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Shade Sails: A Great Alternative for Your Outdoor Area

You’ve dreamt up the perfect outdoor space. Now, it’s time to make it happen. When it comes to sun protection, the most popular recommendations can be a traditional retractable awning or deck canopy. But, what if you are looking for a less traditional solution?

First developed in Australia in the early 90s, shade sails are an excellent alternative to cover your deck, pool area, play area or another area where you want to minimize the interference from having posts.  They can be aesthetically appealing while providing sun protection for small or large areas.

So, what are the most important things when considering shade sails? Here are the top four:

  1. Design: Shade sails come in many different shapes, providing you with an unlimited number of designs. Overlapping sails will provide additional protection from the sun. However, proper installation is critical for the shade sails to function properly. For example, when crossing sails, it is important that an appropriate distance is kept between them to prevent them from touching under heavy winds. Appropriate slopes are required to allow water to shed off sails and prevent water from pooling. Also, understanding the sun position throughout the day can maximize sun protection.
  2. Tensioning: Proper tensioning is essential to sails keeping their shape and minimizes billowing in the wind.  To ensure proper tensioning, you must have correctly engineered curves along the sides, appropriate sized stainless steel turnbuckles at each attachment point and cabling around the perimeter of the sail.  If not done correctly, improper tensioning leads to increased wear of fabric, water pooling, and potential structural damage to building or posts.
  3. Anchoring: Since shade sails are under constant tension, anchoring is essential to keeping them steady and functional. The most common mistake in shade sail design is underestimating anchoring and post size. On large projects, it is important to engage the services of a structural engineer who can approve designs for footings, posts and anchors. When attaching to a building structure, custom brackets and blocking are often required to prevent structural damage from the tension that the shade sails place on the building.  A small investment with a structural engineer upfront can prevent costly damages and potential injuries down the road.
  4. Fabric: Not all shadecloth fabrics are created equal. A high-quality shadecloth is knitted using 100% High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) yarn, comes with a 10-year warranty, and is flame retardant. HDPE fabric provides excellent dimensional stability minimizing stretching and the need to re-tension over time.

Shade sails will enhance the beauty and enjoyment of your outdoor space with a modern and chic look. To get the best solution, work with an experienced awning company with the appropriate engineering resources to guarantee the success of your shade sail project and provide years of enjoyment and protection as well as a unique design that you’ll enjoy looking at for many years.

Questions? Please contact us.



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