How to Set Up a Sun Shade Sail

Written by ann wolters
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An affordable alternative to a patio umbrella or pergola, sun or shade sails come as either triangles or squares and often look best hung in groups. To get your shade in the desired location, consider the seasonal variation in the angle of the sun's rays and the sun's east-to-west movement. Keep in mind that you will only have shade directly under the shade sail at midday in the middle of the summer.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Epoxy
  • ...-inch eyebolts
  • Lag screws (two per eyestrap)
  • Eyestrap(s)
  • 4-inch steel post(s) of desired length
  • Spade
  • Patio stones
  • Hold-down bolts
  • Prepared wet concrete
  • Sawhorses
  • Turnbuckles
  • Shade sail

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  1. 1

    Create the attachment points for your shade sail on an existing building or wall, or with a post. Epoxy a ...-inch eyebolt to a concrete wall at the desired height, or use two lag screws to attach an eyestrap to a wooden building.

    If you're using posts, put a ...-inch eyebolt at the desired height in each of the posts. Ensure that you bury a post about a third of the way down so it will be a strong sail shade anchor. When planning the distance between attachment points, allow for a minimum of 10 per cent of the sail length between the mounting point and the sail corner.

  2. 2

    Dig post holes about 15 inches in diameter and deep enough so a third of the post is in the ground. Place patio stones on the bottom of the post hole to serve as a solid, level pad for the post. Before setting the post, put a bolt in the lower bottom end to help hold it down in the concrete.

  3. 3

    Pour prepared concrete into the hole, packing it well, as an assistant holds the post straight upright. Create a slight slope with the concrete so rain water will drain away from the post. Support the post with sawhorses as you allow the concrete to dry completely. It'll take about two days.

  4. 4

    Attach each corner of the sail to its attachment point with a turnbuckle and chain or steel cable if extra length is needed to reach the hook. After the sail is in place, tighten the turnbuckles to create even tension across the sail surface and remove any wrinkles.

Tips and warnings

  • For added visual appeal, install your sail with attachment points at varying heights. Use a minimum slope of 18 per cent for best results. For example, hang diagonally opposite corners of a square sail 3½ feet higher than the other two corners.
  • Check on relevant building regulations in your area before setting up your shade sail.
  • Keep flames and barbecue grills away from your shade sail.

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