Few things make an outdoor entertaining area more usable than a well-thought-out shade solution. Australia is blessed with long summers, but sometimes it gets a little too warm. Shade solutions allow you to make the most of our amazing weather without getting sunburned or heatstroke. In addition, barbecues, outdoor furniture and spas and pools can all benefit from sun protection. It makes them more accessible, easier and safer to use all year around without getting too hot in summer or too cold in winter and it protects your valuable investments from undue wear and tear.
One question we get a lot here at Sapphire Spas is should a spa be in the sun or the shade. Our spas are built tough for Australian conditions from durable, UV-stabilised materials but we recommend that your spa is protected from the sun. Sapphire Spas are also built with tough Envirogum or Duratek weatherproof cabinets and covered with lockable hardcovers, so they are more than capable of being installed outdoors but additional cover/protection will protect your purchase.
While we have full confidence in our products, the harsh truth is that no matter how good the materials used are, all outdoor equipment can benefit from shade and weather protection. Much like a car can be stored in the rain and sunlight, it will last longer if garaged when not in use. Spas are just the same; you’ll get the most life and enjoyment from having your hot tub in the shade. It’s a simple way to not only will it maximise the life of your spa pool, but it will also maximise your enjoyment by protecting those enjoying your spa from the elements.
There are many shade options available, they vary wildly from providing very little to a lot of protection. Some options will provide only shade, while others will protect from wind and rain also. Choosing what is right for you will let you make the most of your spa.
The simplest shelter is an open pergola, these form a structure that creates a great aesthetic while being simple and usually relatively cheap. When built with the sun in mind they can provide a decent amount of shade, especially at lower latitudes to all but the very highest midday sun. It’s also popular to use lattice on the top or sides to allow creeper plants to grow to increase the amount of shade provided. The great thing about pergolas is that they don’t impede the natural airflow, this means that the heat can escape straight up easily and allows the cooling breeze to pass through.
The next simplest shade structure is a pergola with a roof. This can be as simple as adding laser light or Colorbond cladding to an existing pergola (check wind loading first), or it can go as far as adding remote-controlled horizontal blinds or electrically actuated louvres such as the fantastic Vergola roof system. Pergolas with removable or remote-controlled roofs offer the same advantages of great airflow when desired while providing additional shade from direct overhead sun as well as usually being able to protect from light rain showers.
Horizontal blinds require a structure to be affixed to, they can range from automated awnings that extend from the side of a house or other structure or they can be true horizontal blinds added to an existing structure’s open roof area. Horizontal blinds are popular to add to open pergolas as a means of gaining extra versatility without creating a brand-new structure or altering the existing pergola in a major way.
Portable shelters are another good option available. Most portable options are not suitable for high wind areas, in any case, the manufacturer should provide a wind rating and you should take the structure down to prevent damage or injury if the wind becomes too high.
On the other hand, these are a great, lower-cost way of having a similar benefit to a Vergola or a pergola with a horizontal blind. In cooler weather, you can remove the structure, enjoy the sun on your skin and recharge with some vitamin D from the comfort of your spa. The portability of each option will vary, Oztrail offers portable Gazebos that take just 5 minutes to put up, these and similar models are available from Bunnings. Many options also come with the ability to add either solid or mesh sidewall kits for additional shade, and wind and bug protection. Of course, at a certain point, some more substantial “portable” structures that take a long time to put up or pack away (especially pergolas) may as well be replaced with a permanent fixture.
When talking about outdoor shade one of the first things that will probably come to mind is a shade sail. Shade sails can be made from waterproof and completely opaque materials like canvas or semi-opaque, non-waterproof, purpose-made shade cloth. They’re common at schools and sports grounds, but they’re more accessible at home than you might think and often a comparable price to other alternatives while adding a unique and stylish aesthetic that is not commonly applied to the home.
Many modern homes are built with alfresco spaces included in the plan. If your home has an existing alfresco this is a great place to install a spa and enjoy the shade. Be sure to consider if your alfresco provides enough shade for your spa and equally as important that it doesn’t provide too much shade or create a dead-air space likely to get stale or mildewy.
A very classy way to add shade to your pool area is with a pool hut or cabana. The modern take on a cabana ranges from a basic, lightweight hut to a substantial and ornate cabin. A common trope of a pool hut or cabana is to have sides that can be opened on 3 sides, often with lace or chiffon that can be pulled across for shade when the sun is at lower angles to the horizon. Depending on where you put a cabana, the structure can block a majority of the hottest midday sun, plus it provides a great place to retreat to when you have had enough time in your spa or pool, but are not ready to call it a day.
The final option is to create an enclosed pool room that includes your spa and pool. This has the added advantage of taking care of the safety enclosure requirements for your spa and pool. A well-designed pool room can have a louvre roof or other retractable roof that allows for great ventilation and the option of an open-air courtyard feel. The advantage of louvres is that they can be oriented to provide shade while still providing a breezy and open feel. This can also be achieved with French folding windows and doors to create a room that also doubles as a dynamic luxury pergola.
There’re a few things to consider when deciding what shade solution is best for you. A key thing to keep in mind is the times of day and year you are most likely to use your spa. Does your shade solution only need to block the sun at one time of day, such as when it’s high in the afternoon sky? Or will you want something that can be adjusted to provide shelter in the morning or afternoon too? This is important with fixed pergolas as their design will only provide shade at certain times of the day. Another consideration is the weather that you want protection from, if you experience high winds you will want an option that can withstand these winds and you might also want something that has sides that can provide shelter on a windy afternoon so that you can still enjoy your spa. This also applies to considering the rain, if you want a true all-year-round experience, you will want to find a shade option that provides this. As a rule, the most popular shade options are a dedicated spa shade option such as the myShade, a roofed pergola with a retractable roof or remote-controlled louvres or an enclosed luxury pool room to provide the ultimate versatility and opulence.
The myWatersedge SERIES from Sapphire Spas is a sophisticated blend of leisure and functionality that fits seamlessly into family life. These specially designed swim spas are committed to nurturing a safe and enjoyable relationship between your children and the water. With wide-open seating at one end, these spas create a waist-deep, safe wading pool for your toddler's first experience with water. This inviting environment builds water confidence, transforming your spa into a vibrant learning hub for all family members to engage and interact.
The myWatersedge SERIES offers more than just fun for the little ones; it enables you to comfortably teach your kids to swim within the secure confines of your home. This allows parents to actively participate in their child’s swimming lessons without leaving the backyard. The fun doesn’t stop with the lessons either. Picture yourself diving into a refreshing post-work swim alongside your children, building a playful bond over games and laughter before it’s time for dinner, homework, and their bedtime story.
Once the kids are in bed, sitting in front of one of the jets in the seating area, you can position the jet flow to massage aching back muscles, then turn on the air bubbles for a traditional 'hot tub' experience with a glass of wine in the peace and quiet.
Available in 4m, 5m & 6m lengths, myWatersedge swim spa is the perfect alternative to the backyard swimming pool and, being a portable spa, is much less involved to install.
While shade in an Australian summer is basically an imperative, the options for how to get it are many. The best option for you will depend on the weather you are trying to protect yourself from and how often you use your pool area. If you love hosting summer tea parties a full pool room is an asset that will repay itself many times over. If you are looking to create a private retreat for yourself and the family the myShade is a versatile and practical choice that will pay for itself instantly in added enjoyment.
If you don’t have a spa yet, check out Sapphire Spas’ great range of colours or get into your local Sapphire Spa store and talk to an expert about how we can help you design your dream summer retreat or luxury backyard hangout.