Sun Shades are an affordable way to protect from UV rays and transform the look of an outdoor area. Both commercial and residential areas can benefit from a well-placed shade structure. However, there are some things to consider when selecting a shade structure including the material the shade structure is made from, as there are negatives and benefits to each.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential materials.

Fabric Shade

While the fabric is much less durable than a more permeant solution, it is also easier to install and more affordable. A DIY sail is lightweight and will require the homeowner to install and remove as needed, the commercial fabric is more durable.

We use Commercial 95TM Architectural Shade Fabric. It is a professional grade cloth used frequently to create fabric structures, awnings, sails and shade covers because it is both heavy duty and extremely durable.

Galvanized Steel – Metal Shade Structures

Metal is one of the most durable options to use for a shade structure.  If maximum durability is the goal steel may be the best options for your shade structure to stand against extreme weather.

Although steel is very strong, a metal shade structure needs to be protected. That protection process is called galvanization.

Galvanized Steel is a steel that has gone through a process to coat it in protective zinc. This will help protect the shade structure from rust and corrosion. Our Multi-Level Sails use 3/16” or ¼” galvanized steel.

However, metal shade structures are generally more expensive than fabric or wood structures. Metal shade structures are also more difficult to repair as they are more permeant solutions. You can’t just easily take down your steel shade structure as you can with a fabric shade.

Wood Shade Structures

Wood shade structures are very popular for structures like garden pergolas and awnings.  They also look great and can be less expensive than metal shade structures. But wood shade structures do not have the same durability as a galvanized steel structure.

Like steel, wood can be treated to protect against insects and weather, but over time wood will deteriorate faster than a metal structure.

These are some of the common shade materials, vinyl is also growing in popularity. Whether you are looking for a shade sail, canopy or awning the material will be an important consideration.  Each of the material discussed has pros and cons.


Maintenance Requirements

When looking at these different materials, you should also consider the required maintenance and the cost of repairs in the case of damage. All of these materials require specific maintenance and cleaning to maximize the lifespan and durability.

  • Fabric shade will need to be taken down in the case of extreme weather or can risk being damaged.
  • Steel shade structures require regular maintenance and proper cleaning to protect the zinc coating.
  • Wood will also require regular maintenance including repairs to damage wood and staining.

If you have questions about different shade structures or the materials we use, give us a call at 1.800.836.4519 or request a quote.