Shade sails can be the final little touch that makes a backyard patio into a truly amazing space, the roof to your ideal outdoor room. Patio shade sails provide shelter from the sun and bring an unparalleled vertical presence and beauty to your backyard decor. The practicality of installing patio sail(s) in various configurations is an important aspect to consider, as each backyard has a different working environment for the sails to work their magic. This patio sun shade sail installation ideas guide will help get you oriented and ready to install your shade sail!
For the most part, installation of a shade sail is relatively straightforward, but of course, each individual unit is installed differently, so we encourage you to read the specific instructions of your unit. Be sure to follow the engineering recommendations of your specific sail, as they vary. All information in this guide is general, and may not apply in some circumstances.
The installation of shade sail installation DIY guide is broken down into a list of nine tasks. Each task is outlined below.
- 1 Sun Shade Sail Installation Ideas
- 2 1. Check with your Local Building Official and Homeowners Association
- 3 2. Get the General Layout
- 4 3. Check Out the Existing Mounting Options
- 5 4. Determine if Additional Mounts are Needed
- 6 5. Finalize the Mount Point Locations Based on Shade Sail Size
- 7 6. Choose your Mounting Hardware
- 8 7. Attach the Mounting Brackets to Existing Mounting Spots
- 9 Add Posts Where Necessary
- 10 Finish Hooking up Shade Sail and Tension
Sun Shade Sail Installation Ideas
In this article, we’ll discuss several ways homeowners can install shade sails in their yards. We’ll discuss shade sail shape and various options for attachment points. Many of these options are DIY-friendly, but in some circumstances, it can be wise to look for professional help.
Now let’s get started with our ideas and tips! We’ll begin with the most exciting one….
1. Check with your Local Building Official and Homeowners Association
Before you start your installation, be sure to check with your local building department to ensure that no permits are required for your specific install, and check with local utilities to be sure no underground wires or other unexpected surprises are present in the areas in which you may need to dig.
If you live in a community with a Homeowner’s Association, you’ll want to check with them to make sure that there are no specific rules and guidelines that need to be followed in order to set up patio shade sails.
2. Get the General Layout
Take a good look at the area where you wish to set up your patio sail. Get the general layout of the area you want to shade, and the size and shape of the shade sail(s) you plan to use. Here are a few sun shade sail installation ideas for layout and design.
Determine the Shade Sail Position
Do you want the shade sails to be positioned horizontally, or at an angle?
If the shade sails are flown horizontally, they won’t pick up as much wind and therefore will exert less structural pressure on their mounting points. Horizontal sails are easier to deal with but offer less visual interest than angled sails.
And horizontal shade sails will provide the greatest amount of shaded area.
If the sails are flown at an angle pointing upward, they will pick up much more wind. With this additional load, the quality of the mounting points becomes much more of a concern.
Multiple Layered Shade Sails
One great shade sail installation idea is to use multiple sails positioned horizontally at different heights to create a dynamic height environment. This gives vertical interest, but by keeping all of the sails horizontal and using multiple anchor points, this results in less stress on the structure.
Determine the Solar Orientation of the Space
What is the solar orientation of the area the shade sail(s) will cover, and will the shade sail(s) be positioned correctly to shade the area during the appropriate time of day?
If you’re primarily using the yard at noon when the sun is directly overhead, then this is easy: the sail goes directly above the sitting area. If you’re using it late in the afternoon or in the morning, consider the effect the sun’s position will have on the area you wish to shade.
Depending on your location, the time of year, and the height of the patio shade sail, the area you want shaded may not be where you plan to put your patio sail! So be sure you’ve got the patio shade sail in the right location.
One great strategy is to pull up your address on Google Earth and take a look at its solar positioning. Using Google Earth, you can virtually see how shadow and light impacts your property, and you can get a satellite’s eye view of where everything goes at different times of day, and different times of the year.
Determine the Wind Power of the Area
How strong is the wind in the area, and how will the wind blow through your property? If the patio is between two buildings, is it a wind tunnel? If so, a horizontal installation may be more effective.
3. Check Out the Existing Mounting Options
Examine your backyard and consider the various existing options for securing the points on the shade sail. Considerations:
How to Install a Shade Sail on a Deck or Existing Building Walls
Do you have an existing back deck or a wall of the house that can be attached to? If so, great! You’re on your way. Mounting a couple of points of a shade sail on an existing structure makes things much easier.
You can attach one or two mount-points to a deck or wall, though you should be sure you’re mounting to something structural. When you’re planning how to install a shade sail on a deck, you want to be sure that you attach your sun shade sail to a deck joist or other structural member — not just a piece of fascia or trim board. A strong wind can rip the sail off, and perhaps the fascia board, too! See below for more information on structural members behind the fascia.
