Shadecloth investigation

CHOICE has uncovered an alarming gap between the level of protection stated on a typical shadecloth and the reality once it is installed.
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04.Before installing shadecloth

Types of shadecloth

There are two types of shadecloth – knitted and woven. Most shadecloths for domestic and commercial use are usually knitted fabric, each available in several grades and available from light to extra heavy.

Commercial grade fabrics generally offer superior protection in terms of UVR block and strength as they are generally designed for larger spans. Domestic grade shadecloths are generally sold at hardware stores, offering between 50% and 99% UVR protection.

When looking for shadecloth, look for its UVR rating. Cancer Councils across Australia recommend shade structures should have as high a UVR block as possible – or at least 94%.

Cancer Council guidelines

Cancer Council NSW suggests you follow these guidelines before installing shadecloth:

  • Choose fabric that is dark, 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 (go to 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.
  • Confirm with your local council whether you need a permit to put up the shadecloth.
  • Check the credentials of the shade installer and quality of the shadecloth:
    • Does the company include a structural engineer’s report for the site and structure?
    • What warranty applies?
    • Do they provide ongoing services such as safety checks, maintenance and cleaning?
    • 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?

    Examples of shadecloth materials


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