Installation Guide

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Full Instructions

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Important Considerations

Some issues you should consider before installing your shade sail

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Before installing your sail shade you should consider a number of issues, including how it will look in your garden. Taking a little time to plan the best location for your shade sail will make sure that it will provide the maximum protection from the sun's harmful UV rays and that it will look beautiful in your garden as well !

The first decision you will need to make is where you would like to create shade. Common areas include terraces, children's play areas, swimming pools and to create car ports, but a shade sail is extremely versatile and can be used almost anywhere. Regardless of where you decide to install a shade sail, it will need to be attached at each corner to a suitable fixing point. In many cases people choose to use existing structures such as the wall of a house or a mature tree for some of the fixings, but you may also need to install posts to create additional fixing points. For many installations the fixings are a mixture of existing structures and new posts. For installation on installing posts, please see our other installation guides.

Architectural Twist

Other than our party shade sails which are designed to be used for a few hours at a time and are simply attached by tying ropes to nearby objects, shade sails which are to be left in place for any protracted period should be installed under sufficient tension so that the fabric does not move in the wind. Shade sails are designed with curved edges to facilitate this stretching, but there is no need to install them as a flat sheet of canvas. In fact, shade sails should always be installed with a slope to one edge so that any rainwater will flow towards that edge and not pool in the middle of the canvas where the water will seep through. With square or rectangular shade sails it is also possible, and many people think desirable, to install your shade sail with the fixing points at different heights creating an effect known as architectural twist. Visit our inspiration page to see images of this effect.

To install your shade sail with architectural twist, simply vary the height of the fixings by 30 to 50 centimeters at opposing corners. Usually two of the fixing points at one height, and the other two fixing points are 20 to 50 centimeters lower. You should also consider where any rain falling on the canvas will naturally flow to so that most will fall towards the most convenient edge of the shade sail, normally the side nearest the garden.

Many people choose to install their shade sail with architectural twist as they consider this design to be more visually appealing. We recommend that you have a look at the photos in the inspiration page to decide which sort of installation would be best for you before making any final decisions regarding where to locate you fixing points.

Choosing the best size of shade sail

The size of shade sails as quoted on the website and packaging, such as a 5m by 5m square, represent the distance from corner to corner of the shade sail in the box. When installing your shade sail, however, you will need to allow for not only this 5m length, but also for the stretching of the fabric (up to 15cm over a 5m length) and for the fixings at each corner which can be 28cm to 36cm for our fixing kits. In total, therefore, a 5m shade sails will need 500cm for the shade sail, 15cm for stretching and two sets of fixings totaling 60 to 70 cm. This gives an overall length of around 575cm.

In order to tension your shade sails and pull the fabric taught, it is very important to leave space for the turnbuckles at each fixing point. Once tensioned the shade sail will become a rigid structure which is easily cope with all normal weather conditions including high winds. It is recommended that all shade sails installations, apart from the party range which are designed to be used for a few hours at picnics etc, have a fixing kit at each corner to tension the fabric correctly.
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The movement of the sun during the day

The sun moves across the sky from morning to evening and is higher in the sky during the summer months. When planning your shade, you need to take this into account.

Your should consider where you want to create shade, and which times of the day it will most be needed. Shade sails are designed to not only provide a cool, shaded area but to also protect against the serious health effects which can be caused by over exposure to the sun's harmful Ultaviolet rays. As the sun's Ultraviolet rays are at their strongest, and most dangerous, around midday, most people choose to plan their shade for the summer sun between 11am and 3pm. A shade sail will not only provide shade to keep you and your loved ones cool at these times, but it will protect you from the suns Ultraviolet rays when it is needed most.

Fixing your shade sail to an existing structures

Our top quality shade sails have been designed to withstand all but the most extreme weather conditions and are frequently left in place all year around in places such as Australia and South Africa. When there is bad weather, and especially strong winds, a shade sail can exert significant pressure upon the fixing points where it is attached to a post of wall. You should therefore ensure that any structure to which the shade sail is attached is strong enough to withstand this pressure.

When fixing your shade sail to a wall you should ensure that the wall will be strong enough to support the fixing in bad weather. You should consult a qualified builder or similar if you are not sure that you wall is solid enough.

Your shade sail should be take down when snow is forecast. Snow will have a significant weight when it builds up on any surface, and this weight ma be more than the shade sail fabric and fixings points are able to withstand. A shade sail should also be taken down if unusual or exceptionally high winds are forecast. Our marine grade stainless steel fixing kits include turnbuckles and snap hooks which will allow you to remove your shade sail in only a few minutes. Using these fixings it is also easy to reinstall the shade sail once any exceptional bad weather has passed.

Fixing Posts - wooden posts or metal posts

Both wooden and metal posts are widely used for the installation of a shade sail and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Galvanised steel posts or aluminum posts
    • can be expensive
    • these are generally stronger than wooden posts
    • they will not rot, especially at ground level
    • long lasting
    • Steel posts may rust and discolour
  • Wooden posts
    • generally cheaper than metal posts
    • readily available at most garden centers
    • should a minimum 125 mm x 125 mm
    • can be more attractive than metal posts
    • Should be checked for rot every year especially at ground level or just below

Abridged Instructions

Quick Guide for installing a sail shade
In this example we are using a 3.6m x 3.6m square shade sail

Many customers remove their shade sail in winter, especially when snow is possible or because they want more sunshine during the winter months. If you remove your shade sail in the autumn, this is the process you will follow the following spring or early summer.

For new installations please see our other installation guides which cover information such as the location of fixings, installation of posts, etc.,
Sail -  Shade-in1 Take the shade sail out of its packaging
 uv -  sun-in2 Unfold the shade sail on the ground.

Decide in which orientation you want to install your shade sail
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Note in this example the reinforced, stitched edges are on the under side of the shade sail
 gazebo -  Shade-in4 Shade sails need to be stretched using turnbuckles to ensure that the fabric is stretched taught between the fixing points.

Open the turnbuckles to their maximum length for installation
 uv - Sail-in5 Attach the open turnbuckle to the corner of the shade sail and the fixing point on the wall or post
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Repeat this action for the opposite corner
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Attach the fixings to the remaining corners
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 awning -  Shade-in9 Turn the center of the turnbuckle to tighten it. This will begin to tension the shade sail. It is very important that the shade sail is stretched when the turnbuckles are tightened to create the necessary tension. When the sail shade is stretched it will not move in the wind, ensuring that it will last a long time
 uv -  sun-in10 The view of the shade sail from beneath the canopy
 uv - Sail-in11 You have finished installing your shade sail ! Now you can relax and enjoy the shade ....

The Shade Sail Boutique Europe
Brendan Collis
+41 76 285 2362 / +44 7925 812 633

Head Office
Vy D'echallens 6
1040 Villars Le Terroir