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Should You Choose Lighter or Darker Shade Sails? The Ultimate Guide to the Best Colour Shade Sail

9th June 2022

If you're looking to spruce up a home, cafe, restaurant, or outdoor workspace, getting the right shade sails is a great first step. After all, it's important to keep people comfortable when they're getting the outdoor time needed for a healthy lifestyle.

It's critical that you consider colour when selecting from multiple shade sail options. The hue of your shade impacts both the UV rating and the overall look of your residential or commercial space. Read on for some tips on choosing the right colour shade sail for your space.

How Does Colour Affect UV Rating?

The Ultraviolet (UV) rating is also sometimes referred to as the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). This factor indicates how well a fabric can block out radiation from the sun's UV light.

This scale comes from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), which ranks UV ratings on a scale of 15-50. Higher ratings are more effective at blocking sunlight while lower ratings allow more UV rays to permeate through the fabric.

Generally, darker colours like black or navy rank more highly on the UV protection scale. This is because they absorb more light than lighter colours like white or sky blue.

Since light is energy, absorption makes the temperature of the material increase. The energy is better absorbed by dark colours as they are better radiators of heat. This absorption keeps potentially harmful UV rays from hitting the skin of those beneath the shade, rendering it more effective.

If you're looking to keep those in your space more comfortable in a sunny area, darker hues are the right choice. Lighter colours like yellow, light blue, and orange are best saved for shades in already-shady areas. Such spaces may include tables that sit in the shadow of buildings or chairs that sit directly under trees.

UV Rating vs Shade Factor: What Is the Difference?

While ARPANSA's UV rating system is very straightforward, there also is another thing to consider when choosing between colour shade sail options: Shade Factor.

Shade Factor is a system that ranks the performance of a shade that absorbs both visible and invisible light (between 290-770nm). It ranks the level of shade underneath shade-cloth installations on sunny days. The Shade Factor ranks how much light is stopped from coming through the cloth.

This is distinct from the UV rating and does not always relate to it. A shade sail may offer a UV rating of 95% while having a Shade Factor of only 70. Both of these figures are important when making a shade sail colour decision.

Darker hues have higher Shade Factors since they absorb more light.

What if I Want Light Colour Sails?

If you want a lighter coloured shade sail in a sunny area, there is a way to get it a high enough UV rating to work. All you need to do is install a darker shade underneath the visible light one.

For example, a business that brands with bright, sunny yellow can display this shade on a sail. They then can place a piece of black cloth underneath to absorb the UV rays necessary to keep diners or employees safe and comfortable. This method is ideal for those who want to keep a cohesive aesthetic while still protecting guests.

Choosing a Cohesive Colour Scheme: Matching vs Contrasting Hues

Practical considerations are important when considering a shade sail, but that doesn't mean that you should throw all aesthetic concerns out the window. Deciding between matching or contrasting colours is key if you plan to utilise multiple shade sails within your space.

The first step towards making this decision is understanding the colour wheel. This tool lets you see what hues match vs what ones contrast well with one another.

To make your decision the right way, it's important that you understand the three primary colour combination possibilities: analogous, monochromatic, and complementary colour schemes. All of these look great when spread across multiple shade sails.

Analogous Matching Colour Schemes

Analogous colour schemes are the first matching colour scheme available to you. They are made up of three adjacent hues on the colour wheel. Examples of colours that fall next to each other are red/orange/yellow or purple/blue/green.

Many people enjoy the cohesive and well-rounded look of analogous colour schemes. There are several reasons that these combinations are the most popular:

Generally, analogous colour schemes are also ideal for businesses with other analogous decor. You can incorporate multiple analogous colour schemes into your space assuming that you place your shade sails in one location and other facets of your colour scheme elsewhere. Commercial shade sail professionals can help you make this decision if you are unsure about anything.

Monochromatic Matching Colour Schemes

Another matching colour scheme is called a "monochromatic colour scheme." These are made up of black or white plus one other colour. Black and white don't clash with anything and you can use multiple hues of the additional colour (such as sky blue, cerulean, and cornflower, which inherently match).

Monochromatic colour schemes are ideal for those who prefer simplicity in their outdoor space. Some motivations for choosing these colour systems may include:

Monochromatic schemes are best for those who want to stand out while still blending in.

Complementary (Contrasting) Colour Schemes

However, some individuals and businesses prefer contrasting colours, in which case a complementary colour scheme might be the right choice for them. These palettes are made up of two hues that lie directly across from each other on the colour wheel, which complement each other rather than clashing.

Examples include yellow/purple and blue/orange. Note that you should take care to ensure that the shades also line up across from one another on the colour wheel; cornflower blue pairs well with red-orange while dark blue looks best with pumpkin.

Here are some signs that these schemes may be right for you:

In the end, the colours of your multiple shade sails are up to you. However, when it comes to shading your outdoor space, there are some other aesthetic and branding concerns that you will also need to consider. People are going to judge your home or commercial venue based on its initial appearance, so a good colour scheme is key for a good first impression.

Other Tips for Choosing the Right Shade Sail Colours

If you're a commercial business with a pre-existing brand, your colour choice is easy: you will choose your brand colours. This will make you stand out to guests and clients. It will also make you more memorable since they will build on a cohesive image of your brand, reinforcing the importance of your brand's colour as part of that image.

You also want to choose colours that you like and would be proud to see in your space. This is true regardless of whether you're a residential homeowner who needs to see the shade daily or a business owner displaying the shade to guests. Since your brand colours should be those you like, this goes hand in hand with branding your business.

You also may want to use colour psychology when selecting your shades. This is the science of choosing colours that impact a person's mood. For example, a calming business may want to choose blue shade sails while yellow or orange is best for active social settings.

Get a Shade Sail Estimate Today

While choosing the right colour shade sail can be a challenge, you're sure to find something you love if you know what you're looking for. Consider various types of shade sails before making your decision. Make sure to think about both the functionality and aesthetics of each option before buying.

Project Shade is proud to offer a wide variety of outdoor shade sails in varying hues. We're committed to providing you with the perfect solution from any number of Australia's best shade suppliers. Contact our experts with any remaining questions that you have about shade sail options and to get a quote for your project.

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.