Sleek & Simple
These days everyone wants all the bells & whistles, but sometimes simple is the best solution. Simple doesn't mean ugly though... We've done several jobs (including at my home) where we tension the fabric within the pergola frame - steel or wood, it doesn't matter as long as it is strong enough construction.
We have used both PVC mesh & shadecloth for these designs. When you want edge to edge shade, then PVC mesh is the best choice. If you want to make a statement with the curves of a shade sail, then shadecloth is what we use.
The first question we get asked is, can I have it waterproof? Yes you can, but there is one big necessity with tensioned fabric & waterproof - we need a minimum of a 20% slope in at least one corner to make sure the water can run off & there is no chance of ponding. Now, I can hear you say - no way! That's totally extreme! Over-cautious! "In my day we just did it & never had any problems." Well, I trialed it at my place & came home after being away for a month to about a cubic metre of water in my shade sail. Not good...
For shadecloth & PVC mesh, we still need a slope of at least 10% unless you are happy with us putting eyelet drains in the centre to drain any water away.
Commercial or residential, big or small - no problem at all.
Take a look at the photos below to get some ideas.