Close this search box.

A Brief Guide to Evaluating Sun Shade Materials

Table of Contents

If you live in a sunny place, you will want to buy and install a sun shade to protect your family and guests from the blistering sun while having fun or relaxing outdoors. While there are several considerations for selecting a sun shade, understanding the options and other criteria of the shade material is critical for a sensible and value-for-money choice. Some useful pointers:

Material Weave

Mesh material for sun sails is usually made of vinyl-coated polyester or high-density polyethylene with tiny holes or perforations that allow air and water to pass through. According to Silver Bobbin, mesh material has high breathability, which makes for better cooling and ventilation but allows water to pass through easily, which means they offer no or limited protection against sudden showers. The advantage of using HDPE monofilament mesh fabrics is that they are resistant to mold and mildew, have greater dimensional stability due to their knitted mesh construction, a high strength-to-weight ratio, and resistance to tearing, and fraying.

Canvas sun shade material has a much tighter weave than mesh fabrics, which offers better waterproofing, especially when the shade is installed at an angle allowing the water to run off. The relative lack of breathability is more than compensated by the higher shade factor that gives better shade. Canvas sun shades are ideal for locations with bright weather with heavy rainfall.

Shade Factor

The shade factor is a critical factor for selecting a sun shade sail fabric. It refers to the amount of light passing through it, and it is expressed as a percentage. One hundred percent shade factor would mean that the material is opaque and no light can pass through it. As desirable as it may be, such materials tend to be very heavy, and the space underneath can be claustrophobic. On the other hand, opting for a low shade factor will mean that most of the sunlight can pass through the material and make it uncomfortably hot for people underneath. It should also be appreciated that the shade factor is not the same as the UV ray blocking ability. It is quite possible for different fabrics permitting the same amount of light to pass to block different amounts of UV radiation.


Grams per Square Meter (GSM) refer to the weight of the material and act as an indicator of strength, quality, and durability. For light applications GSM ranging from 180-to 220 is acceptable, but if you want a heavy-duty sun shade, you will need to find a supplier who can offer materials ranging from 300-to 550 GSM. As may be evident, materials with higher GSM will be costlier than low GSM materials.


In addition to the above factors, you also need to consider aspects like UV block rating, which represents the percentage of UV rays blocked by the shade material. Materials with a higher UV block rating block more of the hazardous rays from reaching underneath. The color of the sail material plays an important part in the UV block rating. The color of the shade is also an important consideration. A light-colored material keeps the area below cooler as more light reflects off it.

Related Posts