How to install a Sail Shade

Installing a shade sail doesn't have to be complicated - we've invented some great ideas to help make installing your shade sail quick and easy.

Our Pole Holder means you can easily remove poles when you want to mow the lawn, and along with our Easy Hoist Kit allows you to whip the sail shade up in no time - ready for that brief spell of sun! We've put together a quick install guide that uses the Easy Hoist Kit and Pole Holder, or alternatively read about all your install options in greater detail below.

 

  1. How do I plan my Shade Sail Structure?
  2. Where should I fix it?
  3. How long will it be in position?
  4. How do I set it up?
  5. How do I care for my Shade Sail?

How Do I Plan My Sail Shade Structure?

You'll probably already have in mind the area you would like to cover and, with any luck, how you'd like the design to look. If you haven't decided there are some ideas below for how single or multiple designs could look.

These are the points you need to consider:

  • Attaching your shade sail to existing structures such as your house or garage is a good start. If that is not suitable, then you will need to consider buying posts to hold your shade. (skip to 2. Where should I fix it?)
  • Consider whether you plan to leave the shade up for months, or take it up and down to suit the occasion. (skip to 3. How long will it be in position?)
  • Most importantly, you will need to install at least one corner of the shade sail lower than the others to allow any rain water to run off. If the sail shade is either not taut enough or installed at an insufficient angle, rain water will accumulate on the waterproof shade fabric like a bag causing the fabric to stretch or tear. We recommend at least a 30 degree angle of incline for each shade sail, providing the shade is sufficiently taught.

Where should I fix it?

Find a suitable anchor point for each corner of the shade sail, such as those listed below. These need to be strong enough to take the strain of the shade sail material when tensioned. (more)

Anchor points could be:

  • A wall or strong beam
  • A suitable tree
  • A wooden post at least 100mm diameter set in the ground
  • A metal pole at least 48mm diameter set in the ground
  • A metal pole at least 48mm diameter fitted into a sleeve in the ground, like a rotary washing line


Fixing points should be at least 2.4m above the ground, and it's extremely important that these are sufficiently strong to take the full weight of the shade sail in windy conditions. The wind can add significantly to the stress of the shade sail on any fixings, so it is vital to be certain that they can stand the additional drag.

NB: If you have any doubts you should take advice from a builder or structural engineer.

If you need to install posts, these should be 48mm wide galvanised steel which is 4mm thick (these can be easily painted if required). Posts should be angled away from the centre of the shade sail by at least 10 degrees to provide additional strength and stability.

Footings
Footings for posts for shade sails up to 5m should be 400mm square and 800mm deep and this should increase to 400mm x 1200mm for larger sizes.

Foundations

Concrete
Concrete should be well packed down around the post and sloping slightly outwards at the top to ensure water does not collect around the post. This should be left for a minimum of 48 hours to allow it to set completely before you attach the shade sail. We do not recommend the use of rapid set concrete.

Firm ground
Lay a 100mm depth of 20mm gravel at the base of the post. Add concrete and brace post on the angle.

Soft ground
Pour a 100mm depth of concrete at the bottom of the hole to provide a solid pad. Allow this to set. Add the gravel at the base of the post. Add concrete and brace post on the angle. 

Once you have decided on a suitable site, the shade sail should be laid out in position on the ground allowing an additional 10% at each corner for tensioning. For larger gaps you may require stainless steel cable or similar to reach more distant fixing points.

If you choose a fascia

As a fixing point you may want to consider adding a fascia support for added strength. These are available from most good hardware distributors and connect the fascia to the joists or trusses.

If you decide to use a tree as a fixing point then it should be at least 250mm in diameter. You don't want to pull a much-loved sapling out of the ground!

Using whatever structures you already have will make the job easier and cheaper.

We can supply the posts and sleeves for the installation.

We also have a lightweight portable option, which consists of aluminium pole sections and guy ropes for a very temporary set up, perhaps a day out at the beach.


How long will it be in position?

