Feature Article - October 2011
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Safe Haven

Protect Patrons & Beautify Sites With Shade & Shelters

By Rick Dandes


Finding Shade

There are several things to consider when looking to buy a new shade structure.

  • Once past the design and color selections, consider the ease of installation. Is putting this structure up something you can do "in hours" or will you need a contractor? There is a big cost savings if you do not need outside help.
  • Consider: How is the warranty affected if the installation is done "in house"?
  • With most structures, the frames or the structure itself will last a very long time. What you need to consider is how the structure is covered, the life expectancy of the covering and how the covering is attached to the frame. Is it easy to put on and take off? Is it safe and secure?
  • In assessing the adequacy of shade provision at a school, perhaps prime attention should be directed to the outdoor eating areas. Next might be the young children's jungle gym play equipment area.
  • Temporary shade structures, such as umbrellas or portable shelters, are useful for providing shade at special or impromptu events and as a shield from solar radiation for staff on yard duty and outdoor pool supervision.
  • If school remodeling or new construction is planned, shade provision should be strongly considered in the architectural design. If planned ahead of time, there may be very cost-effective opportunities for providing areas of high-quality shade by incorporating structural elements such as covered porches, broad eaves or breezeways.
  • Most shade structure manufacturers offer similar fabric canopy styles, such as kites, sails, hip and canopy roofs. The big difference between these companies is in the customer service and the ease of removing and re-attaching the fabric canopies when winds are expected to exceed 90 mph. During the threat of high winds you need to be able to remove all of the canopies as quickly as possible.
  • If you reside in a harsh environment like Miami Beach, consider spending a few dollars more by upgrading the shade structure frame to a more corrosion-resistant metal like stainless steel.

As for aesthetics, there
is a shade design for
almost any need.

As for aesthetics, there is a shade design for almost any need.

Shade kites and sails tend to add a dramatic modern look and are designed to fit any site and desired shade coverage. For a bold statement select multiple color shade panels, or for a softer, minimalist and elegant look use a lighter monochromatic color scheme.

"At our waterpark," Sharpe said, "we have large 20-foot umbrellas, which are very common. These offer a good amount of shade and are very aesthetically pleasing. These function just like an umbrella and can be lowered and raised as needed."

Summer Waves also has a two-post hip structure. These offer a little more shade than the umbrellas and there is no center pole to contend with.

A cantilever shade, also found at the park, seems to be the shade of choice for his guests. "They offer twice the shade of the other two structures and the supporting poles are completely out of the way. To me, this structure gives you the most for your money," Sharpe said.

The waterpark also features shade sails. These offer a huge amount of shade and due to their contemporary design they can completely change the look of any area.

Because of the many shade options that are offered, any location in a facility can have shade. Walkways, food courts, front entrances, picnic areas and pavilions are just a few areas they can be enhanced by the addition of shade structures.