Covering the Competition:
ShadeFX vs. Competitors

Searching online for a retractable shade, retractable cover, pergola cover or retractable awning, one will quickly realize there are many options in today’s market.

Consumers do their best to dig deeper to understand the differences. All companies will offer the most obvious: a solution to block out the scorching sun. However, what separates one from the other are their operating mechanisms, competitive advantages, coverage with a single unit and warranties.

This last blog of the series will break down each competitor into further detail.  Moreover, the chart below will simply categorize the various shade solutions by attributes, allowing the consumer to compare the features they value the most.



With the longest warranty in the industry, only ShadeFX uses a single track positioned in the middle of the canopy. Since there is only one track, there is no need to align tracks upon installation. Even if the structure starts to shift or warp over time, the track will never jam or bind.

ShadeFX is the only retractable shade built to withstand strong gusts of wind and heavy rain. The canopy has been tested in wind gusts up to 80mph and has withstood the strength of Hurricane Sandy. However, we do recommend retracting the canopy if the winds are constantly exceeding 35mph and not in use. The ‘wings’ of the canopies also spread from the drive beam and uses stabilizers to prevent the canopy from tilting and tipping in the wind. Furthermore, the track creates a peak, allowing water to shed to the sides, keeping furniture and individuals underneath dry. This is the feature that makes ShadeFX unique in the industry when it comes to retractable rain protection.

Additionally, the retractable shades are customized to project specifications. Whether it’s to cover over 2000 sq. ft, or an odd shaped structure built by two friends, ShadeFX can tailor the shades to fit your project.

When it comes to materials, the structural components are made of anodized aluminum which can be powder coated to any RAL color. Fabric choices are unlimited as there are over 100s of colors and stripes to choose from. With fabric options such as water resistant Sunbrella, to the premium lines of waterproof and fire retardant Ferrari, there is surely something for everyone.


Infinity’s design uses small individual shade panels that insert into a ‘profile’ forming one large canopy. These canopies are supported by two stainless steel cables per section, drawn between any two points. During installation, it is important that the cables are tensioned properly and that the structure is strong enough to provide support.

For very long and wide installations, the canopy uses additional cables and multiple turnbuckles for proper support. Otherwise, the canopies will sag lowering the clearance height.

Each section can be made up to 12 feet wide, placed side by side to cover larger spaces. Designed specifically for sun protection, drip lines can be found in between each section when it rains.

A bright yellow ‘control’ tape provided by Infinity is mandatory to improve the look and uniformity of the canopy. Not quite the aesthetics if a consumer is looking for something clean and modern.

When retracted, this style of canopy exposes all of the cable wires required to operate the shade. It’s almost like looking at unattractive power lines above while trying to enjoy a lovely meal.

Cable systems rely on high tension and can stress a frame out of shape. As well, wind action will stretch the cables over time requiring re-tensioning. Once the cable has been re-tensioned a few times it is susceptible to breaking, which can be dangerous for anyone below.


Known for shading residential backyards, ShadeTree has been around since 1997. Their operating mechanisms require a dual track system, mounting fabrics up to 60” wide. Each section is operated by using two tracks, requiring perfect alignment for mounting.

Designed for only shade, the canopies are placed side by side to achieve the width coverage required. During rainy periods, water will fall in between the canopies onto the areas below, getting furniture and people wet.

Over time, a structure may begin to shift causing the tracks to misalign. This results in issues when operating the canopies.

ShadeTree uses a built-in wind release mechanism that allows the canopies to snap loose and move freely in the tracks. If the canopies are located next to windows, a soffit, or any part of your home, they may cause damage as they rattle and bang with the wind. There are also many plastic components involved for the canopies to operate that often break.

ShadeTree does not recommend painting the tracks to match your structure or house. Painting the tracks can cause the rollers to jam and voids the warranty. There is also no motorized option available, which means if there are 10 sections to extend or retract, you have to manually operate all 10.

Wave Shades by Shade Sails

This product is a simple retractable shade cloth covering. To operate the canopy, clips slide on multiple stainless-steel cables. Their custom solution spans only 11’ feet wide with 12 neutral mesh fabric colors to choose from.

These coverings are not meant for rain as the water will pool on top of the canopy and slowly seep through. For longer spans, the canopy has noticeable inconsistent spacing. The canopy starts to develop a flatness as the canopy extends. Wave Shades also notes that these are not engineered products and are not appropriate for high wind conditions.


Aristocrat awnings call their product the “Under Pergola Canopy”. This canopy slides on two trollies that are operated using a pulley system located between the trollies. Similar to Infinity, Aristocrat uses additional wires to control the flatness or billowing of the canopy.

For light rain protection, Aristocrat offers a ‘double canopy’. The top layer is a vinyl-laminated fabric that lays flat on top of the inner acrylic fabric. The top layer acts as the water-resistant layer. However, the water will still pool on top. The dual layer also creates pockets in between each wave giving pesky animals the opportunity to nest.


As shown above, there are five companies in North America that offer a retractable shade that can be applied to existing structures. If you’re looking for a quick fix, there are shade solutions offered at a reasonable price point. However, at those price points you begin to sacrifice quality, longevity, tolerances and customization options.

Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to do their research and decide. In the meantime, we’ll let our five-star reviews take it from here.

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