Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Follow Us:
Shop Now Shop Now

A Definitive Guide to Outdoor Shade Sails

5th May 2022

Are you looking for some relief from the harsh, tropical Australian sun?

There's nothing like spending time outdoors in the shade when the weather heats up. And shade sails are the perfect way to get some relief outdoors.

If you're looking for a way to add some extra shade to your driveway, pool area, or backyard, then an outdoor shade sail is just what you're looking for.

In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about shade sails, from their benefits to their installation process. We'll also provide tips on choosing the right online shade sail for your needs and give you ideas for DIY installations! 

Let's dive in.

What Is a Shade Sail?

A shade sail is a fabric cover for a patio or deck that blocks the sun's rays. The design and technology of shade sails are derived from a ship's sail. And the implementation of these handy devices dates as far back as ancient Egypt.

In ancient times, sailors decided that a ship's sail (shade sail) would make for excellent cover from the harsh sun's rays. And in Rome, the idea of shade sails became popular for use in the famous Colosseum.

In modern times, the concept was crafted into a less expensive and more durable product called "shade cloths." These shade cloths were then dubbed "shade sails" by Australia, the US, and South Africa, and the industry has seen rapid growth ever since.

Shade sails come in various shapes, sizes, and colours to complement any type of yard. They are often used to replace hard-structure roofs because of their vast customisation options and affordable pricing.

Types of Shade Sails

There are many different shade sail options on the market. So, consider which type would best suit you and your property needs. Products can range from standard shade sails to fully-customised offerings that are tailored just for you.

Fixed Shade Sails

Fixed shade sails are your everyday shade sail design. They're sewn together in a 3D shape using multiple layers of shade cloth giving it strength and durability. Then, the various panels are formed into one cohesive shape.

Fixed shade sails are excellent for shading car parks. You can get a perfectly fitting shade sail for your driveway by installing some posts. Then, you can hire a professional to measure and install the shade sail in your desired location. We'll talk about this more later on in the article.

Retractable Shade Sails

There are multiple varieties of retractable shade sails, like the popular Wave Runner for example. What makes these shade sails unique is their ability to retract and fold up easily for storage. This makes them perfect for areas where you don't want permanent shade, like a deck or patio.

Retractable shade sails are great for evenings. If you're having guests over for the night, you can simply retract the device to make room for your company. They also offer you the ability to control your property's temperature in many different scenarios.

Note that retractable shade sails are typically more expensive than a standard shade sail. This is because you’re paying for the extra conveniences these products bring to the table. But with our products, we aim to build superior shade sails at a more reasonable price point.

At Project Shade, we offer our own version of the Wave Runner called the Wave Shade. And if you’re interested in a retractable shade sail that delivers better quality at an affordable price, the Wave Shade could be the perfect product for your needs.

Waterproof Shade Sails

When it comes to waterproof shade sails, there aren't many differences when compared to other backyard shade sails. But the most significant distinction is fairly obvious; they're waterproof!

Waterproof shade sails are created using rain-proof fabric to keep your outside area warm and dry. Fabrics using PVC are often used to create the waterproofing effect. Other common waterproof materials can also include polyesters.

The most important factor in choosing a waterproof shade sail is deciding between a "water-resistant" and a "waterproof" product. PVC-based shade sails usually offer complete protection from light showers, which means rain can't penetrate the material. 

But, in high-wind storms, rain comes down at an angle, so these “waterproof” shade sails won’t necessarily keep you dry on every occasion. And unfortunately, PVC sails come at a hefty price, often reaching up to three times the price of a standard shade sail.

Other products use fabrics that are merely water-resistant. This is fine if you're looking for a shade sail that provides water runoff.

But, if your climate sees lots of rain, it's best to consider buying a shade sail that provides 100% water resistance. Water-resistant shade sails will not hold up to frequent rainwater saturation, so carefully weigh your options.

