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The A – Z Guide Of SUN SHADE SAILS

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In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about sun shade sails, which type will satisfy what event, how to make your choice on buying, what hardware and tools you need to install your shade sail on various supports, the measurement for the installation, how to care for your sun shade sail, etc. You can read earlier articles on sun shade sails here

In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about sun shade sails, which type will satisfy what event, how to make your choice on buying, what hardware and tools you need to install your shade sail on various supports, the measurement for the installation, how to care for your sun shade sail, etc. You can read earlier articles on sun shade sails here

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The decision to buy a sun shade sail 

Before you go shopping for your new sun shade sail, there are a few things to consider:

  • What is the purpose of the sun shade sail?
  • What are the regulations that relate to putting up a sun shade sail structure in your area?
  • What is the climate of the area?
  • What is the pre-existing color of the surroundings of the to-be shaded area?
  • What is the prevailing pest situation?
  • How big is the area to be shaded?
  • Are there fixing points available in the area to be shaded?
  • What is the privacy status of the area?
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What is the purpose of the sun shade sail?

Do you need it for individual use, family use, events, or commercial use? Whatever is the purpose is, we are trying to know how many people will be using it. If you will be having scores of people under it, then you surely will need a big square or rectangle shade sail.

If you will be using it as a household of about 5 to 7 individuals, then you will need a square or big triangle shade sail.

If you are only up to 4 individuals to use the shade sail, then you will need a triangle shade sail. A triangle shade sail is good for a few individuals because it is stylish and can be squeezed to fit in small spaces. You can always add more triangle shade sails later in more attractive ways.

triangle shade sail

Shade sail regulations in your area

Unbeknownst to you, there might be regulations as to set up sun shade sails and canopies of particular sizes and areas. You should do well to check with your local authorities to determine if you need some permit for this or not. It would be an awkward situation to find out that you can’t install your shade sail after you have already purchased it.

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The climatic condition in your area

Hot areas

You can remember your physics teacher telling you that it isn’t wise to dress in black or some sombre color during a sunny day because sombre colors tend to retain heat while bright colors reflect heat. For people living in hot areas like the arid parts of the USA and Australia, it will be a wise decision to choose a brighter color over darker ones. It is counterproductive to buy a shade sail to block the sun but still receive the heat it radiates. Also, the square or rectangle shade sail will be preferred here to the triangle shade sail.

For others in more forgiving areas, you are at liberty to choose what color you see fit for your use.

Windy areas

For those living in areas with violent winds, it is a good idea to go for a tougher shade sail with metal and steel poles. You obviously will not be fixing it to your roof or wooden wall or patio because the shade sail will trap the wind and along with the wind, pull out the planks on your building. You should consider fixing it to concrete walls, big tree trunks, or metal poles. Note that the triangle shade sail will trap less wind than the square and rectangle shade sails.

It is of good conduct and kindness to your shade sail if you remove it when there are harsh weather forecasts like tornadoes or heavy snowfall. If you removing it and mounting will be much of a hassle to you, you could consider getting a free standing shade sail or a patio umbrella.

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Free standing shade sail
 
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What is the color profile of the surrounding area to be shaded?

It is style to buy a sun shade sail that will blend with the color profile of the area as opposed to getting one that will awkwardly stand out or violate the color temperance of the area. You can get one with the color of your house, especially if you are fixing it as an extension of your house. If you are fixing it to your fence, it will be good to get one that adopts the color of your fence. If you have much vegetation around the area to be shaded, then choosing a greenish or brown shade sail will not be a bad choice.

In designing, there are colors that go together. If you want variety, then it will be okay for you to check out the colors that go with the color profile of the surroundings.

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The prevailing pest situation

If your home is built on termite-infested land, you should avoid wooden poles as supports for your sun shade sails. Or at least, you can have the wood treated so termites and other wood-eating pests will not lodge and feast on your sun shade sail installation.

How big is the area to be shaded?

You have to decide if you will cover the whole of your yard or just a part of it. How big it is will determine what shape and size you should buy. For a small area, a stylish triangle shade sail may make your property prettier than a boring square. Triangle shade sails too can be squeezed to fit in smaller areas than is possible with square shade sails.

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The available fixing points

If your yard is not blessed with fixed structures like concrete walls, tough roofs, hard tree trunks, etc. then you will need to also shop for metal or steel poles to fix your shade sail. If the fixing points are far apart and your shade sail is small, then you will need longer ropes. If the soil is soft, you will need some concrete mixture as would hold the poles to the soil.

If you have fewer fixing points and you do not want to spend on shade sail poles, then you can go for the triangle shade sail which has 1 post less than the others.