Shade Sail Post Ideas: Pergolas, Fences, and Other Existing Fixed Elements
Perhaps you have a pergola, fence post, a well-placed tree, or another existing element that can be used to get things started. In most cases, a backyard/patio is in some way adjacent to the house or deck, and hopefully, the house or deck will be able to supply mounting points for at least two vertices.
Questions and Concerns about Posts and other Obstacles
Here are a few concerns and questions to ponder when locating your shade sail.
- When considering shade sail post ideas, you need to think about how strong the existing posts are. If they are solidly built, such as part of a house wall or a permanent pergola or other architectural structure, you are likely in good shape. If they are old, rotting, or a temporary or decorative solution, they probably do not offer the holding power needed to handle shade sails.
- Do you have a grill or fire pit under the area you wish to shade? If so, these will need to be moved, as having an open flame below a shade sail is a clear fire hazard! Should the patio sail be way up in the air, this is less of a concern, but if it is placed within 10′ of where the grill would be, it would be wise to move the grill.
4. Determine if Additional Mounts are Needed
The far side of the shaded area becomes a bit more complex, in most cases. Considerations:
- If you already have a pergola, building wall, or other architectural feature present at the other end of the “outside room” you intend to create, you may be able to achieve all the points necessary to secure a triangle or square shade sail without adding additional posts or structural elements.
- Adding posts* to suspend the patio sail from is the likely next path, and where much of the work will be. If you have to add posts, do you know what your soil conditions are? Have you checked with your local utilities to ensure no underground wires, gas pipes, or hidden oil fields?
* Note, be sure that any post you are planning on using has a proper footing and is at least 4’ in the ground in order to ensure the strength of the structural post and protection from frost heaves (depending on your location). For more details on installing posts, see below.
5. Finalize the Mount Point Locations Based on Shade Sail Size
Locate the mounting points based on the size of the shade sail(s). Consideration:
Sail Corner Location vs. Mount Point Location
At of each corner of the sail, you should figure for a distance between the corner of the shade sail and mounting point that of about 10% of the total length of the shade sail.
For example, if you’re using a square shade sail that is 14’ long (168 inches), allow at least 14-16 inches of space between the corner of the shade sail and the mounting point. This gives a buffer at each corner for material expansion, tension adjustment, and space for mounting hardware.
6. Choose your Mounting Hardware
There are a variety of mounting brackets and systems available for attaching and properly tensioning shade sails. Here are a couple of options, one for triangular patio sails, and another for rectangular shade sails.
- A set of shade sail hardware kit for RECTANGULAR/SQUARE shade sails...
- Stainless steel(304) hardware kit for Rectangle/Square sun shade sails...
- 6 inches means that the length of the turnbuckle can be adjusted from...
- High load carrying capacity, and stainless steel has rust-proof...
- This Shade Sail Hardware Kit is suitable for rectangular, square,...
Last update on 2023-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- A set of shade sail hardware kit for TRIANGULAR shade sails includes...
- Stainless steel(304) hardware kit for Triangle sun shade sails...
- 6 inches means that the length of the turnbuckle can be adjusted from...
- High load carrying capacity, and stainless steel has rust-proof...
Last update on 2023-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
7. Attach the Mounting Brackets to Existing Mounting Spots
Attaching To Fascia:
If you plan on attaching your shade sail to a location on the house, you want to find a spot that has good structural integrity (similar to hanging a heavy picture on a stud wall, as opposed to just hanging on drywall or plaster).
If you can find a location where there is an exterior wall stud to screw into, this is ideal. Alternately, if you are attaching the sail up at the roof line, you want to find a location on your fascia board where a rafter is connected to the fascia, so that you can screw into both the fascia board and the rafter. If you want to further strengthen the mounting point, consider installing Simpson Hurricane clips or other Simpson metal brackets.
Note: Be sure to check your shade sail installation guide for engineering details. This is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon in individual cases. Confirm with a structural engineer as necessary.
Add Posts Where Necessary
Should you need to add additional shade cloth posts as support for your shade sail, we would suggest 4”x6” or 6”x6” Pressure Treated posts, available at most lumber suppliers, Home Depot, etc. These can be in direct contact with the ground and with concrete. The overall length of the post needs to include footing depth: at least 4’ deep, ideally half of the length of the overall exposed post height. If you want 8’ of an exposed post, you will need to purchase a 12’ post and bury 4’ in the ground in concrete.
Note: this footing information is for conceptual use only, and should not be relied upon in individual cases. Be sure to check the information in your product manual for specific instructions to your requirements. Confirm with a structural engineer if necessary.
