The waterside walkway shade structure installed by Versatile Structures

What’s the difference between a commercial and industrial shade structure

 Jamie Howard      In

As an installer of both industrial and commercial shade structures we’ve noticed some distinct differences between the two in our years.

For a civilian, or someone not trained in construction, you may not see a big difference, but each project presents different and unique challenges and processes.


Industrial vs. Commercial

Industrial and commercial shade structure construction includes many different businesses and many different industries like commercial and industrial buildings, land, zoning, products, and more. “Industrial” refers to any business dealing with manufacturing goods. “Commercial” refers to any business done with the sole motive of gaining a profit.

Furthermore, the Oxford dictionary says that industrial is “designed or suitable for use in industry” and that commercial is “concerned or engaged in commerce”.


Commercial Shade structure

The design and development of shade structures for restaurants, offices, shopping centres, retail stores, and hubs of entertainment are dealing with commercial projects. Commercial projects are almost always designed to be aesthetically attractive in order to grab a consumer’s attention.

In addition to the attractive design, commercial sites are typically very well maintained and have a good physical location. Retail centres and offices depend on easy consumer access, good parking (see our car park shade structures), and are usually pedestrian-friendly.

In commercial projects, a contractor may often work with suppliers and subcontractors to meet specific goals. Commercial construction projects may bring in modern design experts who will work with traditional contractors.

Before a commercial site can be ready for business, it must finalize permitting requirements that meet local legal requirements.


Industrial shade structure

Industrial is a term used to describe any business that manufactures goods. These businesses could include construction, factories, working with electrical, civil or mechanical processes.

Industrial construction is almost always located on the outskirts of a town. Manufacturing sites factor in the need for special conveyance requirements such as 24/7 shipping and receiving, accessible nearby air or railroad transportation, or access to major highways.

A shade structure design for an industrial plant revolves around floor plans that promote smooth foot traffic and focus on coordinating manufacturing and distribution – these buildings are built for functionality, not style. Industrial buildings are made to support heavy equipment and other equipment that must be made to meet industry-specific regulations.


Industrial shade structure projects go through permitting requirements to satisfy local entities, just like commercial projects, but these larger industrial projects must meet permitting requirements that comply with many different exacting standards from local, state, and federal agencies.

Industry is the lifeblood of our local economies.



  • 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.