The Best Shade Solutions for Queensland

What Are The Best Shade Solutions for Queensland?

Shade sails are hugely versatile and there are many options for different sails and structures suited for any application. At Northside Shade Sails we custom make all of our sails for you and your needs. If you’re not sure where to start or the many options seem overwhelming we’re here to help. So here’s a breakdown of some of the best shade solutions for Queensland.

Triangle Shade Sails

On its own, a triangle shade sails can offer a simple and low profile shade solution. It’s important to remember that shade sails have scalloped edges which means they can get very skinny at the corners of the sail, significantly reducing the usable shade an individual triangle sail can create. This is why triangular shade sails are most commonly used in sequence with multiple overlapping sails for more complete coverage and to create a striking visual effect.

Parabolic Twist Shade Sails

Parabolic twist, hyperbolic parabola, or Hypar shade sails despite the complex-sounding names are the most common style of shade sail. Made with high and low points at opposing corners these shade sails have a twist to them giving it that distinct shade sail appearance. Usually seen on four-point shade sails, the parabolic twist design can be used on any sized sail with four or more corners.

The twist also provides additional structural support to the sail and lowers wind resistance, preventing movement in the sail even in harsh and windy conditions. The lower points, when oriented correctly with the sun, can increase the shade created at different times of the day to suit your needs. The twist also helps rain run off before it has the chance to pool or leak through.

Hip & Ridge Shade Structures

A hip and ridge shade structure consists of a hipped frame with the fabric stretched over the frame creating a roof. These heavy-duty structures are most popular with schools and are great for covering large spans. The sturdy frame spreads the tension of the fabric across the structure and is great for use with thicker and heavier fabrics. Hip and ridge structures are a great middle-ground between an expensive solid-roofed structure and smaller traditional tensioned shade sails.

Cantilever Shade Structures

Cantilever shade structures are another heavy-duty commercial shade system. Consisting of a cantilever frame with footings on one side of the frame or in the middle and a shade sail skin forming the roof. These structures require significant engineering but their unique design offers many advantages. These structures are most commonly found in large car parks and commercial and industrial sites where the placement of posts and other anchors is limited.

While these shade systems are some of the most common when it comes to custom made shade sails the possibilities are endless. So if you’ve got a challenging space or just want to make a statement with some beautiful shade sails we can help. For the best shade solutions in Queensland contact Northside Shade Sails today to speak with one of our expert team to get you obligation-free design and quote.

Australian Shade News 2020

Welcome to Australian Shade News 2020

Shade sails have been a huge part of Australian life for a long time. Practical and simple, the shade sail continues to be one of the best ways to create shade and reclaim outdoor spaces across the country. Australian Shade News is here to keep you up-to-date with the ever-changing world of shade sails and systems. So, whether you are planning to invest in a shade sail, or you already have one, Australian Shade News is the authoritative source with the news and information you need.

In this issue


Shade Sails: The Unsung Hero for Housebound Aussies

This year has been a strange one for many of us. With COVID-19 sweeping the world, everything has been turned on its head. Spending more time at home has been a blessing and a curse for many Australians. While the opportunity to increase work-life balance has been welcome, we could do without the increased bills and the feeling of being trapped inside our homes.

Keeping Us Sane While Stuck at Home

Staring at the same four walls day in and day out has been proven, once again by the pandemic, to drive people a little crazy. To keep ourselves occupied, people have turned to new hobbies, binge-watching tv and movies, as well as taking on DIY projects of all shapes and sizes.

Art and music therapy are widely used to help people with mental health conditions. These same principles can help everyone to reduce stress and increase happiness. Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression. Even work, when it is meaningful and rewarding, can have the same effect on our health. But in isolation, many people have lost these key parts of their lives. Some have lost their job or are working reduced hours remotely. Others are no longer able to volunteer in the community or take part in team sports or club activities due to social distancing.

Taking up a new hobby, craft, or DIY project is a perfect way to stimulate your brain and fill the gap other activities have left. Many organisations, including the Australian Department of Health’s Head to Health Initiative, remind us that making time to do things that we find valuable, meaningful and fun is an important part of maintaining mental health during the pandemic. Simple DIY projects have gained huge popularity as a way to not only stay happy and healthy but also improve your skills and your home.

DIY shade sails have proved incredibly popular. They are a simple and cost-effective way to revitalise your home. Shade sails are also straightforward to install, making them a perfect project for everyone from DIY novices to experienced tradies.

Saving Money in Comfort

Suddenly spending all day every day at home has seen a spike in bills for most of us. Whether you live alone or with the whole family, you have no doubt seen your electricity bill, along with others, increasing. And you are not alone. In fact, the average household more than doubled its power consumption during the height of the lockdown. You have probably also noticed the fluctuating temperatures around your home throughout the day. Your dining table might be a comfy spot at breakfast or in the evening, but when it is your makeshift home office, it is unbearably hot in the early afternoon sun.

Shade sails are not just for keeping the outdoors cool. They are also great at reducing glare and lowering the temperature inside. A shade sail coming off your home can do more than just block glare and direct sunlight. Quality shade sails greatly reduce the ambient temperature under and around the sail, which, in turn, reduces the heat being absorbed by your exterior walls or transferring inside through glass windows and doors.

Naturally regulating your home’s temperature with shade sails is an easy way to enjoy your outdoor spaces, stay comfortable while stuck inside, and reduce energy costs. From permanent tensioned shade structures to retractable systems that can be adjusted as needed, a well-placed and designed shade sail can help you control the temperature around your home.

80 Years of the Specialised Textiles Association

This year, the Australian Specialised Textiles Association celebrated 80 years of pioneering manufacturing, creative design and high standards of production that have ensured Australia has, and will, continue to lead the world in specialist textile fabrication. They marked the occasion with #80YearsStrong honouring the history of Australian textiles and the individuals and businesses who explored new frontiers, challenged the status quo, and ideated innovations that shaped the industry into what it is today. This celebration of the past still looked to the future and what the next 80 years may hold for this versatile and changing industry. Here are some of the innovations from this year alone;

Heavy-Duty Rafter Brackets


Over five times stronger than any other rafter bracket on the market, this innovative new piece of hardware outperforms its competitors while remaining cheaper. The Miami Stainless RB-30 has been extensively tested and is rated for a whopping 1,200kg of force. Made with high strength steel, its specialist and registered design help to spread the load to give it the highest performance.

