Who doesn’t love to spend time outdoors when the sun is up and shining? But a bright and sunny day comes with a downside – sunburns. Exposed skin tends to turn red and blister in the sun. If left unattended, things can turn worse and leave one with skin lesions and intense pain. But to think that only exposed skin can get sunburns would be foolhardy.

The invisible UV radiations in sunlight can filter through regular wear and affect skin tissue. That’s why if you are planning to enjoy a sunny day on the beach or sweat in the soccer field, or perhaps, attend a poolside barbeque party, it’s always a good idea to keep a custom gazebo or pop up canopy tent handy.  

Sun Protection Factor

Before we get into discussing which tent materials are best at blocking and absorbing UV radiations, let’s understand something called SPF or Sun Protection Factor. 

To put it simply, SPF is a measure of the amount of UV radiation needed to produce sunburns on protected skin relative to what is needed to produce the same effect on unprotected skin. A popular misconception is to relate SPF to time spent under the sun.

UV radiation projected on and absorbed by your skin depends upon –

Ø  Your geographical location: The tropics receive more direct sunlight than the temperate zones.

Ø  Your skin type and tone.

Ø  The kind of protection you are using.

For the layman, the higher the SPF rating of a material, the better it is at blocking UV radiations from reaching your skin. Things like sunscreen lotions, garment fabrics and tent canopy materials – basically anything that is supposed to protect you from intense sunlight – come with SPF ratings.

Here’s how different custom tent canopy fabrics compare, when it comes to protecting you from the UV radiations in sunlight.

Cotton and canvas

Cotton and canvas tents are made from natural fibers woven into sheets. These materials are excellent UV absorbents and don’t fade easily under prolonged exposure to sunlight. The downside to canvas tents is that they are heavy and unwieldly, making packing and transportation bit of a worry.

Polyester and Nylon

Polyester and nylon fabrics are made from synthetic fibers. Both are woven materials and make for high-quality instant canopy tents. They are also lightweight and easy to print on or be rendered in custom colors. The best part is that both materials absorb the bulk of the UV radiations projected on them. The only downside is that both polyester and nylon tend to fade under prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.


Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is a type of plastic that finds application in all sorts of things from the manufacturing and packaging of utility items and machine parts to tent manufacturing. PVC can be made fire resistant by introducing certain additives during the manufacturing process.

PVC tent canopies perform brilliantly in absorbing UV radiations, and they retain their color and sheen for a very long time. The only gripe with PVC is that it tends to become slightly brittle over time, with prolonged exposure to UV rays.

Poly-cotton and poly-PVC 

Poly-cotton and poly-PVC, as the names suggest, are fabrics that have either cotton or PVC fibers blended with polyester during the weaving process. This is done to ensure that a piece of fabric retains the best properties of both materials used to manufacture it. Both poly-PVC and poly-cotton are excellent in absorbing UV radiations and more cost-effective than either cotton or polyester.   

PVC coating and lamination

A nice way of making a polyester or canvas tent more UV resistant is by coating or lamenting it with PVC. The coating process involves lathering the tent canopy with an even coat of PVC gel, which cures quickly to create a flexible, protective layer. Lamination involves heat pressing a thin film of PVC on the underlying fabric.

Coating is more expensive than lamination and works best for large custom outdoor event tents. Smaller custom gazebos and instant canopy tents can make do with lamination. Needless to say, PVC coating or lamination improves a tent’s ability to filter out UV radiations.

PU coating

Polyurethane or PU is a new and innovative material that has proven its worth in a wide range of applications. It can be molded into rigid shapes, pressed into pliant sheets or applied as a coating on fabrics. When applied on a tent canopy, it increases the canopy’s ability to block UV radiations.

 But using a canopy tent with a substantial SPF rating might not be enough on the really sunny days.

Additional tips to keep yourself protected in direct sunlight

ü  Go for shades of red, orange, yellow and blue, when choosing tent color. Research suggests these colors give you optimum protection from the sun’s heat and UV rays.

ü  Always use sunscreen.

ü  Do not expose bare skin to the sun, if you can help it. Cover your body, especially the limbs with long-sleeved garments, if you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors.

ü  Stay hydrated.

ü  Look for shade at the first signs of discomfort.


We encourage you to have fun in the sun. But keep in mind your safety first.