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Outdoor gazebo styled with cushions, couch, hanging baskets and sheer curtains.
Wondering which shade option is right for you? We'll walk you through your options so you can choose the one that’s right for your outdoor entertaining area.

Made in the shade

We all look forward to summer, but the sun can be too much of a good thing sometimes. Introduce some welcome relief and protection with shade solutions, which will help you make the most of your outdoor area all year long. Our guide to shade options will help you choose the one that’s right for your home, whether it’s a permanent solution or one you can pack up and fold away.

Umbrellas

From the beach to the backyard, a good old-fashioned umbrella can’t be beat for flexibility and portability. Lightweight models can be poked directly into the ground. At home, pair a solidly constructed umbrella with the heaviest base you can handle for a versatile shade solution – open it on a whim, collapse it if the wind picks up, or remove entirely to store away.

Market umbrellas have a large canopy and can be secured with a heavy base or through a table – ideally both. The downside to umbrellas is that they might not cover the whole table and, as the sun moves, there may be seats exposed.

A cantilever model is a good solution, says Danny Collins of Coolaroo. “Cantilever umbrellas are great over table settings and furniture, and let you position yourself directly under the middle of the umbrella for maximum shade,” he says. Plus, you can easily adjust the position of the umbrella when needed.

Be aware that all types of umbrellas can be vulnerable to damage in inclement weather. To keep everyone safe and the umbrella in good condition, “always keep it covered when not in use and ensure you do not use it in strong winds or extreme weather conditions,” Danny advises.

Ideal for: Beach and picnic lovers, and outdoor entertainers looking for an affordable shade solution.

Tip: The vertical tilt mechanism of a cantilever umbrella is a winner when targeting shade where you want it.

An L-shaped white outdoor lounge set with wooden frame and coffee table in a garden, with a shade umbrella propped behind.

Shade sails

From playgrounds to backyards, shade sails are incredibly popular because they’re versatile and successful, blocking up to 95 percent of UV rays. They are also easy to maintain. “They can be hosed down to remove dirt or debris, and they are mould- and mildew-proof,” says Koula Guardiani, Bunnings pool, spa, sheds and shade buyer.

Their breathability means they’re better able to withstand wind, and you’re less likely to suffer a hothouse effect beneath them. “Shade sails come in a range of shapes and sizes, making them suitable for a variety of outdoor settings, from courtyards to large back gardens,” says Koula.

Shade sails are also great over pools; shade the shallow end of your pool to allow for a sun-safe spot for swimmers.

Ideal for: Attaching to existing structures to shade a sun-washed deck. Alternatively, install posts to attach a sail anywhere you like – over the garden, patio or play-zone.

Tip: They are versatile and cost-effective.

A backyard porch with a large Beech-coloured Coolaroo shade sail covering the garden.

Gazebos and pergolas

For a permanent or semi-permanent structure that will make a strong visual statement, invest in a pergola* or gazebo. Pergolas usually have open roofs that are ideal for winding deciduous vines, and they are synonymous with rustic, formal or English country-style gardens.

Gazebos usually have solid or louvred roofs, suiting a contemporary space and providing good shade and weather protection. They are ideal for shading an entire deck or patio or keeping a lounge or dining setting out of the sun. “Generally, gazebos are at least nine square metres in size, so ensure you have adequate space around it to allow you to move freely,” says Danny.

One thing to remember about gazebos: they have open sides. “Please remember that winds and rain can enter under the gazebo, so keep your furniture or barbecue covered when not in use to maximise lifespan,” advises Nathan Monk, Bunnings outdoor furniture buyer.

Ideal for: Using a space in the yard for a stylish permanent or semi-permanent structure.

Tip: Fixed gazebos (as opposed to the temporary tarpaulin kind) are usually made of powder-coated aluminium, which is lighter than steel, making D.I.Y. assembly and installation relatively straightforward.

*Check local council requirements for semi-permanent structures.

A white gazebo with a black metal frame installed on a lawn outside, with a table and chairs, picnic rug with cushions, and Christmas decor.

Awnings

If you’d like to combine the large-scale shade coverage of a gazebo or a shade sail with the flexibility of an umbrella, an awning might be the simple shade solution your outdoor space needs. Smaller versions can be installed over windows, deflecting sunlight from the glass and keeping inside spaces cool. Larger versions can cover an area of 15 square metres or more and are ideal for creating a sheltered entertaining area.

Acrylic fabric mounted on a folding arm system provides shelter from the sun, but when you want to soak up some rays – in winter, for example – it retracts discreetly into a wall- or ceiling-mounted cassette. When choosing an awning, size and colour won’t be the only considerations. Look for ease of operation – a hand crank is the most common method, but motorised versions can make opening and closing even easier.

Ideal for: Making your home more energy efficient – they keep the heat out in summer and let the sun’s rays in when tucked away in winter.

Tip: A good option for security – awnings double as a privacy screen.

Some products are not available at all Bunnings stores, but may be ordered.

A black Windoware awning installed outside over a window above a garden bed, shading a lit living room.

Photo Credit: Louise Roche, Brigid Arnott, GAP Photos/Matteo Carassale and Cath Muscat.

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.