Ferroshade by Ricky Richards

Ferroshade is the new iron-strong 380gsm premium fabric made by the Australian family textile business Ricky Richards. Ferroshade is manufactured using only round monofilament HDPE yarns, making it a durable and reliable shade fabric option in the harsh Australian climate. With high wind resistance and no tape yarn used, this extremely strong fabric is the perfect choice for permanent shade structures. Continuing their partnership with the Melanoma Institute of Australia, a percentage of sales from the Ferroshade go towards funding their research.


Making Clouds More Like Shade Sails Could Help Save The Great Barrier Reef

Image Credit: Brendan Kelaher/Southern Cross University

Global warming has been continuing to cause more and more damage to coral reefs around the globe. Rising temperatures in the ocean are bleaching coral at an alarming rate. This year, the Great Barrier Reef experienced its third mass bleaching event in the last five years. Coral can survive bleaching events, but they are vulnerable and can die off if left that way for too long or in harsh conditions. While the ultimate answer to saving our reef is lowering carbon emissions and cleaning up ocean pollution, scientists are looking at things we can do now to help protect our coral before it is too late.

Clouds Are Nature’s Shade Sails

A shade sail over your pool lowers the ambient temperature and the water temperature underneath it and, on a massive scale, clouds around the world do the same thing for our oceans. Clouds are a natural part of the water cycle, and while they do provide us with shade, that is not their purpose. Shade sails, on the other hand, are specifically designed to create shade, reflect away heat and protect from UV rays.

Clouds are not just made of water vapour; they are full of small airborne particles known as aerosols that attract the water vapour and help them stick together. It is widely understood that clouds with more particles are ‘brighter’, thereby making them better at reflecting heat, creating shade and breaking up UV rays. Clouds formed over land are made of a huge variety of particles and have a high density of aerosols compared to those formed over the ocean. Marine clouds can have less than 10% the aerosol density as clouds formed over land. This is thought to be partly due to these marine clouds only being formed from the tiny particles of salt being sent up into the air by wind, waves and sea spray.

Making Clouds Better

This is where teams of scientists from the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences and Southern Cross University come in. This year, they trialled a world-first cloud brightening technique designed to help the natural process and get more salt particles into the air to help form new clouds and make existing ones better. Their specialised cloud brightening machine is a cross between a jet turbine and a snow machine, loaded onto the back of a barge it uses seawater to spray a fine mist into the air. The team was able to create hundreds of trillions of sea salt crystals per second which floated into the sky to help bolster the existing clouds’ reflectivity.

The results from this year’s small-scale test were encouraging, the project leader Dr Daniel Harrison remarked, “The technology worked a lot better than we planned at these early stages.” This natural method is also promising as it is chemical-free, low-impact, relatively cheap to implement, and easy to scale up to cover hundreds of square kilometres, because, as he said “nature is doing all the work for you.”

Saving the Great Barrier Reef

Future trials are already being planned for the coming years, with support and funding from the Federal Government’s Reef Restoration and Adaptation Science Program. The team hopes to run a full-scale experiment 10 times larger than this trial in the next two years. The team and Dr Harrison are hopeful, saying, “In the future this technology might be able to be applied over the Great Barrier Reef to reduce the severity of coral bleaching during marine heatwaves, cooling and shading the corals below,” and are excited by the potential of their new method, “If it works as well as we hope then maybe we could reduce the bleaching stress by about 70 per cent… potentially nearly all of the mortality.”

Ultimately, the team sees this cloud brightening method as a way of buying valuable time for the reef while a viable long-term solution to the underlying challenge of climate change can be found. “It’s actually protecting the reef as it already is, trying to restore it is a much harder proposition because once it’s gone, it’s a lot harder to replace it.”


Dynamic Shading for Well-Being & Energy Efficiency


Thermal comfort is becoming increasingly important for architects and building planners around the world. As climate change continues to make weather around the globe more extreme, it has become more apparent how important it is that people are thermally comfortable.

Thermal comfort simply means that a person does not feel too hot or too cold, but this simple thing has a huge impact on people. For example, feeling so hot that trying to be productive or just thinking seems impossible. Your thermal comfort is important for your health and well-being as well as brain function.

Scientists are still learning about all the factors that impact our thermal comfort and the impacts it can have on our mind and body. They are also looking into new ways to control the temperature, humidity and airflow in buildings for optimal thermal comfort without needing expensive and inefficient mechanical cooling and heating systems.

Dynamic shading is a new alternative promising energy-efficient buildings that can actively increase the mood and productivity of the occupants. Dynamic shading is an intelligent automated system that uses sensors to detect the temperature inside, the angle and direction of sunlight, and other factors to then retract and extend shade sails, awnings or blinds for maintaining as much natural light as possible while keeping the temperature stable inside throughout the day.

For its promising energy efficiency, reduced electricity expenses and increased productivity business and owners of commercial spaces have been taking notice. Workplaces around the world have been driving interest and further development of dynamic shading and thermal comfort solutions.

However, as this year forced swathes of office-workers to stay at home, all-day thermal comfort has grown increasingly important for the average person. Dynamic shading at the moment is at the forefront of technology, but the commercial focus means the average system is designed with large multi-story commercial spaces in mind. These systems are excessive for the average home and prohibitively expensive for an individual or small family.

But there are still ways to get the benefits of dynamic shading with a simpler alternative. Retractable shade solutions are perfect for creating shade when it is needed and can easily be retracted to allow natural light in. Without the sensors and automation, you still need to extend and retract the sail yourself, making it more manageable and affordable for residential use.

In the past, retractable shade sails and awnings have been less popular than a permanently tensioned shade sail. This was mostly because of awkward retraction systems that were difficult to use and often failed. But with the constant innovation from retractable shade sail manufacturers around the world, retractable shade sails are easy to adjust and last just as long as their non-retractable counterparts.

Retractable shade sails and awnings are powerful tools for maintaining thermal comfort and can provide many of the same benefits as dynamic shading at a more affordable price.

Fact Check: Why You Get Burnt in The Shade

As anyone who has been burnt on an overcast day in Australia will attest, just because it’s not sunny doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburnt. As Australian’s, we are acutely aware of the dangers of UV rays, but sometimes it can be easy to forget that shade does not equal UV protection. In fact, in recent years, we have seen an increase in babies and young children being severely burnt in the shade because of this confusion. Many of us know the feeling, in the shade, undercover, in a car, on a boat or just out and about an overcast day you still get that skin tingling feeling and you know you are getting burnt. But why does it happen and how can we stop ourselves and our families from getting burnt in the shade?

