|From permanent structures fixed to your pool deck to portable solutions ideal for the garden or patio, modern sun control systems enable us to spend more time in and around our pool and spa.
In addition to protecting friends and family from the sun, wind and rain, the right shade structure can also add significant aesthetic value to our property.
Shade umbrellas usually come in two styles - cantilevered and pop-up.
Fixed to a freestanding pole, cantilevered designs operate through a crank mechanism that enables you to move the canopy as the sun moves across the sky, providing optimal sun protection from sunrise to sunset.
The greater the tilt rotation the more manoeuvrability they offer, so you just have to make sure that the base is stable enough to hold the umbrella upright even when it is bent right over.
Then there's the popular pop-up option, which works like your common rain umbrella - simply push up to activate. As you can imagine, this one is only really effective when the sun is directly overhead.
Just like their name suggests, shade sails, or sun sails as some people call them, resemble a ship's sail. They're a cost-effective, permanent solution to shading large outdoor spaces, such as pools, decks, patios and playgrounds.
To prevent water from pooling in the middle of the sail, and provide stability during high winds, fixing posts are usually set at two or more different heights.
You can attach shade sails to large trees, fence posts and external walls, or secure them to wooden posts or steel columns with concrete footings. When properly tensioned, a shade sail shouldn't sag or flap when it is windy.
Look out for durable, high-quality materials that offer high UV protection. A general rule of thumb is that the thicker the fabric, the more UV protection that's offered.
| Folding arm awnings
This type of shade structure usually features a metal frame and high-grade fabric cover that cleverly folds back into a cassette when it's not in use – either manually via a crank handle or using a remote control that operates a small electric motor.
In these awnings, the arms fold and unfold horizontally rather than vertically, which means they don't need posts to support it. This keeps the space underneath unobstructed so when the awning is retracted, the space is free of posts and other supportive structures.
If you don't want to put the awning away when the wind picks up, look out for models that include special sensors that automatically retract the awning in windy conditions. The more sophisticated folding arm awnings also offer sun sensors, which means they automatically unfurl when the sun comes out.
|Professional building advice
From the devastating effects of the 2011-2012 Queensland floods to the storms that ravaged the eastern seaboard last June, professional building restoration specialists at Arcbuild Insurance have witnessed the effect that extreme weather events often have on improperly installed shade systems.
“Large shade sails, in particular, can create significant pressure when the wind gets under them, so they should always have engineered fixings and be approved by local authorities,” explains construction manager Matt Winkler.
“Putting holes in your roof is generally ill advised, but if necessary to the installation, all penetrations should be flashed correctly by a licensed trade to avoid leaks. The post supports must also be fixed securely to the roof framing system and, if sarking is installed, this needs to be patched properly with a specialist joining tape called Enviroseal Sarking Tape.”