Posted in  Exterior Shading Fabrics   on  March 8, 2024

Photo courtesy of KJ Custom Screens, SunTex 80 fabric.

If you live in a sunny and warm climate, sun shades are more than a good idea, they are almost a necessity. In addition to managing the sunlight and heat, they protect your home and its contents while providing privacy and energy efficiency. If you decide to choose retractable sun shades, you'll be in total control.

How do retractable sun shades work?

Retractable sun shades are a type of solar control system that can be deployed remotely, via an electrical switch or, in some cases, with a manual hand crank. They work by raising and lowering the exterior roller shade fabric, providing protection from the sun by blocking and absorbing harmful UV rays, reducing wind and protecting from insects. Depending on the specific system you choose, these shades may also provide additional insulation benefits and help reduce heat gain or loss, making them an attractive option for energy-conscious homeowners. Additionally, some systems are available with automated temperature or wind control capabilities that can be programmed to open and close the shades based on weather conditions.

What do I need to consider when buying retractable sun shades?

First, you'll want to look for a reputable company. Your purchase of quality sun shades represents an investment and comes with many choices. You'll want to make sure you find a company that can help you with the entire process, from choosing the right solution, accurate measurements, installation by their dealer network and standing behind the warranty.

Fixed or Retractable Sun Shades?

When it comes to sun shades, there are two main types: retractable and fixed. Examples of fixed sun shades would be awnings, shade sails and canopies typically made out of canvas, vinyl or some other type of shade cloth fabric. Retractable sun shades, as mentioned earlier, can be raised or lowered at the homeowner’s convenience.

Left: Fixed shade awning constructed with SunTex 95 White fabric. Photo courtesy of H.B. Wall Awning Co.

Middle and Right: Retractable shades using SunTex 90 Black fabric. Photos courtesy of KJ Custom Screens.

Four important factors to consider before buying a retractable shade:

1) Budget.

Depending on the size and number of shades needed, it is important to have a budget that will cover the investment.  Depending on size, cost per shade can start at $1,000 and go up to $10,000 or more.

2)Type of system.

The two basic exterior shade designs are cable guided and zip. In both types, the shade is housed in a protective cassette box from which it deploys. In a cable guided system, the bottom of the shade fabric incorporates a weighted hem bar which travels along the cable to a stop mechanism usually mounted to a wall or the floor. The fabric in a zip system is welded inside of aluminum vertical frames which helps prevent the fabric from being pushed out of the side channels.

Left: Cable guided retractable shade using SunTex 97 Mocha. Photo courtesy of KJ Custom Screens.

Middle and Right: Motorized retractable patio screens in zip type system. Photos courtesy of Universal Screens.

3) Fabric type.

There are many styles and types of sun shading fabric that can block from 65% to 99% of the sun’s harmful rays. Understanding that outward visibility and air flow will be diminished as sun blocking percentage goes higher is an important factor to consider.

3) Fabric color.

Matching color to the design of your space is important. Fortunately, the most popular Phifer sun shading fabrics are available in many colors if you want to take a peek here. Darker colors allow for better outward visibility while lighter colors will reflect more sunlight.

SunTex fabric

Can I buy a retractable sun shade from Phifer?

Great question! Phifer manufactures the roller shade fabrics that are used in retractable shades so we do not actually make the end product. However, we support many of the leading providers and would be happy to recommend reputable companies for you to contact. Our customers will know about Phifer's legendary quality and understand why you would ask for it by name.

Where can I place retractable sun shades?

Retractable sun shades are most commonly installed to enclose a patio, lanai, deck or other outdoor space. They are especially useful for to shade a window or screened porch that receive direct sunlight throughout the day especially for those that are West or South facing. Click HERE to learn how a motorized shade worked for this homeowner.

Can I install my own retractable sun shades?

Installing your own retractable shades can be a tricky undertaking and is not a beginner level DIY project. If you are a good handyman, it is certainly possible. However, for most homeowners, we recommend professional installation. This will ensure your warranty is not voided and your investment will be enjoyed for years to come.

Are exterior sun shades difficult to maintain?

Following the shade manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines is the first step. Guidelines for maximum wind load and cleaning are examples that are important to note. For shades that are battery powered with remote control device, replacing batteries would be a routine maintenance task. Cleaning the fabric is also critical to the long- term performance of the exterior shade. Typically, a soft brush scrub using a mild detergent and warm water solution followed by a fresh water rinse is all that is required.

Summarizing Retractable Sun Shades

The sun protection and comfort you get from retractable sun shades will make life in a sunny outdoor space far more enjoyable. If you stick with a reputable company that provides the highest quality sun shades you will only increase your satisfaction and extend the life for many years. When you are shopping, remember to ask for the Phifer brand. America's legendary roller shade fabric manufacturer.

We appreciate your interest. If you have any questions or need further information, including referrals to shade manufacturers, contact us or live chat via our website with a knowledgeable Phifer customer service agent.

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