Ambient & Reflected Solar Radiation

One reason is reflected and ambient UV rays. Even when you are directly under a solid roof structure, UV radiation is still bouncing around and can burn you. This can be worsened when you are near reflective surfaces like the ocean or a pool, or glass windows and doors. Even the walls of your home and other buildings can reflect those harmful UV rays right to you and your family while you are undercover. Windscreens are often treated to block out UV rays, but the other windows in your car and at home will let solar radiation pass through, to the point where, in tropical and equatorial parts of the world like the northernmost parts of Australia, Singapore and India it is recommended that sunscreen should be worn even when indoors.

There are things you can do to help reduce ambient and reflected solar radiation. Investing in glass coatings that block UV rays, make use of specialist paints that lower UV radiation reflection, swapping tiles or concrete in outdoor areas with grass or other natural material with low reflectivity, and low-density vegetation around shaded areas can also help break up reflected solar radiation. Sun safe clothing, sunscreen and all the usual sun protection methods are always helpful. It may seem like overkill when you are in the shade or even indoors, but babies, young children and people with sensitive skin are still susceptible to ambient and reflected UV radiation.

Under A Shade Sail

Shade sails by their nature are made from knitted or woven fabrics, and all these fabrics have tiny gaps in the weave between the threads. Different shade sail materials are all made differently to have bigger or smaller gaps, and special treatments or coatings depending on the intended use of the material. Agricultural fabrics can be very open to let through the UV rays that plants need to grow, where architectural fabrics are designed to protect people from as much harmful UV radiation as possible.

A shade sail might have a high shade factor but low UV protection, which means you are being exposed to high levels of direct UV radiation on top of the ambient and reflected UV rays all while thinking you’re protected in the shade.

Not All Shade Sails Are Created Equal

When you are looking for a shade fabric that can protect you and your family from the harsh Australian sun, there are several things to keep in mind. Choosing dark colours and fabric with a close-knit weave is a great place to start. The properties of darker threads and the smaller and fewer the gaps in the fabric mean that generally, these options will offer better UV protection.

But the most important thing to do is check the fabric’s technical specifications for the solar protection information. This information can be confusing, but there are a few simple things to look for. Firstly, even in the same fabric range, every colour should have slightly different solar properties, if there is only one set of data find out which colour that information matches and ask to see the data for the colours you are interested in.

Remember that shade factor does not equal UV protection. For UV protection, look for headings like UVR Block, UPF Rating or UVE Ranking. These three systems are all slightly different, but they all represent the protection the fabric offers from solar radiation. The UVE ranking system is the current and most comprehensive system for rating shade fabrics, but UVR and UPF can still give an indication. For UVR, the higher the percentage, the better the protection, UPF ratings look similar to sunscreen ratings, and the highest rating is UPF 50+, and the highest UVE ranking is ‘most effective’.

You might also see Solar Transmission, which is most commonly used in tinting and glazing, but some shade fabrics also use this measure. In this context, the lower the number, the better, indicating a small percentage of UV radiation transmitting through the material.

By knowing the difference between shade and UV protection, it is easy to avoid getting burnt in the shade and out of it.

Are You Eligible for a Shade Sail Grant?

In these unprecedented times, various grants have been delayed or refocused in one way or another, but that does not mean there are not still plenty of funding opportunities out there for a new shade sail. Governments and not-for-profit organisations around Australia are still investing in creating shade in schools, daycares, early learning centres, playgrounds, sporting facilities, and other community spaces.

Using high-quality shade is considered one of the best ways to protect from harmful UV rays, but did you know that creating shade has been linked with increased physical activity in children and adults and enhancing community engagement. In addition, construction and landscaping projects of this nature help support local business and boost the economy in these uncertain times. With the broad array of benefits, funding comes in a variety of forms, including specialist shade grants, public health grants, sport and physical activity grants, general community grants and more.

Shade structures are highly versatile, but good quality ones can be expensive for small community groups. This makes them great projects to seek funding for. There is a range of annual grant programs available across Australia that can help to ease the cost of installing a new shade sail. The Cancer Council and various state and local governments offer a range of funding programs every year for a huge variety of community groups, small businesses and schools.

There may be plenty of grants out there, but more groups are applying for funding. These grants can be highly competitive and may only be open for short periods. It is important to be on the lookout for programs that can help your group and get your application in quickly. If you are looking to improve your shade sail funding application, try the Australian Shade News’ Specialist Grant-Writing Service. With an expert writer working with you, our service can help your organisation stand out from the crowd. For a superior grant application that will help your organisation gain the funding you need for a shade sail, contact us today.

Your FAQs

Each issue, we strive to answer your questions about anything shade sail. This time, the question is: “Should I get my shade sail repaired or does it need to be replaced?”

Australian Shade News Answer:

There are a lot of considerations to make when you are trying to decide if repair or a replacement is the right way to go. It can be difficult to find relevant and helpful information and understand what is right for your circumstances. Repairs can be cheaper in the short term compared to a replacement, but they are not always the best solution. It all depends on your sail and the kind of damage. Here are our simple tips to help you understand when to get a repair and when you need a replacement.

How was it damaged?

This one may seem obvious, but it is an important one to think about first. If holes form or fraying just starts to happen one day and continue to worsen with no apparent cause, no matter the age of your sail, it is probably not worth repairing. When a shade sail is deteriorating like this, repairs will be a temporary solution at best and can very quickly become costly. After having one section repaired, you will continue to see tearing and fraying in other areas because the sail has lost its structural integrity.

But what if there was clearly an incident responsible for the damage? Sometimes, usually in the case of impact damage, you know exactly when and how your shade sail was damaged. Depending on the size and kind of damage inflicted, since there were no underlying problems with your sail, repair may be an option. Small punctures and burn marks can often be patched over. However, patching is not always an option for waterproof shade sails as these sails have special coatings that make them waterproof. If that coating has been damaged patching will not guarantee your sail will still be waterproof, and it may leak around the patch.

Larger rips and tears or significant stretching and misshaping from large, heavy impacts may necessitate the replacement of the entire sail. These kinds of events probably are not covered by your shade sail’s warranty, but in most cases, the damaging person’s or your own insurance will cover this.

How old is the sail?

Like everything, shade sails do not last forever. Low-quality sails can have a lifespan as short as two years, compared with architectural shade mesh and commercial grade products which can last upwards of 10 years. So, it is important to know what kind of shade sail you have and how long it should last.

Your warranty is a good indicator of the expected life of your sail. While they can last longer with proper care and maintenance and a bit of luck, exposure to the elements and harsh weather conditions over the years will slowly and surely deteriorate your sail. If the sail is still new and inside warranty, it should be easy to get a replacement for your faulty sail. If your sail, however, is showing damage after the warranty has expired, it is best to replace it as the underlying deterioration will continue to show and worsen after attempted repairs.

