A-Z shade structure terminology you need to know


Acrylic Canvas

Acrylic fabric has a softness that makes it stand out, and the fabric colour is added while the fibres are in a liquid state, making it fade proof. It is highly resistant to UV rays, mildew and water but not flame retardant, so the ideal is in commercial application.


Aluminium Screens and Sun hoods

Highly durable in all weather conditions, aluminium screens and sun hoods are made from recyclable materials, customisable to specific designs and offer ideal sun control for windows. Recommended applications include commercial construction projects, low, medium, high rise and premium domestic applications.


AS1530 part 2 & 3

AS1530 part 2 & 3 are the most adapted Flame Retardancy Test Standards for Coated Fabrics used in Australia and Based on the Flammability Index, the material can be deemed to pass or fail to a relevant Australian Building Code. Also see Flame Retardancy.


Australian Quality Standards

As not all shade fabrics are the same, the Australian quality standards offers a range of guidelines and policies using key variables including the design, installation, and Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) and Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) protection ratings of the shade structures.


Australian Standards AS/NZS 1170:2:2002

This standard specifies the design values of wind actions including wind speeds and direction factors for a range of probabilities of exceedance used in structural design.


Barrel Vault Structures

A large span shelter solution suitable for a pool covers, school assembly, basketball courts and play areas.


Build Time

This is where design and fabrication work take place in our factory and fittings and finishing details are coordinated. Typically allow for a 4 to 10 week build time depending on the scale of the project.



Waterproof sails need little maintenance as they self-clean with rainfall and/or can be wiped clean, shade fabric can be cleaned with a soft pressure washer

While. Good maintenance will prolong the life of the shade sail.


Commercial Grade

Commercial Grade shade cloth is the most hard-wearing shade cloth available and ideal for large car parks, swimming pools, and entrances to hotels or commercial buildings. Made of PVC-coated polyester low-wick base fabric finished with PVDF lacquer, the fabric is flame-retardant, UV stabilised and treated with fungicides for long-wearing low maintenance.


side the strongest, most hard-wearing shade cloth used in commercial applications. The gold standard is a high grade 95% UV block out shade cloth.


Commercial Awnings

A secondary covering attached to the exterior wall of a building, commercial awnings can provide additional outdoor space and enhance the aesthetics of a building.


Commercial Shade Structures

Custom made and tailored to suit any architectural design intent, commercial shade structures are ideal for council park, school, car park, commercial building, and landscaping projects.


Custom Shade solutions

We highly recommend investing in custom fabric structures for its return your investment. When considering your shade solution, it is important to think about the future life of the structure such as weather conditions, pollutants, contaminants, and airborne debris. Custom builds meet individual requirements and ensure adequate shade or rain protection is optimised.


Dual layered and reinforced corners, edges, and seams

Stress points on sails need to be reinforced with a double layer of mesh and corners


Engineering Certification

Waterproof sails may require an engineering certification to verify the tie-down and attachment of the sail, including footing, wind loading and material stability. This needs to be obtained before lodging the application with Council.



Cheaper, second-tier fabrics are not proven to be effective in Australia’s harsh weather conditions. High spec European and Australian materials may seem more expensive upfront but give a greater finish and offer superior long-term performance.


Flame Retardancy

Shade sail fabrics must be rated to Australian Standard AS1530, meaning materials that don’t melt or shrink, and have a Flammability index of less than 5 in a Bushfire Zone. Ignitability, flame propagation, heat release and smoke release are determined simultaneously by means of a vertical heat source.



Forged AISI 316 marine grade stainless steel fittings and cables are an ultra-high quality, corrosion resistant steel with excellent strength, toughness, fabrication characteristics and weldability. AISI 316 marine grade stainless steel wire rope is encased in a double folded pocket with each corner being reinforced with double layers of fabric and heavy-duty seatbelt webbing. All turnbuckle threads are treated with Anti Seize allowing easy removal & installation.



Foundations are crucial to the safety of a structure. Failing to dig to the required depth, using enough steel reinforcement bar in the concrete, or pouring the correct volume of concrete can lead to the structure collapsing. Well-engineered footings will generally require specific minimum levels of reinforcement, larger diameter for bored piers, or a larger footprint for pad footings, they will be designed to accommodate the imposed loads and transfer effectively into the ground.


GORE ® TENARA ® Sewing Thread

GORE ® TENARA ® is a long-lasting, UV protected quality thread that does not deteriorate from exposure to elements – not even when exposed to UV radiation.



Hardware items include Stainless Steel grade 316 cables and fittings, turnbuckles, spring hooks, thimbles, heavy-duty dee rings (or “D” rings), shackles, mounting plates/brackets, wire rope, triangle rings, washers, rope clamps, brackets, anchors, and eye nuts and bolts.


