FAQs

Read about our custom-designed fabric products, shade sails and waterproof structures

Aerosail specialises in the design, engineering, manufacture and installation of fabric structures. We take pride in providing practical passive solutions to everyday solar radiation problems. If we can’t answer your specific inquiry ourselves, in most instances, we will be able to introduce you to a specialist who can provide a solution. Have a few questions about our shade sail design, engineering, and manufacturing services? We’ve compiled some of the most commonly asked questions our has team received over our 30 years in the business. Get in touch today for a quote.

Commodity-grade PVC is designed to be used as tarpaulins for the transport industry and are not usually subjected to high tension. The quality of the base cloth and the coating comprise of
cheaper materials, because they are rarely used for more than 3 years. Tension membrane grade PVC is designed to be under tension and to have an economic life of 10+ years under normal circumstances. They are treated with fire retardant, higher levels of UV stabilizers and anti-dirt protective coatings.

Sewn waterproof membranes leak where the needle perforates the material and the appropriate thread has an economic life of 5 to 6 years. They cannot be re-sewn because the sewing process weakens the fabric. Welding involves no stitching and so there is no thread to rot. It is very important that the appropriate welding method is used. High frequency (HF) welding is the strongest and the only method recommended by fabric manufactures for membranes under tension. Hot wedge, hot air and ultrasonic methods are okay for membranes not under tension—such as awnings, tarpaulins etc.

It is not waterproof. Some water will usually runoff, but this will vary from very little, to in excess of 90%. Factors which affect water runoff include, the type of shadecloth, the pitch (installed vertical angle) of the shade cloth and the intensity and duration of the rainfall. If waterproofing is an important consideration we recommend that you use waterproof fabrics.

No, the Australian Standard for fire retardancy measures the spread of flame and smoke. Fire retardant means the material will burn, but self-extinguish when the source of flame is removed. Also the smoke developed index (amount of smoke released) is not at dangerous levels.

There are two types of thread commonly used for shade sails. Polyester has a breaking load of 18kg and is the most common because it is soft and has some elasticity—so it is suitable for membranes under tension. Economic life is around 7 years for white thread and 9 years for black thread. PTFE thread, sometimes called Tenara is a good choice for membranes over awnings and pergolas because of its long economic life (12+ years). PTFE thread is not suitable for membranes under tension due to its low tensile strength and because it has very little elasticity, which causes the thread to cut into the shade fabric. This weakens the shade cloth and makes it vulnerable to storm damage.

Testing by Aerosail has shown that our waterproof Aerosails are 2°C to 4°C cooler in summer compared to a shade Aerosail under the same conditions.

We recommend applying a Ph-neutral detergent and then brushing with a soft nylon broom. Finish by rinsing thoroughly. Pressure cleaners and harsh chemicals such as chlorine, bleach, degreaser and acids can cause permanent damage to the fabric. As a general rule, if it is harsh on your bare skin, it will be too harsh to use on a shade or PVC membrane.

In most localities building permits are required if attached to a building. Some authorities exempt small structures if they are freestanding. Check with your local municipal authority for their requirements.

Planning permits govern the type of building, design, use, boundary setbacks and building heights. Building permits deal with engineering, workmanship and fire safety. Both are
administered by municipal authorities, but they are usually separate departments and each has its own requirements

This varies widely amongst different material suppliers. As a general rule, cheaper fabrics are covered for UV degradation only, which can be difficult to prove. Better quality fabrics cover loss of tensile strength. All fabric warranties diminish in value over time and only cover the fabric, not the manufacturing or installation labour.

Small shade sails are fine for ‘do it yourself’ projects, but all waterproof and large shade structures need to be designed and installed by trained technicians. Not only does the structure need to be strong enough, it also must be rigid enough so that the membranes can be tensioned and remain taut. Membranes that are not tensioned correctly will fail the structure and wear out in a much shorter time. All permanent Aerosail membrane structures are engineered.

Yes, they all do. However, fading is more noticeable in darker colours.

“Shade” refers to the amount of light that is transmitted through the fabric. This is determined by the colour and material density. Dark colours will reduce the amount of light transmitted
through the material significantly, whilst light colours will allow a lot more through. This does not affect UV radiation. “Shade cover” refers to the visibility through the fabric. “UV Block” refers to reduction of three types of direct UV radiation. They are:

  • UV-A, which causes skin aging, wrinkles and also damages outdoor plastics and paint.
  • UV-B is much stronger than UV-A and causes skin cancers and cataracts. It also affects the health of plant life and animals. Actions one takes for protection against UV-B will usually also provide protection against UV-A.
  • UV-C is stronger than UV-B, but fortunately does not reach the earth’s surface because they are filtered by the earth’s atmosphere. Continued destruction of the earth’s ozone layer can result in UV-C rays reaching the earth’s surface, which will create major problems for humans, animals and plant life.

No, the testing is done in an un-tensioned state. In use, the weave will open up. If UV block levels are important to you, avoid lightweight shade material with a low tensile strength and high elasticity, because the weave will open up considerably. So a type-44 shade cloth with 98% shade may end up with 88% shade cover. Look for heavy-duty shade material with a high tensile strength, because these will stretch far less.

SPF is an abbreviation for sun protection factor. Theoretically, if it takes 15 minutes for skin reddening to occur without protection; having SPF 15 protection means it will take 15 times longer for reddening to occur—i.e. 15 minutes compared to 3 hours and 45 minutes.

No, you will receive much more. If the measure was in a tensioned state, 80% shadecloth would be equivalent to SPF 4, whereas 90% shadecloth would be equivalent to SPF 10. Where UV protection is important, Aerosail recommends using a type 81 shade fabric (heavyduty) with at least 94% shade cover. This will provide approximately SPF 15 protection (see previous question). When considering SPF protection, it should be noted that UV rays are also reflected up from grass, concrete, glass and other surfaces.

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