Decide first if you want to fix it in place long term, hoist it up and down as and when you need it for short term use, or put it up temporarily for just a few hours.

Both the long and short term methods could use the same type of strong anchor points, and these need to correctly located by a straight line running from the centre of the shade sail.

This will mean that the shade sail will be secured in place under good tension for a prolonged period by one of the following methods illustrated in section 4. How do I set it up?. It is essentially clipped into place and tensioned with turnbuckles.

This may be suitable for fairly constant use in an outdoor area, as the shade sail can provide shelter from both rain and sun.
(Skip to section 4. How do I set it up?)

This will mean that the Shade Sail can be put up and down quickly and the shade sail will be taut, but not as drum taut as in the previous method.

This may be suitable for an outdoor area that need occasional shade or shelter, but perhaps might have plants underneath that need light and water.

Each of the above methods can use the same anchor points but different fixtures.

(Skip to section 4. How do I set it up?)

This is a simple construction of aluminium poles that slot together which are tensioned by guy ropes fixed into the ground. It is ideal for a day out, but not suitable for a situation with strong wind. 


How do I set it up?

 

Anchor Points Accessory Type
Flat Surface (wall etc.)

Pad Eye

Metal Pole Eye Bolt
Wooden Post or Tree Eye Screw

 

  1. Screw in Pads Eyes to the walls with rawl plugs, the Eye Bolts to metal poles, or the Eye Screws to a wooden beam, post or tree.
  2. Attach sail shade to anchor points

Using a Strap Tensioner

Even when your shade sail has been set up with a sufficient slope for rain to run off, it is still essential that the shade sail is sufficiently taut so that wind will pass over it and rain run off it. To achieve the additional tension for your sail shade use a Strap Tensioner. This needs to be done at all anchor points.

  1. Step 1: Attach the strap tensioner to both snaphooks, and a turnbuckle to only one snaphook
  2. Step 2: Use the strap tensioner to tighten the sail shade
  3. Step 3: Hook the turnbuckle onto the other snaphook and turn the middle section, tightening the turnbuckle until it will turn no more.
  4. Step 4: Release the strap tensioner and unhook from the snaphooks.

How to Tie a Taut-Line Hitch

How To Operate Your Strap Tensioner

 

Anchor Points Accessory Type
Flat Surface (wall etc.) Pad Eye
Metal Pole Eye Bolt
Wooden Post or Tree Eye Screw

 

  1. Screw in Pads Eyes to the walls with rawl plugs, the Eye Bolts to metal poles, or the Eye Screws to a wooden beam, post or tree.
  2. Attachments to anchor points

You will need:

  • Pulley
  • 5m length of 6mm polyester cord
  • Cleat
  • Snap hook x 2
  1. Screw each cleat into a wall, pole, post or tree.
  2. Clip the pulley onto a pad eye or eye bolt with the first snap hook.
  3. Tie the second snap hook to one end of the cord with a good strong knot that will hold under tension.
  4. Thread the loose end of the cord through the pulley and tie off on to the cleat.
  5. Clip each corner of the shade sail to each snaphook that has been tied to the cord.
  6. Hoist the shade sail loosely at all anchor points. Adjust the position to be shaded and shade tension by pulling down on the cord, then tying off.

The pulley cord and cleat remain in place once the shade sail has been taken down. Putting it up each time then takes only minutes.

How To Operate Your Strap Tensioner

How to Tie a Taut-Line Hitch

Decide which area you want shaded

Before thinking about colours and shapes, you should have an idea of which area you want shaded.Do you need some shade over a dining area? Or would you like a shaded area for children to play? Unlike most other shade solutions, sail shades can be moved at any time.

Attaching your shade to an existing structure is a good way to start, but if this is not suitable then you may need to consider buying posts or a frame to hang your shade from.

Sail Shade Shapes 

We have four shapes of sail shade available, and each one provides specific benefits.

Square - Great for adding shade to a small deck, social space or flower patch.

Rectangle - Ideal for shading larger areas or narrower spaces.

