The Benefits & Drawbacks of Shade Sails for Schools

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Did you know that the brain structure and mood simultaneously improve when time is spent outside? This scientifically proven evidence highlights the importance for schools and educational establishments to have exterior usable space available all year round. The same can also be said for many other environments, as people of all ages see the positive impact of fresh air.

In this article, we are talking about one of the most popular playground shelter ideas, shade sails!

What Are Shade Sails?

Shade Sails offer a fun and vibrant way to provide shelter for outdoor spaces. They consist of a robust aluminium frame in the form of solid posts that are safely installed into the ground. Weather shelter is then provided by a strong fabric panel, which can be manufactured in a wide variety of shapes. The sail is either fixed to the posts at the corners or stretched over a frame to provide shade for playgrounds and other outdoor spaces.

Popular amongst schools for use in play areas, shade sails come in various designs and a huge choice of colours, allowing the school to personalise the design to meet their needs.

Now let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of these canopy solutions.

Benefits of Shade Sails

Colourful Outdoor Feature

One of the main reasons that our clients choose shade sails is their striking appearance, which can look stunning in playground, courtyards and other outdoor areas. With the option to select from a huge range of colours and designs, any area of the school can be enhanced with the addition of a shade sail.

Sun Protection

Another benefit of shade sails is protection from the sun and UV radiation. As the name would suggest, the thick fabric panels provide shade and help to block harmful UV radiation, allowing outdoor areas to be enjoyed even on the hottest days.

When used for schools, outdoor equipment can also be positioned under the panels to ensure young ones are protected from the sun when playing outside.

Environmentally Friendly

Constructed from recyclable fabrics, shade sails offer a sustainable way to build outdoor canopies. They are also designed to be long-lasting, eliminating the concern of needing to re-build in a few years.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Shade Sails?

Require Maintenance

If you are looking for a canopy solution that requires little or no maintenance, then a shade sail is probably not for you. While the steel frame will remain robust, the fabric panels need care to retain their original condition.

As well as keeping the panels clean and free from excessive debris to prevent sagging or damage, you may also need to remove them in extreme weather.

Not Fully Rain-resistant

Another drawback is that even though sun protection is offered, the design of the sail means that not all areas underneath are kept dry when it rains. This doesn’t mean the sail is unusable but means that it may be less useful during the wetter and colder months.

Be aware that not all shade sail fabrics are designed to be waterproof, so ensure you ask for this specifically if this is important to you.

Extensive Groundworks

Shade sails often appear to be a quicker, more cost-effective shading solution than a canopy manufactured from aluminium or timber, but this is not necessarily the case.

Shade sails are actually complex pieces of engineering and need larger-than-normal foundations to ensure the posts are secured rigidly in place. If there is any movement of the posts (for example during extreme weather) this can cause the sail to flap and damage the fixings. In time the sail can break or be weakened to the extent a replacement is necessary. This can be prevented by ensuring that foundations are made according to the structural engineer’s design.

What Shade Sails Do Kensington Systems Offer?

At Kensington Systems, we offer various shade sails in different designs and finishes. We have something for everyone, from the traditional 4-post style to the unique umbrella conic sail. We also include full site surveys and groundworks to ensure areas are ready to use and safe.

Get in touch with our team to chat with us about your new shade sail!