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A Simple Guide to Outdoor Shade Sails

18th August 2020

When the hot Australian summer months approach, spending time outdoors can be unpleasant without the proper shade and coverage.

With an outdoor shade sail, you'll enjoy a beautiful aesthetic and plenty of shade to keep yourself and your guests comfortable and cool.

If you're considering a shade sail at home, read on to learn more about choosing and setting up these helpful home accessories.

Do You Need Council Approval For Shade Sails?

Depending on your location, you may need to obtain council approval before attaching a shade sail to your home or patio. In general, you likely won't need to obtain approval, but there could be some exceptions.

For example, if your shade sail is exceptionally large, it's always best to ask beforehand. When you check with your local council in advance, you can avoid the worry or stress about potential issues in the future. Consult with your local council and ask them about size limits, design or style requirements, and more to ensure you're able to use a shade sail.

Some councils require that shade sails are no longer than 20 square meters in size and three meters in height. The sail should also not extend past your home's facade in most localities. Anything beyond those guidelines may require prior approval, so it's always best to confirm before you look for a shade sail for your home. 

If you're still not sure about sizing, feel free to contact us and we can help you work it out. 

What Size Outdoor Shade Sail do I Need?

The size of your specific shade sail can vary depending on the shape and design that you want to install. Always ensure that the shade sail will provide you with ample coverage over an uncovered outdoor space, such as a concrete patio.

You'll also want to make sure that you have enough room for maximum tensioning at the corners. Corners that are not taught can wear the shade sail down faster, and you also won't have a tight, secure fit which can cause the material to buckle.

Make sure that the sail starts approximately 30 cm or 0.3 meters from each anchor point. If you're using multiple sails, there should be approximately a 45 cm or 0.45-meter gap between each one to keep them from rubbing together on windy days.

As for the actual size of the sail itself, many options come in predetermined sizes and shapes such as triangles, squares, and rectangles. You can also opt for a custom-sized shade to meet your exact specifications. As long as the shade sail provides you with the coverage you need, you'll enjoy a cool, comfortable outdoor space.

Measure your patio, deck, or porch to get the total dimensions before you decide on the size of your shade sail. Next, measure the distance between each attachment point to give you a clearer idea of the dimensions of the shade sail itself. The final size will be smaller than the total dimensions of your patio or deck since you'll need to keep that distance of 0.3 meters between each anchor point.

How to Install a Shade Sail on a Deck

Once you've determined the proper size of your outdoor shade sail, you'll need to decide on the location of each anchor point. To install a shade sail on a deck, you'll likely need to add posts to each corner to hold the sail in place.

Posts should be made of thick wood and secured either by anchoring them to the deck itself or in holes filled with concrete (footings) on the ground. You may also use a large tree, fence post, or fascia depending on how your deck is oriented. Steel is another option for shade sail posts, but attaching them may require different parts.

Once all of your mounting posts are secured, you'll need to add the hardware and make sure that each connection is facing toward the centre of your shade sail. Tighten each connection securely, then lay your shade sails out in the correct configuration or orientation.

Begin by connection each corner of your shade sail to the fixing or anchor points. Hook each one up loosely, then slowly start to tension them using a strapping tensioner. As you tighten the sail, it will begin to look taught and rigid without any wrinkles, which means it's ready to be enjoyed.

Shade sail on deck

How to Fix a Sagging Shade Sail

If your shade sail starts to sag, you can re-tighten it and bring it taught. One way to do this is by using a wire rope that runs through a pocket sewn in the perimeter of your sail. Simply pull the wire rope on each corner until the shade sail retightens and all sagging is removed.

Another method to fix the issue is through height variation, where the sails are installed at alternating high and low anchor points. This creates something called a hyperbolic parabola. The opposing high points pull the sail up and out, while the lower points pull it down and out to keep everything tight.

You may also use tensioning hardware such as turnbuckles or pulleys. This hardware should be included with the installation, and you can use it to retighten your sail whenever it sags or becomes loose.

Enjoy a Cool Summer with Shade Sails

It's easy to get the comfort level you need to beat the Australian heat with an outdoor shade sail. Not only do these sails look beautiful, but they're an easy way to enjoy a cooler, shaded outdoor space any time of year.

Make sure you install durable and secure anchor points before installing the shade sail. Select the proper size and hardware to install your sail and experience the ultimate in cool relaxation.

To explore our range of products, be sure to visit our website or get in touch with us today for more information. 

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.