Triangle - Provides more targeted shade to a space you may only want to shade at certain times of the day.

Right angle - The perfect solution for a corner patio, play area or flower bed.

Sail Shade Sizes 

Our sail shades range from between 2m and 6m in size.. To find out what size you need for your space, measure the area you want to shade, bearing in mind that when the sun is at its hottest, it will be directly above you. As a general rule, the material of your sail shade should begin about 12 inches from your anchor point.

Sail Shade Materials 

Our sail shades come in four materials, and choosing the best one for you will depend on how you want to use it. 

Temporary use Sail Shades

Water-resistant Sail Shades: 

  • UPF34+ (Blocks over 96.5% of harmful rays - certified)
  • 2 year manufacturer's warranty as standard
  • Water resistant, ideal for temporary outdoor use
  • High density polyester (140gsm UV stabilised)
  • Webbing loops on each corner (hem only, does not come with stainless steel D rings)
  • Easy to put up and take down 

Party Sail Shades: 

  • UPF 14 (Blocks up to 90% UV rays - certified)
  • 2 year manufacturer's warranty as standard
  • Made from 185gsm HDPE mono-filament polymer weave fabric
  • The knitting process leaves tiny holes in the weave enabling heat to escape through the fabric whilst maintaining high UV protection
  • Extremely strong, durable, fully recyclable knitted fabric
  • Grade 304 stainless steel triangle rings at each corner - very strong 5mm diameter
  • Rot proof, easy to clean

Permanent use Sail Shades

Waterproof Sail Shades : 

  • UPF 50+ (Blocks over 98% of harmful UV rays - certified)
  • 2-year manufacturer's warranty as standard
  • Waterproof, ideal for unpredictable weather.
  • High-density polyester (160gsm UV stabilised)
  • Machine washable at 40 degrees Celsius
  • The whole length of each side is strapped for tension.
  • Grade 304 stainless steel D rings at each corner
  • Rot proof, easy to clean

Breathable Sail Shades : 

  • UPF 15 (Blocks up to 93.3% UV rays - certified)
  • 10-year manufacturer's warranty as standard
  • Made from 320gsm HDPE mono-filament commercial grade polymer weave fabric (don't be fooled by cheaper low quality, lightweight versions)
  • The knitting process leaves tiny holes in the weave enabling heat to escape through the fabric whilst maintaining high UV protection
  • Extremely strong, durable, fully recyclable knitted fabric
  • Grade 304 stainless steel triangle rings at each corner - very strong 8mm diameter
  • The whole length of each side is strapped for tension (not just the first 30cm)
  • Rot proof, easy to clean.

Colours

Unlike most shade solutions, our sail shades come in a variety of colours to suit your space and design scheme. Ranging from crisp white to deep purple there will be something to compliment your style.

How do I install my Sail Shade? 

Once you have chosen your space, installing your sail shade is quick and easy and only takes a few steps. 

Tip! Install your shade with one edge lower than the rest to stop rainwater collecting and stretching the material. We would advise a 30-degree incline where possible.  

Step 1 - Find a suitable anchor point 

Your sail shade needs to be fixed to an anchor that is strong enough to withstand the strain of high winds, and you should keep tension on all corners of the shade. 

Fixing points should be at least 7ft 10inches above the ground.This could be:

  • A wall or strong beam
  • A suitable tree
  • A wooden post at least 100mm diameter set in the ground 
  • A metal pole at least 48mm diameter set in the ground 
  • A metal pole at least 48mm diameter fitted into a sleeve in the ground, like a rotary washing line

If you are installing posts to hold your sail shade, they should be made of 48mm wide galvanised steel that is 4mm thick. They should be installed at an angle away from the centre of the shade.

Step 2 - Set up your shade

Our sail shades can be set up for long or short term use. Find out more by selecting an installation guide.

Caring for your Sail Shade :

You can clean your shade at any point by hand washing in a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Soak the shade for 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly.

Waterproof sail shades are machine washable at 40°.