Storm Damage & Stitching

High winds do not cause as much damage to shade sails as you might think. Oftentimes, a storm-damaged shade sail was already weakened, and the extra stress of the storm finally pushed it over the edge. Storms can damage your hardware and mounting points, but usually, after a fixing point has come away, when it is remounted, the sail itself is fine.

Most high-quality shade sails stand up well to storms, but tree branches or other flying debris can still do damage. But when that does not happen, how do you get huge tears in shade sails? Often those tears are along the seam where the thread from the stitching has simply ripped out of the sail. A shade sail’s strength comes down to its weakest parts; even high-quality, heavy-duty shade fabric sails could come apart if the thread used to stitch the sail together is not high quality as well. In cases like this, re-stitching is usually feasible, but if you can only have it re-stitched with the same low-quality thread, it may not be worth it.

Warranty Confusion & Finding a Repairer

Understanding your warranty is key to making sure you are getting a quality product. You will regularly find the warranty on your shade sail is actually a collection of warranties on the various parts and workmanship. Even though the fabric of your sail may have a ten-year warranty, the stitching may not. So, if your sail needs a re-stitch, outside of that stitching warranty, you may find yourself paying for the new thread and labour several times over the life of the fabric.”

If you are looking for more answers, please contact us to submit your question or take a look at our previous issues.

Built and natural shade working together

Australian Shade News 2019

Welcome to Australian Shade News 2019

Shade sails are an ever-growing part of Australian life. Practical and still beautiful, shade sails are enhancing outdoor spaces across the country. Australian Shade News is here to keep you up-to-date with everything shade sail. Whether you’re planning to invest in a shade sail, or you already have one, Australian Shade News is the authoritative source of all of the news and information that you need.

In this issue

News From SuperExpo 2019

In June this year, the Blind Manufacturers’ Association of Australia and the Specialised Textiles Association joined forces to put on SuperExpo 2019. It was the largest Australian trade show for specialised textiles, blinds and awnings. The four-day event attracted 112 exhibitors and nearly 4,000 visitors to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. The trade exhibition showcased a range of exciting new products and technologies.


Gale Pacific Dual Shade

DualShade 350 by Gale Pacific

Gale Pacific’s DualShade350 is a bold and unique new fabric. Their revolutionary new knit pattern allows this shade fabric to be a different colour on each side. DualShade 350 is a high-performance, durable and easy to maintain fabric that offers up to 93.6% UVR protection.  In a variety of modern and bold colour combinations, these sails can enhance any space.

SX Transparent Series by Hiraoka

When you need protection from the elements, but don’t want to lose natural light, Hiraoka has a solution. The SX Sundream Series is an innovative new range of heavy-duty waterproof fabrics. They can block harmful UV radiation while still letting light through. The Sundream H blocks up to 99.9% of UV radiation with up to 62% light transmission. It is also available in various colours. The Sundream Cool includes a heat-shielding layer. It reflects up to 30% more infrared light, reducing solar heat gain. The Sunclear is the most transparent fabric that Hiraoka produces. It has 65% light transmission while still blocking up to 99.9% of UV rays.

New Hardware from ProRig

Introducing the latest innovation for shade sail hardware: the ProRig Original Design Ezi Hold Dee Ring With Eye. A D-ring is a key part of any shade sail, it’s stitched into the corners of a sail and used to attach it to the fixing points. This new design, as the name suggests, now includes a retaining eye. The eye stabilises the connection and prevents the sail from pulling over to one side at the corners. Less movement means less wear and a longer life for the shade sail. This high-quality product is made of marine grade stainless steel. It also comes with a machine polish finish for added corrosion resistance.

Community & School Gardens

School gardens and greenhouses are becoming more and more popular around Australia. There are endless learning opportunities, for all ages, in a school garden. Gardens give kids a chance to get their hands dirty and engage their senses while learning. Teaching gardens are not just for helping to teach natural sciences. Taking care of a school garden can also promote cooperation, responsibility, sustainability, a sense of community, and healthy living.

Establishing a school or community garden can seem daunting, especially if you’re not gifted with a green thumb. There are plenty of support and education resources that can help you out. The Queensland Government Healthier Happier initiative has collated a range of helpful information to get your community or school garden started.

Plants need different levels of light exposure to grow at their best. But did you know that there is more to it than light and shade? Plants are susceptible to all parts of the visible and invisible light spectrum. Today’s shade fabrics can filter UV rays and even specific colours. That means horticultural shade fabrics can help you create the right environment for any plant. They can also protect from birds, insects, sunburn and even hail.

Give your new garden or greenhouse plants a head start with horticultural shade netting. So what kind of shade netting is right for your plants? See our handy guide below to get started or give us a call to discuss the colour and weight options that are best for your garden.

Community garden shade sail

Suggested Shade Factor %Suggested UV Block %
Asparagus & Leafage4243
Alstroemeria (Inca Lilies)2635
Beans & Spinach1850
Carnations & Chrysanthemums3030
Nectarines & Citrus1420
Pears, Plums & Apples1620
Pot Plants3638
Seedlings – Fruit & Vegetable3235

How Hot Is Your Playground?

As the Australian summers get hotter and awareness rises, shade and temperature have become two big concerns for parents. Play equipment is often too hot to use, and more and more cases of burned hands and feet are being reported. The temperature and available shade now play a huge role in parent’s decisions. They influence the parks that they visit, and even the school that they enrol their children in.

Creating shade isn’t just about protecting children from UV rays, it is also about lowering the temperature in outdoor areas. The Cool Schools Initiative is based on a research project from Western Sydney University. The study examined the surface temperatures at three outdoor play spaces in early learning centres in Sydney. The hottest surface that they found was a horrifying 105 degrees. Even common playground products like soft fall rubber and AstroTurf were dangerously hot. They averaged temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees, with a peak of 98°C.


Keeping Kids Safe

Playgrounds and outdoor spaces at schools and early learning centres are designed to keep children safe. So how did these surface temperatures get so bad? We know that heat stress affects children more than adults, but, at the same time, minimal research has been done into ambient temperatures and children’s thermal comfort. The research generated from the Cool Schools Initiative is the first close look into outdoor spaces designed for children.

