Waterproof Shade Sails – Are They Worth It?

Waterproof shade sails are gaining popularity more and more in the United States. Many people have caught the shade sail bug and the wheels of invention keep rolling. Sunshades are usually made from polyethylene shade cloth, which is a woven porous material. Some brands of polyethylene cloth are more porous than other brands. The lack of total waterproofing can be huge drawback for some people. Perhaps you live in an area that has a lot of seasonal rain. This could certainly be a drawback if you want to sit outside and watch the rain underneath a shade sail that is leaking somewhat. Shade sails should be angled in order to allow for water run off, however, some people do want a material that will limit completely the amount of water that can go through. Glenn Raven introduced Sunbrella fabric in the 1960s as a superior alternative to traditional cotton awning materials. These days, Sunbrella is used for all sorts of applications from furniture, to awnings and sun sails. There are several things that you should know about waterproof shade sails before making your purchase.

Sunbrella fabric is an excellent material for fabricating sun sails. It is readily available in a multitude of colors and now comes with a 10-year UV rating. This is an advantage over 5-year rated fabrics in that it will definitely last longer in the sun. It can also be found in an assortment of colors that might not be as easily available in shade cloth fabric. It is also more expensive than traditional polyethylene fabric. It is also considered to be waterproof. However, keep in mind that Sunbrella fabric must allow some water to pass through in order for it not to build up inside the fabric. This prevents the material from building up mildew and deteriorating. The amount of water that passes through the fabric is not noticeable.

Waterproof shade sails should also be angled 20 degrees for every 10 feet of shade sail. This prevents water from building up in the middle and causing your sun sail to sag. Therefore, if you have a 25-foot side sail than you should angle it around 45 degrees. This also gives your sunshade an artistic flair that is unsurpassed by traditional awnings or patio covers. You may also select to install your sail at different heights in every corner. This creates a hyper effect and also provides for water run off at the same time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Sunbrella fabric does not stretch as much as shade clothe and therefore it is not as forgiving. Sunbrella can only stretch around 2 inches a the most. Shade cloth on the other hand, can stretch much more significantly. Some sails, depending on the size, made from shade fabric, can be stretched 18 to 24 inches. You will not be able to get much stretch if you are in an installation pickle, and need to get 6 more inches of length in order to meet your fixing point when using Sunbrella waterproof fabric. Therefore, it is very important to plan your installation carefully and take note of your hardware length in relation to the size of your sun sail. Proper planning will make for a smooth installation of your waterproof shade sail.

Waterproof sunshades provide many advantages that non-waterproof sails do not have. They keep patrons at restaurants from getting wet while dinning on the patio during a modest rainstorm. Waterproof sun sails will keep your doorway from getting wet as well. They are also readily available in multitude of colors for you to choose from. However, it is important to keep in mind that they also have different installation characteristics than non-waterproof sails. Waterproof shade sails will also react differently to wind loads as well. You might want to check with an engineer prior to undertaking this project. Most residential applications will not require an engineer, however, commercial uses will more than likely require permitting, wind rating certificates, etc.