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DIY Patio Project: How to Hang a Shade Sail Like A Boss

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a new shade sail!

I bet you’re already itching to set it up as part of your new outdoor patio or makeshift gazebo. You’re probably on your phone now, dialing the number of your favorite construction expert….

Hold on a minute and put that phone down! Who says you don’t have what it takes to install your own sun shade sail? Sure, knowing how to install a shade sail isn’t really a basic skill taught in school, but with the right guide, you can do a professional job with the help of a few friends.

So where is this “right guide”, you say? Well, it’s right here! In today’s post, we’ll be exploring the wonderful world of shade sail installation. We’ll give you a rundown of all the materials and tools you’ll need to do the installation. We will also show you how to make your own standalone posts in case you don’t have any existing structures in your backyard that you can use as anchors.

Materials Needed

how to install a sun shade sail

Before we go to the step-by-step guide on how to install your sun shade sail, let us first go over the materials you need in order to make it happen.

If you want to install a sun shade sail, you need the following items:

  • The sail shade itself - Most sun shades are ready-made, with grommets or steel rings on the side. You can also create your own if you know how to sew one.
  • 125 x 125 mm posts - If you don’t have ready fixture points in your location, you need to create your own. 125 x 125 mm posts are the best size, and you can use either steel or timber posts.
  • Coach bolts and screws - you will need these to attach anchors like pad eyes to walls and other flat structures.
  • Pad eyes, eyebolts, and eye screws - these anchors are attached to fixing points so that turnbuckles will have something to attach to.
  • Turnbuckles - this will help you adjust the tension of your shade sail. It also acts as a buffer between the attachment point and the shade sail itself.
  • Base course like gravel and scoria - if you are building your own fixing points, you need to layer all holes you dug with base course to give it more stability and hold.
  • Extra Accessories - these are optional accessories that are situational in use. For example, if your shade cloth is somewhat farther away from the fixing point than normal, you can use extension chains and steel cables as extensions.
  • Cement Mix - For filling in the holes you make in case you need standalone poles.

Tools Needed:

  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Handsaw
  • Socket set
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Spade
  • Clamps
  • Ladder

Additionally, you will need the help of a certified engineer or carpenter to help you with two things:

  • To check current fixing points like posts, trees, and even house outer walls to determine if they’re stable enough to become sound fixing points.
  • To evaluate and discover any underground power and water lines that might be affected by your digging, if you decide to make your own fixing points.

The Preparation Phase

Before we go to the main guide on how to install a sun shade sail, we should first make sure that the site is all prepped up for this major change. In this preparation phase, we’ll dabble on the basics of choosing your shade sail and ensuring that your location is ready for the needed carpentry work.

how to hang a sun shade sail
  • Determine the shade sail size. To determine the size of your shade sail, go measure the area that needs shade. For example, if the shade sail is for a backyard patio, measure said patio to determine how large your shade sail needs to be.
  • Decide on your shade sail layout. If the area is larger than you initially thought, you might need to use more than one shade sail. There are various sun shade layouts out there. Just search for “how to hang a shade sail layout” and you’ll find endless inspiration in pictures and even videos.
  • Depending on how large your shade sail is, you should now calculate how far the shade sail will be from the fixing point. Typically, the gap should be around 10 percent of the total length of one side of your shade sail. Let’s say your shade sail is 3x3meters, then the gap should be 300mm. This gap is where the chains, tensioning parts and links will be.
  • Consult with your local council if you need to apply for any building permits in relation to the shade sail you’re about to install. Some councils require building permits if your shade sail will affect not only your home but your neighbor’s home as well.
  • Check all available fixing points in the area like trees, posts and even walls of your home. If you have suitable fixing points, it saves you time and money because you don’t need to install standalone posts anymore. You can ask the help of a professional carpenter to give his opinion on the safety of your fixing points.

No Fixing Points: Making Your Own Standalone Poles

This section will focus on how to install shade sails posts if you don’t have enough suitable fixing points for your shade sail.

how to install a shade sail
  • Seek help from a professional in mapping out any power and plumbing lines you may have underneath the soil. You don’t want to suddenly dig them up and disturb them when you’re building your standalone poles.
  • Lay your shade sail flat on the ground, fully spread out so you have an idea how large it is. Then calculate the gap needed between the shade sail and the fixing point (10% of entire shade sail size). Once you’ve determined where the fixing points are supposed to go, mark them out on the ground.
  • Decide between steel or timber poles for your standalones. If you’re on a tight budget, you can go for timber posts. They are cheaper and look more natural and aesthetically pleasing. However, they rot and deteriorate easier compared to steel. Treated wood costs more than regular timber, but it lasts longer. .If you have money to spare, steel with rust-resistant coatings are a good option. Galvanized steel with hollow insides is also a viable option.
  • Go back to the markings you made on the ground. It’s time to use your shovel and dig a hole. For posts that are 125x125mm, a hole measuring 16 square inches should be just fine. The hole depth should be equal to a half of the exposed pole length. So if your preferred pole height is 10 feet, you should buy a 15-foot pole so that the remaining 5 feet would be buried underground.

