Shade cloth is an effective way of protecting people from damaging UV radiation

Shade cloth is an effective way of protecting people from damaging UV radiation

When the Australian Standard for Shade Fabrics was originally published in 1994, shade cloth was largely used for providing climate control and protection in greenhouses and plant nurseries. Today, it's widely used for personal protection from the sun and is available in a variety of materials, colours and shade ratings so you can choose an appropriate product for your shade situation.

Shade is one of the most comfortable forms of personal protection from ultraviolet radiation (UVR). One of the main benefits of shade cloth is that it provides as much as 95% UV block while still allowing air to pass through, for a more pleasant outdoor experience. As the market uses for shade fabrics have evolved, there has been a requirement to update the Australian Standard to remain relevant. Across Coolaroo’s range of products, this includes Shade Cloth and Shade Sails.

The key difference to the new Standard, as it relates to knitted and woven fabrics used in both horticultural and people protection applications, is the introduction of a People Protection category. The horticultural aspect of the Australian Standard largely remains unchanged.

The changes were brought about to establish a minimum requirement of UV block for adequate people protection and to hold manufacturers of shade fabrics accountable for effective levels of UV protection through clearly defined protection categories.

The Standard calls for the manufacturer to label their product as being AS4174 compliant and clearly identify suitability of the fabric for use in People Protection applications (such as pergolas). Manufacturers are also expected to incorporate a colour trim into the edge of the fabric that matches the designated colour code (eg light = red, medium = blue, ultra heavy = beige).

Coolaroo was part of the Standards Australia Steering Committee overseeing the development of this new Standard and have taken a leadership role through this process. With the Standard expected to be passed in early 2018, Coolaroo has already taken steps to introduce a range of shade cloth clearly marked as suitable for Garden Cover, Screening and People Cover, each representing the most appropriate levels of UV block (50%, 70% & 90+%).

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