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5 Maintenance tips

Richard Johnson Tension membrane structure

5 tips for effective maintenance of your shade structure

Shade sails are an important aesthetic and safety feature in many schools, shopping centre car parks and council recreation areas and properly maintaining them will maximise their life and maximise shade effectiveness. Shade Structure Maintenance is something that simply cannot be ignore.

There is nothing worse, however, than seeing a shabby, sagging shade sail which has been neglected. These structures should not be erected and forgotten about. Just as it is important to install quality sails from a reputable provider in the first place, it is crucial to maintain the sails properly to ensure they provide the best outcomes for users and the long term return on investment.
Here are five key points to consider for your maintenance regime.

1. Carry out regular checks of the structures
Fabric structures are classed as moving structures, so they need to be checked and serviced regularly to meet safety standards and ensure they do not pool or lose tension. Such tensile membrane structures are usually designed and constructed so that little maintenance is necessary, but weather conditions can affect servicing requirements. It is necessary to check and possible re-tension each sail every 12 months, to maintain maximum shade effectiveness.

Custom shade sail configurations

2. Monitor and repair sails after major winds events
Scheduled cleaning and repair services will go a long way to ensuring your shade structure looks good and provides protection from the elements for users. Visual checks should be done at least once a year. Importantly, though, sails should be thoroughly inspected after every major wind event, including storms.

Physical checks can determine if stainless fittings and connection points are tight and in good order; if the fabric tension has been maintained; if the fabric connections are still sound and secure; if there is rubbing and chafing against a steel fitting that is compromising the integrity of the fabric; if plant matter such as branches, twigs, leaves and moss is harming the fabric; and if there are tears or cuts in the fabric.

3. Cut back overhanging trees or branches
If trees are encroaching on the shade structure, they can often damage the sails because of soiling from the tree debris. In such cases, the trees or branches need to be trimmed back to prevent impairment

High quality steel shade structures

4. Watch for tell-tale signs of vandalism
Footprint stretches in shade sails, cigarette burn marks and rubbish left behind are clear signs that vandals or other people have been mistreating shade structures. Such activities can cause lasting damage to sails and also represent a safety issue that needs to be addressed. Options in such cases, depending on the location and budgets, may include installing security cameras at the site, removing access points such as playground turrets or car park trolley bays, fitting vandal deterrents to columns, opening up sight-lines to the structure from roadways, or even modifying the structure. Always ensure any changes to the structure are performed by a reputable shade contractor and are engineered.

5. Take a photographic record of sails during inspections
Having a systematic photographic record of the shade structures is important as it allows the maintenance team to compare photos between inspections to see if anything is changing over time. Include every structural fitting and fabric attachment in the photo shoot.
With more than 20 years’ experience, Greenline is an expert in shade structure installation and maintenance. Contact us to discuss shade sail options and maintenance services that will suit all your requirements.