Shade Sail Installation & Safety

Step One – Safety

Please follow good & sound safety procedures during your Shade Sail installation.

Be sure that ladders are used properly and that you are aware of the danger from electrical appliances, heating appliances or vents and electrical wires in the area of sail installation. Also, be aware of possible general safety issues in the area you are working and be sure that wind and weather conditions do not present a danger. Safety glasses & safety boots are always a good idea.

Plan your Shade Sail installation considering the following:

  • Prevailing winds
  • Location of the sun as it relates to your shade needs.
  • The size of sails & the ‘look’ you would like to achieve.
  • The strength of existing structures to be used.
  • The support post locations
  • Safety issues on your site.

Step Two – Visualize

To start, spread your sails and decide on overlaps, positioning and approx height of fastening points. Try holding your sails up by hand with ropes attached to the sail corners and to the area you think will be your fastening point. Be creative if not radical in your thoughts regarding overlaps and heights of fastening points. You may be able to achieve the shade you need with a very pleasing & stylish effect.

When considering where to install your Shade Sail, think of the position of the sun at the times you are most likely to be outside. This will provide the best coverage since the sun moves throughout the day. If you are out in the mornings, for instance, position the Shade Sail to benefit from sail coverage in relation to the sun at that time of day. Also, slope the Shade Sails to further improve the UV coverage and rain runoff.

Shade Sails, whether 3, 4 or more sides, all have a curved edge from point to point. They are not straight and this is necessary to effect a good outcome when applying tension to the sail after it is installed. Not only the size of the Sail, but also the tabs and fittings required to connect to an anchor point will determine the location of your anchor points. You need to add a minimum of 10% more than the size of the Shade Sail so you will have the required room to apply all the hardware for mounting the Sail plus the space for adjusting the tension to the Sail.

Visualize your Shade Sails Installation

Step Three – Posts and Hardware

Fastening points and posts are very important in that they must be structurally able to handle the tensioning of the sails and any wind loads that may occur. Posts should be a minimum of 6” x 6” wood or heavy wall (minimum sched. 40) 5” steel pipe or square tubing. Steel can be painted or galvanized to add life and colour. The location of your posts or fastening points should be a minimum of one foot bigger than the sail dimension. This will allow for cable & hardware.

You may wish to fly the sail a distance away from one or more fastening points by using steel cable. We suggest the use of welded eye bolts, turnbuckles and ‘D’ shackles at each sail corner. Stainless hardware will offer longer life to your project.

Posts should be set in the ground with a minimum 1.5-foot diameter concrete footing. Approx one-third of the post should be below grade (Minimum 4 ft. Below grade). Set posts slightly off-plumb so that when you tension your sails the posts will want to come to the plumb position. Existing structures should be examined as to the structural integrity of the area you wish to attach the sail to. Lag bolts in masonry will often work well or bolting to wooden headers or structural members may also offer the strength you need. Determination of the structural integrity of existing buildings and structures is the responsibility of the purchaser.

NOTE: Adherence to local building codes and permit requirements are the responsibility of you, the purchaser of the sails.

Installing your Shade Sails Harware

Step Four – Fly Your Sail

When flying your sails, tensioning in the correct direction is important. (See below tensioning diagram.) When flying your Shade Sails be sure that they cannot chafe or rub on anything. Particularly when flying two or more Sails be certain that they cannot chafe or rub on each other.

Our drawing illustrates the difference in the size of a Shade Sail before it is installed and has tension applied to it. The area in light orange represents the size of the Sail after being installed and correctly tensioned. This drawing is not to scale and is just a representation of these differences. The orange area is that between the straight measurement from anchor point to anchor point between the curvature of the Shade Sail. This area does not provide any UV protection since it is not covered. It is important to consider this area when deciding on the shape and size of Sail you would like to install.

Tensioning Diagram

We recommend a clearance of at least twelve inches from all potential wear points. On calm days all will seem fine, but it is during windy periods that sail movement can occur and chaffing may result. ALSO! Flying sails on an angle is best to allow rain to run off and not pool on your Sail. A minimum angle or rake of 15 degrees is best to afford run off. When installing or flying your sails be sure to keep them away from barbecues, light fixtures, heating units or vents, any sharp objects – anything which might damage your Shade Sails.

Step Five – Maintenance

Shade Sails must be taken down in the fall to avoid damage from snow loads. Your sails should be taken down during very windy conditions or if a hurricane storm is forecast. Cleaning your Shade SailsTM – They can be hosed down with a garden hose while in place or taken down and scrubbed with a mild detergent. Please see our Product Care and Warranty section for further details.

The above installation recommendations are general guidelines for the “Do It Yourself Installer”. If you are uncertain about any aspect of your installation you may wish to seek out the services of an engineer or contractor.

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