The Shade Sail Boutique UK

Elegant sun protection from Australia
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Frequently asked questions regarding Shade Sails

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What is a shade sail ?

The origin of the shade sail, as the name suggests, was from the sails of ships. A modern shade sail is essentially a large cloth suspended above an area creating a shaded area beneath. Using sails removed from boats to create shade has been documented since the age of the pharoes in Egypt. Documents also prove that the Romans frequently used ships sails on public holidays to create shade for their festivities, notably around the Colosseum in Rome and for other large gatherings.

Whilst the modern shade sails have their origins in ships sails, the technology has evolved significantly. The best modern shade sails use woven fabrics developed to block UV and have little in common with boat sails.. The knitted fabric allows air to pass through the sail shade so that hot air can escape keeping the shaded area as fresh as possible. The knitted fabric stretches slightly when tensioned so that interesting three dimensional shapes can created .

The main purpose of a shade sail is to create a 'safe shade' where the sun's harmful uv radiation can not penetrate. Scientists have alerted us for some time that exposure to the sun's uv rays significantly increases the risk of skin cancer and this was one of the primary reasons for the creation of the modern shade sail in countries such as Australia and South Africa where the summer sun can be very dangerous. Starting in these countries the shade sail rapidly gained in popularity around the world as the understanding of the health risks of long exposure to the sun was understood.

Is it difficult to install a shade sail?

In most cases a 'Handyman' or DIY enthusiast should be capable of installing a shade sail. The two videos below show how a shade sail can be installed and there is additional information on the installation pages of our website.

Quite simply, the shade sail needs to be attached to a strong fixing at each corner. At each corner you should use a tensioner so that it can not move in the wind. This is important as shade sails have a large surface which can be effected by the wind.

The fixing points need to be solid and walls or posts are normall used. Large trees are also frequently used. If you need to use a fixing point that is a little further away than the corner of the shade sail, then a stainless steel cable or chain is frequently used to extend the distances. These are available from all hardware stores and can be made to length required.

How should you install your shade sail ?

Many people choose many different ways of installation. Although there are no rules, we do make some recommendations

  • If possible install your shade sail so that it is not flat. As the fabric is knitted, heavy rain is able to pass through the fabric (and hot air to escape through it), but if it is installed with a slope, then almost all of the rain will run toward the edge of the fabric
  • If you are installing multiple shade sails, then make sure they do not touch as this could damage the shade sail if the move against each other in the wind
  • A fixing to tension the shade sail should be used at each corner. If you use our fixing kits then you will benefit from the best marine quality stainless steel (that will not rust), and the carabiner allows for the shade sail to be removed quickly and easily $
  • Shade sails should always be removed when is forecast. This is because the weight of snow lying on the fabric can be enormous which could damage the fabric and the fixing points
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Where should you attach your shade sail ?

A shade sail must be securely fastened. It can be attached to any solid existing structure. They are usually attached to a wall or wooden / metal posts.

The fixing surface must be solid. The force of any wind hitting the shade sail will be transmitted to these fixings, so using top quality fixings and attaching the shade sail to a solid structure is very important.

We advise using the fixings shown below. One set will be required for each corner. If the fixing point is further than these maximum distances, then a suitably strong stainless steel cable can be used to join the two.

Can a shade sails be installed in a windy locations?

A good quality shade sail, correctly installed, is designed to withstand high winds. Shade sails are designed to form a tensioned structure. When under the correct tension, the shade sail becomes a relatively solid shape that will not flap in the wind. The force of any wind will be transmitted through the shade sail to the mounting points, so the fixings and the attachment points need to be strong and secure.

The amount of tension required for your shade sail installation will depend on the size of shade sail. For small to medium sized shade sails around 30-50Kg of tension will be required at each fixing point. Larger sails will require higher tension. A tensioner must be installed at each corner to create the tension required.

The sides of a shade sails are curved. This important design feature reduces the shaded area but is essential for applying the correct structural tension. As you apply tension to each fixing point, the curvature along each side will reduce increasing tension across the surface of the sail.

The quality of the shade sail will influence its durability. High quality stainless steel fixings and reinforced borders around the shade sail are essential if the sail is to withstand the tension forces. Once under tension the forces effecting the fixing points will increase when exposed to the wind.

Can I leave my shade sail installed all year round ?

In some climates yes, in others no. There are two situations in which we advise that your shade sail should be dismounted.

