Bunnings Shade sail installed by Versatile Structures

Shade Sails Brisbane: Cost, Approval, Installation, and Disadvantages

 Jamie Howard      In

In the sunny city of Brisbane, where outdoor living is a way of life, shade sails have become a popular choice for homeowners and businesses alike. These stylish and functional structures offer protection from the harsh Australian sun while enhancing the aesthetics of any outdoor space. However, before you rush to install a shade sail, there are some key questions you should consider. In this article, we will explore the cost of shade sails in Brisbane, the approval process, installation expenses, and potential disadvantages to help you make an informed decision. Enhance your outdoor living with sail shades in Brisbane from Versatile Structures, designed to offer maximum UV protection and aesthetic appeal.

How Much Does a Shade Sail Cost in Brisbane?

The cost of a shade sail in Brisbane can vary widely depending on several factors. These include the size of the sail, the type of fabric, the complexity of the installation, and any additional features or customization you may desire.

  • Size: The size of your shade sail plays a significant role in determining its cost. Larger sails naturally require more material and labour for installation. Typically, the cost is calculated per square meter, so the bigger the sail, the higher the price.
  • Fabric: The choice of fabric is crucial, as it affects both the appearance and functionality of your shade sail. Common options include high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and PVC-coated polyester. HDPE tends to be more cost-effective, while PVC-coated polyester is more durable and often comes at a higher price point.
  • Design and Customization: If you opt for a custom-designed shade sail or require special features such as multiple attachment points or unique shapes, expect to pay more for the design and manufacturing process.
  • Installation: Installation costs can vary based on the complexity of the project. Factors like the number of attachment points, the type of anchor systems used, and the accessibility of the installation site will all impact the installation cost.
  • Professional Services: It’s recommended to hire a professional installer, and their fees are part of the overall cost. They bring expertise and ensure that your shade sail is installed correctly and securely.

To provide a rough estimate, a basic, small-sized shade sail in Brisbane may start at around $5,000 for materials and installation. However, for larger or more intricate installations, costs can exceed $200,000 or more. It’s crucial to get quotes from multiple suppliers and installers to determine the best price for your specific needs.

Do I Need Approval for a Shade Sail in Brisbane?

In Brisbane, the regulations regarding shade sails can vary depending on your location, the size of the sail, and other factors. A good manufacturer and installer will get council approval for you. Generally, you will not need approval for a shade sail if it meets the following criteria:

  • Size: Small shade sails that are considered “exempt development” are typically not subject to approval. These are usually less than 25 square meters in area.
  • Location: If the shade sail is located at least 900mm away from the property boundary, it may not require approval. However, it’s essential to check with your local council to confirm the specific requirements for your area.
  • Material: The fabric used for the shade sail should be of high quality and meet fire safety standards. It’s important to ensure that the chosen fabric complies with local regulations.
  • Professional Installation: Having your shade sail professionally installed by a qualified installer is often a requirement to ensure it meets safety standards and local regulations.

It’s essential to contact your local council or a qualified shade sail installer in Brisbane to get specific information on whether your proposed shade sail requires approval. Failing to obtain the necessary approvals can result in penalties, so it’s crucial to follow local regulations.

How Much Does a Shade Sail Cost to Install?

The cost of installing a shade sail in Brisbane can vary depending on the factors mentioned earlier, including the size, design, and complexity of the project. Generally, installation costs range from $5,000 to $100,000 or more. Here’s a breakdown of potential expenses:

  • Labor: Labour costs typically account for a significant portion of the installation expenses. Installing anchor points, tensioning the sail, and ensuring it’s secure and properly aligned all require skilled labour.
  • Materials: This includes the shade sail itself, as well as any additional materials needed for installation, such as poles, brackets, and hardware.
  • Accessories: If you choose to add accessories like pulleys, turnbuckles, or tie-downs to your shade sail, these will contribute to the installation cost.
  • Site Preparation: In some cases, site preparation may be necessary, such as clearing vegetation or ensuring the ground is level. These additional tasks can increase the overall cost.
  • Professional Installer Fees: Hiring a professional installer is highly recommended to ensure the shade sail is installed correctly. Their fees will be included in the installation cost.

It’s crucial to obtain quotes from multiple installers and compare their prices and services before making a decision. Keep in mind that while it may be tempting to cut costs by attempting a DIY installation, a professionally installed shade sail is safer and more likely to last longer.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Shade Sail?

While shade sails offer numerous benefits, including sun protection and aesthetic appeal, they are not without their disadvantages. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Limited Rain Protection: Shade sails are designed primarily to block the sun’s harmful UV rays and provide shade. They are not effective at preventing rain from passing through, which can be a disadvantage during heavy downpours. There are however waterproof shade structures that solve this requirement
  • Maintenance: To ensure the longevity of your shade sail, regular maintenance is required. This includes cleaning to remove dirt and debris, checking for wear and tear, and re-tensioning as necessary. Neglecting maintenance can lead to reduced durability.
  • Fabric Fading: Over time, the fabric of a shade sail can fade due to exposure to the sun’s UV rays. This can affect the aesthetic appeal of the sail.
  • Installation Complexity: Installing a shade sail can be a complex task, especially for larger or custom-designed sails. It’s essential to hire a professional to ensure proper installation, which can add to the overall cost.
  • Limited Privacy: Shade sails are primarily intended for sun protection and shade. They do not provide the same level of privacy as other outdoor structures like pergolas or fences.
  • Lifespan: While shade sails can have a reasonable lifespan, they may not be as durable as some other outdoor shade options, such as fixed awnings or pergolas. See see the various life span of different shade structures see the shade smart guide


Shade sails in Brisbane offer an excellent solution for sun protection and outdoor comfort. However, the cost of a shade sail can vary significantly based on factors like size, fabric choice, and installation complexity. It’s crucial to do your research, obtain multiple quotes, and consider the advantages and disadvantages before making a decision. Versatile Structures offers premium sail shades in Brisbane, combining functionality with modern design to enhance your outdoor areas.

Additionally, be sure to check with your local council to determine whether you need approval for your shade sail project. Complying with local regulations is essential to avoid potential fines and ensure the safety of your shade sail installation.While shade sails have some disadvantages, they can be an attractive and functional addition to your outdoor space when properly installed and maintained. Whether you’re looking to create a shaded retreat in your backyard or add a stylish touch to a commercial space, shade sails in Brisbane can enhance your outdoor experience.


  • 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.