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Not All Shade Cloth is Created Equal

Shade cloths can be used for a multitude of purposes, from protecting the garden from birds to adding shelter on the patio. Likewise, there are many different options when it comes to choosing the material and colour of a shade cloth. Canvas or PVC, light or dark? Not only will these choices determine the appearance of your shade sail, but your decisions will affect how the sunshade works.
First things first. There are two main types of canvas shade cloths: knitted and woven.


Knitted shade cloths are made from knitted polyethylene and have an expected lifespan of 10-15 years. Knitted cloth offers good UV protection even though the fabric can stretch, and will still serve as an effective barrier between you and harmful rays. It’s a cheaper, lighter choice that won’t unravel even if a hole appears. Despite its light weight, knitted shade cloths are strong enough to endure torrential rain and strong winds if shade sails are expertly fabricated.


Woven shade cloths are made from woven polypropylene and have an expected lifespan of 10-12 years. For optimum UV protection, woven shade cloths are the ideal choice as the closely woven material absorbs and blocks more harmful rays. Woven shade cloths are more expensive than knitted shade cloths and are heavier and more durable. The downside of a woven shade cloth sail is that if it gets a hole, the whole thing will unravel.
And if you don’t like canvas? Don’t worry, there’s another option.


Another shade sail fabric that is gaining popularity is PVC. PVC shade sails are more expensive, but they are also waterproof, so you can enjoy the outdoors no matter the weather or season. In a climate like Auckland’s temperamental one, a PVC shade cloth can be extremely handy. The correct PVC is also a more stable fabric and won’t go out of shape. It’s the most durable solution and has a 10-15 year life expectancy.

Choosing Your Sunshade

When it comes to heat absorption, the basic rule is the lighter the colour of the fabric, the cooler you will be beneath it. Lighter coloured shade sails are a popular choice as they reflect the sun’s radiation. However, the darker the colour of the fabric, the more UV protection you will receive.
If you’re not sure what kind of tensioned canopy is best for your needs, talk to one of our knowledgeable team members. At 0800 Sunshade, we offer a range of fabrics with varying UV protection, rain protection and strength features. We specialise in designing, manufacturing and certifying shade sails, so we’ll be able to guide you in the right direction.

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