Heat Reflectively

The electromagnetic radiation given off by the sun contains numerous infrareds, visible ultraviolet rays A, B and C and invisible rays which transfer radiation heat. By using nature’s own thermodynamics properties to trap heat in a thermo barrier, shade sails prevent a large proportion of radiation heat waves from entering the area below. White shade sails reflect up to 85% of heat away.


Heavy duty Sails

Commercial quality, heavy duty waterproof shade sails are ideal for areas like schools, outdoor restaurants, and carparks as they offer great shade, UV and rain protection and have a lifespan of up to 15 years.


High Frequency Welding

High-frequency or radio frequency (RF) welding applies radio frequency energy to fuse thermoplastic materials together, with the heating process occurring from the inside out.


Hot Dip Galvanising

Hot-dip galvanization is the process of coating iron and steel with zinc at a temperature of around 450 °C. This galvanization process results in a durable and hard-wearing coating, with expected lifespans from 10 to 25+ years. Hot Dip Galvanising has a matt to low shine grey-silver appearance.


Insulated Roof Panels

Insulated roof panels or sandwich panel roofing is an all-in-one roofing solution made of a combination of corrugated roofing, insulation, and ceiling in one offering a durable, functional, and attractive panel with outstanding cooling performance.



Permanent fixtures are generally included as part of your home building insurance and is defined as “an item that is permanently attached or fixed to the structure of your home that can’t be removed without causing damage to your home”. By that definition it means a shade sail isn’t covered by building insurance and becomes part of your home contents.



With advancements in fabric manufacturing, materials available, and R&D progression, fabrics now come with longer lifespans of up to 15 years minimum. Good quality fabric, combined with a regular maintenance program that includes visual inspections, annual re-tensioning, and repairs caught early will maximise the lifespan of a shade structure.



Good planning and a proactive approach ensure maximum life and minimal disruption. Annual inspections can highlight potential issues before they occur, which can be actioned proactively to keep costs down before a failure eventuates. When pre-existing damage is identified, get advice on the best methods to treat and maintain the condition of the sail to prolong the lifespan until budget allowances are available to repair or replace. Waterproof shade structures are lower maintenance. In fact, many are self-cleaning, using the rainwater to clean themselves.


OHS Standard

Choose suppliers who comply with OHS legislation, have implemented an Occupational Health and Safety Management System, and whose workforce participate in Health and Safety training sessions and are regularly updated on safe working practices, ensuring a high level of awareness of Health and Safety.


Outdoor Awnings

With many different types of commercial shade sails or awnings to choose from, consider awnings that are easy to use and are good quality so to last for many years. Cantilevered awnings are a great modern option and don’t need to be mounted on posts, eliminating any obstructions, while retractable awnings and roof structures allow for great flexibility of use and across seasons.


2PAC Painting

An exceptionally durable and costly coloured finish applied over hot dip galvanised steelwork, to provide the most durable coloured coating. Warranty options exceeding 15 years are available for application directly over steel.


Polycarbonate Roofing

This lightweight and virtually unbreakable shade solution has superpowers to withstand extremely high and low temperatures, making it ideal for patios, deck areas, conservatories, and awnings for commercial buildings. Made from thermoplastic that comes as transparent sheets that are tough, flame retardant, chemical resistant, and durable.


Powder Coat

Powder coating is a dry finishing process that offers a high-quality, durable finish available in limitless colours and textures. Warrantees of up to 10 years can can be expected and ensure you are supplied with a Dulux approved warranty or at minimum ensure a zinc rich epoxy primer is used prior to powder coating.



A 100% waterproof Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated polyester membrane fabric consisting of polyvinyl chloride resin is strong, versatile, and flexible.

Also see Substrate



Polyvinyl chloride (PVF) or polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) is a composite material formed by coating PVC resin on a polyester fibre base cloth, and spraying PVDF surface coating. The fabric substrate has tensile and tear strength, is water, heat, and fire resistant, durable, and light transmitting.


Quality Brands

The quality of the fabric usually determines the shade structures’ lifespan and high levels of UV protection. Some of the top waterproof shade structure brands in the market include Serge Ferrari, Mehler Texnologies and Verseidag.



When damage is beyond the ability of onsite maintenance, an offsite repair is often a good course of action. This is generally for isolated damage from a storm or vandalism etc. Repairing is often more cost effective than a replacement and cost/benefit analysis can be provided depending on the age of the sail.



Unfortunately, there comes a point in a shade sail’s life where the only option is to replace the sail. We assist here by replacing what is necessary and advising any additional areas that can be improved to increase the life of the new shade sail.


