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Types of Commercial Shade and Where to Use Them

Types of Commercial Shade and Where to Use Them

People love to be outside. And properties that boast about their outdoor area would agree. The fresh air, sunshine, and atmosphere make for a pleasant environment for all to enjoy. However, the sun can be both friend and foe with relentless heat. There needs to be some relief during the day for guests to cool down and be more comfortable. When trees are not present, artificial shade is a great solution to take a break from the brutal sun. You might want to consider adding commercial shade for longevity. These options can provide protection for your patrons and outdoor equipment for years with little maintenance! But which is the best fit? When selecting the right type of commercial shade for your property, there are several considerations that should be made. While adhering to your budget is obviously important, other factors to keep in mind include whether you're looking for a solution that's portable or permanent, altitude, and design.

Types of Commercial Shade Options

There are several types of shades available for commercial use. Discussed below are the different options we supply and the benefits each one has to offer for your location.


Commercial Umbrellas are typically the way to go when it comes to adding shade to your commercial property. Umbrellas are universally used as they are long-lasting, easy to repair, portable, and cost-efficiency is far better than any other choice. There are plenty of style and size options to shade any location, particularly for smaller spaces.


  • Inground, portable, and surface-mount base options
  • Height and angles can be adjusted
  • Cost-efficient
  • Easy to repair
  • Easy to Store
  • Quick Ship options are available

Where to Use Umbrellas

Umbrellas are a good choice in areas with low wind ratings. They make an excellent addition to HOA, beachside communities, restaurants, hotels, schools, resorts, and a variety of other property types. When not in use, these umbrellas are portable and easy to store.

Types of Umbrellas

Single Center Post

Single center post umbrellas are available in a variety of different shapes, including square, hexagonal, octagonal, and rectangular. While umbrellas are typically available in two standard sizes, 7.5' and 9', we do carry them in sizes ranging from 6.5' to 16'. Lift options include:


Cantilevers feature an offset post that allows the maximum center shade without obstruction. They're available in square and octagonal shapes, ranging in size from 9' to 13'. These umbrellas are a great option if you're looking for a solution that doesn't require you to break ground or make permanent changes to your property.


Fiberglass umbrellas are ideal when you're looking for a shade option that can withstand higher winds. These shades feature a hard, fiberglass top that is more resilient in the wind compared to its fabric equivalent.

Fiberglass umbrellas are available in sizes ranging from 6' to 8' and come in the following styles:

Wind Rating

It's important to remember that single center posts and cantilever umbrellas should be closed when winds exceed 20 mph. Remember, “If the umbrella dances around, it is time to put it down.” Fiberglass umbrellas aren't officially wind-rated, however, they can typically resist winds up to 50 mph due to their solid canopies when properly secured with the high wind upgrade.



Cabanas give an exotic, secluded feel for vacationers or residents when enjoying the sites. They are often used as rental spaces to provide a private, intimate setting for guests to make the most out of their experience. Portable cabanas can also be a means of providing decent coverage to any location on demand as they are easy to assemble on-site as needed. 


  • Provides a private solution for your patrons
  • Can choose from semi-permanent or portable 
  • Can generate additional revenue for rentals
  • Easy to store

Where to Use Cabanas

Cabanas are best for large commercial properties with spacious poolside or beachside areas, such as luxury hotels, resorts, country clubs, and beachside condominiums. This type of shade typically stands up in areas with lower sustained wind ratings.

Types of Cabanas

Beach Cabanas

Beach cabanas are an ideal option if you're looking for an exotic shade that adds a luxurious feel to your waterfront properties. These cabanas are large enough to cover two chaise lounges. Each segment is custom-made with Sunbrella or Outdura fabric and can include a back vent to allow breezes to escape.

Pop-Up Tents

Pop-up tents are large, square shades with a completely portable potential. They allow you to place shade whenever and wherever it is needed. Curtains can be included for patrons to have more shade and privacy, along with adding an air of luxury to the outdoor space.They're available in sizes ranging from 10' x 11' to 11' x 11'.

Fabric Pavilions

Fabric pavilions are similar to pop-up tents but feature semi-permanent footing. Because of this, you can choose to include battery-operated lights and fans to condition the covered space below. Full curtains are also an option to completely cloak one or more sides of the perimeter. Fabric pavilions are square and 10' x 10'.

Wind Rating

Due to its portable nature, the wind load for Cabanas is only as good as the mount. The legs will need to be weighed down by sand or secured to a surface to hold up against wind gusts. Beach cabana and pop-up tents are not an official wind test but are estimated at 25 mph. However, if the shade starts to fight the gusts, it's time to take it down. Being a semi-permanent structure, fabric pavilions are estimated to withstand an estimated 30 mph when installed appropriately. 


Fabric Shade Structures

Fabric shade structures are permanent structures that are prime for the shading of large areas. They offer the greatest shade area for the price making them a promising solution to beat the heat for all locations! It is worth noting that these shade canopies are often 80% waterproof, which means that some leakage will occur if rainfall is heavy. Despite this, the breathable fabric acts as a vent making it excellent against heavier winds. 


  • Permanent installation means they don't need to be put away daily or seasonally
  • Can withstand strong winds
  • Affordable cost per sq. ft of shade for most standard models

Please note: It's important that canopies on fabric shade structures are removed when ice, snow, or strong hurricane-force winds occur. Because they are permanent structures, engineering drawings may be required for installation permits. Structure specs may differ by location. 

Where to Use Fabric Shade Structures

Fabric shade structures are a good option in regions where winds are typically higher and where permanent shade is beneficial. They can be installed on a variety of property types, including playgrounds, residential carports, sports complexes, zoos, restaurants, dog daycares, and amusement parks.

