Shade Structure Buyers Guide

Planning for a Shade Structure or Shade Sail

Here’s a series of frequently asked questions you should address when planning on adding your shade structure or shade sail.

How do Shade Sails compare to shelters, or Gazebos?
Gazebos are made from fixed rigid material that requires annual maintenance. A shade sail can provide comparable shade, cover more custom areas, a much larger area, and has very little maintenance. In addition, the mass of a gazebo can block views where as a Shade Sail is a mere sliver against its back drop. Shade sails start around $10 a square foot and many Gazebos start around $18 a square foot.

Where are Shade Structures used?
* Playgrounds
* Sports Fields/Bleachers/Dugouts
* Poolside and Water Parks
* Outdoor Amphitheaters
* Concession Areas
* Parking Lots/ Car Dealers
* Marinas/Boat Clubs
* Golf Courses and Driving Ranges
* Resorts and Country Clubs
* Any outdoor gathering places

Do you come to my location?
In some areas, we have local representatives that will come measure and assist you throughout the entire process. In most cases, however, we’re able to do the initial planning through drawings, on line, and over the phone. We specialize in providing shade, so a site visit is an important part of what we do. Our representatives are trained to help you cover just about any area. Please let them know if you have a definite time of year or time of day you are particularly interested in focusing on.

Do you charge a design fee?
No, and I’d hesitate in working with any company that does charge you this fee.

Do you have a rendering or drawing?
Yes, we have renderings, and drawings available to you, as well as photographs of example installations.
How much does it cost?
There are many variables with pricing a shade canopy project. As a rule of thumb, figure $10-$20 per square foot. We have completed projects for as little as $2 per square foot and as much as $25 per square foot; however the $10-$20/sq. ft. figure is a great place to start.

What is the best color fabric?
The darker colors have better UV protection than lighter colors. As well, the darker colors are less prone to showing dirt or mildew.

Does dark fabric retain heat more than lighter colors?
No, wind is designed to flow through the fabric material and color does not affect the overall temperature within the shaded area.

How much UV protection do your fabric shade sail structures provide?
Up to 96% of UVA and UVB rays are blocked, depending upon shade cloth color.

How do your shade sails lower temperature?
Hot air rises out the top between the knitted yarns of High Density Polyethylene. This draws outside air into the structure from the sides, which creates continuous air movement. That’s why they reduce ambient air temperature up to 20 degrees. Hardened roofing materials (i.e. metal, wood, plastic, tile, stone, etc.) and conventional awning fabrics trap hot inside the structure.

What shade options are available for playground shade?
Modular shade (playground shade) can be integrated into the playstructure’s support posts for
around $2000. If it’s a Playland, Int’l. playstructure, or WOW playstructure, we offer a retrofit kit that allows us to add post extensions to the 3-1/2″ or 5″ post columns and span up to 18′ wide. Other options include a hybrid option of attaching to an extended post column and spanning to support columns outside of the playground use zone. Most commonly, however, is a steel frame shade, or shade sail extending beyond the use zones and over the top of the playstructure.

How much cooler will the plastic or steel of the playground be in the summer time?
The plastic can be cooled down as much as 50 degrees in midday sun versus in shade. The most dangerous contact is from direct skin contact on a slide or other climber. The powder-coating steel columns do not retain as much heat as roto-molded plastic.

Are your shade sails waterproof?
The HDPE fabrics, which are usually preferable, are not waterproof, but “water resistant.” They will shed most rainwater in heavy downpours, but a fine mist will likely come through the fabric at these times. (It should be noted that cables form catenary curves on each side of fabrics, through which rain will easily fall unless the fabrics are overlapped. As rain seldom falls straight down from clouds, but blows in from sides). Shade sails can also be made of PVC-coated fabrics for situations requiring waterproof fabric.

What about durability?
* Heavy-duty Steel Frame
* Embedded in concrete
* Powder-coating
* Fabric Warranty for 10 years
* Easily removable using our glide elbow release system
* Available in popular colors
* Guaranteed for 10 years (including stitching thread)
* Fire Rated
How do I determine the size shade structure I need?
Measure the length, width and entry height you require for your shade structure.

