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Are you as protected as you think by your shade sail?
April 12, 2017
We want to welcome you to the beginning of a sun safety revolution for sun lounges

We may love our sunburnt country, but there's nothing to love about sweltering through a long hot summer, unprotected from the sun. Shade sails, also known as shade cloths, are a popular and stylish way to get some respite from the heat and UV rays, while still enjoying the outdoors. However, all claims are not what they seem when it comes to sun protection ratings on shade sails.

Although many shade cloth companies offer reassuring claims of maximum ultraviolet radiation (UVR) protection, the UVR rating of the shade cloth by itself is only half the story. 

What to look for

Shade sails are tested for how much ultraviolet radiation the materials transmit and for tear and tensile strengths. If the shade cloth is stretched due to incorrect installation, its UVR protection against sunburn could be reduced, and there's no standard test for this.

The School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of NSW has performed tests on shade cloth to the Australian Standard. Professor Stephen Dain, director of its Optics and Radiometry Laboratory, says that generally woven shade cloths are the preferred option.

Sun protection levels impossible to classify?

The Australian Standard for sun-protective clothing includes a classification system that is similar to that used for sunscreen. Depending on how much UVR it blocks, the cloth may be described as offering "Good protection", "Very good protection", or "Excellent protection".

The Cancer Council of NSW wants a similar system for shade cloth to improve consumers' ability to identify products with a low or high UVR protection level. But Standards Australia says there are too many variables affecting the UVR protection of shade cloth to classify it, including:

  • design and size of the shade structure
  • distance from the subjects
  • level of reflected and diffused radiation
  • physical location of a person within the shade structure.
Before you go ahead

Cancer Council NSW has these recommendations:

  • Choose fabric that is closely woven and heavy, as it blocks or absorbs more UV radiation.
  • Conduct a shade audit of the site where shade is required. You don't have to be professionally qualified, and Cancer Council Australia's publications can be used as a guide. A shade audit includes assessing the current shade of a site as well the types, times and months of use. A shade audit will help to plan a shade design that meets the needs of the site and its intended use.
  • Check the quality of the shade cloth
  • What warranty applies?
  • What are the specifications of the cloth used?
  • Has it been independently tested to confirm the UV radiation protection level?
  • What is the durability of the cloth?

My Leisure Lettinis comply to all of the above requirements. The shade material is dense and blocks all harmfull UV rays. It is close to the face and upper body for maximum protection. We give a 10 year warranty on all our sun lounges.

Marietta Frey
Marietta Frey is a mother of 2 who has travelled the world seeking new adventures and insights at every turn, a woman with a mind as open as the ocean, she always finds ways to help all of those around her through love and compassion, and has an eye for style and design like not many people do.
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Lettini Sun Lounger with canopy Colour Option Desert LineLettini Sun Lounger with canopy Colour Option Desert Line
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