When choosing a shade sail, you will want to consider Shade Factor among the other important factors.

Why is Shade Factor Important?

Shade Factor is a measurement that allows designers and consumers to choose an appropriate level of shade for different applications. This may be a high level of shade for an outdoor play area with small children or an outdoor sitting area at a school, or a lesser level of shade for plants in a garden center. Shade factor is how much a fabric absorbs or reflects visible and invisible light (ultraviolet radiation). Essentially how much shade can be seen beneath it on a sunny day—and this is especially important when choosing a shade sail to cover your playground or outdoor break area or patio seating. You want good shade, but still allow light to come through. Further when visible light can come through a fabric, the shade factor is not always directly proportional to the UV blockage. You will want the right amount of shade AND the right about of UV blockage for your project.

How much UV Blockage do I Need?

In an outdoor location in an area with intense sun and heat, you may wish to choose, (or a designer will suggest) a fabric with a shade factor that is as close to 100%. You will also want a high percentage of UV blockage to protect from the sun’s rays. Pools or patios for example are ideal places for these high shade factors with high UV blockage—especially in Florida or Texas where the sun is strong most of the year. Areas that do not have as much direct sunlight may be better candidates for a shade with a lower shade factor, such as New York or Virginia. Generally, lighter colors will have a lower shade factor and darker colors will have a higher shade factor.

Openness Factor

The openness factor of a shade fabric is the percentage of open space in the weave. A fabric with a small openness factor has a tighter weave and lets in less light and offers more privacy. A looser weave (higher openness factor) allows for more light and harmful solar radiation to filter through. Openness can also affect airflow. Openness factor is one of the things you need to consider when choosing from the many different types of shade sail fabrics available.

So, How Do I Know What to Choose?

When choosing the best shade and shade fabric for your project, you should first put down your list of wants and needs. Do you want a specific color? Size? Does it need to cover an area with small children or the elderly? What is the weather like in your area? As much information as you can provide will help your shade sail consultant assist you in picking the best fabric, with the appropriate UV blockages, openness and shade factor for you.

If you still have questions, we are here to help! Just give us a call at 888.570.SAIL. or check out our FAQ page.