Garden Shade Sails

Garden shade sails, also called shade cloths, are often used to protect gardens and other outdoor areas from the sun. They're usually the cheapest shade sail option, but there are a few things you should know.

Shade cloths are excellent for garden use because they keep plants cool and protect them from too much sun exposure. They can also enhance the diffusion of light and provide ventilation for your plants. But the problem with shade cloths is that they’re designed for plants, not humans.

For gardening, you need a shade cloth with a low shade factor for your plants, sometimes as low as 30 per cent. This is to allow the sun’s rays to reach your plants and filter out the excess light.

But a product like this will not keep you properly protected from the sun. So shade cloths are rarely an ideal substitute for traditional shade sail products.

Shade Sail Shapes, Sizes, Dimensions

Shade sails offer a myriad of different characteristics. You can also purchase standard sails or heavy-duty sails that offer increased durability. This allows for ample amounts of customisation to meet your specific needs.

Standard size shade sails are generally available in four distinct shapes:

Below, you'll find the standard sizes and dimensions (M) that Project Shade offers:

Equilateral Triangle shade sail:

  1. 3.7 x 3.7 x 3.7
  2. 4.3 x 4.3 x 4.3
  3. 4.9 x 4.9 x 4.9
  4. 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5
  5. 6.1 x 6.1 x 6.1

Graphic showing a Equilateral Triangle Shade Sail

Right Angle Triangle shade sail:

  1. 3.0 x 3.0 x 4.3
  2. 4.6 x 4.6 x 6.5
  3. 6.1 x 6.1 x 8.6

Graphic showing a Right Angle Triangle Shade Sail

Square shade sail:

  1. 3.0 x 3.0
  2. 3.7 x 3.7
  3. 4.3 x 4.3
  4. 4.9 x 4.9
  5. 5.5 x 5.5

Graphic showing a Square Shade Sail

Rectangle shade sail:

  1. 3.0 x 3.7
  2. 3.0 x 4.3
  3. 3.7 x 4.3 
  4. 3.7 x 4.9
  5. 3.7 x 5.5

Graphic showing a Rectangle Shade Sail

Note that these are standard sizes for our shade sail products. We also offer rich customisation options for custom shade sails. We can help you build a custom sail with as little as three sides, all the way up to ten sides. Or, you can combine several shade sails for more coverage options!

Shade Sail Benefits

There are plenty of great reasons to install a shade sail in your outdoor space. Some of the most valuable benefits include:

Breathable fabrics - The shade is made of breathable fabric, allowing cool breezes to flow through it. This can drastically lower the temperature beneath a shade sail.

Versatility - Shade sails have numerous mounting options and shapes. Thanks to its rich customisation, this allows the device to work almost anywhere.

Protection from the sun - A good quality shade sail will protect you from the sun's harmful UV rays, which can cause skin cancer and other health problems.

Shade on hot days - A shade sail can keep you up to 20 degrees cooler on a hot day, making it the perfect way to escape the summer heat.

Block wind and rain - Shade sails can also provide relief from the wind and rain, making them a great option for outdoor spaces that are used year-round.

Decor boost - Shade sails come in a variety of colours and styles. You can choose one that adds a stylistic boost to your outdoor property.

Privacy - If you have an outdoor space that's visible from the street or your neighbour's house, a shade sail can provide some much-needed privacy.

Shade Sail Prices

Shade sail cost heavily varies. It often depends on your desired size and if you're planning on a solo DIY or professional installation.

If you choose to do everything yourself, it's likely to be a multi-person project. And it might seem challenging without experience at first. But with the right approach, it can be a fun DIY project that saves you quite a lot of money.

For example, if you purchased a 3.0m Kool Series shade sail from Project Shade, you'll have a series of options. The base product will run you $445. You can also purchase a complete hardware set for an additional $150 with this product.

So, working with us, you could get everything you need for a DIY project for around $600. Of course, we'd be happy to install the product for you as well.

Expect to pay a hefty chunk of cash for professional installation. But, hiring a skilled company to do it for you will save you a tremendous amount of work and time.