There are many guidelines and sources of advice available from government bodies and not-for-profit organisations. They show how to create safe, fun and educational outdoor areas. Shade structures are recommended, but, recently, evidence has shown that outdoor areas are generally being neglected. The trend has been to rely on air conditioners, denying kids time outdoors in summer. This does keep them cool in the short-term. However, in the long-term, we all suffer. This approach often leads to those spaces being overlooked and not maintained properly, which makes them even hotter and unpleasant to use all year round. All of this adds to the worrying trend of children spending less time outdoors and engaging in less physical activity. The Cool Schools Initiative aims to direct change based on current research, and guide further research to help protect our kids.

Cool Schools Findings

The initiative believes that, while significantly more research is needed, there are several things we can do right now. One such thing is to create shade with purpose and careful planning. Just putting up a shelter isn’t enough. The ideal shade should protect key areas that children use at peak danger times. It should be designed using passive cooling principles. This includes allowing for cross-ventilation and choosing materials with low heat transference. The structure should reflect radiation away rather than absorbing it.

The area around the shade structure should also not absorb heat. This can be achieved with specialist paints or ‘cool coatings’ for buildings. Or, in open areas, grass, natural soft fall and low-density vegetation can achieve this. Plastic and metal equipment should also be replaced. Alternatives that are made from natural materials reach lower surface temperatures, and help to keep the area cool.

Natural & Built Shade Working Together

Climate change is hitting Australia hard. The need to protect ourselves from the harsh Australian sun without further harming the environment has become increasingly important. Heatwaves have been increasing in duration, frequency and intensity since the 1950s and are only predicted to get worse. The CSIRO expects that extreme weather events will also continue to become more frequent and severe.

When you’re looking to create more shade, a combination of built and natural shade is a durable and environmentally friendly option.

Why not use natural shade on its own?

Trees can be a great all-round solution. Planting trees can create shade and help to improve the environment. They also look great, and can provide habitat for native wildlife. But, there are some issues to consider. A tree is a living thing, it will grow and change over time. That fact can limit the types of trees that you can use in an area. It can also take years for a tree to grow enough to provide useful shade. Trees can also be expensive to take care of. Most large shade trees need regular pruning and protection from pests and diseases. You may also need to invest in extra fertiliser, mulch and water to support the tree’s growth.

Trees with wide and dense canopies are considered the best for shade. However, these trees will often have matching wide and dense roots, which can damage footpaths and other nearby structures. Overhead and underground power lines can also have an impact on the choice of trees planted. These large trees can additionally become dangerous as they age. Unpredictable and extreme weather can wear them down. High winds, lightning, and too much or not enough rain, can all contribute to these trees dropping branches or even uprooting entirely.


Built and natural shade working together

Built Shade Options

There is a range of built shade solutions; from permanent roofed structures to portable shade, like tents and marquees. Shade sails are a great middle ground. They are cheaper than many permanent structures, and are more durable than temporary or portable structures. Shade sails are also attractive and easy to care for, making them a popular option around Australia.

Many types of shade fabric are also recyclable, they can be reformed into new sails or a range of other products. Shade sails are great at protecting from direct sun exposure, but, with their open sides, they offer little protection from indirect and reflected UV radiation.

Combination of Natural & Built Shade

Creating shade that can stand up to extreme weather is key to a safe and long-lasting shade solution. A combination of natural and built shade can give the best of both worlds. Many of the concerns related to natural shade are because of large shade trees. But, there are many other shade plants to choose from, including smaller trees and shrubbery. These options are often overlooked as they cannot provide large spans of direct overhead protection from the sun. However, these shade plants still have many advantages. These include less invasive roots, flexibility in strong winds, and easy maintenance. There is also a wider variety of native options for different soils and climates around Australia.

With a shade sail doing the hard work protecting you from the direct UV rays, different types of shade plants can be used for protection from indirect sunlight, to break up strong winds, and to lower temperatures. A professionally designed shade sail will look great, and can withstand strong winds, rain and even hail. And complimentary easy-to-care-for plants can add to the aesthetic of your outdoor area, and can provide a home and food for native birds and other animals.

A combined shade solution can not only keep you cool and protected from the sun. It can also enhance the habitat for native animals, absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and enrich the soil. Natural and built shade can work together to help to protect you and the environment.

Raising Awareness & Saving Lives

In the 80s, melanoma was the fastest-growing cancer affecting Australians. Diagnoses nearly doubled in men and women. This sudden spike was in part due to public health campaigns urging everyone to get their skin checked. Since then, we’ve learned more about the role that UV radiation plays in melanoma. Now, not only can we detect it; we can also prevent it. We have learnt to slip, slop and slap; and even more recently to seek and slide as well. Protecting ourselves while we’re young is the best way to prevent melanoma later in life. But, sometimes we can forget that this fast-spreading skin cancer can strike Australians at any age.

Early Detection

World Cancer Day this year was focused on improving early detection. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that if melanoma of the skin is detected in stage one there is a 99.2% survival rate. If it’s not caught until stage four, even with today’s technology, that figure drops to 26.2%. So how do we help young people detect melanoma earlier? The Instagram account Call Time On Melanoma is leading the way. This grassroots skin cancer awareness campaign was started by just one woman. Lisa Patulny was driven to start this campaign after her friend was diagnosed with melanoma of the skin. The highly successful account is helping young women to stay informed. It is assisting them to recognise the signs of melanoma, and encouraging them to get their skin checked regularly. With its simple tips in young people’s Instagram feeds, this campaign has already saved lives.

Melanoma Capital of the World

Did you know that New Zealand just beats Australia as the country with the highest rate of melanoma in the world? That being said, if Queensland were its own country, it would win. But while our rates of melanoma diagnosis continue to slowly rise, that’s not as bad as it might sound. The mortality rate has been sharply dropping since 2014. The more deadly variants of melanoma, linked to severe burning and higher UV exposure, are being seen less and less. And more and more people are getting their skin checked and catching melanoma in its early stages. Health campaigns like Sun Smart and Call Time On Melanoma are raising awareness, and, ultimately, saving lives.

Sun Exposure a Double-Edged Sword

From sunburn and premature ageing to cancer and cataracts, as Australians, we are well aware of all of the dangers of the sun, and the harm that UV rays can do to us. While we’re busy remembering to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide, it can be easy to forget that the sun plays a key role in our health. Higher levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a range of health benefits. These include strengthening the immune system, improving heart health, and even reducing the symptoms of depression. Yet, in trials, using supplements to increase patients’ Vitamin D levels doesn’t seem to have the same impact. This has led some health professionals to view Vitamin D as an indicator of sun exposure, and we really have the sun to thank for those health benefits. They are now studying what other effects sun exposure has on us, and how it improves our health.

