Types of Shade Structures

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There are many different types of shade that capitalize on the benefits of sun and harsh element protection. Commercial shade structures also add an interesting visual element, enhancing the aesthetics of the outdoor area at any organization, school, community park, pool, or restaurant.

Shade structures come in a variety of shapes with each one designed to meet the demands of intense heat and sun protection. No matter your needs or budget, there is a perfect shade structure out there for you. Consider any of the different types of shade outlined below. Custom shades can also be configured in a multitude of ways for projects that require something more specific or unique.

But you don’t have to go at this alone. Our experts are available to help you choose the right shade structure, color, and shade material to make your outdoor area not only look good, but keep the individuals underneath it protected from the sun.

Shade Canopy

Shade_04_350x264.jpgShade canopies offer the simplest design and are great for areas without a lot of available ground space. The single middle post can sometimes obstruct sight lines more so than other options, but they are an ideal solution for those needing to shade a single area on a tight budget.

Our SkyWays® Single Post Pyramids and SkyWays® Single Post Hypar Shade offer protection from the heat and sun to a concentrated area without needing a lot of room. Shade colors and shapes, along with post height, can be customized to your design and needs.

Cantilever Shade

Shade_03_350x264.jpgA cantilever shade is the most universal and can fit anywhere. Its off-center post design leaves more open space underneath and column obstruction is virtually non-existent. A cantilever shade offers a low profile with posts in the back of the structure and the canopy supported by suspension braces underneath. These shades are designed for spaces that need to keep posts to a minimum, and create a cool, open feel. They are particularly well-suited for pools, covered parking, bleachers, playgrounds, and outdoor seating areas.

Our SkyWays® Cantilever Single Post Pyramid and SkyWays® Cantilever Hips combine compact design and convenience to offer a lot of shade without requiring a lot of ground space for posts. Multiple cantilevered hips can be extended to share posts. There are many hip sizes to choose from with typical sizes of 10' x 10' to 40' x 40', including a back-to-back option to double your shade coverage and entry heights of 8', 10', 12', and 14'.

Hip Shade Structure

Shade_01_350x264.jpgHip shade structures are very popular and a great choice when needing to shade both large and small areas. Hip shades are very stable and offer a clean roofline that can either be slanted or straight across. The slanted roofline offers protection from sun. Hips shades are available in Individual Hips, Multi-Panel Hips and Jointed/Extended Hips. The outer post support for hip shades come with the option of two or four support columns. These are among the most popular for large environments because hip shades can be joined together to customize the shade needed for playgrounds, outdoor seating areas, pool surroundings, parking lots, and outdoor event areas. 


For large areas in need of sun and weather protection with less posts, consider SkyWays® Hip shade structures. Our SkyWays® Two Post Hips are supported by just two columns while providing over 300 square feet of shade in a variety of entry heights ranging from 8' to 14'. For large, versatile shade in a tight space, try our SkyWays® Single Post Hypar.

Multi-Panel Shade Structures

WhisperingRock-350x264.jpgFor the most eye-catching design, multi-panel shade structures are a great option. They are aesthetically pleasing because they use a variety of different fabrics and materials to create a unique look. The six-post structures feature panels that can also vary in color, making the design even more visually appealing. Multi-panel structures are typically hexagon or octagon shaped and best suited for large, round areas. Multi-panel shade structures are great for offering sun and heat protection and the separation between panels will let light through.

Our SkyWays® Hexagon, Single Layer accommodates large, round areas and can incorporate two fabric colors for design flexibility. Our SkyWays® Hexagon, Double Layer panels block even more sun with the overlapping panels while creating a unique design aesthetic. Both options work great when big amounts of shade are needed.

Shade Sails

Shade_02_350x264.jpgShade sails are another stunning and visually appealing option to sun and heat protection. Typically seen in three- or four-post designs with each column a differing height, shade sails often resemble a sail on a boat. They work as a standalone structure, can be layered together in groups, or configured as multiple structures.

Similar to multi-panel shade structures, shade sails provide shelter from sun and heat only. The open sides on shade sails are best suited for open air venues such as pool areas, splash pads, and play areas.

Our SkyWays® Triangle Sail has a three-post design that covers a large space and provides a unique look with varying column heights. Entry height varies by post, from 8' to 12'.

Integrated Shade

ZipKroozIntegratedShade_350x.jpgIntegrated shade is ideal for keeping kids cool while playing on playground equipment. Integrated shade structures are critical for outdoor play helping to protect children and playground equipment from the intense sun. Integrated shade leverages posts from the playground equipment and reduces the overall space requirements. SkyWays® Integrated shade can be used on 7-post and 14-post Netplex® structures and with single or multiple-bay Swings. To keep kids of all abilities out of the sun, use SkyWays Integrated shade with ZipKrooz® zipline and over the Sway Fun Glider. Many shade design, shapes and sizes are available.

Visitors at the Hoover Recreation Center in Los Angeles, Calif. can stay cool under the integrated SkyWays® shade on the PlayBooster® Netplex® .The playground also includes a custom swing featuring a Molded Bucket Seat complete with integrated SkyWays® shade. 

Custom Shapes

Terra-Park-350x264.jpgCustom shade shapes can create a unique design esthetic and innovative look to any project. Our team of experts can design and build any custom shade shapes, size, configuration or attachment method that meets your project requirements. We can create the ideal custom solution to fit the unique requirements of your environment.