Try our online shade sail price estimator if you'd like an instant price estimate for a custom shade sail. We include everything from size and shape to installation in your quote.

Shade Sail Install Costs: Breaking Down Pricing

As we briefly touched on, the cost of installation will play a significant role in your overall shade sail expense. So, to lay out the entire process for you, we've used our shade sail price estimator to break down the cost of a square 20-meter shade sail.

First is the total cost of the shade sail itself. This shade sail measures 5 x 5 for a total of 20 meters. The cost of this product is estimated at $1419.

Next, we opted to include hardware, so this will cost us $250.

We also needed four new posts, which will run us around $4000. Our posts are expensive because we use structural steel that goes through an extensive fabrication and manufacturing process—this includes the posts being hot-dipped, galvanized, and powder coated. 

You’ll always be able to find a cheaper contractor for posts, but you need to make sure that the company you’re dealing with carries the appropriate licenses and engineering certificates.

We also want the posts installed to save us time and labour, so this will cost another $3200.

Finally, we'd like to have our new 20-meter shade sail professionally installed. The installation cost is much cheaper than the posts, running us about $1000.

So, buying a large shade sail from us with installation costs about $9869.

As you can see, if you were to install your own posts, you could save $3200. And if you also installed the shade sail yourself, you could save another $1000

Ultimately, if you're willing to handle installation, you could save half of the total cost of your shade sail project. And we'll teach you about DIY installation in the next section.

Important to note: these prices are only estimates from our estimator. There are quite a few factors that can contribute to your final project price, especially when it comes to custom products. We always recommend that you contact us directly for an accurate project quote.

Shade Sail DIY Installation 

DIY shade sails are a great project that will help you save money. Rather than spending money on hiring someone for installation, you can just do it yourself. And as we discussed before, you can save about half of the total cost of your project working this way.

However, installing your new shade sail and posts can be challenging. It's important to remember that you need to handle DIY installation right. You'll need to purchase mounting hardware like turnbuckles and D shackles to secure the shade sail properly. 

It's also critical to think about how you're going to build and design the structure. You’ll also need to consider how you want to design the shade sail to fit into the custom structure.

Buying the sail first and then installing posts will only end in a brief solution that has to be fixed later on. And flapping shade sails and weak connections or supports are notorious for being a bother. They can be a significant hazard in strong winds, damaging buildings by blowing off.

If you want to install your own DIY shade sails, a reasonable solution is to divide the job up into smaller sections. First, install the posts and fixings yourself. Then, send measurements for the shade sail to be produced by a professional.

Installing your posts and fixings and buying a premium, customised shade sail from a professional is the most affordable way to complete a DIY project successfully. This way, you can save half the cost and get an impressive shade sail for your property.

So, to get the best possible result from your DIY shade sail project, talk with your local shade sail expert about how they can help you succeed. And if you’d like to learn more about the DIY process, click here to get our free DIY shade sail installation guide.

Shade Sail Maintenance

A quality shade sail should last about ten years or more. However, this could vary depending on the weather in your region. If the shade sail is frequently exposed to strong winds, it might quickly decay. If you live in a harsh climate, we recommend buying a heavy-duty shade sail.

Some shade sails can resist snow, but the snow may cause the cloth to stretch and wear with time. In snowy regions, we advise removing your shade sail for the winter months.

To make maintenance easy, we also offer fabric warranties of up to 15 years when you purchase a shade sail from Project Shade.

Shop Premium Shade Sails Online at Project Shade

We hope you enjoyed our comprehensive guide to outdoor shade sails.

With this information, you now have everything you need to ensure that your next shade sail project is as successful and affordable as possible.

If you'd like to purchase a premium shade sail with the best warranties on the market, contact us today and speak with one of our shade specialists.

We'd love to help you create a beautiful outdoor space, no matter the conditions!

Please note the contents of this post is information only and general in nature.
If you require advice it is best to contact one of our shade specialists who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.