A Beginner’s Guide To Shade Sail Fabric: Shade Cloth vs Waterproof PVC Comparison

If you’re considering a new outdoor shade project, trying to get your head around the differences between shade cloth and waterproof PVC fabric can be a little confusing.

You probably know that shade cloth is used to make shade sails, and waterproof PVC is used to make to make waterproof PVC sails.

But how do you know which type of fabric is better for your situation? Whats ideal for you? Which performance characteristics do you need to be aware of?

This free chart below provides guidance on the main differences between the fabrics. In terms that are easy to follow, with basic information on performance characteristics and advice on ideal applications for each type of fabric.

Check it out below.

Characteristic Water Proof PVC Fabric Rating Shade Fabric Rating
Material PVC coated with PVDF Knitted high-density polyethylene
UV Protection Blocks 100% of UV light
Blocks 94 – 97% of UV light.
Colours 7 colours available
15-20 colours available
Cost $70-100/M2 excluding frame support
$35-55 /M2 excluding frame supports
Cleanability Self-cleans in rainfall. Can also be wiped clean
Can be cleaned with a pressure washer
Waterproof 100% waterproof
Not waterproof
Heat Reflectively White fabric reflects up to 85% of heat away
No reflection
Translucency 7 -54%. Depends on the fabric pigment
Fire Rated to Australian Standard AS1530 part 2&3
Rated to Australian Standard AS1530 part 2&3
UV Resistance Nanoparticle and heat reflective coating can achieve up to 20 year UV life
Depends on the weight of yarn. Varies between 10 – 20 years.
Strength Little Stretch 0.05%-1.5%
3-6% stretch
Life Expectancy 10-20 year warranty, depends on the fabric. Working life 15+ years possible with reasonable maintenance
10-20 year warranty depends on the fabric. Working life 15+ years possible with reasonable maintenance
Ideal Application Early Childcare Centers (100% UV block) Architectural applications and anywhere rain protection is required.
Schools, Parks, and Carparks

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