The next steps focus on how to set up a
shade sail post made of steel or aluminum:

  • Once the hole has been made, it’s time to fill it with base course. Gravel works best in cases like these, and you should fill around 4 inches of gravel at the base.
  • Prepare some concrete/cement mix and pour it into the hole, on top of the gravel until it reaches around 4 inches. This will serve as a solid, flat base to balance the pole upon so it would be straight.
  • Take your steel pole and around a few inches near the base, drill a hole into it. Slip a coach bolt into the holes and secure it with a nut. You can use two or three bolts for more security. This will serve as excess leverage to keep the pole steady once the cement has been poured into the hole.
  • Place the pole into the hole, making sure that the side with the coach bolt goes first. With the assistance of another person, ensure that the pole is perfectly vertical.
  • Pour in the rest of the cement mix until the hole is completely covered. Remember to level the top and remove the excess cement to make it look more pleasing to the eye.
  • Set up a temporary bracing system to ensure that the pole doesn’t move while the cement is drying. It usually takes 24 hours for the cement to dry.

If you don’t like the look and feel of steel,
here’s how to install a sun sail timber stand alone pole.

  • ​With timber posts, you also need to fill the base with gravel reaching up to 4 inches.
  • Take the timber pole and around a few inches near the base, drill in some lag bolts halfway in, so that half of the bolt is protruding. This will serve as your anchor, so it’s more difficult for the pole to slip out of the concrete. You can drill in one bolt per side if you want to.
  • Place the timber pole into the hole, making sure that the side with the lag bolts goes first. With the assistance of another person, ensure that the pole is perfectly vertical.
  • Pour in the rest of the cement mix until the hole is completely covered. Remember to level the top and remove the excess cement to make it look more pleasing to the eye.
  • Set up a temporary bracing system to ensure that the pole doesn’t move while the cement is drying.

If you are installing standalone poles on soft ground, you may also put a thin layer of concrete at the base before you fill it with gravel. If you don’t know how to mount a shade sail pole or if you feel like you aren’t skilled enough for it, there’s no shame in calling the help of a professional builder.

Using Your Fascia As A Fixing Point

how to install a sun sail

While we’re on the subject of creating suitable fixing points, let’s talk about how to attach shade sail to house structures, particularly the fascia. The fascia is the vertical band below your roof’s edge. It can also be found lining the outer surface of a home’s cornice. If you want to use the fascia as a fixing point, here’s how:

  • Inspect your home’s fascia to see if it is structurally sound. You may request the help of a professional builder to evaluate its effectiveness as a fixing point.
  • Drill holes into your fascia for the fascia support. Some guides on how to install shade sail to house structures use pad eyes directly, but it’s better to install a fascia support structure first. It will help stabilize the tension coming from the shade sail so that it doesn’t suddenly dislodge because of the pulling force.

Installing Your Sun Shade Sail

Now that all our fixing points are ready, let’s move on to the main part of this guide: how to hang a sun shade sail. By now, your fascias should have their support structures, and the cement on your standalone poles have dried.

