Material Spotlight: Metal Shade Panels

Posted August 16, 2018 in Landscape Design

All homeowners would love their outdoor living spaces to be as beautiful as the inside of their home.  A nicely decorated and well-kept home elicits pride and radiates welcome.  Just as your favorite indoor room may hold your most beloved canvas or sculpture, your outdoor living space can also capture the true essence of art.

Contacting a landscape designer will be your first move towards a beautiful, functional and stimulating outdoor living space.  Being able to analyze a property and marry a client’s needs for the space into a comprehensive yet cohesive space is an art all in itself.  An eye for design detail, expertise and talent for installation equates to an outdoor space that will feel comfortable and look amazing concurrently.  This love for combination leads me to the subject of this week’s blog, metal shade panels.

No, we are not talking about common metal awning or corrugated sheet metal.  The metal shade panels we are talking about are artistic, stylish, creative, useful, practical and just unusual enough to be alluring!  Made to block sunlight, create privacy or as an art installation in the great outdoors, these panels are truly gorgeous and functional pieces of art.

Parasoleil, for example, is a leader in this industry.  This company has developed a unique line of architectural metal panels that filter and sculpt light, serving a purpose while being profoundly innovative.  Engineered to withstand all elements, these novel features filter sunlight while allowing air circulation to further welcome company into the space.

You may have your pick of copper, steel or aluminum with many finishes and design patterns to choose from.  Which metal is right for your space?  Great question and it depends on your preferences, the style of your home and the amount of energy you would like to put into upkeep.  Let’s go through a quick explanation of each.


The lightweight nature and least-corrosive properties of this material make it the most versatile and adaptable for both indoor and outdoor use.  Made up of about 85% recycled content, this aluminum requires little maintenance during its long-term lifespan.  All aluminum panels, no matter what the pattern, have the option of several powder-coat color finishes.  The best applications for this material are for shade panels, indoor or outdoor privacy screens, railing, shutters, cladding or architectural accents.  Pretty much, if you and your landscape designer can dream it, it can be incorporated into your outdoor living spaces in any application!


Copper is durable, thin and richly beautiful in any application.  While all outdoor applications of metal will want to turn to rust, the copper patina will either transition to a dry bronze or a turquoise hue (this depends on the climate and certain atmospheric influences in your area).  You can count on copper to start its patina transition within 3 months of installation, but don’t worry, because it does have a reliable lifespan!  Requiring no maintenance, the best uses for copper decorative panels are for canopies or an architectural accent.


Steel is steadfast, structural and industrial, which can add that certain “something” to a modern and contemporary space.  The drawback to steel outside?  You guessed it, it will always want to rust and the maintenance of corrosion-resistant steel may be a smidge more than you bargained for. Steel is a very versatile material, but in this instance, is best for indoor applications.

While it’s reassuring to know that the material of your panels is strong and built to last, the fun actually starts when picking the pattern that will set the stage of your outdoor aesthetic!  Laser-cut and hand-finished to order, each pattern stems from inspiration within nature, culture, and modern influence and is deep-rooted in design and ocular perception.  The four categories of patterns are crystalline, organic, modular and continuous.

Crystalline patterns are relatable to existing architecture that can either become a part of the structure as an accent or combat the structure to give it a new aesthetic life.  Organic patterns are more easily incorporated into outdoor living spaces, as they can stand on their own and complement the existing surrounding structures.  Organic patterns offer a decorative and welcoming vibe to their environment.  Modular patterns have a repeated pattern within, making them subconsciously predictable and not the proper selection for privacy applications.  Lastly, the continuous patterns are highly unpredictable and are different from one end of the pattern to the other.  Continuous patterns are harder for the brain to interpret at first glance, so they are best use in applications of privacy and camouflage.

I suppose I could keep explaining this product, but what fun is that?  Check out Parasoleil’s Houzz profile!  Here, you can see their different applications, patterns and colors.  From structural overhead shade and artistic (and gorgeous!) door shades to rails, gates and accents, this product effortlessly heightens any outdoor use.  Being able to define a space while also making it more interesting by casting shadows as the natural light moves throughout the day is a stroke of genius…light, airflow, color and shadow united to create the ultimate outdoor experience.

For those who live in the Poconos, Lehigh Valley through the Main Line of Philadelphia who are searching for outdoor inspiration and motivation, reach out to MasterPLAN Outdoor Living!  Here at MasterPLAN, we aim to partner with our clients and walk through the outdoor living design and installation process together.  We welcome challenging outdoor issues and love to apply out-of-the-box solutions all while making your backyard as beautiful as you have always imagined.  Let’s sit down, discuss and uncover the true potential of your space, custom to fit your property, family and lifestyle!  When beauty meets function and style meets architecture, you have MasterPLAN!

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