Types of Fabric Shade Structures

Shade Umbrella

Shade umbrellas feature a center pole and range in size from 10' to 20’ in diameter with entry heights ranging from 8' to 12'. These umbrellas come in square and hexagonal shapes.

Shade Cantilever

Shade cantilevers come in a variety of shape options. Single-column cantilevers range in size from 8' to 20' with entry heights of 8' to 12'. Styles include:

These fabric shades can also be purchased with double-column cantilevers that range in size from 20' x 10' to 24' x 14' with 8' to 12' entry heights. Style options for double-column cantilevers include:

Hip End Shades

Hip-end shades come with four or more columns and are available in rectangular, square, and hexagonal styles. They range in size from 10' x 10' to 38' x 38', with entry heights that range between 8' and 12'. Custom sizes of up to 60' x 60' are also available. Hip-end shades offer the most amount of shade for the least amount of cost. 

Sail Shades

Sail shades provide a great deal of shade and a stylish look. Sail shades in particular, due to the customization options, can get rather expensive when compared with other types of commercial shades or fabric structures. These shades don't feature support rafters, and as such, their columns are typically quite large and need to be surface mounted to ensure stability. These triangular and/or square shades come in three different formations: equilateral, isosceles, and hyperbolic. Sizes can be customized, with the largest triangular shade being 50' x 50' x 50' and the largest square being 35' x 35'. Options include:

Wind Rating

Fabric Shade Structures have a sustained wind rating of 76 mph with hurricane force-1 wind gusts of 105 mph. To ensure high ratings, all beams and canopy must remain fixed in place without the ability to adjust. 


Metal Shelters

Commercial metal shelters are a solid, powerhouse protection against every outdoor element including snow, hail, rain, and sun. The complete construction is made from industrial steel for permanent coverage and durability. Metal shelters' strength and longevity come at a price which makes them the most expensive shade solution option.


  • Can withstand heavy winds, rain, hail, and snowfall
  • A permanent structure that doesn't require regular adjustment or moving

Where to Use Commercial Metal Shelters

Commercial shelters are best in locations that experience unstable weather patterns. The solid roof provides a protective cover making it a great addition to properties such as restaurant patios, schools, amusement parks, local parks, ranches, and picnic areas. They make a great cover alongside picnic and barbecue areas, as well as playgrounds and other outdoor gathering areas.

Types of Commercial Metal Shelters

Hip End Metal Shelters

Hip-end Metal Shelters come in several shapes, including square, rectangle, hexagon, and octagon. The hexagon and octagon shapes can measure as large as 64' in diameter while square and rectangle shades can be as large as 50' wide. 

Gable End

Gable End shelters feature an A-frame roof to offer the most height clearance and can be made as large as 50' x 104'. Ideal for housing large equipment and even animals.

Mini and Kiosk

Mini Metal Shelters and Kiosk can be made as large as 12' x 12' and make a great addition to park benches, bus stops, and small picnic areas. Kiosk shelters make a great option for properties that need to post outdoor signage and cover community mailboxes.

Wind Rating

They withstand winds of more than 90 mph and hold a snow load rating of more than 10 PSF. It's important to note that these ratings can vary depending on the model and site installation.


Selecting the Right Commercial Shade Option for Your Business

After reviewing all these options you may have a better idea of what type of shade to establish on your commercial property.  However, there are several variables you should consider as well. Before committing to a purchase, take time to think about the following factors to ensure your satisfaction.

Cost & Availability

For most businesses, budget is the biggest consideration to make when selecting any temporary or permanent structure for shade. Commercial shade can cost anywhere from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars so it's important to determine what the most adorable option is while you do your research. In most cases, the more temporary a shade structure is, the more affordable it is. That being said, umbrellas are typically the most affordable option while metal structures, which are the most permanent and sturdy choice, are the most expensive.

If you're in a hurry to add shade to your property, availability will be a factor too. Because umbrellas are widely available and are typically stocked, there isn't a long wait time to receive them. Metal shelters are permanent, and because they require engineering and construction, they generally take months to produce and days to install.


Being able to move your shade throughout your property or disassemble it for easy cleaning may also be a considerable factor. If you're looking for something portable that can easily be taken down and stored, then umbrellas or tents are the way to go. In contrast, if a more stable shade is required then the fabric shade structure and the metal park shelter are the right choices.


Keeping your property clean and well-maintained is important and as such, you want to look for a shade that will be easy to clean and keep in good repair. Permanent structures are typically the easiest to maintain so if you're after something that's easy to clean and won't require repairs too often, a metal structure might be the best choice. Umbrellas and fabric shades are typically quite easy to clean. However, extreme weather can cause wear to the fabric or joints when not put down in a timely manner. While repairs are simpler to conduct, they may be needed more often.


Size is everything when it comes to shade. You could potentially space out umbrellas to cover the grounds or maybe you want to cover the whole thing with little sunlight entry using a fabric structure. Knowing how big the space is and in what increment you want the shade are vital questions when determining your options. 

Typical Weather Conditions

Depending on where your property is located geographically, you might face intense weather from time to time. If snowstorms, hurricanes, or high winds are common in your area, consider adding a permanent shade structure instead of fabric shades or umbrellas. Additionally, if you're adding shade to a rooftop patio or another area at a higher elevation, you might experience higher winds, and if so, something more permanent can be a better solution here, too.


Adding shade to your property is a great way to make sure that your guests feel comfortable when they spend time outdoors. By following the recommendations outlined above, you can make sure you select a commercial shade structure that suits your location, budget, and style. 

For more recommendations, contact the representatives at Furniture Leisure and tell us your thoughts. We will do all we can to advise you on when options will work best for your situation and location!

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