When you first start shopping around for shades, you may be surprised by the sheer number of different options available to you. Depending on the look and desired effect, the best material will vary.

To help you with making the best choice on shade materials, we’ve broken down the different options available to you with some highlighted benefits for each one.

Shade Material Properties:
Shade materials come with a variety of different properties to suit your various needs:

  • With UPF ratings up to over 90%, shades can keep you cool and protect you from harmful and skin-damaging UV rays.
  • Fire resistance offers some added assurance in dryer climates, where outdoor fires are a concern.
  • Waterproof materials offer the added benefit of keeping the rain and snow at bay, keeping you dry! Being waterproof though, typically heat is trapped under these shades and a cool breeze will not be allowed through.
  • Water Resistant materials offer lesser protection from the rain and snow but allow for a cooler environment by letting hot air escape and some cool air to come through.

Shade Materials:

Fabric Shades:
Fabric shades offer a wealth of benefits as well as a generally more appealing look compared to other materials. Lightweight and flexible, with their ability to offer shade whilst still letting in some light, fabric shades make for great tarps, sunscreens, and patio covers!

Examples of different fabric materials are:

  • Woven:
    From more affordable options such as cotton or nylon to the more highly priced polyethylene and fiberglass, woven fabrics offer a range of different applications. Varying the weave of the fabric allows for varying degrees of sun protection, with the ability to completely block out the wind or allow for some cool air through depending on the desired effect.


  • Shade Cloth:
    Due to its open weave hot air is allowed to escape through whilst also allowing cool breezes in, making shade cloth a great choice to keep you cool in the summer months.


  • Woven Shade Cloth:
    Woven shade cloth is typically quite affordable. Less durable than other options, this makes a great choice for more short-term applications where a low price is preferred over appearance and longevity.


  • Knitted Mesh:
    When durability and strength are a concern, the knitted mesh cannot be beaten as far as fabric materials go. The most densely knitted mesh fabrics offer up to over 90% UVF while still allowing air circulation, making it another excellent choice to keep you cool during those hot summer days!

Metal Shades:
Where strength and durability are a top priority, or the ability to withstand harsh winter weather is a requirement, metal shades are an excellent choice. Their ability to withstand even the harshest conditions, be it strong winds or heavy snowfall, makes them one of the best choices for outdoor shading. Not having to worry about taking them down also is a big plus!

Examples of different metal materials are:

  • Aluminum:
    Offering an easy to maintain, rust-proof, and durable outdoor shade material, aluminum is a great choice where longevity and strength are a concern. With the application of paint or other protective coatings, aluminum is also resistant to corrosion. Its ability to be used as structural as well shade material makes it a great multi-purpose material.


  • Steel:
    Steel as a shade material offers up extreme durability. Galvanized and stainless steel offer up 2 corrosion resistant options for cooling use outdoors where ultimate strength and longevity is a concern.

Wood Shades:
With countless different options for shapes and finishes, wood makes an excellent choice as a shade material for permanent outdoor use!

Examples of different woods are:

  • Pine:
    Offering a more affordable option as far as wood shades go, Pine is easy to work with but can be lacking in the durability department compared to other more expensive wood options. With the application of pressure or chemical treatments pine can be made more durable and weather resistant while still being more affordable than other wood options.


  • Mahogany:
    More durable than Pine, Mahogany offers a more natural alternative to chemical and pressure treated woods. Mahogany will not warp like some other woods so is an excellent choice for an outdoor shade material! Due to its exceptional beauty, it begs to be used in places where it is seen.


  • Cedar:
    Cedar offers similar benefits to Mahogany, with the added benefit of increased insulation. Due to it’s more open cell structure it is more lightweight than most other wooden shades though can be susceptible to showing wear over time.

Synthetic Shades:
Easier to work with and maintain than most other materials, synthetic shades can be found with varying looks, from wood grain imitations to a clear and glass-like look.

Examples of different synthetic materials are:

  • Polycarbonate and Resin:
    An excellent alternative to glass, polycarbonate and resin shades can be made either completely clear or, with the addition of reflective particles, a pearlescent or metallic appears can be had. Typically cheaper than glass, this material offers better insulating qualities and can be made partially transparent to offer added privacy.


  • Vinyl and PVC:
    Vinyl and PVC make excellent shade materials. These materials have been gaining popularity as a stain, mold, and rot resistant alternative to wood. With wood grain and textured finishes becoming more readily available, they offer a more carefree alternative to traditional wooden shades.

A Plethora of Shade Materials 

With the plethora of options available to you for shade materials, you should have no problem finding the perfect material for your needs. Whether you want a portable and lightweight fabric shade to keep the sun at bay or a permanent structurally sound shade, Creative Shade Solutions can help.. Call or get a quote.