Personal UV Sensors

The key to a happy, healthy and long life seems to be finding the balance. So how do you know how much sun you need? A team of RMIT researchers has developed a colour-changing, UV sensitive ink. It can be printed onto wristbands and even stickers to indicate how much UV radiation it is being exposed to. The prototype wristbands have four dots printed, with different sensitivities within the ink. As the band and the person wearing it is exposed to sunlight throughout the day, smiley faces appear on each dot.

The scale includes two sad faces that will appear if you are getting too much sun. There are several sensitivity options. These ensure that the sensors are as accurate as possible for different skin tones and genetic backgrounds. Cheap to produce, and with a child-friendly design, the researchers hope to see the sensors used as educational tools. They also hope to see the ink used to measure the UV exposure of outdoor equipment. Making it easy to measure deterioration and improve equipment safety and reliability.


Wearable Tech

If the ink is a little low-tech for you, scientists and engineers at Macquarie University are developing a finger-nail sized sensor that can measure the UV dosage absorbed by the skin. The sensor can distinguish between UVA and UVB radiation. It can warn people when they are getting too much or not enough sun. The university wants to see this sensor in more traditional wearable tech, such as smart-watches. But the scientists and engineers are also working to make the technology small and sturdy enough to be integrated into sunglasses and even swimsuits.

Protect Yourself Now

These new technologies are exciting. But what can you do to monitor your UV exposure right now? You may know that, when the UV index is above 3, it’s important to take extra steps to protect yourself from UV radiation. But the reporting of the UV index can sometimes be confusing, and, in Queensland, the UV index is 3 or higher pretty much all year round. So, what can you do?

The Cancer Council’s free Sun Smart app is here to help. The app makes UV index information easy to understand. It provides 7-day forecasts and sun protection times wherever you are in Australia. You can even set up personalised alerts based on UV levels. This makes it easy to know when it’s fine to stay in the sun, or whether you need to find some shade. It also includes a sunscreen calculator, which can tell you how much sunscreen you need to use and remind you when to reapply for the best protection. The app is available for iOS and Android devices, and is also compatible with some smartwatches.

Fact Check: How Long Do Shade Sails Really Last?

Shade sails are great solutions for creating shade and reducing heat. And they’re attractive additions to any property. But still, some people can be wary of shade sails. Part of that comes from the misconception that shade sails only have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. This idea is based on the lifespan of low-quality and basic shade sails on the market. However, a high-quality tensioned architectural shade sail should last for at least 10 years. Not only is that the case, but proper care and maintenance can make sure that your sail will still be protecting you and looking great for years after that.

Quality is Key

The lifespan that you can expect from a shade sail depends on several factors. High-quality shade fabric doesn’t amount to much if the stitching and workmanship or the hardware are not excellent as well. Remember, you won’t find quality shade fabric at your local hardware store. These commonly-seen shade fabrics do have a shorter lifespan, and that has skewed people’s perceptions of what a shade sail is capable of. Most architectural shade fabrics have a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty. So you can be sure that your shade sail fabric won’t lose its effect or unravel in a few years.

The fabrication of a shade sail is also a highly-specialised skill of an experienced craftsperson. A well-designed and made shade sail needs minimal maintenance. It shouldn’t sag, collect water, or flap around in the wind. A shade sail is designed to be out in the elements, so the stitching on your sail should be strong and weather-resistant too. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) thread is the gold-standard for shade sail threads. More commonly known by the brand name Teflon, PTFE thread is virtually chemically inert, UV resistant, and non-flammable. Shade sails made with cheaper threads will have a shorter lifespan for the stitching. Because we use PTFE thread, we can offer a 10-year warranty on our stitching as well.

Quality hardware is also needed to get the best life out of your shade sail. The tension and pressure on a shade sail means that not just any fitting will do. When the wind picks up, you want to be secure in knowing that your shade sail will not break free and damage the sail, or even your property. Marine-grade stainless steel hardware, and the correct number of fixing points, is essential. That way, you know that the metal doesn’t rust or degrade quickly, and that pressure is evenly distributed to all points.

Maintenance For a Long-Lasting Shade Sail

A tensioned architectural shade sail should last at least 10 years. However, with some basic care, the lifespan of these sails is more impressive than that. A basic cleaning, which you can do yourself, is recommended every 6 months. Using sugar soap and a soft-bristled brush, work the soap into the fabric and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with your ordinary garden hose. That’s it. Don’t use bleach or any acid-based cleaning products, or a high-pressure hose, as they can damage or discolour your sail. It’s also recommended that you have an annual inspection performed by a shade sail professional, who can perform any repairs or re-tensioning as needed.

A Long-Term Investment

A quality shade sail is not a temporary structure; it is designed to last. Often, people are confused by the price difference between prefabricated shade sails from a hardware store, and custom-made and designed architectural shade sails. People try to compare the two; but they are vastly different. Even though they are both called shade sails, they can’t really be compared. They are different in quality, and they have very different lifespans. A tensioned architectural shade sail is more comparable with solid roofed structures, like free-standing carports or patio roof extensions. Once you know the difference, and realise how long a shade sail can last, it becomes clear why Australians love a good shade sail so much.

Legislation update

Australian Standards Update

In its latest review, Standards Australia has updated its requirements for Knitted and Woven Shade Fabric. They have made changes to the requirements for the classification, performance and labelling of shade fabrics – making it easier to compare the human protection properties of shade fabrics. The key change for consumers was the introduction of the Ultraviolet Effectiveness (UVE) scale.

The Ultraviolet Effectiveness Scale

Using comprehensive testing methods, the UVE scale is the most accurate gauge for sun protection. It ranks products into three categories: effective, very effective, and most effective sun protection. The previous Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) and Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) protection ratings had limitations. They didn’t take into account the strength, weave or colour of the sail, as well as a range of other factors. Some shade fabric could have a great UPF or UVR protection rating under test conditions, but consumers did not get those results in real life.


UVE Rankings for shade sails

Why Schools & Daycares Should Know

Government departments across the country use the Australian Standards for shade fabrics. They set clear and measurable guides for how much quality shade must be available to protect children. These rules not only apply to schools and childcare facilities, but also sporting clubs and a range of other community groups. The Cancer Council of South Australia and the Cancer Council of the Northern Territory, along with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), are already using the new standards and the UVE rankings to describe best practices for shade and sun safety. Other government departments and organisations will follow suit soon. Understanding the UVE ratings will be key to interpreting incoming legislation and the terms for shade grant programs.

Are You Eligible for a Shade Sail Grant?

