Distribute Phone Search

Metal Shade Structures: Options and Alternatives

Posted by Fibergrate Marketing on Nov 15, 2023 9:18:09 AM

Metal Shade Structures Options and Alternatives

Shade structures play a pivotal role in enhancing the comfort, usability, and visual appeal of outdoor spaces. Whether you are looking to create a cozy retreat, provide a shaded dining area, or offer a sun-safe haven in a community park, the choice of material is important. Here, we will explore the world of metal shade structures, some factors to consider when choosing the right option for your needs, and learn about some of the potential shortcomings of metal in light of an exciting alternative: fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP).

The Traditional Appeal of Metal Shade Structures

Metal shade structurePHOTO 1: Metal shade structure at the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis (California).

Metal has long been a traditional choice for shade structures because its relative durability, strength, and traditional aesthetic make it an attractive option for various outdoor environments. From a metal pergola that adds charm to a public garden to a sleek metal canopy providing shade at a bustling cafe, there are essentially four types of metal shade structures that can significantly transform and enhance their surroundings:

  1. Metal pergolas create inviting, shaded areas in your outdoor space, blending functionality with elegance.
  2. Metal canopies can be found in both residential and commercial settings, offering versatile protection from the elements.
  3. Metal Shade Sails are modern and artistic and provide a unique combination of style and functionality.
  4. Metal gazebos can add a touch of class to gardens and parks, making them ideal for social gatherings and events.


Metal Shade Structure Applications

Read on to explore a few of the potential places these installations may be found:

Residential Use

For homeowners, metal shade structures offer myriad possibilities. They can transform your backyard into a comfortable retreat, perfect for relaxing or entertaining guests. Whether you're enjoying a barbecue with friends under a metal pergola or sipping morning coffee beneath a metal shade sail, the appeal is undeniable.

Commercial Use

Restaurants, cafes, and outdoor event venues benefit from the versatility of metal shade features. They create inviting and comfortable spaces for patrons, increasing the overall appeal of the establishment.

Recreational Spaces

In parks, playgrounds, and recreational areas, these structures provide a safe and pleasant environment for people to enjoy outdoor activities without being exposed to harsh sun or rain.

Parking Areas

Shade structures in parking lots protect vehicles from the elements, reducing the risk of sun damage and keeping car interiors cooler. They also act as an important value-add in the competitive landscape for residential renters as well as with commercial property leasing prospects and customers of nearly any kind of business.


Potential Issues with Metal Shade Structures

While they have many advantages, they also come with some potential drawbacks.

  1. Rust and Corrosion: Depending on the type of metal and local climate, these structures can be prone to damage from the elements, affecting both appearance and structural integrity over time.
  2. Heat Absorption: Metal absorbs and retains heat, potentially offsetting the value of a shaded area during hot weather.
  3. Maintenance: Regular upkeep, including cleaning and repainting, is often necessary to prevent deterioration and extend the useful life of a metal shade structure.
  4. Noise: Rainfall and tree debris on metal surfaces can be noisy which may be bothersome for those underneath or nearby.
  5. Design Limitations: Prefabricated metal structures have inherent design limitations that could impact the aesthetics of a space.
  6. Cost: High-quality metal shade structures can be expensive to purchase and install.
  7. Installation Challenges: Proper set-up requires careful planning and skilled labor.
  8. Wind and Weather Resistance: Even occasional severe weather conditions may require special considerations and reinforcements.
  9. Limited Flexibility: Once installed, making changes to metal structures can be difficult and costly.
  10. Environmental Impact: Metal production, especially aluminum, can undermine efforts to choose more eco-friendly, sustainable solutions, and once a metal shade structure reaches the end of its useful life, the materials used to build it can pose environmental challenges.


outdoor shade structure using FRPPHOTO 2: Outdoor shade structure using FRP

Here are some of the advantages FRP can bring to a shade structure project

PHOTO 2: Fibergrate fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) grating in use as part of a shade structure. 


Unlike metal solutions, working with FRP grating and other FRP materials requires only everyday hand tools (and potentially fewer man hours) to create a shade structure to your exact specifications. No settling for a prefab metal structure that is only “good enough” for your needs!


FRP is easy to transport and install, so there is less need for special equipment and extra hands to help keep the project moving forward.


FRP materials are resistant to corrosion, mildew, and rust, and there are options that include a special UV resistant coating to ensure your shade structure remains in great condition for years to come.

In one real-world example, the American Bank of Texas in Austin faced the challenge of shielding its premises from the relentless Texas sun during the sweltering summers. From an architectural perspective, the client envisioned a cutting-edge, industrial look, and while stainless steel initially appeared to be the optimal option, concerns arose over escalating steel costs, its considerable weight, and the ongoing expenses tied to corrosion-related replacements. Discover how FRP emerged as the ideal solution.

Choosing the Right Shade Structure: Four Factors to Consider

When selecting a shade structure (or as you evaluate different materials for your project), consider these factors:

  • Climate: Ensure the material can withstand local weather conditions.
  • Purpose: Define the primary use of the structure, and do not overlook the opportunity for a structure to serve multiple purposes—either upon completion or down the line.
  • Budget: Of course, the initial project investment plays a part, but it is important to consider long-term maintenance costs.
  • Aesthetics: Balance form and function to achieve the desired look and optimal usability.

From the inspiration in our case story library to the extensive resources we offer, Fibergrate is here to help make your outdoor space more inviting and comfortable with the right shade structure. For assistance with product selection or to connect with an experienced team member, find your local Fibergrate sales expert.

New call-to-action

Topics: FRP, Benefits, Corrosion Resistant, Architecture, architectural, shade structure, outdoor, uv resistance, architectural uses

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all

Follow Me

New call-to-actionNew call-to-actionFibergrate-InstagramNew call-to-actionNew call-to-action