National Sun Awareness Week 

Shading solutions with UV (ultraviolet) rays in mind

Do you have the right shading solution/s to protect employees or service users from the suns UV rays? A question you may not have even thought about! There are many things to consider when choosing shading solutions for a commercial or public property such as aesthetics, the position of the building, size and shape of the windows and, the windows themselves but another thing to consider is the effectiveness of protection against UV rays.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) run a national campaign around skin cancer which includes Sun Awareness Week – but what does that have to do with blinds? There are three types of UV rays determined by the length of their waves – all the UV-C and most of the UV-B rays are absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer, UV-A and the remaining UV-B can pose a risk to a person’s health. UV-A is weaker than UV-B but penetrates deeper into the skin and therefore exposure should be in moderation and unless you have a particular type of window, UV-A rays will still pass through a standard window. 

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In light of Sun Awareness Week, we're taking a look at the different fabrics and shading solutions available and their UV protective properties:

1. Roller blinds vs vertical blinds

When it comes to roller blinds and vertical blinds, you can control the amount of sunlight in different ways. Vertical blinds allow you to deter the sunlight by controlling the tilt and slightly opening the blinds – this will allow light in the room but make sure it isn’t directly shining on employees or visitors. However, if the sun is up high, roller blinds will allow you to block out the direct sunlight at the top but still give room for the light to flood the room, again protecting people from the direct rays. UV properties will be determined by your choice of fabrics as well as the shading system - find out more about fabrics below.

2. Dual system roller blinds 

If you prefer the idea of a roller blind but maybe have a south-facing window – you can use a dual roller blind system. This means you have two rolls of fabric and choose which one to use i.e., a dimout blind for brighter, sunnier days or a screen fabric when the sun isn’t as harsh. Again, the UV properties will also be determined by your choice of fabrics. 

3. Screen fabric

Above we mentioned a screen fabric, this is a great fabric that comes in different opaque levels (1% and 3% openness) which allows you to see through the blind and view your surroundings. Studies have shown that it is good for employee well-being to see and have a closer connection with nature (find out more in a recent article from our Specification Consultant, Graham). UV ratings differ slightly depending on the colour and the openness – darker shades with a 1% openness have a higher UV protection rating over 3% fabric and lighter colours but there isn’t much difference in the figures (mid-grey 1% - 94% UVP, mid-grey 3% - 97% UVP, charcoal 1% - 99% UVP and charcoal 3% - 96% UVP). Find out more about screen fabric properties here.

4. Daylight fabric

Daylight fabric is in between screen fabric and dim-out fabric with consistent light filtering properties. In terms of UV protection, if you choose a lighter colour the shading efficiency is greater, for example, white, cream, ivory, and magnolia all have a high rating for UV protection whereas darker colours such as cherry, slate and oxford blue have a medium rating. Find out more about daylight fabric properties here. 

5. Dimout fabric 

We also mentioned a dimout fabric earlier, this is a fabric that creates more darkness but still allows a glow of light – a step before opting for a blackout blind. If you choose a dimout fabric, the shading efficiency changes depending on the colour of the fabric, but the UV protection remains 100%. Find out more about dimout fabric properties here. 

There are many things that contribute to a blind system shading efficiency, but these are a few things to think of. Once you know your individual specification, you can think about the shading solutions and fabrics to suit you. If you want to know more about our shading solutions, call us on +44 (0)1268 570900 or email: [email protected].