Using high-quality shade is still considered one of the best ways to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. But did you know that providing shade also increases the use of outdoor spaces? And it has been linked with higher levels of physical activity in children and adults. Governments and not-for-profit organisations around Australia are investing in creating shade in schools, playgrounds, sporting facilities, and other community spaces. These funded initiatives come in a variety of forms, including specialist shade grants, public health grants, sport and physical activity grants, and general community grants.

Shade structures are highly versatile, with a range of benefits; and good quality ones can be expensive for small community groups. This makes them great projects to seek funding for. There is a range of annual grant programs available across Australia that can help to ease the cost of installing a new shade sail. The Cancer Council Queensland offers the Sun Smart Shade Creating Initiative every year, which will match funding for shade structures. The New South Wales State Government has the annual Quality Learning Environments program. This grant is for community preschools and early childhood centres, to help them to improve their learning environment. Even local councils offer a variety of programs, including the Brisbane City Council’s Healthy and Physical Activity Grants. This local grant scheme provides funds to local community groups to help improve participation in sports and physical activities and increase health. The Sunshine Coast Council has several grants programs, all designed to fund projects with broad community benefits as well.

There may be plenty of grants out there, but more groups are applying for funding. These grants can be highly competitive, and may not be open for very long periods of time. It’s important to be on the lookout for programs that can help your group, and to get your application in quickly. If you are looking to improve your shade sail funding application, try the Australian Shade News’ Specialist Grant-Writing Service. With an expert writer working with you, our service can help your organisation stand out from the crowd. For a superior grant application that will help your organisation gain the funding you need for a shade sail, contact us today.

Your FAQs

Replacing a damaged shade sail through insurance

Each issue, we strive to answer your questions about anything shade sail. This time, the question is: “Is my shade sail covered by my insurance?”

Australian Shade News Answer:

“This deceptively simple question isn’t so easy to answer. Our best advice would be to check with your insurance provider. They can tell you if your shade sail is included with your policy, and how it is covered.

The key thing to do is find out whether your insurer covers a shade sail as part of the home or contents. Some insurers specifically mention shade sails and how they’re covered. But what do you do if your insurer doesn’t cover your shade sail? You might consider your new shade sail to be a permanent part of your home, but your particular insurer might not.

Most insurance companies include ‘permanent fixtures’ as part of the building policy. But what makes a fixture permanent? Generally, it is defined as something that cannot be removed without causing damage to a structure. In that case, the sail itself would be categorised as part of the contents of your home. But the sail mounts themselves, and other fixtures, could be insured under your home insurance.

Once you know how your shade sail is insured, it should be covered for everything in the applicable policy. It is important to check your PDS for any exclusions for shade sails so that you know exactly what is covered and under which circumstances it is covered. For example, your sail might be covered by your building policy, which could include impact cover. In that case, if there are no exclusions for shade sails, and a tree falls and damages the sail, you can make a claim for the damages.

If your sail is considered as part of your contents, there can be more exclusions. Some policies will refuse to cover anything left outside. However, other policies may cover items designed for outdoor use, such as shade sails. But they may have a reduced payout for replacing or repairing those contents.

Your best option is always to speak with your insurance provider. They can provide you with more exact information for your circumstances. They can even alter your policy to get you better coverage for your shade sail.”

If you are looking for more answers, please contact us to submit your question or take a look at our previous issues.

How to choose your shade fabric

Choose Your Shade Fabric

How to Choose Shade Sail Fabric

There are so many different shade fabrics out there, and they all have different features and properties. So how do you choose shade sail fabric and figure out which fabric is right for you? To help you get started here are a few things to think about when you’re choosing your shade fabric. Remember every project is different so it’s always best to seek professional advice for your situation. 

How to choose your shade fabric

What do you need?

Start by thinking about what you need from your shade sail. Answer a few questions for yourself:

  • What do you want to do under your shade sail and when?
  • Do you need waterproofing?
  • How much area do you want the sail to cover?
  • Are you protecting people or vehicles or both from damaging UV rays?

If you’re looking to create shade to protect your family, the Cancer Council Queensland has a range of resources to help you. The QUEST program provides strategies, resources and ongoing support for sun safety and health and wellbeing for organisations. These resources can help anyone plan the shade they need. These standards will make sure you can get the best sun protection for you and your family. 

Remember the sun moves across the seasons, it’s higher in the sky in summer than in winter. It’s important to consider your property and what kind of shadows are cast around the year. You don’t want to create a cool and shaded spot for summer that is dark and cold in winter. Knowing what you need is the first step towards figuring out which fabric will be the best for you.

How are you installing the sail?

Are you fixing it to free-standing posts, a wall or roof, or covering a pergola? Your fabric choice informs the installation and design of your sail. For example, if you’re looking at a waterproof sail you’ll need a sharper angle to allow the water to run off easily. You’ll need to consider those fixing points and if you can create the angle you need. If your sail doesn’t need to be 100% waterproof a tightly-woven shade fabric can still minimise water coming through and won’t need as much pitch.

Maybe you’re revamping an old pergola or another structure and want to roof it with shade fabric. Think about if the sail will catch or rub and how you can avoid or counteract that. You might consider altering the structure or using a higher GSM or heavier duty fabric.

If you’re looking at a particularly large sail you’ll need more supports and fixing points to take the weight of it. Think about your space and where you could attach the sail to your home or where posts could go. Posts in the middle of your sail can help support it but that might not be an option over a pool or playground. You can use a stronger fabric or reconsider the design. For example several smaller sails or a hipped structure.

Maintenance and Lifespan

A quality shade sail is an investment that should last. Depending on the fabric supplier, sailmaker and installer your warranty can vary. There isn’t usually one warranty for everything, the fabric itself, stitching, hardware and installation can all have different lifespans. It’s important to check what the different warranties cover and for how long.

Some fabrics are also easier to maintain than others. Think about what kind of maintenance you would do yourself or if you’ll pay for maintenance services. Balancing how long you want it to last, how you’ll maintain it and your budget can help you narrow down your fabric options.

Government Requirements for Schools

There are several state and local government shade guidelines and regulations designed to protect children from overexposure to UV radiation. These guidelines apply to education and care providers, like schools and daycares. They can also affect sports clubs and other community groups.

The Queensland Department of Health outlines design considerations and local councils also have their own policies on shade structures. These specify the fabric’s level of UV protection, but can also include further requirements for the fabric and overall design of the structure. Most shade sail grants, including the SunSmart Shade Initiative, reference these standards as well. It’s always best to check with your local and state government bodies for the exact details. For more general advice see our articles on school shade regulations and the Australian Standards for shade fabric.

