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What Are The Different Types Of Shade Structures?

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Whether it be at a playground, restaurant or other outdoor commercial space, shade structures can protect your business’s space from the sun. Commercial shade structures can also enhance the aesthetics of your business’s outdoor space, adding interesting and visually pleasing elements that are simultaneously functional. One of the reasons shade structures are popular is that they’re available in various shapes, sizes, configurations and colors and can even be customized to make your business’s space unique.

Understanding the different types of shade structures and their various applications can help you choose the right fit for your business’s project. Knowing where shade can be applied at your location and the benefits of shade can potentially increase the usability of the space.

Below are the most common types of shade structures and their unique features for any kind of project:

1. Cantilever Shade Structures

Cantilever shade structures have a post system that minimizes column obstruction, leaving more open space beneath the shade. In these structures, the posts — typically two — are positioned in the back. These posts independently support the structure. With this design, the front side of a cantilever shade structure is free of obstruction. Your business can provide shaded parking spots without posts blocking spaces.

These structures are low profile yet extremely versatile, making them well-suited for a variety of applications like bleachers, pools, covered parking, playgrounds and outdoor seating areas. Cantilever shade structures come in a variety of configurations and design styles including arch, hip and wing roofs to add style or functionality.

At USA SHADE, we offer standard length, width and entry heights, as well as custom sizes to meet the requirements of your property and building code, including snow-loaded regions.

2. Hip Shade Structures

Hip shade structures feature a clean, straight roofline with two, four, six and eight outer column options to support the structure. These structures are highly stable and effective for large and small areas. Hip shade structures are among the most popular and economical types of shade structures, as they’re stable and feature a straight, sleek roofline. Hip structures are also available with a slanted roof, ideal for shading bleachers.

Hip structures are commonly used to provide coverage for picnic areas, bleachers, pool areas and more. Super Span Hip structures and Joined Hip structures are great for extending shaded coverage to accommodate large applications like playgrounds, outdoor event areas, large seating spaces and covered parking. Join multiple hip structures together to create elongated shade structures, which can be beneficial for applications like covered sidewalks.

Hip shade structures from USA SHADE take many forms, including multi-panel hip structures and wrap-around hip structures. We also have quick-ship options that are made to your specifications in only 4 weeks. Our options allow you to find the most functional design for your project.

3. Multi-Panel Shade Structures

Rather than one shade panel stretched over the entire frame, multi-panel shade structures feature multiple fabric panels for a unique appearance. Many multi-panel structures use the separate panels to create multi-level designs, further enhancing the visual aesthetics of a shade structure. Complement or combine colors to design a standout customizable structure. Multi-panel structures come in a wide variety of design styles and shapes including hexagons, octagons and pyramids.

Multi-panel structures provide excellent shade and can significantly increase the aesthetics of your project. For example, a colorful multi-panel structure with multiple shade fabric layers will draw customers or guests to your business’s outdoor space. Unique designs like this option mesmerize people and will encourage them to stay longer or come back soon.

Another benefit of multi-panel, multi-level shade structures is improved airflow under the structure. While other shade structure designs still allow for adequate airflow, the space between the multiple panels allows for even more airflow on really hot, sunny days.

4. Canopy Shade Structures

Canopy shade structures are classic. These simple shade structures work well for projects with limited ground space. While canopy shade structures are most commonly used to shade small spaces, you can group them together to cover larger areas or find them in elongated shapes ideal for bus stop benches and walkways. Canopy shade structures are also versatile, as they can be configured to create cabana-style structures with curtains on all four sides that can be opened or closed for additional privacy.

5. Shade Sails

Like multi-panel shade structures, shade sails add a striking presence to any venue and work well as an individual structure or as multiple structures in groups or layers. Also commonly referred to as shade kites, our shade sails come in three-, four- or five-post structures with customizable column heights and attachment points. Multiple column heights and attachment points create an interesting visual aesthetic as the fabric shape is manipulated into elegant curves.

This type of shade structure can add a visually pleasing element to many different commercial projects. Shade sails are an effective option for open-air venues and outdoor spaces, making them ideal for play areas, parks, pools, splash pads, building entrances and more.

Benefits of Shade Structures

There are numerous ways to benefit from shade structures in any application and project. If you’re unsure about including shade structures in your commercial project, consider how they can be beneficial, including sun protection, increased time spent outside, increased comfort and additional aesthetics and branding opportunities.

Offer Sun Protection

Sun protection is one of the biggest and possibly most obvious benefits of shade structures. Outdoor spaces can be subjected to intense sun and heat under direct UV rays. Harmful UV rays can be damaging for both equipment and people. For example, exposure to the sun can cause playground equipment, tables, chairs, benches and other items to fade quickly. Without proper UV protection, being out in the sun can cause skin cancer for employees and customers.

Additionally, sun exposure heats up any space, making surfaces uncomfortable and even dangerous to touch. Shade structures protect people and equipment from harmful sun rays and help keep outdoor surfaces shaded and cool. Adding shade structures to an outdoor area creates shelter from the sun so your community, guests, employees, students or others can enjoy the shade when outside.

Increase Comfort Level Outdoors

Adding shade to any outdoor space immediately increases the comfort level. Shade is a cool relief from the sun. Having a picnic in the park would be uncomfortable on a hot summer day, and community members would likely seek out a shady spot to sit. While natural shade from trees or surrounding buildings may be possible, some projects may lack natural shade to provide comfort.

Shade structures are like a supplement to increase outdoor comfort levels for anyone in a given space. Whether it be a parking lot, park or playground, these and other spaces benefit from shade structures because they provide cool areas for visitors to enjoy.

Increase Time Spent Outside

When people are more comfortable in a given space, they’re more likely to spend more time there. If a restaurant has comfortable shaded seating, guests are more likely to sit at the restaurant for longer. Because shade structures can increase comfort levels, they can also help increase the time people spend outside in spaces where shade structures are installed.

Continuing with the restaurant example, an outdoor patio in the midday sun would be undesirable to many customers and guests. Adding a shade structure can help make the space more inviting, which makes people more willing to spend their visit in that outdoor space. Your business will be more appealing to visitors, who will either stay longer and spend more money with you or will come to visit again soon.

Add Aesthetics and Branding

Visually pleasing outdoor spaces are more attractive to visitors, will draw more people in and encourage them to stay longer. Shade structures are an easy and functional way to add aesthetics to your project. Whether it be a complex multi-panel design or a simple canopy, using the right colors, fabrics and textures can make even the simplest of structures aesthetically pleasing.

If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate your brand’s identity and colors, consider doing so with a shade structure. Customize the colors to reflect your branding and create a personalized shade structure for your project.

A Variety of Different Shade Structures to Meet Your Needs

In addition to the structure types listed above, USA SHADE can customize shade structure solutions that combine eye-catching looks and unique shapes with high-quality materials and versatile functionality. USA SHADE has designed, manufactured and installed thousands of commercial projects, so you know you can trust our experts to determine the right options for the individual demands of your terrain, property, brand and business.

Check out our galleries of completed projects for inspiration or reach out to our team for expert help from the pioneers and leading innovators of the shade structure industry.