What shapes are shade sails available in?
There are triangle, right-triangle, square and rectangle shade sails available.

How do I measure the area for a playground shade structure?
Take into account the length, width and highest point of the playground equipment that will be underneath. Ensure that you allow at least 7ft from the furthest point of the playground equipment e.g. at the end of a slide measure a fall zone allowance 7 ft. away from this point.

What area should I measure for a shade structure?
Measuring the area of your shade structure is not as challenging as you may think. Walk the area of your shade footprint that you require, and take into account the tallest point of any structure underneath the area you are covering. This is important to enable us to ensure that you are getting enough clearance height for your structure.

“Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.”- Aldo Gucci

Why are shade structures so much more expensive than the fabric sails I’ve seen online?
Most of these products are offered as fabric only, and a much thinner weight of material (quality). As well, the hardware is typically a lower quality, non-stainless residential hardware. More significantly is the steel involved in the framed structure.

Our Superior Shade steel is a zinc-coated primer + powder-coating that is one of the finest paint finishes in our industry. Your shade fabric has a minimum 10-year warranty, and the steel carries a minimum 20-year warranty. This is preferred over galvanized posts, which don’t offer protection at the weld points and leads to rusting. In addition to offering asset protection and comfort, your shade structure should be attractive and rust free for years to come. As well, the materials are designed to meet local wind load standards, which include the steel members used to hold up your canopy.

How durable is the shade material?
We use only top quality, commercial grade shade High Density Polyethylene fabric. The shade fabric is a High Density Polyethylene and comes with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty against sun degradation. In addition, we use a UV rated thread to resist sun degradation that carries the same 10 year warranty. The UV resistant thread is just as important as the warranty on the fabric. We have seen shade sails in which the thread has deteriorated in the sun and the seams and pockets begin to unravel. Fabric shades gives you the benefit of cozy and breathable shade (HDPE- Hydro Polyethylene Fabric) experience because it reflects back heat absorption and blocks from 92%- 99% UV rays depending on its various colors available.

What kind of warranty is included?
The HDPE fabric carries a 10-year warranty, and the steel column carries a minimum 20-year warranty. This is preferred over galvanized posts, which don’t offer protection at the weld points and leads to rusting. In addition to offering asset protection and comfort, your shade structure should be attractive and rust free for years to come. As well, the materials are designed to meet local wind load standards, which include the steel members used to hold up your canopy.

What is the longest span you can cover with a Shade Sail?
Spans of 60 to 80 feet are not uncommon with our new Monotec Shade Fabric. Monotec fabric also offers a wider array of colors that are more vibrant than standard Alnet fabric.

What is “clear span?”
The distance between columns. For example, a basketball court requires “clear spanning” the entire court width.
Is one color better than another?
Each color comes with the same 10 year manufacturer’s warranty; however, the darker the color the higher the percentage of UV blockage. Our Monotec fabric also comes in vibrant pastel colors unlike more other manufacturers. Both Red & Yellow are inherently unstable, and are most affected by UV degradation and fading. They’re not recommended.

Will water go through the fabric?
The shade fabric has 80% water deflection rate. The greater the twists in the fabric, the higher the water deflection. The fabric is porous. Thus, water will always be able to penetrate the fabric during heavy rain conditions. We offer water proof fabric for select installations. Discuss with your representative.

How much wind will your shade products withstand?
Most everything we design and install is rated for 90mph winds. If your project requires higher ratings, please let us know. We’ll be happy to have it engineered for your specifications, and with new building codes in places like south Florida, we’re able to design to meet those standards.

Can the shade fabric come down in the winter?
Yes, depending on the size and style of your canopy. Our shade structure solutions are typically designed to be up for year-round use in areas that don’t receive much snow. All of our shade structures utilize tensioned shade fabric and caution should be used when removing or installing the cloth. The intensity of UV damage doesn’t subside just because the weather is cooler. The fabric is not intended to bear snow loads and should be taken down if snow is expected, or inclement weather with higher wind gusts are anticipated.