Strong Winds : Shade sails can withstand very high winds if installed correctly. Professional installation are designed to be permanent but for the average domestic installation, it is advisable to take the Sail shade down if very strong winds are forecast. Strong winds not only create pressure on the shade sail, but perhaps more importantly they will exert large pressure on the fixing points.

Snow : Snow is actually very heavy. If snow is forecast then we strongly advise that you take down your shade sail as the weight of the snow can not only stretch the fabric, but the additional weight will put enormous strain on the fixing points.

In many installations in temperate climates, it is normal for a shade sails to be left in place all year around. Mostly, however, they are removed in the winter when people want to benefit from the most sunlight possible in their homes or on their terraces.

To facilitate the removal of your shade sail we recommend using our fixing kits as these make it very easy to both take down the shade sail and to put it back afterwards. Usually it takes as little as 5 or 10 minutes.

Can I clean my Shade Sail ?

Our shade sails not only block the suns harmful UV rays but they have also been treated to be mold and mildew resistant. To achieve this each fibre of the sail cloth has been subject to several chemical processes.

Using a strong brush or ANY chemicals on the fabric may cause these protections to break down.

The manufacturer therefore recommends that cleaning is performed using a garden hose to remove and dirt and debris. This is normally sufficient, but if needed then a very soft brush can also be used.

Is a shade sail waterproof ?

The original shade Sails developed from the 1960s were specifically designed to protect from the sun's harmful UV, not the rain. Their woven fabric was designed to be porous in order that hot air would rise through the fabric and for any breeze to pass through it, creating the most comfortable environment as possible underneath.

Although the knitted fabric is not water proof, as long as it is not installed flat, then the vast majority of rain falling on the shade sail with flow to the edges.

A more modern innovation, waterproof shade sails are now available on the market, but they have a number of disadvantages. Early, and all but the most expensive, versions tend to have inferior UV protection and inferior longevity. As they are not porous, they trap any hot air underneath the canopy, making the shaded are less comfortable than the surrounding area. They also react more strongly to any wind, making installation a little more difficult.

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Why choose a shade sail rather than parasol ?

  • Few parasols block UV. This is most important characteristic of the shade sail
  • Durability - even the very best parasols usually last only a season or two
    Installed correctly, a shade sail will last for many years and so can beby far the most cost effective solution
  • Shade sails are semi-permanent, remaining in place in all but the most extreme weather conditions
  • Shade sails can be very large, creating a much larger shade area that an parasol. Shade and UV protection should be present throughout the day, even as the sun moves in the sky
  • A shade sail is suspended above and area so will not obstruct any view!
  • A shade sail, or group of shade sails, can be installed to create unique structures

Why choose to buy from Shade Sail Boutique

Quality. All of our shade sails are made by market leading manufacturers based in Australia, the original home of the shade sail.

Our shade sails use the best solar cloth with the best UV protection. They have reinforced borders to give you the best durability. The are fitted with marine quality stainless steel fixings.

Our shade sails are made to last and the fabric is guaranteed by the manufacturer against deterioration caused by UV sunlight. They will not discolour or become brittle and their UV protection is built in to every strand of the fabric.

Lower quality products are available but these can not compete with our top quality products.
  • Our shade sails will retain their UV protection for the long term
  • Our shade sail are built to last. They have guarantees of between 5 and 15 years
  • Our shade sails are strong, built to withstand most weather conditions
  • Our shade sails aremade using the best quality, flexible material that can be stretched and twisted to give elegant shapes

Why are shade sail borders curved ?

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This is an important design feature. The sides of the shade sail must be curved to allow it to be properly stretched during installation .

Straight edges would not allow shade to be stretched correctly which would make the structure flap in the wind causing serious consequences for the fixing points and the lifespan of the product.

This gives the shade sail is characteristic appearance.

Does a shade sail have an up and down side ?

It is possible to install your shade sail in any orientation. The differences between the two sides are cosmetic. Because the UV protection is in coated onto each strand of the fabric, the orientation of the sail will not affect the UV protection.

What is the difference between a 'ready to install' and 'custom-made' shade sail ?

'Ready to Install' shade sails are manufactured in large numbers in the most popular sizes and colors as defined by the manufacturer. Because of this they are generally a fraction of the price of a similar sized custom shade sail.

Custom sail shades are made to measure and are generally available in a range of colors.

Do you have any other questions ?

If you have any more questions please use the contact form from the menu and we will try to answer any questions you may have ..