Follow the instructions on the concrete bags you have; if you get something like Quikrete, all you’ll need to do is add water to the correct ratio and mix it up with a shovel before pouring it into your form.
Be sure to fill up to the top of the form, and tamp it down to ensure there are no voids. If you get a concrete such asQuikrete, it should harden in an hour or two, but be sure to leave the post braced in a level and plumb position until the concrete is solid. It will continue to harden for several days after pouring.
Finish Hooking up Shade Sail and Tension
Examine the mounting kit you’ve chosen, and fasten the required bolts to the sail shade pole or other structural elements. Be sure all points are secure and are ready to support the weight of the sail(s).
Finally, attach each vertex of the shade sail to each of the mounting points. Your patio sail is up! Adjust the tension of the sail so that it is pulled as tightly as appropriate. There should be no visible wrinkles, and the shade should have a smooth, finished look and should not billow significantly in the wind. Be sure not to over-tension so as to pull out mounting brackets, or rip the fabric of the sail, or of the mounting grommets.
We hope that you have got some inspiration from these sun shade sail installation ideas, and now have some sense as to how you might set up a shade sail on your property.
Baxter Abel says
I really appreciate the information you included about installing posts in a hole surrounded by an inch of concrete on each side when you are installing a shade sail. I’ve heard that shade sails are good options for sun protection at playgrounds and kindergartens where children are playing outside often, would you agree? I’ll be sure and properly install the poles the next time I’m helping anyone install a shade sail!
Bob Sly says
Actually, the diagram shows 1 foot of concrete on each side, not an inch.
Patricia Hetherington says
I’m considering putting my posts in barrels with concrete vs in my yard. Has anyone done this and have suggestions?
I’m not quite sure how you plan to do this, but unless those posts are really well anchored into the ground, or you plan to use heroic quantities of concrete, I would strongly caution you against doing this. Putting large amounts of lateral load on the sides of un-anchored columns is dangerous! There’s an awful story of a hammock attached to a brick light post that collapsed and killed a child in the UK a year or so ago. If you’re going to set up a shade sail, properly anchor your columns into the ground with solid footings.
Sara Winder says
I was thinking of the same only as a temporary use (better than a temp canopy) in our riding arena for the instructor to stand under. We would just move the barrels together each night. I was thinking 5 gallon buckets though. My shade is not that large
I want to place small shades vertically in between extended deck posts. The posts are about 5 ft apart and about 4 ft above the railing. I’m doing this to block the view of the neighbors. Should I use the same type mounting as the large shade sails or can I use eye bolts on the posts? Any other tips? Thank you!
This tutorial is simple yet really helpful. I’m going to install my own shade sail really soon in my home. Thank you so much.
Bethany Birchridge says
I didn’t realize that you may need to get permission from the HOA to install a shade sail. Because I live in a desert, I’ve been thinking of getting one. Should it get damaged, do you have any repair tips?
Has anyone purchased the steel poles and attached them into deck boards?
I am doing this now for a customer . Welding steel rectangular tubing to existing rooftop guardrails.
Eric Clark says
Send us a picture when it is complete!
Thanks for the great information! You mentioned the sail can be attached to a tree but didn’t really say how to do that. We have a medium sized tree near our patio. Would that be a viable mounting option? If so, how? Also, we get gusts 30mph+ regularly. How wind resistant is a sail? Much appreciated!
You can attach a shade sail to a tree, but it’s not a great idea to screw a bolt or hook into a tree. A better solution might be something like hammock tree straps. You could use those to attach to the tree, and then attach the shade sail to those.
30 mph winds should be ok for a shade sail, assuming it’s horizontal or near horizontal in configuration.
Has anybody used a sun shade sail in a more vertical position used to block the sun from a southern facing wall of a house? My concern is the load under windy conditions.
This is my question as well, Rick. Were you able to find a solution for a vertical hang? I’m trying to block the sunset and wanted to tie to columns on a deck.
We have a stone house and need to attach a sail shade on the one side We are planning on anchoring into the mortar with mortar anchors. Will this be sufficient?
Adding my experience, for what it’s worth. No kids, put these up every year. I use more than one, different shapes and sizes.
With that said, every year I have to figure out a new design when I get a new one since I always seem to find a good deal – on a diff size or shape, lol.
I use 10′ 4″×4″ posts, and I never go as deep as suggested, anymore, even in sand, and have had no real problem. I also attach to roof.
I have regular west wind flow, often extreme (desert) and never had a big problem IF I’ve done them right and tight. I often angle them, with the low side on the west, where PM sun is, and wind moving up across to east, the higher side.
You can tie rope around tree to avoid punctures.
I use screw eyes in post, and harbingers alot. But my favorite hardware is ..think they call them cable ties, even with rope, the u-shape things are great for pulling tight, then tightening the *nuts? then loop the rope in a knot.
