There is no better way to stay cool during summer than having a shade sail. The heat can be frustrating, making it uncomfortable to stay inside the house even with doors and windows open. You can build an outdoor shade sail structure to make the summer tolerable.


What is a Shade Sail?

A shade sail is a highly durable fabric knitted together to cover an outdoor space. The fabric corner is reinforced with a special thread to prevent tears and rips as the weather becomes tough. The shade is secured on mounting points such as poles or stables. Affordable coverage structures are easy to install and suitable for small spaces. You can customize the design of the shade and choose the best quality material and shape to provide the most of your space.

The most common and important feature of a shade sail is UV protection. The fabric should block 90-95% of UV rays. However, the UV absorption on fabric may depend on the fabric’s weight, color, and tightness of the weave. Get a heavier, darker, and tighter fabric if you want maximum UV protection. Shade sails come in different shapes, with the triangle shade offering the least coverage but is suitable for awkward spaces. For more coverage, you can layer multiple shades. The installation, colors, and combinations of styles are endless.


Let’s take a look at how to build a shade sail structure

Before building a shade sail structure, consult with the local authorities for any building regulations and check with the utility companies for any underground pipes before digging holes. You should also consider a suitable location in your outdoor space and keep the following in mind:

  1. Size and shape of the shade sails;
  2. Strength and size of new and existing mounting points;
  3. The location of various heat sources like barbeque grills and fire pits;
  4. Direction and movement of the sun;
  5. Wind speeds.

Different methods are used for outdoor shade installation, which requires the following standard tools:

  • Portable ladder;
  • Hole digger;
  • Shovel;
  • Concrete mix;
  • Eye hooks;
  • Stainless steel spring snaps;
  • Wheelbarrow;
  • Garden horse;
  • Pressure-treated posts;
  • Straps;
  • Tape measure;
  • Sharpie marker.

Step 1: Determine how much coverage you need

You can get the exact shade size for your space as they come in different sizes. Square and rectangular sizes cover most space and are easy to work around. Triangle shade sails can fit in small spaces, and you can also layer them to provide more coverage. Having measured the space size, you might need to add an extra foot or more when buying a shade sail to allow for stretching. When installing the shade sail, you must stretch it as far as possible to prevent it from being blown during windy weather. Then mark the location of the attachment points on the ground.


Step 2: Start digging the holes at the corners

Start digging the holes using a power driller or any other tool depending on the hardness of the ground. Post-hole diggers are the best for small manual excavation than shovels. You can dig approximately 4 feet deep for 12-foot poles.


Step 3: Stand the posts in the holes

Stand the pots in holes at a five-degree angle. Use a level to ensure the post is at the correct angle. You might want a second set of hands if the post is too heavy. When doing the job alone, strap the post on a sturdy object to prevent the posts from falling as you get other supplies.


Step 4: Fill the holes with concrete

Mix cement in a wheelbarrow using a shovel according to the instructions. You might need several bags of cement depending on the number of posts. Using gloves, glasses, and masks when mixing the concrete is advisable. Gradually add water to the cement with a shovel to mix until you have a suitable consistency. Gently pour the concrete into the hole and ensure the post is straight and even on all sides. The posts can be vertically placed for smaller shade sails, while for larger sails, try to move the top away from an opposite post by approximately 150-200mm. This is to ensure the post leans out to help take the strain. It may take up to 24 hours for the concrete to solidify, depending on the type of cement.


Step 5: Measure and mark the posts

Once the concrete solidifies, measure and mark where you want to hang the sails on each post, decide how far down or up you want to hang the sails, and mark using a permanent marker.


Step 6: Install eye hooks on posts

Install the eyehooks in the marked position on the posts. Ensure all the hooks face the middle of the sails. Drill a hole in the post, then attach the eye hooks. Tighten the hooks using a spanner. Attach a line of string between each eye hook to get a perfect angle at which you want your shade sail to sit.


Step 7: Outdoor shade sail installation

Lay your shade sail flat on the ground to rule out any rips, tears, or damage to the fabric. Measure the sides of the shade sail to confirm it’s the correct size. Installing the shade sail is simple. Lift the shade sail and attach the first eye hook on the post to the first turnbuckle of the sail. Stretch the sail to connect the other corners tightly.

Attaching the last corner of the shade sail might be difficult; run a rope and use a friend to help you pull the last corner to the post. You might need to use chain links or steel cables if the corner of the shade sail doesn’t reach the post. For maximum tensioning, tighten each turnbuckle a few turns. You can stop tensioning when the sail shows no sag in the middle. Use your hand to reduce the remaining wrinkles.


Step 8: Get started

After the work is done, it’s time to enjoy your beautiful outdoor space. You can bask in the cool shade as a reward for your hard work, dedication, and time invested.


Final Thoughts

If you plan to transform your outdoor space or upgrade and get it straight, talk to us here at ShadePro. We offer a variety of high-quality and durable shade sails that will give you a maximum of 95% coverage from UV rays.