shade cloth


Getting sunburnt is no laughing matter. Shade sails or simply hanging up some shade cloth to add some extra shaded space around the home and especially when you are camping are a great idea. That being said, let’s take a look at some issues you could be dealing with.

Some shade cloth doesn’t offer the protection you might think it does or as much as it claims. This is because the UV rating is actually only half the story. This is because the shade cloth industry is largely unregulated in Australia. In light of this discussion, even I started to think that is a little strange considering how much we are all being told to protect ourselves from the sun. There are more issues to consider.


Shade sails are tested for the levels of ultraviolet radiation the materials allow and for both the tensile and tear strengths. If the shade cloth is stretched too much, its UV protection against sunburn will be reduced. There is not testing for this. This means that UV ratings are only half true. Remember that cloth is different because of the way it was made. A cloth that started off with a high UV rating could drop dramatically soon after being stretched.

The simple lesson here is to be careful with your shade cloth when installing yourself or using it for camping and outdoor activities. Even many installers are not aware of the damage to UVRs that can be caused by stretching the material too much.

There is quite a bit to think about shade cloth if you are installing into your home. Camping is a great way to learn the ins and out of the sun because your installation is only temporary. You’ll get to learn more about the angles and ways to place it. I know that my experience using shade cloth for camping helped me decide and discuss how I would install in my home.


The issues of classification that are still considered unclear by the Cancer Council mainly apply to home and commercial installations. Nonetheless, it’s still worth knowing about because they do highlight the importance of other issues above just the UVR when using shade cloth to protect yourself. This is especially the case when you think about you may be using your shade cloth when camping for a number of weeks during the summer while you are on an extended holiday.

Depending on how much UV sunlight it blocks, the Australian Standard for shade cloth may be described as offering “Good protection”, “Very good protection”, or “Excellent protection”.

Now, on the other hand, the Cancer Council of NSW wants a system for shade cloth to improve our ability to identify shade cloth with a high or low UVR. Standards Australia and the Cancer Council of NSW are at odds. Standards Australia has a position stating there are too many variables that influence the UVR protection offered shade sails for classification, including:

• Size and design of the shade cloth structure
• Level of reflected and diffused sunlight radiation
• Where someone is located under the shade structure


Go for a fabric that is dark, closely woven and heavy, These fabrics might cost a little more but they block and absorb more UV radiation. Don’t just look at the UV rating. The UV rating should over more than 94%. That’s fine when the cloth is not being stretched. It could be considerably lower with the slightest stretch. The sure bet is a heavier and stronger weave.


Is there anything you would like to add to this article? Share your comments with everyone through the comments section below.

Suzy T

From camping to fishing, to trekking and touring around Australia for lengthy periods of time, Suzy lives it. She also has a passion for pets. Now she is sharing her experiences.