Do Pool Shade Sails Provide Enough Shade?

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July 22nd, 2020 · Published to Shade Sails by Steve Lewis

Lately, I’ve been answering the tough (or not so tough) questions about shade sails. And today; I turn my attention to pool shade sails to answer the question, ‘do pool shade sails provide enough shade?’

As shade sail manufactures, of course, I am going to say yes to this question. But, only if the said shade sail meets specific criteria. You see, not all pool shade sails are the same; they differ significantly from provider to provider based on may factors.

If you’re interested in pool shade sails and are wondering if they will provide adequate shade for your needs, then be sure to read through this article. I’ll look at everything you need to consider to ensure you choose the best quality shade sails for your pool and surrounding areas.

Pool Shade Sail Quality

As mentioned, not all shade sails are the same. There are many shade cloth fabrics in the market, which, of course, are used in the manufacturing of shade sails, and each holds different properties.

Some pool shade sail fabrics are designed to be economical; some are designed to provide high-UV protection, and others are designed to offer all-weather protection. In the case of providing enough shade for a pool, it is the UV-R (Ultra-Violet Radiation) protection that is paramount.

The amount of UV-R protection offered by a pool shade sail comes down to the fabric. The higher the UV-R protection, the higher the shade level provided.

UV Radiation

To understand UV-R protection, you must first understand UV radiation.

There are three types of UV radiation; UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA transmits freely through the earth’s atmosphere. UVB transmits 15% through the earth’s atmosphere, and the ozone absorbs 85 %, and UVC radiation is absorbed entirely by the ozone. It is UVA and UVB that we need to be cautious of – they contribute to sunburn.

While some ground surfaces reflect UV radiation, open water (such as a pool), only reflects around 3%. Therefore, it is vital to invest in a pool shade sail with a high UV-R level to ensure it provides enough shade.

SunSmart’s Shade Guidelines promote tension membrane structures and shade sails as a built pool shade option. They state “Different types of fabrics are available so ensure the weight of the fabric is appropriate for the support structure while still providing protection from UV radiation.

Pool Shade Sail Fabric UV Levels

We now know that for a pool shade to provide enough shade it needs to provide a high level of UV protection.

The UV protection of a shade sail fabric is measured by Percentage (%) UVR block and UPF rating. UVR block relates to how the shade cloth performance in terms of reflection or absorption incident UV-R within the 290nm to 400nm range of the spectrum. This includes UVA radiation (315nm to 400nm) and UVB radiation (280nm to 315nm). UPF rating reveals a fabric’s effectiveness at blocking solar ultraviolet radiation. This rating ranges from 15 to 50.

A pool shade sail with a low % UVR block rating will also have a low UPF rating and vice versa. But what is high and what is low? You need to have a benchmark to start with.

  • A high % UVR block rating and UPF rating is 97.5 (% UVR block) or more and 40, 45, 50, 50+ (UPF). This is said to offer  “Excellent” protection level.
  • A low % UVR block rating and UPF rating is 93.3 – 9 (% UVR block) or more and 15, 20 (UPF). This is said to offer “Good” protection level.


To answer the question, “Do pool shade sails provide enough shade”, the answer is yes, but only if a high-quality shade cloth fabric, with UV protection, is selected for the manufacturing. To know if a shade sail has high UV protection, you need to look at the UVR block and UPF ratings.

A high UVR block rating is 93.3% and above, and a high UPF rating is 40, 45, 50, 50+.

For pool shade sails that provide all the shade, you need to protect yourself and your family over summer, give Global Shade a call on 1800 724 407. We use only the best shade fabrics to offer maximum shade and protection.




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