How Do Commercial Shade Sails Differ From Standard Shade Sails?

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August 5th, 2020 · Published to Commercial, Shade Sails by Steve Lewis

When it comes to shade sails, there are generally two types, or shall I say two grades. There are standard shade sails, which are those ideal for residential installations, then there are commercial shade sails, which are best suited to large scale projects – commercial installations.

The thing is, there is no rule to say that a home can only choose from the range of residential shade sails or a business can only choose from the range of commercial shade sails. It really comes down to two things: application and budget. So, this bears the question: how do commercial shade sails differ from standard shade sails?

As one of the leading shade sail manufactures in Australia, we specialise in both standard and commercial shade sails. Thus, we know the precise differences between the two, which I’m going to share with you today.

So, let’s start by examining commercial shade sails.

Commercial Shade Sails

Commercial shade sails are manufactured for commercial and industrial use. They are commonly found in the hospitality industry to provide shade to patrons of hotels, bars, cafes, and restaurants. They are also popular shade solutions for sporting complexes, shopping centre car parks, schools and educational centres, amongst other establishments.

Commercial shade sails are made from the highest quality fabrics. They are often made from shade cloth, but more commonly are manufactured from PVC fabrics. PVC fabrics are coated with PVDF to provide waterproof qualities. The use of PVC fabric is one of the most significant differences between commercial and standard shade sails.

Some of the most common fabrics for commercial shade sails in Australia are DriZ, Serge Ferrari,  the Shadeblock range, Valmex, Monotech, and Gale Pacific’s shade sail range.

While each fabric is unique, the common denominator is superiority in quality. Commercial grade fabrics offer the highest level of performance. They are designed to withstand stronger winds, to suit larger span tensions, to provide the highest flame-retardant, and to offer maximum stability. They are are also suitable for applications other than shade sails; such as awnings, car park covers, tension membranes and custom shade structures.

In addition to using the highest grade fabrics, commercial shade sails are likely to have more robust support poles and anchors. Commercial shade sail fabrics are often heavier and therefore require extra support.

Commercial shade sails are much more expensive than standard shade sails.

Standard Shade Sails

Standard shade sails are manufactured for residential use. While they are most commonly found over driveways and in backyards across Australia, they are also suitable for commercial application – providing high-quality fabrics are used. It isn’t uncommon to find standard shade sails in the hospitality industry, schools and educational centres.

Standard shade sails are made from shade cloth which is not waterproof. Shade cloth fabric is a knitted high-density polyethylene – it may provide some degree of shelter from light rain, but not 100%.

The most common shade cloth fabrics for standard shade sails in Australia is Z16. It offers up to 99% UV-R protection and is available in 24 designer colours.

Standard shade sails use light-weight fabrics, which are often around 200GSM. This means they are easier to install and require less-robust support poles and anchors. 


Commercial shade sails may appear the same as standard shade sails. However, there are a few major differences.

Commercial shade sails are generally used in a wider range of applications and can be much larger in size than standard shade sails. They are made from superior grade fabrics, which often have waterproof properties, and they are hevier in weight. They also require more robust support and installation. Due to these differences, commercial shade sails are more expensive.

If you’re in the market for commercial shade sails or even want to compare your options with standard shade sails, contact me on 1800 724 407. I can answer any question you may have and put you in contact with a local Global Shade agent for a quote.

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