How Do I Start Designing my Shade Sail Project?
Have you decided that Shade Sails are just what you need, but you don't know where to start? This page is for you!
Our friendly team is here to guide you through the process! The first step to getting your new shade sails installed is to call or email our offices! We ask that you email us a picture of the area you wish to cover and any initial design ideas that you have. Then, we can provide you with a rough estimate for your project and schedule an on-site visit to take measurements and gather ideas.
Check out these easy steps that take you through your project from start to finish.
In these three videos, we take you through the installation process step-by-step.
Depending on how much time you have, check out the Full Video with Interviews (27min), The Short Version (7 min), or the Short, Short Version (1min)!
Full Version with Interviews
The Short Version
The Short, Short Version!
Step 1: Design
The very best thing about shade sails is that there are many design possibilities as they can be made to fit just about any shape or size!
To make sure that your shade sail fits great and meets your needs, there are some questions that your installer will ask as you begin the design process.
What do you want to shade?
Plan your sail to be 25% bigger than you think is necessary to account for the curved edges and movement of the sun.
What don't you want to shade?
Perhaps you want to make sure your garden still gets some sun. This will impact where your attachment points go.
Where can we attach the anchoring points?
Can we install posts? Can we attach to your house or other structure? The more attachment options you have, the more design options you have.
Do you have different heights for the attachment points?
Varied heights give you the ability to have a tighter sail that doesn't move in the wind and has a more dynamic look.
Do we need approval from your HOA?
You should also check to see if you need permits for your project before you get started.
Let's begin designing!
What type of sail do you like?
Cable-Tension? - Lace-On? - Invisible Frame?
Lace-on and Invisible Frame sails are pretty straight-forward when it comes to design. It just needs to fit your existing structure. So you get to choose a fabric type and color and we'll measure and install it!
If you choose a Cable-Tension Shade Sail, check out these design tips:
3-Point, 4-Point, 5-Point...
A 4-point sail gives a lot more shade than two triangles. If shade is your main goal, try to get a 4-point or more sail design.
Overlapping sails can get you the shade you want and have a really nice look. Overlapping shade sails should be at least 3 feet apart so that they do not rub against each other.
If the attachment points are all at the same height, the sail will sag a bit in the middle and move more in the wind. Using different heights to create a Hypar or Twist shape will create a tight sail that doesn't move about in the wind. It also makes for a more dynamic look!
Block that sun!
Getting a lot of sun in the morning that you want to block? Dip one of your low corners towards the East. Want to block that afternoon sun? Dip that low corner to the West! As long as people can walk under your sail, you can go as low as you like with your attachment points.
We will determine the best attachment point options for your location.
Posts with an eyebolt screwed into it.
Wall Plates or the smaller Pad-Eye screwed into the wall (find a secure spot, like a stud)
Outside or Inside Corner Brackets
Avoid attaching to trees, brick, and wooden posts.
Do you need to put in a post at the far end of your yard, but don't want the sail to be that large? We can use an extension cable to connect your sail to a distant attachment point!
Don't forget to account for the curved edges! Cable Tensioned sails will have a natural curve along the edges. The longer the side, the deeper the curve. We can make the curve as minimal as possible, or deeper for a more dramatic look.
Avoid Long and Skinny Triangles!
The curve can also cause trouble if your sail is too long and skinny! A long and skinny triangle will be even skinnier with the curves and will not give you any shade and will not look good! (Don't worry, if we see this in your design we will let you know and work with you to fix it).
A Note About Designing/Drawning Corner Angles
Shade Sails have an inward pulling tension. In order for the tension to be evenly distributed (and to prevent bunching and pulling of the sail) each attachment point should be placed on a line that bisects the corner angle of the sail.
Correct Corner Angle
Incorrect Corner Angle
Want to "see" your design before you order?
Our 3D Design service provides you with a 3-dimensional image of your space. The image will show how your area will be shaded at different times of the day. The service is $300 and includes up to 3 design revisions.
Step 2: Measure
Now that we've come up with an amazing design for your new shade sails, it's time to take measurements so that we can make your sails!
Before we take measurements, it's important to place all of your attachment points first. Since our sails are custom made, the measurements need to be exact.
For example, we've planned to place a post in a certain spot, only to find out once we begin digging that there is an unexpected irrigation pipe that we didn't know was there. The post then needs to be moved over 6 inches to accommodate the pipe. That 6 inches doesn't sound like a lot, but it will definitely impact the fit of your custom shade sail!
Our installer will determine the best locations for a post. Before digging, we will call the local underground utility locator to make sure that there isn't anything that we could hit when we dig.
We offer round and square posts and keep a selection of powder-coated colors in stock. Ask your installer about custom colors for your posts!
Most people who are not familiar with shade sails can’t believe how deep the post footings need to be. One of the most common shade sail failures is one where a post tipped in during a storm, not because the post itself bent or failed, but because the footing shifted slightly in the dirt.
Attachment Point Installation
Many structures can support a shade sail bracket. A corner bracket or wall plate is much easier and less expensive to install than a post.
It is critical that your attachment points are properly installed or the sail may become loose or detach completely during high winds.
When attaching a Bracket or Wall Plate, we will make sure that the area we are attaching to is strong and sturdy (i.e. no eaves or fascia boards without solid reinforcement).
Step 3: Making your custom sail
Now that we have all your measurements, it's time to make your sail!
The standard lead time to make your shade sail is 10 business days. Once the sail is done, we will schedule a time for installation!
Step 4: Installation
Most shade sails can be installed in an afternoon. Once your shade sails are up, we will do a visual inspection and walkthrough to make sure everything is how it should be.
Now you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy your new shade!
Check out these videos to see us in action!
There are several ways to clean a sail.
1. A simple garden hose with a nozzle will remove most of the loose dirt.
2. Use a shade sail cleaner or soap. You can use a mild soap like Woolite and brush. A good scrubbing and a rinse will do wonders for your sail.
3. Send your sail to an awning cleaning company. We recommend Clean Awn in Lakewood, CA. or Awning Cleaning Industries in New Haven, CT.
Tip: If it's not too high up or difficult to reach, take down one corner, clean the top and bottom, reinstall that corner and then move to the next corner.
You are the proud owner of a brand new, custom-made shade sail!
Show off your new sails on your favorite social media page, and don't forget to tag us!