5 Costly Shade Sail Myths and Misunderstandings

Ok time to do a little myth busting.

To get the best results for your property it’s important to be working with the right information.

Our new customers are often surprised at what shade sails and fabric structures can actually do for them. Which is a big part of the reason that we love what we do.

Helping customers transform their outdoor spaces and get more profit and satisfaction from their outdoor areas is what gets us out of bed every morning!

We’ve put a list together of the top 5 common myths concerning shade sails and waterproof sails. Now you have accurate information to work with.

Over the years we lost track of the times new customers like restaurant owners, schools, locals councils, or early childhood centre owners have been surprised to learn the following…

  • Myth 1: Fabric sails are simple products. This is a very common misconception. Fabric is actually an advanced construction material.

    Take a quality European waterproof PVC for instance. It’s coated with PVDF (similar to Teflon), which repels dirt and mud and will self-clean in a rain shower.

    It has enormous tensile strength and can be manipulated into amazing curves and 3D shapes. Fabric is a tremendously versatile and sophisticated building material.

  • Myth 2: Shade sails and waterproof sails will get vandalised – either cut or burnt. While this is technically possible, it very rarely actually happens.  We’ve only seen two instances in 17 years.

    Think about it. A vandal would need to approach the sail with a knife, climb a slippery steel pole (usually at least 3.5m high), clamber onto the sail, and intentionally cut or burn it. As you can imagine, this takes real dedication and determination. Both in short supply for the average vandal.

    The real threat from vandals can be reduced by smart design, like adding climbing deterrents (spikes) onto the steel poles. Other measures also include using fireproof fabrics and carefully designing the high and low points of the sail to avoid obvious spots (and temptation) to jump onto the sail.

  • Myth 3: Shade sails all last about the same time. Also not true! The quality of materials, skill with sail design, and installation quality make a huge difference with the working life of a sail. With sensible maintenance, a sail should last for 10+ years. We have sails looking smart after 15+ years of work. Just about every sail looks great on install day.

    It’s three or four years down the track that really counts. This is when the quality of the materials and workmanship will show through. Poor quality PVC waterproof sails can start to delaminate and leak or pool water. Shade fabric can sag and the stitching can begin to fail.

  • Myth 4: Better off to go to a big box retailer. Another classic myth. A big box retailer uses cheap fabric, cheap fittings, and simple standardised To make matters worse, these are usually installed by the property owner with no specialist equipment or training. You see the unfortunate result with ugly sagging sails in suburban streets all over the city.

    Custom designed shade sails are totally different. They are designed built and installed by specialists, using materials proven to work in Australian conditions. The sail is carefully crafted to suit the specific requirements of the property owner and will look great for over 10 years.

  • Myth 5: Shade sails are waterproof. This is the final common myth. Here’s how the confusion happens. Shade sails is a generic term which is often used to describe both shade sails and waterproof sails.

    If a shade sail is built using shade cloth (“a shade sail”), it will not be waterproof. Shade cloth is built only for shade protection. It has a porous finish, and will provide some rain protection in a light shower. But as soon as the rain increases water will start dripping through the cover.

    If a shade sail is built from waterproof PVC (“a waterproof PVC shade sail”), it will be totally waterproof and provide rain protection even in a heavy downpour. Waterproof PVC sails need stronger foundations and a more robust design to reflect the extra wind loading and stress on the waterproof PVC fabric.

Want to learn more? Download your free copy of the Consumer Awareness Guide: What You Need to Know About Shade Sails.

All the information you need to make an informed decision with your next outdoor transformation project. includes mistakes to avoid, how to choose a reputable operator, differences between a quality sail and a cheaper alternative, and much more. Get your free copy here.

Any questions, or need expert advice with your next shade project? Give our friendly team a call on 1300 798 700 or email sales@alfrescoshade.com.au