Choosing The Right Shade Cloth
Not all shade cloth is made equal and when you are choosing someone to make your new shade sail you should really look carefully the brand
and the UV Rating of the fabric they intend to use. Over the years we have experimented with lots of different fabrics and most have performed well however, we’ve tended to stick with a Commercial 95 which is made by the Australian company Gale Pacific. C95 has in recent years been rebranded as “Synthesis Commercial 95″. What we like about it most is that it give very high UV block – up to 98% and has a low stretch properties making it ideal for medium-sized tension applications. It comes in a wide range of colours and like all commercial shade cloths today, has a 10 Yr pro rata warranty against UV degradation.
One thing about C95 is that it is a tape /monofilament cloth which means that it is knitted with monofilament (which is similar to fishing line) and to get the UV block, take is knitted into the fabric. Some people believe that tape shade cloths should not be put under tension and to a degree this is true. The reason is that the tape can stretch causing the sail to sag over time. C95 however retains its anti stretch properties through its monofiliment construction. There are other fabrics on the market which stretch more and aren’t suited to tension applications. Typically these are referred to as ‘domestic’ shade cloths.
One thing that is important to mention here is that there are some shade cloths on the market which are 100% monofiliment – that is, they have no tape filler, all the shade is created by knitting the monofiliment. What I have seen over the years is that although this style of fabric is incredibly strong and well suited to large shade sail applications such as covering car parks, it lacks UV block and having sat underneath shade cloth with only a 90% UV block on hot days, you get the feeling that something is lacking.
In summary, when selecting the shade cloth to have your sail made from, it will serve you well to be educated. In the book DIY Shade, I list most of the major brands of shade cloth and their various UV ratings and other important characteristics. Being educated on this subject can really make a difference between getting a sail that keeps you and the family cool and UV safe on hot days and not.
Happy Shade sailing.