Shade Sail Installation

The perimeter of each sail has a curve (catenary) designed to control the fabric tension. Therefore, they do not sag or flap in the wind. This gives you two benefits. It will not work loose, and it will not fatigue prematurely, these are generally set at 8% distance in / length of edge, as this is the best efficiency balance of tension vs coverage, if you require this to be set at a lower percentage, please feel free to discuss further with us, as there are options to reduce



A skillion roof is a combination of the minimal design atheistic of a flat roof and the pitch of a gabled roof. Skillion roofs are steeply angled and built with streamlined roofing materials, using rubber skins or metal finishes.


Shade Sails

Shade sails are made up of two parts: a flexible fabric or PVC membrane and anchor points. The fabric is free-spanned and tensioned between several anchor points to make it efficient at shedding water and help it stand up to strong winds. The anchor points can take the form of vertical columns, posts or building brackets. Recommended for playgrounds, council parks, childcare centres, commercial applications, domestic applications, and sporting clubs, they are low maintenance and generally come with a 10 to 15-year warranty.


Shade Structures

A shade structure also offers protection from the sun and rain but unlike a shade sail, which comprises posts and a free-spanned fabric, a shade structure is an architecturally designed frame with structural steel members and a shade fabric attached. Shade structures are cost-effective options to provide cover to an existing outdoor area.


Specialist Manufacturing Equipment

Sophisticated tools like computerised fabric plotter cutters, high- power radio frequency welders and high productivity installation equipment make all the difference in the finished product and factory facilities also mean installation time is minimised as most of the pre-assembly and preparation work takes place in the factory, not at your property.



GORE ® TENARA ® is a long-lasting, quality thread that does not deteriorate from exposure to UV radiation, wind, and weather.



With many different shade solutions available it is a good idea to understand the difference


  • Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE)

A fluorine-based plastic with high corrosion resistance and strength over a wide temperature range.


  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

A non-waterproof, permeable knitted shade fabric material with tiny holes that allow hot air to escape. It’s high-water run-off qualities makes it chemical, mould, rot, and sun resistant.


  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) membrane fabric

A 100% waterproof Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated polyester membrane fabric consisting of polyvinyl chloride resin is strong, versatile, and flexible.



Polyvinyl chloride (PVF) or polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) is a composite material formed by coating PVC resin on a polyester fibre base cloth, and spraying PVDF surface coating. The fabric substrate has tensile and tear strength, is water, heat, and fire resistant, durable and light transmitting.


  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Waterproof PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene is a woven fibreglass membrane used for stitching shade cloth fabrics. It’s extremely durable, waterproof, wind-resistant, and UV ray resistant.



Tensile shade sail fabrics should only be installed by licensed shade sail installers as they offer very little stretch (0.05%-1.5%) compared to standard shade cloth (3-6%).


Tensile shade sails

Shade sails made from PTFE-coated fibreglass and PVC-coated polyester, which gives them unique waterproof qualities.



The correct tension is key to the functionality of waterproof fabric shade as sagging in the centre affects the longevity and aesthetic of the sail. Corner hardware such as turnbuckles, pulleys and commercial brackets are used to tension a sail and the recommended final tension being typically 30-50 kg at each corner for sails up to 25 m2. Larger sails will require much higher tension. After a week of use, we recommend tensioning to allow for any settling of the sail.



Tensile shade sails have 7 to 54% translucency depending on the pigment of the fabric.



Modular in design and constructed from a single membrane, the Vypar comes with the option for multiple units to be linked together and form one continuous membrane. Fabricated from durable architectural-grade HDPE Shade cloth with warranties up to 15 years against UV degradation, our Vypar offers style and longevity.



Many warranties only cover replacement of the fabric and not the labour and repair costs, so do not be caught out with nasty surprises. Look for an iron clad warranty package over the entire system, not just the fabric skin and ask what product and back-up servicing are included



This is a fully leak-proof shade sail option, even in torrential downpours. Waterproof shade structures require unique design features such as cross bracing structural supports and angling to ensure water doesn’t pool on the top and create too much weight.


Water runoff

Water Runoff is not the same as being waterproof – it is shower-proof which offers protection only from light rain.



Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates the amount of UVA and UVB radiation a shade sail fabric allows to reach your skin. The maximum rating is UPF 50+ which indicates up to 2% of UV radiation can penetrate fabric.


UV rays

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of energy produced by the sun and some artificial sources, such as arc welders and solariums. Shade sails block out harmful UV rays, with waterproof PVC solutions offer up to 100% and shade sails up to 99% UV protection. Shade sails are tested for how much ultraviolet radiation the materials transmit and a cloth that is stretched due to incorrect installation, reduces its UVR protection against sunburn.


UVR protection

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun is harmful to the skin, eyes, and immune system. During the day there is as much scattered solar UVR from the sky as as from direct sun. Generally, the less sky that is visible means the more protected you are from scattered solar UVR.