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The privacy status of your area

If your front yard or backyard is exposed to prying eyes, then you may need additional vertical shade sails to keep away prying eyes.

Vertical shade sail

Sun Shade Sail Hardware

Next, let’s talk about the hardware you will need to install your shade sail. Some sun shade sails come with their hardware included to you check to know. If they are not included, you can keep reading below.

For a smaller installation of a triangle shade sail, you will need these:

Triangle shade sail hardware

For a square or rectangle shade sail, you will need these:

Square and rectangle shade sail hardware

If your shade is customized or your installation is peculiar of some sort, you may need advice from your local hardware store salesperson to tell you what extra shade sail hardware you will need to purchase.

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Shade Sail poles

As for the poles you will need if you need one, the general idea is to go for galvanized shade sail poles of at least 48mm in diameter because it will help make your installation firmer and last longer than wooden shade sail poles.

Galvanized shade sail pole

If you go for the wood shade sail poles, then you will need wood of at least 100mm in diameter or a 5” x 5” plank. Remember that shade sail posts should have at least 1/3 of their length underground for it to be firm enough. Think about this as you sort your shade sail hardware.

5

Tools To Install Sun Shade Sails

Still, at the shopping part, you move to your local hardware store or your online shop. Here you need to get the tools that will bore holes, tighten screws, and tension a shade sail, etc.

A 3 step or 4 step ladder – depending on how high your installation will be and how tall you are.

Ladder

An 18 or 20-volt cordless drill driver – This is to help you drill those needed holes into your concrete wall, fascia, wooden or galvanized poles, or whatever you are using as your support.

18-volt cordless drill driver

A strong screwdriver (100mm) – that you will use as a lever to ease the tightening of your turnbuckle(s) if you are using them.

A carpenter’s pencil or your daughter’s (she will be glad she helped in one way) which you will have to hang between your temple and earlobe or hide your thick hair if you aren’t bald.

Safety glasses – even though you have up to two eyes, you wouldn’t want to take chances with them.

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14' triangle shade sail

A face cap or a hat (for us cowboys) – to keep the sunlight out of our eyes as we work.

A face mask – Hey, if you are to use concrete, then you will have to mix one out of cement and that fine dust can make its way through your hairy nose to your lungs. You don’t wanna hear your doctor tell you that a brick was found in your lungs.

A long measuring tape to measure your breath or take accurate dimensions. Be careful when you use those auto-return ones – your finger better not be in the way as they return to their shell.

A pair of gloves – to prevent any hand injury or at least to look like a pro

Concrete for the poles. – As we will not be driving the poles into the ground as pegs, we will need concrete to pour into the holes when we bury the poles’ footings.

If you will not be digging holes, you can donate the cement to your neighbor to the left whose driveway is damaged.

A shovel if needed

A bucket – to apply water to the cement to make concrete

A trowel – to smoothen the concrete after you apply it

A spirit level – as we will be tilting the poles away from the shade sail by 5 to 10 degrees. If you do not have this, you can download and use the spirit level app on your app store. AMAZING, right?

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Install a Sun Shade Sail

Now comes the fun part, to install a shade sail. This we will accomplish in parts:

Take measurements for a sun shade sail

Distance from each support point

When taking the measurement for sun shade sail installation, remember that it is like a general rule that your shade sail starts about 12 inches from the anchor point. So if your shade sail is of width 3 meters or about 118 inches, then your anchor points should be 3 meters 60 cm or 142 inches apart.

If your fix points are further away, then you may need a rope or chain to attach to the anchor points and hook them up to the shade sail.

Time when sun shade sail will mostly used

Another thing to consider is when you mostly will be using the shade sail. If you intend to use it for relaxation after work, then you should take the measurement at that time to determine where the shade sail will cast its shadow. This is in case you have fixed patio furniture.

Remember to mark the anchor points with your daughter’s pencil after taking them so that you will not mess up when drilling the holes for the anchor points.

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Attaching the pad eye

When you’re sure you’ve taken the right measurements, then you can go ahead and drill the pad eyes into the fixed structures.

Attaching shade sail to a concrete wall:

When attaching into a brick wall, make sure you install in the mortar between the bricks of the wall.

Attaching shade sail to vinyl siding:

If you have vinyl siding protection on your external walls, then you should use a vinyl siding remover to lift the vinyl siding and you look for a good place below on the wooden wall to drill for your pad eye. Make sure that the hole is made on a thick enough and hard enough plank that will be able to withstand the weight of the wind and your shade sail.

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Vinyl siding remover

When you are sure of the anchor point, you mark it on the vinyl siding, cover it and drill through it a hole that will fall directly on the hole on the wall.

