Guide To Shade Sails – Stylish Summer Shade

shade sail

Shade sails are large free-floating canvas structures that provide shade to a sitting area outdoors.  These versatile structures offer shade when a patio umbrella just doesn’t do the trick, especially in the hottest part of the summer months.  These structures come in a wide range of sizes and generally have a ring in each corner that is attached via different types of hardware that hold it securely in place and prevent it from moving too much in the wind.

In this guide, read up on everything there is to know about shade sails from the benefits of shade sails through to factors to consider when buying shade sails.

Jump To:
What and when are shade sails used for?

What to consider when buying shade sails
Installation and care of your shade sails
Benefits of shade sails

What And When Are Shade Sails Used For?

For those who have an outside patio or deck that is not covered with a structure of some type, shade sails offer the right amount of shelter to keep the harsh rays of the sun off of you during those scorching summer days.  This allows people to be able to access their outside patio areas and use them as an extension of their home when the weather is nice outside.

What To Consider When Buying Shade Sails

When you decide that you want to purchase shade sails, there are a few things to consider.  First, the size and shape of the shade sail is important.  Do you want more coverage or only a specific area covered?  Depending upon the area that needs to be covered, you may need to purchase a larger sail or a smaller one.  Always measure the area and then start your search to see what size sail will work best for your needs.

Does the sail you plan to purchase come with the appropriate hardware?  If it does not then you will need to look for and purchase the right rigging system for your sail.  It is recommended that you purchase a sale that includes the right hardware so that you know it is going to stand up to the elements.  Most shade sails are designed to stand normal winds and rains and will remain intact until they are taken down.

Is the material UV rated?  In other words, will it filter out the dangerous rays of the sun and keep you and your family safe?  Not all shade sails are manufactured from UV safe materials, so you will need to ensure that this is the case if that is something that is important to you.

When you are looking for a shade sail for your yard, there are several things to consider.

  • the size of shade sail – you can purchase a rather large sail or a smaller one, it just depends how much coverage you need.
  • the shape of the sail – triangular is very popular, but a four point sail provides better coverage;
  • do the corners have double stitching? – double stitching is tantamount to the longevity and durability of your shade sail.
  • does the shade sail come with hardware? – hardware should be provided that is specific to the shade sail and allows for easy installation. Many sails need the various pieces installed and connected, so it is very important that you understand how allow the components fit together.  Make sure that instructions are provided.
  • decide fabric weight depending on what you want the sail for, lighter fabrics or loose mesh tend to allow a lot of UV rays in;
  • stainless steel caballing in the perimeter of the sail will be more durable and won’t stretch during the lifetime of the sail.

Installation And Care Of Your Shade Sail

Proper installation of your shade sail is the best way to guarantee that it will last as long as possible.  Once the sail is installed it should be taught enough to support you if you hang from it with your body weight.   Most sails are designed to withstand light winds and weather, however if a tropical storm is expected or some other heavy weather, you should plan to remove the sail and put it away in a shed or garage to ensure it will not tear or otherwise be damaged.  Each time there is a serious weather event where the sail remains installed, examine it carefully afterwards for any tears or other damage and make certain that the entire anchor points are secured.

Shade sails should be connected to sturdy posts that are stable enough to support the sail.  If you use wooden posts they should be a minimum of 4 x 4 to support the sail.  The taller the post, the wider it should be, so if you plan to have 8 foot posts, they should be a minimum of 6 x 6.  Metal poles are also useful but must be powder coated or galvanized to ensure that they do not rust.

Once the summer season is over, remove your shade sail and wash it with a mild detergent, allow it to dry, then fold it and store it in a cool dry place away from moisture.  If you plan to install the sail yourself, make sure that you have someone assisting you and holding the ladder, for example, if you are up high and leaning over to make connections.  If you want to install a shade sail on a dock you will need to use a pergola structure to secure the sail.  Whatever the sail is secured to must be completely secure and not movable.  Turnbuckles must be lubricated to ensure that they do not seize.  This can be done on an annual basis and all hardware should be replaced if any components are damaged or are not operating properly.

Benefits Of Shade Sails

Although shade sails are not always recommended for protection from rain storms, they will offer good shelter if they are angled correctly.  Most shade sails are installed on a slight downward angle so that the rain water will run off.  A slight mist may come through the shade, but they generally water resistant, just not completely waterproof.  Shade sails are pleasing to the eye and people enjoy them as a centerpiece to their yard.

Shade sails are an attractive and affordable alternative to covered decks and porches.  They are highly desirable because of their versatility and non-permanence.  Sometimes people decide that they do not want to have an area covered and it is much easier to remove a shade sail than an entire roof because it is easily removed.


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