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.

Council Approvals for Shade Sails

Do I need council approval to build a shade sail?

If you’re planning on getting a shade sail, it is important to consider the council approvals and planning permissions you’ll need. Your local council will have rules surrounding development approvals in your area. Whether you need council approval for your shade sails and what kind of permissions you need is dependent on a range of factors including the design, size and placement of your potential sail. If you don’t gain the appropriate permissions your council could demand you remove it, or it will cause other troubles for you later on.

In Queensland, your local council asses development and building requests in line with the Queensland Development Code and local council City Plans or other building and planning schemes. Generally, shade sails are considered domestic outbuildings of either acceptable or assessable development depending on the size of the sail. While there are state guidelines, local councils all have their own rules. It’s important to check with your local council for their exact regulations as they have the final ruling.

When you need planning permission

Heritage, Conservation & Priority Development Zones 

If your building is a listed local or state heritage site, or part of a protected or conservation zone you must speak with your local council before building your shade sail. Even if your sail is a free-standing structure that won’t damage the building, heritage restrictions may still consider it as changing the appearance of the building.

Priority Development Zones are subject to different rules as part of their specialist state programs. Other protected zones, may have specific design requirements to assist in the preservation of nearby flora and fauna or protect properties along the foreshore or in high-risk bushfire and flood areas. 

The sail is too large

Depending on the size of your property, zoning and council the maximum roofed area varies. For example, in the Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) area, on a general residential lot of less than 600m2, where the total roofed area of all outbuildings is 50m2 or less the structure is an accepted development and no planning permission is required of the council. It’s important to note that an outbuilding is defined by the MBRC and many other councils as any Class 10a building according to the Australia Building Codes Board. So in this example, the 50m2 is shared across other structures on the property such as other shade sails, garages or sheds.

Within the MBRC, you will also need permission if any part of the sail will be over four meters tall or the mean height will exceed three and a half meters, measured from the ground or the floor level or whatever surface it’s constructed on, such as a deck.

The location of the sail 

If any part of your shade sail will be in front of the building line on the side of the primary street, you will need to gain council permission. If your home is on a corner block, your primary street is usually the street named in your address. If you have another approved outbuilding that is in front of the main house, the building line is moved forward to the front edge of that structure. 

The distance your shade sail needs to be from the boundary lines around your property in order to be exempt varies. Depending on your home, the size of your property and the surrounding buildings these rules can differ so it’s best to check with your council.

Other considerations

Planning permission is not the only kind of council approval you might need. Your council might have different local requirements, so it’s always best to confirm with your council exactly what kind of approvals you need. Many local governments including the Brisbane City Council are making it easier to see the zoning, overlays and planning conditions for your property online to help make the process simpler.

If your shade sail is an accepted development, for example, the council doesn’t need to approve your sail, but they can still ask for proof that you are complying with all the state and local standards. If you have an accepted development subject to requirements or an assessable development within the Somerset Regional Council, for example, you’ll need to submit a building application.

How we can help

Our local team can help you ensure that your new shade sail design will fit within your council’s guidelines and help you through the approval and certification process. Northside Shade Sails has extensive experience designing and installing a variety of custom shade sails in Brisbane’s North. Call us today to start planning your new shade sail with a local expert.

New Standards for Shade Sail Fabric

Changes to Australian Standards for shade sail fabric and why they’re important

Shade sails are a great way to protect yourself and your family from the harsh Australian sun’s UV rays so you can enjoy the outdoors even in Queensland’s hot, humid climate. There is a huge variety of shade fabrics out there and it can be difficult to know how much protection they offer. In its latest review, Standards Australia has made some changes so it’s clearer and easier to compare shade fabrics and understand how much sun protection your shade sail will provide. Shade fabric is now classified using the Ultraviolet Effectiveness (UVE) scale.

Why the Ultraviolet Effectiveness scale?

Unlike the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) and Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) protection ratings UVE takes into account the strength, weave and colour of the sail. This provides a more accurate rating of how much a shade sail will protect you.

Under test conditions, some shade fabric could get a high UPF or UVR protection rating but due to a range of variables including the design and installation of the shade structure, you might not get those same results in practice. The Ultraviolet Effectiveness scale takes this into account in order to rank shade fabrics into three categories: effective, very effective, and most effective sun protection. 