Now you can drive in the screws through the pad eye into the wall.

Attaching sun shade sail to gutter:

NO!!! Do not do this. The gutter is meant and designed to carry the weight of rainwater run-offs and accumulated snow but not a sun shade sail. Look for a better fixpoint.

Attaching sun shade sail to the roof:

This is another bad decision to take. Although it is common to attach shade sails to rooftops, it is known to cause leaks and sometimes damage to your roof when prolonged wind action causes the fixed point to start moving.

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Attaching sun shade to a tree:

If you have by standing strong tree trunks, then you will not need to drill into them to hang your sun shade sail. You will only need a long rope to wrap around them.

Note that you should not tie your shade sail on a tree branch because it may not be strong enough to withstand violent winds. Their leaves are their flaws as they trap wind in them causing much resistance for the branch. If you add the resistance that your shade sail will bring along to that of the leaves of the branch, it just may be too much for the branch.

Also, when the wind comes, the tree branches will move causing sagging and tensioning to your shade sail that will not be good for its lifespan.

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Attaching sun shade sail to dividing walls:

Most dividing walls are just dividing walls. Meant to discontinue seeing across to the neighbor’s property.  They are typically made to withstand the wind at its level. Adding a shade sail fixing point to it may be overbearing for the dividing wall. It will be advisable to fix the shade sail poles just in front of the dividing wall and not on it.

Attaching shade sail to fascia:

Before deciding to attach your shade sail to your fascia, you should make sure it is supported by heavy-duty metal brackets. This helps to give it enough strength to withstand the shade sail and the wind.

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Heavy-duty metal bracket

Install shade sail posts

The fastening points on the sun shade sail posts have to be strong enough not to be pulled off when the shade sail is tensioned or when the wind comes. So you will have to drill through and through your shade sail posts to have more solid fastening points.

Shade sail posts, like the fastening points on the building, have to be at least 12 inches or 1 ft or 30 cm away from the sun shade sail at each side so as to allow space for hardware.

  • Wooden post supports – If additional posts are required, the use of treated softwood (H5 level treatment) is recommended. Hardwood of durability Class 1 can also be used. Your local timber supplier can assist you in your selection. Post lengths should be calculated taking into account the proposed height of your sail plus the depth of your footings.
  • Steel posts supports are also suitable and are available from either your normal hardware outlet/home center or your local steel supplier. Steel posts can be cut to predetermined lengths and painted to a color matching your shade sail and the environment and also to prevent it from rusting earlier.
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Footings

Measure out at least 12 inches or 1 ft or 30 cm away from the sun shade sail at each side. Dig holes 400 mm (16”) sq. & 800mm (32”) deep. Do not forget that shade sail posts should have at least 1/3 of their length into the soil for it to be firm enough.

  • Firm Ground – Lay a 100mm (4”) depth of 20mm (3/4”) of gravel at the base of the post.
  • Soft Ground – Pour a 100mm (4”) depth of concrete at the bottom of the hole to provide a solid pad. Insert the posts, tilt them away from the shade sail anchor point by about 10 degrees, and, with string lines, ensure their alignment. Use a spirit level or the bubble level app to measure the 10 degrees. Temporarily brace the posts.
  • Concreting – Mix concrete in line with the manufacturer’s instructions usually clearly labeled on the packet. You can consult your supplier to instruct you on your particular case. Pour the concrete to fill the holes and then choke them to make sure that they are well packed. Make sure that the surface of the concrete is slanting away from the posts so that water will not gather under them. Allow the posts to set in concrete for up to 48 hours. Brace if required.
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Setting up right tilt for footing of shade sail
Setting up right tilt for footing of shade sail
Setting up right tilt for footing of shade sail

Images from staycoolguide.com

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Hang a sun shade sail

Hook up the various shade sail hardware on the posts as shown you should. Stretch your sun shade sail on the ground as it will be installed and start installing. Tensioning

Hang each end of the sun shade sail to the fixing points and tension with your turnbuckles. Ensure that your shade sail is stretched that it has no creases. DO NOT OVER STRETCH!

As time goes by, you can re-tension if required.

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How to clean a sun shade sail

You can clean your shade sail periodically depending on the settlement of dust on it. You can apply soap and water and scrub with a soft brush. Do not keep it in mild detergent water for more than 10 minutes. Do not wash in water with much chlorine in it as it will wear out the thread quicker. Do not wash your sun shade sail in a washing machine.

Rinse thoroughly and make sure that it dries before the sun goes down.

Do not do much about the other shade sail hardware because being metals they do not need washing. To wipe them with a dry cloth will do. Using water on shade sail hardware may provoke rusting.

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