0451 074 233
Types of Waterproof Fabrics Suitable for Shade Sails and Shade Structures
January 4th, 2023 · Published to Shade Sails by Steve Lewis
Shade sails and shade structures have always been a popular way to provide shelter from the heat, especially in areas that get a lot of sun. They work by blocking out the heat and providing shade for people who are sitting under them. However, if you’re looking for shade sails that also block rain as well as the sun, then they need to be made from a waterproof fabric.
There are various waterproof fabrics suitable for shade sails and shade structures, including polyethylene (PE), vinyl (PVC), woven or knitted polypropylene (PP), and Polyester (PES) based fabrics. Each waterproof fabric is best suited for certain projects. For instance, PE is an inexpensive waterproof fabric that can be used for shade sails, but it does not have the strength or appearance of PVC or PP waterproof fabrics.
Today, we will take a closer look at each of these waterproof materials to help decide which is best for your shade sail or shade structure.
Polyethylene waterproof fabrics
Polyethylene (PE) waterproof fabrics are one of the least expensive waterproof fabrics available and are usually white in colour. They are commonly referred to as “mil-spec” waterproof fabrics because they are usually used for military applications. Polyethylene waterproof fabrics come in several different grades with different thicknesses and weights. The main advantage of using PE waterproof fabrics is their low cost. They are also extremely durable, which means they can withstand years of use outdoors. However, there are some disadvantages to using PE waterproof fabrics too.
PE has a very limited design life partly due to the low melting point of PE fabric, which prevents shrinking, but also because it can become brittle when exposed to the elements for a few years. When it’s new, PE waterproof fabrics will stretch and shrink like any other fabric but once you expose them to heat and cold repeatedly over time, they become brittle and tear easily, making the fabric unusable.
Polyethylene is also extremely difficult to sew because of its low melting point. If you try to sew PE waterproof fabrics together yourself, there is a high chance that your needle will melt or break due to the heat of the fabric. We recommend having PE waterproof fabrics professionally sewn, so it’s not an inconvenience for you when they need replacing down the line.
Vinyl waterproof fabrics
Another popular option for shade sails and shade structures is vinyl (PVC) waterproof fabrics.
Vinyl waterproof fabrics are commonly used in homes because they can be easily cleaned with water. These fabrics are very strong, durable, fade-resistant, have high abrasion resistance and can handle long-term exposure outdoors. Some of the main advantages of using PVC waterproof fabrics for shade sails include:
- great strength, especially when placed on frame members
- can be cut into shape with a knife or even scissors
- waterproof seams are easy to sew together using conventional sewing machines
- will not shrink or stretch over time as PE waterproof fabrics do
However, there are some disadvantages to using PVC for shade sails too. Mainly the cost. Although they are more expensive than PE waterproof fabrics, PVC is a great choice for shade sails because it’s waterproof and durable. It will last longer than most other fabric options so you won’t have to replace your shade structure as often, either.
Woven or knitted polypropylene waterproof fabrics
The final option in our list of waterproof fabrics is woven or knitted polypropylene (PP) waterproof fabrics
Polypropylene fabrics are strong and durable as well as waterproof, fade-resistant and breathable too. They will not shrink or stretch over time which means you can rest easy knowing your shade sails will always be the same size as it was when first installed.
Polypropylene waterproof fabrics are generally a little more expensive than PE or PVC but the strength and durability are well worth it if you plan to use your shade structure outdoors for many years.
The fabric used for outdoor structures will play a key role in the quality and price of your shade sails so do your research before buying them.
Polyester (PES) based waterproof fabrics
In addition to the fabrics above, there are also polyester (PES) based waterproof fabrics. These fabrics alone are not waterproof. They typically have a waterproof and water-repellant PU-coated solution mixed into the material to give them waterproof properties. This is why many waterproof fabrics will say “waterproof” or “water-resistant” instead of just calling the fabric itself waterproof.
Polyester-based fabrics are very strong, durable, fade-resistant and can handle long-term exposure outdoors as PVC fabrics do. They have similar qualities to both PE and PVC but are lighter in weight and a little less rugged. They are also less expensive than PVC waterproof fabrics but can be more difficult to cut and sew, which may make them a more challenging material to work with if you plan to install your shade sails yourself.
Popular waterproof fabrics for shade sails & shade structures
Here at Global Shade, we rely on the world’s best waterproof fabrics in the manufacturing of our waterproof shade sails and shade structures. We only use PE, PVC and PP fabrics in our shade products because they are the most durable, fade-resistant and waterproof fabrics available to us.
Our waterproof fabric options include Ferrari 502, Polyplan 680, and Valmex 580S. Ferrari 502 is a high-quality waterproof architectural PVC fabric. Its high-tech précontraint technique consists of two layers: a thick protective coating with equal tension warp and weft and a layer of high-tenacity polyester yarn.
Both Polyplan 680 and Valmex 580S are made from Polyester and feature a PVC coating. Polyplan 680 is an architectural fabric with a dull embossed upwards side and a double-sided PVC coating. A top coat, PVDF lacquering layer, main coating layer, base fabric, another layer of the main coating, and surface coating make up Valmex580S.
Some of the main advantages of using these fabrics for our waterproof shade sails include:
- PE waterproof fabric is very strong, durable and long-lasting, especially when used on frame members
- PVC waterproof fabric is sturdy, UV resistant and does not shrink or stretch over time
- Polypropylene waterproof fabric is strong, durable and fade-resistant
If you need shade sails that are waterproof, long-lasting, stain-resistant and fire-retardant, then Global Shade has the solution for you. Contact us today to learn more about our custom shade products.
By now, you should be able to identify the three main types of waterproof fabrics available for use in shade sails and shade structures.
If you need shade sails that are waterproof, long-lasting, stain-resistant and fire-retardant, Global Shade has the solution for you. We only use PE, PVC and PP fabrics in our shade products because they are the most durable, fade-resistant and waterproof fabrics available to us.
Our fabric options include Ferrari 502 (PVC), Polyplan 680 (Polyester & PVC) or Valmex 580S (Polyester & PVC). All of these options will provide excellent protection against rain while also being UV-resistant. With so many different types of materials on offer at Global Shade, it’s easy to find a product that suits your needs without breaking the bank!
Why not take some time today to browse through all of our range?
You can learn more about our products by contacting us or visiting our website at www.globalshade.com.au