A park is a great place for people of all ages to come together and enjoy the outdoors. But prolonged exposure to the sun can be dangerous and cause health problems such as sunburn, heat exhaustion, and even skin cancer. To ensure the safety and comfort of visitors, it's important to have shade structures installed.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the different types of commercial shade structures and how to choose the best one for your park.

Types of Commercial Shade Structures

There are several types of commercial grade shade structures that can give your park goers a needed reprieve, including shades, shade sails, pavilions, commercial pergolas, commercial gazebos, and trellises. Let’s take a closer look at each:

Playground Shades

Playground shades are designed for playgrounds and protect kids from the sun while playing. These shades are typically made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material and come in various shapes and sizes. Playground shades can be either freestanding or attached to existing structures, such as playground equipment or buildings. They can also be quite custom, with unique designs such as Pegasus or Butterfly

Shade Sails

Shade sails are a popular choice for parks and playgrounds. Like other playground shades, shade sails are made of a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) fabric stretched between multiple anchor points. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and can be customized to fit any space. For example, Superior Shade offers 3-Point and 4-Point sails. They’re an affordable and versatile option that provides excellent sun protection.


Pavilions are a more substantial shade structure that provides complete coverage and protection from the sun, rain, and other elements. They are typically constructed with a metal or wooden frame and covered with a solid roof. Both park and playground pavilions come in a variety of styles and sizes, ranging from small, basic structures to large, elaborate designs with multiple levels, decorative elements, and amenities such as restrooms, grills, and electricity. They are often constructed using durable materials such as wood, metal, or concrete to withstand the outdoors and heavy use, and they can be customized to suit the specific needs and preferences of any park or playground.

Commercial Gazebos and Pergolas

Commercial gazebos and pergolas are popular choices for parks and public spaces. A gazebo is a freestanding, open-sided structure with a roof and typically has a hexagonal or octagonal shape. It can be made of various materials such as wood, metal, or vinyl, and may be adorned with decorative elements such as lattice-work or intricate carvings. A pergola features a series of columns or posts supporting cross beams and an open roof. It can be attached to a building or be freestanding. Pergolas are often made of wood and can be customized with various design elements such as latticework, planters, and lighting. Gazebos and pergolas are perfect for parks with designated seating areas or picnic areas.


Trellises are a beautiful and functional shade structure that offers partial shade coverage. They are typically made of wood or steel and can be customized to fit any space. Trellises are a great option for parks and public spaces with a designated walking or sitting area. However, the amount of shade provided by a park trellis depends on several factors, such as the size of the structure and the angle and intensity of the sun.

Why Install Playground Shades and Shade Structures

Now that we've covered the various types of commercial shade structures, let's take a closer look at why installing playground shades and shade structures is so important: 

  1. Protects From the Sun: A shade structure protects from the sun's harmful UV rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and skin damage. It also helps to keep the play area cooler and more comfortable for children and their caregivers.
  2. Keeps Seating and Play Surfaces Cool: High-quality shade structures offer 25-degree temperature reduction, which keeps everything under the structure cooler. This helps improve the overall outdoor experience. 
  3. Increases Use: A shade structure makes a playground or park more inviting and accessible to visitors during hot weather. Providing a comfortable and shaded area for kids and adults alike to socialize or rest encourages people to stay longer and increases space usage.
  4. Improves Safety: By reducing the surface temperature of the equipment, a shade structure can help prevent burns from hot surfaces. It also reduces the risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion, which can occur during prolonged exposure to the sun.
  5. Protects Equipment: Shade structures can help protect playground equipment from damage caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight, which can cause fading, cracking, and warping of the materials.
  6. Provides Aesthetic Appeal: A shade structure can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the park or playground, making it more visually appealing and attractive to visitors.

How to Choose the Best Shade Structure for Your Park or Playground

When choosing a shade structure for your park or playground, several factors should be considered. These include the size of the area that needs shading, the type of activities that will take place, the park's aesthetic style, and the budget. Here’s a deeper look at what to think about before making a purchase:

  1. Location: Determine the location and size of the area where you want to install the shade structure.
  2. Purpose: Figure out the primary purpose of the shade structure. Is it to provide shade for a playground, picnic area, or walking path?
  3. Budget: Nail down your budget for the shade structure.
  4. Design and Style: Choose a shade structure that fits with the park or playground's overall design and style.
  5. Durability: Pick a shade structure that is durable and can withstand the elements — rain, dust, wind, snow, and heat! 
  6. Maintenance: Consider the maintenance requirements of the shade structure. Some are low maintenance, such as sails, while others may require more, like wooden pergolas. 
  7. Warranty: Check to see what the manufacturer’s warranty is. Some offer up to 10 years. 

Work With an Equipment Expert 

Installing shade structures in your park or playground is essential for providing visitors with a comfortable and safe environment. With various shade structures available, it's vital to consider the park or playground’s needs, the type of activities that will take place, and the budget before making a decision. By choosing the right shade structure, you can ensure that your park is a place where visitors can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about the sun's harmful effects.

At MRC, we have over 40+ years of experience in park and playground equipment. If you’d like to discuss the perfect shade structure for your project, reach out today

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