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 DIY Custom-Made Shade Sails are about $6-7 a square foot, depending on the fabric you choose to go with, including cable and hardware. For a 16 x 16 ft rectangle, it would be roughly $1,500 - $1,800 plus shipping. Check out our Shade Sail Cost Calculator to estimate how much your project would cost. 
 

Check out these easy steps that take you through your project from start to finish. 

Step 1

Design

Step 2

Measure

Step 3

Order

Step 4

Install

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 you should ask yourself 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 I attach my anchoring points?

Can you install posts? Can you attach to your house or other structure? The more attachment options you have, the more design options you have.

Do I have different heights for my 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 I need approval from my 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 place your order!

  • If you choose a Cable-Tension Shade Sail, check out these design tips:​

square vs triangle.png

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 shade sails

Overlapping Sails

Overlapping sails can get you the shade you want and have a really nice look. Be sure that your sails are at least 3 feet apart so that they do not rub against each other.

Height Differences

If you have your attachment points 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!

4-point shade sail

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.

Choose Attachment Points

Choose the best attachment point 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.​

Extension Cables

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? You can use an extension cable to connect your sail to a distant attachment point!

Curved Edges

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 is 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.

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Step 2: Measure

Now that you have an amazing design for your new shade sails, it's time to take measurements so that you can order 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!

Post Installation

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.

“So how do I know how big the footing should be?”  The reality is that you’re not going to get a straight answer unless you pay an engineer to do the calculations.  If you want a rule of thumb, make sure to bury 1/3 of your total post length in the ground.

1/3 in the ground, 2/3 out of the ground.   

 

For example, if your post is 8 feet out of the ground it should be buried 4 feet into the ground.  (This post would have a total length of 12 feet.) 

Post Tilt: Your posts should tilt away from the sail at a 5-degree angle. When you install the sail, the tension from the sail will pull the post inwards making it appear straighter and giving a much more pleasing look.

Check out these post installation and post replacement videos to see how it can be done!

Shade Sail Post Installation

Shade Sail Post Replacement

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, you must be sure that the area you are attaching to is strong and sturdy (i.e. no eaves or fascia boards without solid reinforcement).

 

Always consult an engineer or contractor if you are unsure.

Check out these Eye Bolt and Corner Bracket Installation videos to see how it can be done!

Eye Bolt Installation

Corner Bracket Installation

Time to Measure!

Now that you have your posts and attachment points installed, it's time to measure for your shade sail.

It is important that you take your measurements from Eye-Bolt to Eye-Bolt (also known as Eye-to-Eye or Point-to-Point measurements) for your custom shade sail. 

Take the measurement from just inside the outer edge of the Eye Bolt. Example: The measurement in the picture to the left is 26ft and 4in.

For any shape other than a triangle, we also need all cross-dimension measurements and height measurements.

Check out these Cross Dimension and Pole Height Measurement videos to see why these measurements are needed! 

Cross Dimension Measurements

Pole Height Measurements

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Step 3: Order

Now that you have all your measurements, it's time to order your sail!

The first step is to call our office or fill out our contact form so that we can begin discussing your project with you. Then we will send you our order form so we can get all the details for your project.

Here is an overview of some of the information we will collect on your order form so that we can properly manufacture your custom-made shade sail.

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Fabric Type

Which fabric type did you choose? Alnet? Commercial 95? DualShade?

IMG_0279.JPG

Cable and D Ring 

We can help you choose the right size for your sail. These sizes should match.

DSC_0027.jpg

Color

Which color do you want? Use the name and  be specific!

Extra Hardware

Do you need turnbuckles and bow shackles? List the quantity and size.

Hems

Do you want the Hems facing Up or Down? This is a visual preference.

bottom of form sample.png

Drawing

Make sure to label your sketch and write down all the measurements.

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Step 4: Install

Your brand new custom shade sail has arrived and it's time to install it! 

Don't worry, we're here to help. Just give us a call. You got this. 

Download this guide to help you through the installation steps.

 

Check out these videos to see us in action!

Installing Your Shade Sail Pic.JPG
 
Cleaning

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.

Congratulations!

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!

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