Fabrics and Your Choices
WA Young work with the highest quality materials that best suit your intended application. Shade sails, awnings, umbrellas, cantilevers - all structures suit differing fabrics, and similarly your own requirements - shade or waterproof, budget, aesthetic, etc - will dictate the option that we will ultimately recommend to you. Here is a quick guide to the types of fabrics available, and when they are best suited.
This is not an exhaustive list, but a simple introduction to the fabrics that are used in the greater majority of fabric structures built around Australia.
Commercial Shade Fabrics
The most commonly used fabric for shade sails and tension structures is a knitted HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) material. The fabric is an open weave material that is non waterproof, and provides 78-98% UV block, the difference being determined by both manufacturer, and fabric colour. The porous nature of the fabric allows heat to escape, thus lowering the overall temperature under the fabric considerably. Those who have stood under perspex rooves in the middle of summer know how hot they can get, and shade fabrics offer "breathability" as a significant comparable advantage.
Commercial grade shade fabrics are generally constructed from HDPE tape knitted with HDPE monofilament, although there are fabrics available that are 100% monofilament. All of these fabrics carry 10 year warranties against UV degradation.
Shade fabrics are generally less expensive than the other alternatives.
Standard Domestic Grade Shade Fabrics
Also constructed from UV stabilised HDPE, these fabrics are not as strong as the commercial shade fabrics but are perfect for non tension applications, such as over pergolas, shadehouse covers, blinds, and privacy screens. Offering UV block from 30% to 90%, they are said to reduce temperatures by up to 32% when compared to direct sunlight.
These fabrics are most frequently used for "plant shade", as opposed to "people shade", particularly where the plants they are shading require at least some light during the day for photosynthesis. Whilst the standard colours of these fabrics are the horticultural colours of black, green, and white, recent years have seen the introduction of beige, eucalypt, grey, and natural, most commonly in the 90% shade range.
Woven Polyester Mesh Fabrics
Woven polyester mesh fabrics are also porous in construction and are non waterproof. Each woven filament has a high tensile polyester inner fibre with a coating of UV stabilised PVC, for strength and durability. They generally offer up to 90% UV block, and like commercial grade shade fabrics they allow heat to pass thus being considerably cooler to stand under during the heat of the day.
Whilst the tear and tensile strengths of woven polyester mesh fabrics are generally greater than those of commercial grade shade fabrics, they typically only carry a 5 year reducing warranty against UV degradation (rather than the 10 years offered by shade fabrics). For this reason, we recommend that they not be used for tension applications such as shade sails, but are more suited to blinds and retractable awnings.
PVC fabrics are a composite of a woven polyester yarn coated on both sides with PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride). The PVC provides a protective weather barrier surrounding the polyester yarns. Plasticizers are added to the PVC to give the fabric its flexibility, thus providing an ease in handling, fabrication and installation. There are a variety of manufacturers of structural grade PVC fabrics in the world and each typically offers 5 to 6 grades of material, each offering greater strength and durability.
Additional top coats are applied to the fabric to help keep the material clean. These include Acrylic, PVDF (polyvinyl-denedi-fluoride), and PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride). While the top coating improves the serviceability of the fabrics, periodic cleanings may still be required.
PVC fabrics can be waterproof or non waterproof, although the far majority of our clients would use them for waterproof requirements. Non waterproof fabrics are generally perforated vinyl products, used almost exclusively in blind and awning applications.
Products fabricated from PVC are typically 2 to 3 times more expensive than those manufactured from commercial shade fabrics.
Acrylic Awning Fabrics
Acrylic canvas is very commonly used in retractable awning products. These are solution dyed woven acrylic fabrics and are available in a huge range of colours, and from a very large range of suppliers around the globe. They offer 100% UV block.
These fabrics generally have excellent colour fast qualities and are either highly water resistant, or waterproof. When adequately pitched, pretty much all acrylic awning fabrics are waterproof, as the water will run off prior to having time to pass through the fabric itself.
As these are woven fabrics, they tend to be the fabric of choice for clients looking for striped blinds and awnings. The stripes are woven into the fabric by the manufacturer, leaving little for the fabricator to do other than to size and finish the fabric as required.