how to install shade sails posts
  • First, you need to decide the height of each attachment point. You can have all corners of the sail shade sharing the same height, but it is aesthetically boring and it doesn’t offer a lot of protection from winds. The best architecture for shade sails is the hypar effect, which alternates high and low attachment points.
  • Once you’ve decided on the height of your attachment points, it is now time to install them. Take your ladder and use it to reach the desired height. Use a drill to create holes into the pole, making sure the holes goes right through the material.
  • Insert an eye lag screw if you chose timber posts or an eye bolt for steel/aluminum posts. If you’re using a bolt, secure the other with a nut and tighten it securely.
  • If you’re using fascias, climb your ladder and look for the fascia support that you installed previously attach the support to pad eye attachments and secure it tightly.
  • Once all your attachment anchors have been installed at each fixing point it’s time to decide on what accessories you’ll use. You don’t even have to use the same accessories on each corner. For example, one side could use basic turnbuckles and snap hooks, while another corner, maybe one that’s farther away, will have turnbuckles, extension chains, and S-hooks.
  • Use your preferred accessories on each side and start to link the shade sail cloth to the attachment point. Shade sail cloths have either grommets or protruding steel rings at the corners for easy attachment. Attach all corners except one. For example, if you have a square sail, attach only three corners. All turnbuckles should be fully extended.
  • The last corner will be a bit difficult because by now some tension has already gathered and you’ll find it difficult to attach the turnbuckle to the anchor point on the fixing pole without help. This is why it’s better to use a tension strap for the last corner.
  • Hook one end of the tension strap on the turnbuckle and loop the strap around the fixing pole. With the tensioning strap mechanism, slowly close the gap, tightening it one bit at a time until the turnbuckle is close enough to hook onto the eyebolt without any trouble.
  • Once the attachment has been made, unhook the tensioning strap and remove it from the pole.
  • Go back to all the other sides of the shade sail and insert a screwdriver into the turnbuckle gap and slowly turn it, tightening the turnbuckle and slowly increasing tension in each corner.
  • Don’t over tension the sides, as it will put unnecessary stress on the shade sail and the links. To test the tension of your shade sail, look at it from the bottom and check for creases. Go to the sides of the shade sail and push against it slowly. There should be minimal to no bounce when you do so.

If the guide on how to put up a sun shade seems a bit complicated for you, don’t sweat it! Nobody is going to crucify you just because you can’t do it on your own. You can ask help from a professional builder to make sure that the installation goes properly. It doesn’t take that long so you don’t have to worry about huge service fees.

Installation Tips and Tricks

Here are some basic tips and tricks on how to erect a shade sail easily, and how to care for it after installation.

how to install shade sail to house

Before Installation:

  • Keep the sun's’ movement in mind in determining where you’ll put up your shade sails.
  • Chlorine can make a shade sail’s natural protective layers deteriorate faster, so if you’re going to install it near your pool, make sure to keep it higher so as to minimize pool water contamination.
  • Keep your shade sail away from barbecues and grills. Even with fire-retardant properties, a shade sail can easily catch on fire.

During Installation:

  • While most standalone posts are perfectly vertical, you can also make them lean away from the shade sail structure by at least 5 degrees. This will negate some of the tension it comes across with later on during the tensioning phase of the installation.
  • If you don’t know how to hang a sun sail on your own, get someone to help you, especially since it can be risky to hook a shade sail onto a post while standing still on a ladder.
  • This guide is perfect for flat surfaces. If you need help on how to erect a shade sail on sloped terrain, you need to terraform a bit, and that requires the help of a professional.
  • When filling the standalone post hole with cement, you don’t need to fill it to the top. In fact, it’s better to leave a few inches off, so you can top it with soil and grass so it looks more natural.
  • Not everyone knows how to put up a shade sail on the fascia. It’s a lot more complicated than it looks because you need to drive the hook or drill the hole directly where the rafters are. You can locate the rafter by knocking on the area behind the fascia. Most areas will have a hollow sound, except for areas with rafters, which produces a much more solid sound.
  • You can use quick dry cement for the pole holes, but it’s better to use cement with 20MPa for better internal pressure.

After Installation:

  • It takes some time for the shade sail to settle. After the first 24 hours, the shade sail will have slackened a little, so go to it again and re-tension it.
  • Remember to take the shade sails down during harsh weather conditions.
  • Cleaning the shade sail is easy. All you need is a solution of warm water and mild soap. You can use a sponge to clean the surface of the shade sail.
  • Shade sails with waterproof abilities will lose this ability over time due to wear and tear. Remember to regularly spray it with fabric protector to reinforce its waterproofing layers.

Conclusion

So there you have it, our complete guide on how to put up a sun shade sail the easy way. It might seem like a daunting project at first, but never fear, it’s actually easier than it looks, especially if you have a friend or two who can lend a hand. The actual process of installing and hooking up the shade sail takes less than an hour. It’s only the building of the standalone poles that requires more time. However, if during any part of the process you find that you can’t do without professional help, don’t sweat it! Hey, at least you tried!

This guide is meant to suit all shapes and sizes of shade sails. We hope it has taught you how to install shade sails triangle or otherwise. Remember, just because they’re called sail cloths, doesn’t mean that they should be triangular. Be creative! Use several overlapping shade sails if you must! This DIY project has so much potential and of course you’ll reap the benefits in the end in the form of a new, outdoor hangout where you can lounge and relax.

So what are you waiting for? Get those tools out of your shed and start now!

WOAH! A Bonus Video...

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