Skin cancer has been on the continual rise in the Western world. The reason for this rise is not clear, but is thought due partially to increasing life spans, as well as reduced intake of anti-cancer nutrients such as vitamin D. However, what is clear is that UV radiation is one causative factor of DNA damage which in turn leads to genetic changes that lie at the heart of skin cancer.
The chemical way of blocking cancer is to slather the surface of the skin with a sunblock agent that absorbs or reflects UV radiation. Ironically, application of these products may cause other kinds of skin-related problems especially in people with heightened sensitivity. A popular alternative is to ensure good shading either through clothing or through outdoor shading.
Installation of exterior and outdoor shading provides three benefits. One, outdoor shades add resale value to a house by increasing the effective usable area. Two, outdoor shades increase living space for household members to enjoy. Three, outdoor shades provide a health benefit by shielding against UV radiation.
The diversity of possible outdoor shades means that there’s a choice for any price, labor or material requirement. Some shades are temporary, easy and cheap. Others are permanent, bulky and expensive. The trade-off naturally for cheap shades is durability and functionality. Expensive shades will tend to last longer, add more value to the home, and protect the home occupants or guests under a greater variety of conditions.
A typical type of temporary shade is the lightweight cabana for the pool. These are useful because they can shield the interior and increase privacy. Pool side-post umbrellas on the other hand don’t provide much privacy but are great for communal shading at an exterior table. Patio umbrella accessories also help make the umbrella more functional. Awnings and canopies come in lightweight form also.
Awnings are the prototypical permanent outdoor shade, best known for gracing the entrances or windows of store fronts, but also found over windows of patios in the backyard. These have a broad spectrum of complexity: simple hand-crank awnings to motorized, retractables. Pergolas and arbors are also erected in backyards with a slight difference from awnings. They have open roofs so don’t block rain and only partially so for sun.
The lower bound on prices for outdoor shades is less than a hundred dollars, but the upper bound is really sky high. For example a gazebo system or even a motorized retractable awning with weather sensors can cost thousands or tens of thousands. In spite of the high prices, many would concur with the assessment that protecting loved ones from cancer-causing solar radiation is invaluable and can’t be priced.