The new UVE ranking might affect Schools and Daycares

The Queensland government has a range of regulatory requirements and guidelines designed to ensure education and care providers are creating a sun safe environment and protecting children from overexposure to harmful UV radiation. These requirements cover a range of shade systems and the materials they’re made of including shade sails. Understanding the new Australian Standards for shade sail fabric and the UVE protection scale can help you ensure you are complying with state and local government policy.

These guidelines not only apply to schools, daycares and early learning facilities they can also apply to sports clubs and other community groups. The UVE rankings can also help you know which shade fabrics would be covered by sun safety funding and grants.

How Rainbow Shade Z16 sails rank

Rainbow Shade has over 25 years of experience, developing its shade products to provide the ultimate in solar protection. More than 80% of the Rainbow Shade Z16 colour range has received a UVE ranking of Most Effective or Very Effective. The broad range of modern and punchy colours means you can create a unique and stylish statement without compromising on protection. The Z16 range is one of Australia’s most popular shade cloth fabrics, known for its durability and quality.

The range consists of high-performance, low-maintenance shade fabrics that not only provide highly effective UV protection, they also reduce glare and heat. Rainbow Shade Z16 fabrics are proven to outperform other shade cloth fabrics for UV protection over a 15-year lifespan. They are an ideal choice for a range of shade solutions including for carports patios, decks, outdoor retail and dining areas, commercial facades, playgrounds, sporting facilities and swimming pools.

Northside Shade Sails can help

At Northside Shade Sails, we custom-make shade sails to ensure they are the perfect shade shad solution for your unique needs. Our artisan shade sailmaker has been designing and hand fabricating shade sails for the Australian market, and Australian weather, since 1988. We are entirely Queensland owned and operated and our team of local experts have been manufacturing and installing shade sails for many years across North Brisbane. Our shade structures can also be designed specifically to promote airflow in and around your property to keep you cool even in the Queensland heat.

Our combination of high quality, hard-wearing fabric, durable shapes, high-strength stainless steel fittings and perimeter cable means our shade sails are highly resilient, stable and long-lasting. Our unrivalled 10-year warranty covers the shade fabric and stitching so you can get on with enjoying the outdoors with peace of mind knowing you’re covered.

DualShade 350 in Maldives

Introducing DualShade 350

New dual colour shade sails for the Northside with DualShade 350

Gale Pacific has recently launched their revolutionary new range of shade fabric, DualShade 350. This fabric has a single colour on one side and a different complementary colour on the other side, thanks to Gale Pacific’s new patent-pending knit pattern. DualShade 350 is a commercial grade shade sail fabric, it’s durable, easy to maintain, and offers up to 93.6% UVR protection in a range of modern and vibrant colours.

Beautiful and practical shade sails made for North Brisbane

Shade sails are highly versatile, cost-effective addition to your property. You can make a bold architectural statement or have your sail seamlessly blend in with its surrounds, all while creating shade and protecting you and your family from harmful UV rays. With a twin colour shade sail, you can create unique and fashionable outdoor spaces. Dual Shade 350 can add vibrancy to any space, from your patio at home to a playground at a daycare. This quality shade cloth can create a cool and sun-safe space for you to enjoy all year round.

Sunburst DualShade 350

The colour range

The DualShade 350 range consists of modern and bold colour combinations divided into three collections. 


This collection contains bold and vibrant colours that demand to be noticed. These bright, playful and eye-catching colours come to life in the sunlight and add colour and zest to any space. The Brilliant collection includes the colour pairs Citrus, Sunburst, Macaw, Chameleon and Topaz.


The Terrafirma collection features natural Australian colours, capturing everything from the rainforest to the desert. With rich, modern colours this collection adds a designer styled look to your home. The range features the colour pairs Amazonia, Savana, Cobblestone and Gold Rush.


This collection includes chic colour combinations inspired by island paradises from across the globe. These luxurious colours can transform your pool area into your own personal tropical oasis. Destination includes the colour pairs Capri, Santorini and Maldives.

Gale Pacific DualShade 350

Get DualShade 350 with Northside Shade Sails

At Northside Shade Sails, we tailor shade solutions to suit your needs. We now offer DualShade 350 fabric so you can see the unique possibilities of a twin colour shade sail for yourself. Our shade sails are a long term investment that will increase your usable outdoor space and add value to your property, that’s why we offer an unrivalled 10-year warranty that covers the fabric and stitching. Contact us today for your free design and quote and ask one of our local expert installers about the DualShade 350 range.