I won’t tell you how many posts I’ve moved a foot here or there due to lack of planning, lol. Figure it out on paper if u can first, lol.
Scott McDonald says
I have really hard ground and i am thinking of having powdered coated 6″x” post made with a 12″ sq. plate welded to the bottom and using 1/2″ tapcon bolts to fasten to existing 6″ concrete slab.
Any thoughts to this
My patio is covered by a very sturdy metal trellis. Is there a way to attach a sun cover on top of that? Also, is the material heat resistant? I have patio heaters attached to the underside of the trellis.
And, can you recommend any company in the Bay Are that can help with installing this?
Eric Clark says
You can definitely attach some material to the trellis. Most is not heat resistant but often the patio heaters will be directed away from the material.
I love the idea of Sun Shade sails and I’m looking forward to installing them in my backyard. The only problem is deciding what size sail to use. The area I want to cover measures 15′ X 42′ and I would like to use more than one sail. What size sail would be best?
Eric Clark says
Awesome Ely. That is a good sized deck. How about some 16 x 16 x 16 triangles? You could get three of them and overlap in some sections for a fun look.
Richard Goeltz says
I’m considering a shade sail installation for my deck. I live in upstate New York if that’s important. I need to protect my deck from late afternoon sun. There is no natural shade to the west and northwest and the sun sets low on the horizon. I’m thinking the sail(s) need to be installed at a steep angle. I’d appreciate any thoughts and hardware advice.
LANA P says
Hello, thank you for the article, wanted to ask if you now where we could buy steel posts instead of wood?
David Rosen says
Sometimes you can get steel posts (galvanized to prevent rust) at companies that sell supplies for chain link fences.
Rebecca Wild says
My question is; is there a right & wrong way of installing it? Meaning does either side matter or does one side vs the other face up or down?
I could of sworn I read somewhere that the Seam of the sun shade faces down to prevent light sprinkle coming through????
This was so helpful!!!How do I adjust once it is up? Should I have used some kind of rope as I have seen in some pictures?
Is it a bad idea to attach a corner to the roof somehow? If so, what method/mounting would you recommend for a roof where the likely point of attachment is at an approximate 55-degree pitch.
We plan to redo our deck and install posts for a shade sail. The deck sits 2’ above the ground. Would it be okay to secure the posts to the joists or should we buy longer ones and put into concrete? If we can attach directly to the joist, is there specific hardware we should use to get the most strength?
Roger Westland says
PATIO SUN SHADE SAIL: 10 X 12 FEET
Eye bolts would connect corner sunshade attachment cable to a fascia board that would be backed by a 2 x 12 plank (plank between two exposed rafters and secured to rafters (18” separation of rafters) with right angle L-brackets):
1. Would it be appropriate to angle the eye bolt through fascia and its 2 x 12 backing so that the bolt is in a straight line with the attachment cable from the corner of the sun sail?
2. Further, in that the fascia is faced with stucco should an over-sized hole be drilled through the stucco so that any flexing of the bolt would not chip or crack the stucco surface?
3. Should the 2 x 12 support backing be slightly separated from the “stuccoed” fascia so as not crack the stucco if there is flexing of the 2 x 12? If slightly separated from the back of the fascia two 2 x 12’s could be sandwiched together.
Another attachment would be to the face of a 7” wide, stucco-surfaced stub-wall on the patio:
1. If there are two 2 x 6’s on the face of the stub-wall would it be best to use a large eye lug screw through the stucco and the 2 x 6’s?
2. If there is only one 2 x 6, would a fabricated 2” wide U-strap around the end of the 7”-wide stub-wall work well? Would a strap be best even if there are two 2 x 6’s?
3. If there is plywood sheathing beneath the stucco, is there risk of cracking the stucco with any flexing of the eye screw? If there is no sheathing how would one keep the stucco from chipping? Would the U-strap work in that case?
To achieve an attractive parabolic usual design usual guidelines recommend a minimum of three feet difference between the high and low attachments. We can have only a 2’ 4” difference in height of attachments.
1. Would this difference in attachment heights provide a attractive parabolic design?
2. Do the two high and two low attachments need to be precisely the same height, or could one of the highs be higher than the other and one of the lows be lower than the other? How much difference can there be and still achieve a visually pleasing parabolic shape?
Are some sail fabrics impregnated with fire retardants? If so, which ones and what is estimated life time of the fire retardant?
Fountain Hills, Arizona 85268
July 19, 2020
How would I attach a shade from my house to my deck rail being as they are different heights?
Can I attach a sun sail to a single wide mobile home
I’ve heard wood poles bend. Do you have any recommendations for metal poles?