In the century prior to synthetic materials, most if not all awning material for patio shades was made of canvas which is a tough, tightly woven fabric made of cotton. The same material was used for sails, painting surfaces, certain kinds of clothing, and sacks or bags for carrying heavy items. The toughness of canvas made it ideal for any situation that demanded the use of a fabric in an outdoors setting.
A large number of companies manufacture synthetic shades that have come to take over the patio shade fabric market. A few examples are Texilene and Coolaroo. These products are marked by several kinds of improvements over canvas which we detail below.
Foremost is that the fabric should be protected against ultraviolet (UV) “rot”. UV rot is basically what happens when UV light strikes and breaks down the organic fibers in canvas. Over time the fibers degrade and the material starts to fall apart. Modern synthetics do not suffer from this problem or do so to a much lesser degree. A near top quality that consumers demand is a denser fabric weave which helps stop regular light for improved shade properties.
An attendant quality that is desired by consumers and satisfied by synthetics is ease of cleansing to keep the awning material free of microbial infestation. Many modern synthetics are naturally resistant to micro-organism growth.
The underlying awning is a patio shade that is positioned over the entrance or window of a business and luring in valuable patrons who may have been only sheltering themselves. The newest type is the retractable unit. The economic choice of awnings are equipped with with retraction mechanism in a unpowered set-up, activated by a lever or lateral-arm set-up. Pricier awnings are equipped with motorized retraction.
An outdoor canopy can be considered an oversized tent. People find it useful to have at least the top of a canopy shielded with awning material. The walls on the side are optional, since some owners care more about circulation whereas others are worried more about privacy. If the canopy owner goes ahead with adding sides, the presence of window flaps and wide entrances may improve air circulation through the structure.
Few shades do not use fabric. An example is the pergola which is a simple shade made of wood that stands on four or more columns in a square layout. Instead of holding up shade fabric, it carries wood slats that supply incomplete shading and partial sun. A related outdoor shade to the pergola is the garden arbor. The arbor is smaller in size, much simpler in construction, but cannot shade many people at once. In recent times it’s largely a decorative element of the garden.