A guide to classification for outside living awnings and pergolas

It is only in the past century that our lives have changed so that we spend 90% of our time indoors whereas before most was spent outdoors. Then we were attuned to seeking shade or covering our bodies from the effects of UV radiation.

With this change of lifestyle we have become more susceptible to the effects of the sun and must take precautions to protect ourselves.

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For applications close to our skin, clothing and creams, it is a directly measurable effect with factor ratings. We also need respite from the sun so we seek the shade provided by awnings, pergolas, umbrellas and outside living spaces.

This rating system quantifies from laboratory testing and compares the shading protection provided by the fabric from direct sunlight. Fabrics are rated on a scale of 0-4 with 0 being of little effect to 4 being a very good effect.

It must though be recognised that we are trying to control a constantly moving object, the sun, and that there can also be reflections from other surfaces, water, snow, tarmac etc.

That is, if you fall asleep on your lounger, it is possible that you will be in direct sunlight before you awake. Reflections from snow can even be a problem even on the coldest of sunny winter days.

So this classification indicates the benefits of fabrics that can be gained provided the user adapts to the conditions where the shading is installed and most especially takes the precautions required for their skin type.