Can I attach the Shade top directly to a house or building?
In some cases yes, we can attach to your structure, however you’ll typically need provide the architectural drawings. The original building was not likely designed to carry the horizontal loads that our tensioned shades require, however. Attaching to your building will affect the overall wind rating of our design. We can provide engineering and typically do so when permitting is required.

Are Shade Sails more affordable than Steel-frame Shade Structures?
Not typically, and it’s due to the lack of frame support. Shade sails get their structural integrity from the large steel columns and concrete footers that are below grade. The footers are typically at least 3’x3’x3′ in size each, which is a large amount of concrete. Shade canopies have an upper steel frame, over which shade cloth is tensioned into various roof shapes. Shade sail structures don’t have upper frames. They merely consist of columns, shade cloth sails and the hardware to attach them and maintain proper tensioning. Steel-frame gets its structural strength from the steel girders.

Are your fabrics flame retardant?
Yes, all are on the list of fabrics approved by the California Fire Marshal. They also meet the National standards for flame retardancy (i.e. ASTM E84 & NFPA 701).

Order installation and maintenance process

How long does it take to install your shade products?
A typical installation takes about 4 – 6 weeks. Every project is different. We begin working on your project as soon as we contract. Projects requiring permitting or job-specific engineering can take much longer. Keep in mind; most of our projects are completely custom, not off-the-shelf products. We design, fabricate, and install custom shade sails, shade structures and shade canopies.

Do I need a permit?
Check with your local municipality on permit requirements. In states, such as Florida, then most likely. We will help you navigate through the permitting process if necessary. Our shades will be engineered and installed to meet your local building codes.

How does it secure into the ground?
Either with footings which are dug out, concreted and caged with rebar, or with a baseplate and
bolts (can be expansion bolts or chemically set)

How large are the footings for shade sail structures?
This depends upon numerous factors including the structure’s footprint size, clear span, column heights, local building code, soil conditions, etc. To date, all of our shade sail structures required footings that were at least 30″ in diameter and 5′ deep. Our largest footings to date were 36″ diameter and 8′ deep.

Can I install the shade myself?
Yes, every shade comes with installation instructions, and many of our customers install themselves. For larger shade structures that require permitting, you’ll need a licensed general contractor in most cases.

What maintenance is required?
Almost none, other than the occasional blowing or hosing off of the fabric. Steel posts are zinc primed and powder-coated. We use stainless steel and corrosion resistant hardware and cables. No painting or maintenance should be needed, unless there’s some sagging of the fabric that could occur. In that case, the glide elbow release arms can also be used to tighten fabric should it be stretched over time.

Can I replace or remove the canopy?
Yes, our glide elbow system allows for a quick release and removal of the fabric for storage during off-season or forecast of inclement weather. The glide elbow can also be used to retention the fabric, if necessary.


What are the benefits to shading your playground?

A protective shade cover can reduce the ambient heat of your playground by up to 20 degrees, providing a comfortable environment for small hands and bodies to play on.Our fabric does not retain heat & allows the air to circulate through the material. The darker colored fabrics have the highest blockage of UV rays (up to 97%), and also show less dirt than lighter colors. In addition to the obvious benefits of keeping the equipment cooler you also have the protection of your paint and plastics from UV degradation.

All paint & plastics are subject to UV degradation, regardless of the manufacturer.
” Playland integrated a zinc-lok primer into our powder-coating and is an industry exclusive.
” Coupled with up to 3 mils of super durable powder-coating for both red & yellow,
Playland offers an exceptional powder coat paint application. Despite the zinc-lok primer and high quality pigments, red & yellow paint have the highest degree of fading when exposed to sun.

Dozens of playground shade solutions:
1. Integrated shade into the playstructure
2. Shade canopy, or sail covering the playground
3. Shaded seating areas for viewers
4. Cantilever shade or umbrellas that offer a large shade footprint with minimal posts
” Most all of our shade options features a quick-release mechanism for removing and storing the fabric in the off-season, or during inclement weather.
” Our canopies are typically warrantied for 10 years
” Fabric is rated for a Category 1 hurricane (we can engineer for most any local wind rating

Give us a call: We’re looking forward to hearing more about your project and how we can assist you.
CALL US TODAY: 1-855-884-8387

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