Westfield North Lakes commercial shade structure replacement by Versatile Structures

The cheapest supplier isn’t always the best choice

Do a quick Google search for ‘commercial shade structure suppliers’, and around 4,400,000 results pop up. Narrow this down by where you are, for example, Brisbane, and you’re still left with about 170,000 results.

With so many companies to choose from, how do you know which commercial shade system supplier to pick? Like any type of shopping these days, it pays to do your research. But what should you be looking for in a reputable supplier?

Here are some key questions you need to answer to ensure you get a quality, compliant shade sail system delivered on time and to the agreed budget.

How many years of experience do they have?

It takes years to understand the technical properties of shade sail fabric materials and master the unique design challenges of commercial shade systems.

Because of this, avoid putting your trust in a company that’s just starting out or one with only a few years behind them. Instead, choose one with no less than 10 year’s commercial experience – if they have 15 or 20 years, even better.

What types of projects have they worked on?

The best commercial shade sail suppliers will be the ones trusted to complete big projects. So, if a company has a proven track record of working on larger scale commercial projects, you can be more confident in their capabilities.

As well as browsing their website to check for projects completed, make sure they have testimonials from satisfied customers to back up their work. If this information isn’t readily available, ask them to provide it – a good supplier will be happy to.  

Do they own and control the entire process?

Direct responsibility from the design, fabric, steelwork fabrication through to the installation is a must.

The benefit of this is that they have tighter control over the quality of the product, materials and workmanship. In addition, if anything goes wrong with your commercial shade system down the line, they’re accountable to rectify it and can’t ‘pass the buck’.

Dealing with a commercial shade sail one-stop-shop also benefits production efficiency, meaning you get your product faster. Plus, by cutting out the middleman, you’re also cutting out middleman margins for more competitive pricing.

Do they offer commercial shade sail builds?

Off the shelf commercial shade sail products offer a quick solution, but they may not be the best solution for your business or intended location.

Custom commercial shade sails, on the other hand, are designed and built to fit your exact specifications, meet all of your use requirements, and suit the specific weather and environmental conditions of the area.

As well as criteria such as size, shade area and waterproofing, custom-built shade sails can be designed to consider things like day-to-day wind conditions, pollutants, contaminants and airborne debris – factors that prolong structure life.

What fabrics and materials do they use? 

Commercial shade structures and sails are built in a wide variety of fabrics and materials, with some being more desirable than others.

Some suppliers may claim a fabric or material is UV resistant or able to withstand Australia’s harsh weather conditions, but many cheaper second-tier fabrics and materials just won’t cut it with prolonged sun, wind or rain exposure.

Quality commercial shade system suppliers use high spec European and Australian materials, including knitted shade sail fabrics, waterproof PVC membrane, acrylic canvases and protective coated steel. These give a far better finish and offer long-term performance.

Do they have specialist manufacturing equipment and factory facilities? 

A good tradesperson is only as good as their tools, so they say, and this can definitely be applied to commercial shade structure specialists.

Companies that use sophisticated equipment, such as computerised fabric plotter cutters, high-power radio frequency welders and high productivity installation equipment will produce a better-finished product.

If they have their own factory facilities, it can also reduce installation time as most of the pre-assembly and preparation work takes place in the factory, not at your property. This means less disruption for your business.

What warranties do they offer? 

Many commercial shade sail warranties only cover replacement of the fabric and not the labour and repair costs. Don’t be caught out with nasty surprises.

Instead, look for an iron-clad warranty package over the entire system, not just the fabric skin, and ask what product and backup servicing are included. Some warranties from reputable commercial shade structure suppliers last 15+ years.

One final word of advice: don’t only pick a provider because of a good price. What may seem like good value upfront could end up costing you in the long term.

If you’re looking for a reputable commercial shade sail supplier, get in touch with our team today. We have over 40 years’ experience and have worked on many large-scale commercial projects.


  • 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.