shade rating, or the tighter the knit, the heavier and stronger the fabric. A GSM of 320 or higher is the sign of excellent tensile strength.

Does the colour of a shade sail matter?

It is important to know that different colours provide different levels of UV protection. Darker shades are better for high sun areas, as they offer more UV shields than lighter hue shade sails. If you want to be specific, dark blue colour absorbs most of the heat while yellow absorbs the least.

What shape of shade sail is best?

The best shape for any sail is the Vypar. Alternating high and low attachment points in diagonally opposed corners gives the sail a shape called a hyperbolic paraboloid Vypar.

How long do shade sails last?

The key factors that influence the life span of commercial shade sails are the quality of materials used, how well they’re installed and of course the weather, but with regular maintenance commercial shade sails can last up to 10 years and longer.


  • 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.