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MakMax Architectural Umbrella Alternatives: The Ultimate Buying Guide

10th August 2021

Are you looking to create a shady area for your home or business? You want to ensure you invest in the best residential or commercial outdoor umbrellas. 

There's a good chance that MakMax, will come up as you trawl the internet for ideas. While these products are an excellent choice when it comes to architectural umbrellas, they're not the only ones.

So, if you're the kind of person who likes to find out for yourself about what works for your business, keep reading. Our architectural umbrella buying guide helps you discover the top MakMax alternatives available.

What Is MakMax?

MakMax came about in 1984, under the name Shade Structures Pacific. The company and first attracted widespread attention with its designs for the World Expo in Brisbane in 1988.

This brand specialises in shade solutions for a wide range of commercial facilities. These include sports and recreation areas, retail shops, restaurants, schools, and more.

MakMax architectural umbrellas and tension membrane structures appear in several noteworthy landmarks. These include Melbourne’s Docklands precinct and Sydney’s East Circular Quay. 

MakMax manufactures three models of commercial outdoor umbrellas. These are:

  • Central Support Permanent Umbrella
  • Cantilever Support Permanent Umbrella
  • Central Support Portable Umbrella

These all have good wind ratings and are commercial grade umbrellas with long warranties. MakMax umbrellas are low maintenance and durable and the cantilever retracts as needed.

You can choose between the following types of fabric:

  • standard
  • perforated
  • block out
  • TiO2
  • mesh PVC
  • PTFE
  • canvas fabric

You can also opt for a standard or stainless steel frame. 

MakMax offers the option to further customize your design. You can add branding, designer colours, fabric cutouts and any pattern you choose. Further customisations include:

  • Wind rating upgrades
  • Non-standard sizes
  • Column/canopy customisations
  • Linear or contour edges
  • Fabric linking
  • Height adjustments

All this comes at a premium price, so it makes good business sense to look at MakMax alternatives to compare prices, especially if you don't need all these extras.

MakMax Alternatives

We offer comprehensive range of suitable alternatives for your consideration. Like MakMax, these offer cantilever or centre column configurations as well as the option for customisation. 

They're all made in Queensland, Australia and are tensile membrane structures with a steel frame and PVC canopy.

You can order all of these umbrellas according to your specifications. So, when you're comparing prices for your business, these are the two other top tension membrane structures to consider.

MakMax Alternative #1: Skyspan

Skyspan Shade's spent 20 years fine-tuning its range of customisable architectural umbrellas. In the meantime, they've built up a wide portfolio of designs and attracted customers from around the world.

Skyspan makes four different types of umbrellas, namely:

  • Centre column umbrellas
  • Cantilevered umbrellas
  • Portable umbrellas
  • Pavilion umbrellas

The brand prides itself on building weather-resistant, versatile umbrellas. These go far beyond the constraints of conventional construction. 

These umbrellas can withstand winds of up to 148 km/h, are chemically secured, and bolted to permanent footings. They're made from all-weather, corrosion-resistant materials. Tensioning's through steel cables secured to the arms of the canopy with anti-creep fixings.

This internalised tensioning helps reinforce the umbrella's structural integrity. It also maintains its shape regardless of the weather. 

The geared opening system allows for ease of operation and features a detachable handle to prevent unauthorised use.

There's also an automated motorised option available. This helps to swiftly collapse and deploy the umbrellas as needed.

Skyspan's umbrella fabric comprises waterproof architectural grade PVC. The fabric has high UV resistance, UPF ratings up to 50+ and superb levels of heat reflection.

When compared to MakMax, Skyspan's offers an almost identical design and similar pricing. For added convenience, you can also get Skyspan umbrellas from an approved supplier in Australia.

Working with one of these reputable outlets, ensures you get the best price and service when you order a Skyspan umbrella.

MakMax Alternative #2: Flexshade

If you don't need retractable umbrellas for your commercial endeavour, Flexshade is an excellent affordable alternative.

Flexshade architectural umbrellas are slightly cheaper than both the MakMax and Skyspan offerings. Yet, you'll find they still offer excellent quality and durability. You can also count on outstanding after-sales support when you opt for Flexshade products. 

Flexshade is a division of Tension Span Structures which in turn forms part of the Vesl Tension Span Group which has been in business since 1977. It was one of the first companies to install custom architectural membrane structures in Australia.

Flexshade tetra structure

Since then, the Group's become a respected leader in the manufacture and design of architectural fabric across the world. You can see some examples of their work at the Luna Park Theatredome, Law Courts in Brisbane and Norlane Leisure Centre.

Like MakMax and Skyspan, Flexshade offers a comprehensive range of shade products. This includes the following umbrellas:

  • Centre column umbrellas in square, hexagonal, quad, lotus, and hypar designs
  • Tetra and quad cantilever umbrellas 
Flexshade hexagon

Flexshade Lotus

Flexshade hypar

The umbrellas can span from 2.4 to 15m.

All Flexshade umbrellas comprise the following:

  • Marine-grade stainless fittings
  • Dual powder-coated steel frames
  • PVCF or Tedlar PVC membranes

They have a 160 km/hr wind rating, are P.E. certified, and come with a 10-year warranty. They have a 160 km/hr wind rating, are P.E. certified, and come with a 10-year warranty.

You can check out the Flexshade range of commercial umbrellas here!

Finding the Best Architectural Umbrella for Your Business

Whether you opt for Flexshade, Skyspan, or MakMax architectural umbrellas, you'll find a wide range of colours, patterns, and designs to choose from.

All these tension membrane structures help increase your businesses appeal to customers, so it's a good idea to make room for them in your budget. Get in touch for more information and assistance in choosing the perfect commercial outdoor umbrellas for your needs.  

Please note the contents of this post is information only and general in nature.
If you require advice it is best to contact one of our shade specialists who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.


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Effective shades are essential for ensuring children are safe and avoiding sun damage. Choose the best option by learning about these school shade ideas.