Compare Shade Fabrics

There is a wide variety of shade fabrics that suit a range of purposes. Whether you want bright attractive colours, light transference, heavy-duty sun protection, easy maintenance or anything in between Northside Shade Sails can help. With a range of fabrics and years of experience, we can help you find the shade fabric perfect for you and craft it into a fully customised shade sail. Contact us today for your free design a quote.

Insurance & Your Shade Sail

Will my shade sail be covered by my insurance? It’s a question we get asked a lot, so we’ve put together a handy guide to help you understand insurance and your shade sail. We know that making sense of your insurance policy can be difficult at the best of times and we’re here to help, but there are a lot of policies out there and they’re all different. For detailed information on your policy, it’s best to talk to your insurance provider.

Is a shade sail insured as part of the home or contents?

Some insurers make it easy by specifically defining or naming shade sails in their policy documents. For example, the RACQ includes shade sails as outdoor items they will cover as part of your home. However, most insurers don’t do this, in fact, many don’t even consider your shade sail a permanent part of your home. Insurers generally include permanent fixtures as part of your home building insurance. But what makes a fixture permanent? Generally, a fixture is defined as an item permanently attached to your home that can’t be removed without causing damage. By that definition, your shade sail itself isn’t covered by building insurance and so becomes part of the contents of your home. 

If there is sail hardware attached to your home or garage, those could be part of your building policy. Any additional structures for your shade sail are also usually covered by your home insurance. There can be exclusions though so check your policy for the different kinds of structures covered and the limits for them.

When is the shade sail insured?

Once you know how your shade sail is categorised by your insurers, the hard part is over. Next, check your policy for any specific inclusions or exclusion for shade sails in insured events. At Westpac, their storm cover includes loss or damage to a shade sail if it was professionally installed within the last 5 years. Whereas RACQ specifically excludes loss or damage to shade sails under flood and storm surge cover. Where your policy doesn’t list shade sails it generally means that your sail is insured under the policy. If your sail is covered by your home building policy then those protections for insured events apply. For example, if the policy included impact cover and a tree falls and damages the sail you’ll be able to make a claim.

There can be some exclusions and limits if your sail is part of your contents. Some policies won’t cover any contents left outside. Even though shade sails are designed to be left out in the elements, damage to your sail won’t be covered. Other policies make exceptions for items designed for outdoor use, but these can be limited. They may refuse to cover some insured events, such as theft or storms, they could cap the payout at a fixed amount or reduce it by as much as 80% for contents that are left outdoors. Remember to speak with your insurer, you don’t always have to change provider to get better protection, many companies have tiers of insurance or optional extras that can increase the coverage for your shade sail.

What’s the right insurance?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here, your insurance needs are unique to you. If your shade sail and structure are covered under a building policy it will usually have broader protection. If it’s insured by both your home and contents policies, there can be exclusions you need to watch out for. Stay informed and understand your policy, and you’ll quickly see if your insurance is working for you and your situation.

Remember we’ve only looked at general home and contents policies here. Specialised cover options are also worth considering, many insurers adjust policies to account for high-value or specialist items. Talk to your provider and you might be able to get an altered policy that better caters to you and your shade sail.

Insurance repairs and replacements with Northside Shade Sails

If your shade sail has hail, wind, storm or fire damage and is covered by your insurance policy we can help. Northside Shade Sails can provide an insurance quote to replace your shade sail. Our local expert installers are committed to delivering insurance replacements for your shade sail quickly and within your budget.

Our superior quality shade sails are made with hard-wearing fabric and marine-grade stainless steel fittings. They’re designed to be resilient, stable and long-lasting in the unpredictable Queensland weather. With our unrivalled 10-year warranty on the fabric and stitching, your insurance replacement is in safe hands with Northside Shade Sails.

School Shade Regulations

What’s New: School Shade Sails

As Queenslanders, we are always working to better understand the dangers of UV radiation and learn how we can best protect ourselves and our children. Local, state, and federal governments have a range of regulations and recommendations to ensure that schools, early learning centres, and other childcare facilities are doing everything to protect children from the Australian sun. With new research and best practices constantly being developed here are some recent changes to school shade regulations affecting shade sails around Queensland.

The Ultraviolet Effectiveness Scale

Standards Australia recently updated their documentation on shade fabrics, including adding a new way of measuring the UV protection: the Ultraviolet Effectiveness (UVE) scale. See our article dedicated to the UVE scale to learn more about it and what it means. Government departments use the Australian standards for shade fabrics to set clear measurable guides for the quality of shade, and how much of it must be available to children at schools, and other education and care facilities.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is already using the new standards and UVE rankings to describe best practices for shade. Other government departments are expected to follow suit soon, and high UVE ratings will go from a recommendation to a requirement.

Shade Sails vs. Shade Structures

Currently, the Queensland Government leaves most of the specifics of shade structures to the discretion of the local government and the school or childcare facility. The Queensland Department of Health outlines design considerations for local councils when it comes to creating shade. Recently many schools and local councils have been looking for ways of making shade structures safer and less likely to be vandalised.

The South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) has phased out shade sails entirely in favour of independent roofed structures. These can still use shade fabric as the roofing material, but rather than a sail fixed to several posts, the shade structure is a permanent, freestanding, ridged or hipped construction. These structures require fewer posts, don’t need guy-wires, can more effectively shade large areas, and are usually distinctly separated from other structures, such as buildings, making it more difficult for someone to climb up onto the sail. The Queensland Government and local councils could be looking to South Australia to improve the safety of our school’s shade structures.

Safety and Risk Assessment

Shade structures are designed to protect children from harmful UV rays, but if not designed, installed and maintained properly they can create another hazard. Local and state government bodies have requirements and best practises to ensure children are safe outdoors. Assessment of the risks associated with a shade structure being accessible from play equipment or adjoining structures such as fences or buildings, including potential fall heights, fall zones and impact-absorbing material should be completed. The goal of these practises is to prevent the climbing of shade structures as much as possible and lower the severity of potential injury if someone were to fall from the structure.

Compliant school shade structures from Northside Shade Sails

Northside Shade Sails understands that a lot of work goes into creating safe environments children enjoy learning and playing in. Our custom shade structures are designed to fit into your space and provide the shade you need while meeting government requirements. With a range of high-quality and easy to maintain UVE ranked fabrics and local expert installers, we make it easy to put safety first. Northside Shade Sails also offers ongoing repair and maintenance services to help keep your shade structure compliant and looking great for years to come.