Waterproof Garden Sails: 5 Pros & Cons to Consider in 2023

Waterproof Garden Sails: 5 Pros & Cons to Consider in 2023

waterproof garden sails

Are you assessing the possibility of getting waterproof garden sails? Take a look at some of their biggest advantages and disadvantages.

Shade sails are a great addition for any garden – they enhance its aesthetic appeal, create a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere for spending more time outdoors, and offer effective UV protection of up to 99%. 

If you are on the search for a shade sail for your outdoor setting, you may be wondering – should I get waterproof garden sails, or are breathable alternatives a better option? 

In this article, we will take a look at the biggest pros and cons to consider when it comes to waterproof garden sails. So, let’s get right into it:

What are waterproof garden sails

Waterproof garden sails, also known as waterproof shade sails or waterproof sun shades, are outdoor shading structures designed to provide protection from both the sun and rain. 

Unlike traditional shade sails that are often permeable and allow some airflow, waterproof garden sails are made from materials that repel water, preventing rainwater from passing through the fabric. 

This design allows the sails to create a covered and dry outdoor space even during wet weather conditions. This enhances the usability of outdoor areas, allowing people to enjoy their gardens, decks, or outdoor spaces regardless of the changing weather conditions.

What are the benefits of shade sails for gardens?

There are multiple benefits of shade sails for gardens, including:

– UV protection – shade sails provide effective protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. They create shaded areas that allow you to enjoy your garden without the risk of sunburn or excessive heat exposure.

– Temperature regulation – by reducing direct sunlight, shade sails help regulate the temperature in the garden. This makes the outdoor space more comfortable for relaxation, socialising, and outdoor activities.

– Enhanced appeal – shade sails add an elegant and contemporary visual element to your garden. They come in various colours and shapes, allowing you to create a stylish focal point while complementing your garden’s design.

– Outdoor living space – with shade sails, you can effectively expand your living space into the outdoors. They create inviting areas for entertaining guests, enjoying meals, or simply unwinding amidst nature.

– Versatility – sails and canopies can be installed in different configurations to suit your garden layout. Whether you need a small shaded corner, a covered pathway, or a larger seating area, shade sails offer flexibility in design and placement.

What is the difference between breathable and waterproof garden sails?

When looking for shade sails for your garden, you can typically choose between breathable and waterproof garden sails. But what are the main differences between these options? 

Breathable shade sails

Breathable shade sails are designed to let air circulate, and they are made from materials that allow air and water to pass through. This prevents heat buildup, and maintains a comfortable environment between the sails. 

While breathable sails can shed light rain, they are not fully waterproof. During heavy rain, some water may pass through the fabric, although the permeability helps prevent water pooling. 

In addition, breathable materials often allow natural light to filter through, maintaining brightness in shaded areas.

Waterproof shade sails

Waterproof shade sails are manufactured from materials that repel water, creating a barrier against rain. They prevent rainwater from passing through the fabric, offering effective rain protection, and keeping the shaded area dry and usable during rainfall. 

Shade sails and tensile canopies made from waterproof materials also usually block natural light, creating a shaded but potentially darker environment.

Waterproof sails can catch wind and exert more force on the support structure. Proper installation and design are crucial to handle wind loads effectively.

outdoor canopies in the uk - sun shades for decks - waterproof garden sails

What are the pros and cons of waterproof garden sails?

Both breathable as well as waterproof shade sails have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to providing share for your garden or outdoor setting. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of waterproof garden sails:

Pros of waterproof garden sails

– Effective rain protection – waterproof garden sails provide excellent rain protection, ensuring that the shaded area remains dry even during heavy downpours. This allows you to maximise the time spent outdoors regardless of the weather conditions.

– Year-round use – as opposed to breathable shade sails, which tend to be a better option in warmer and sunnier weather, waterproof sails can be used year-round in all kinds of weather – from rain and snow to wind and sun. 

– Enhanced UV protection – waterproof materials typically offer better UV protection than permeable fabrics, providing additional sun shielding. If you like to spend a lot of time in your garden, they can be a great shading option. 

– Durability – waterproof sails are often made from durable materials designed to withstand the elements, making them a long-lasting shading solution. In fact, a shade sail made from high-quality fabrics can last up to 15 years with the right maintenance.

– Privacy – the solid, water-repellent surface of waterproof sails offers added privacy by blocking the view from above.

Cons of waterproof garden sails

– Limited airflow – waterproof garden sails do not allow air to pass through as easily as breathable fabrics, which can lead to reduced airflow and potential heat accumulation underneath the sail – which may not be ideal during the hottest weather.

– Darkened space – waterproof sails block natural light, potentially creating a darker environment beneath the shade. This can affect the ambiance and aesthetics of the space – of course, this can also be considered an advantage depending on your preferences.

– Maintenance – while waterproof sails are designed to shed water, they might develop water pockets or sagging over time. Regular maintenance is needed to ensure proper tension and prevent water pooling.

– Cost-effectiveness – waterproof garden sails and their specialised properties may come at a higher cost compared with breathable fabrics, which can impact the overall budget for the project. However, their durability makes them worth it over the long run.

– Potential mould and mildew – due to reduced airflow, waterproof sails might be more susceptible to mould and mildew growth, especially in humid conditions.

Should I get waterproof garden sails?

If you are on the fence between breathable and waterproof garden sails, keep in mind that it ultimately comes down to your priorities and preferences. 

Waterproof garden sails are a better option if you live in a very humid climate where rain protection is a top priority, and you want to make use of your garden all year-round. Just keep in mind that maintenance and upkeep is especially important to prevent water pooling and sagging.

Breathable garden sails are a better option if you prefer a brighter and more open environment, as breathable materials allow natural light to filter through. They are also the better alternative if you prioritise airflow and natural ventilation to maintain a comfortable atmosphere under the shade.

Regardless of the option you have chosen, always look for a reputable manufacturer with years of experience, such as SD Sails. This is important to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product that is not only installed and tensioned properly, but will also last you for many years – and will add a nice aesthetic appeal to your garden. 

flat shade sails


Are waterproof garden sails completely waterproof?

Waterproof garden sails are designed to repel water and provide effective rain protection. While they are highly water-resistant, no fabric is entirely impervious to water. Some water might pass through seams or edges during heavy rain or when the fabric is under tension. 

Proper installation, incline, and drainage considerations help minimise water pooling.

How do waterproof sails handle rainwater?

Waterproof sails manage rainwater through a combination of fabric properties and installation design. The fabric’s water-repellent material sheds most rain, preventing saturation. 

Proper tensioning and incline ensure water flows off the sail. Well-designed drainage points and slopes prevent water pooling, maintaining the sail’s integrity and preventing sagging.

What material are waterproof sails made from?

Waterproof garden sails are typically made from specialised materials like PVC-coated polyester or PTFE-coated fibreglass. These fabrics are treated to have water-repellent properties, forming a barrier against rain. 

The coatings create a surface that sheds water, offering effective rain protection while maintaining structural integrity.

Do waterproof sails provide UV protection?

Yes, waterproof sails often provide UV protection. The materials used in waterproof fabrics are engineered to offer UV resistance, shielding against harmful sun rays. 

This dual functionality—rain protection and UV blocking—makes waterproof sails versatile for creating comfortable and safe outdoor spaces.

Can waterproof sails withstand wind?

Waterproof sails can withstand wind, but their performance depends on factors like proper tensioning, installation, and wind load. While they can resist wind, their flat surface can catch gusts, exerting force on the support structure. 

Professional design, engineering, and installation are essential to ensure their stability and prevent potential damage during windy conditions.