Shade Sails

Shade Sails can provide an attractive and versatile way to provide shade and reduce heat gain. 


Shade sails are tensioned fabric triangles or four sided polygons that are supported by fixed supports (usually poles or buildings) to provide shade for decks, entries, windows, ...  Often several sails are used in combination for wider coverage and visual appeal -- the effect can be quite striking. 

The sail fabric is usually tensioned with cables that run along the edges, and the edges are cut on a curve to provide tension over the entire surface of the sail.  Each corner of the sail is attached to a pole or fixed structure -- these connections are tensioned to keep the sail stable in the wind.   Properly designed and installed sails are reportedly quite stable in high winds (see links below).


The shade sails are common in Australia, but (it seems) underutilized elsewhere.



The websites below provide information on shade sails -- I picked these sites because they provide some worthwhile information on designing or installing sails, or good photo galleries showing how shade sails can be used.  Most of these suppliers are located in Australia.

This is not any kind of recommendation  for these suppliers -- just a few places I found while looking around.



Billabong Shade  -- Very extensive photo gallery


Horizon Sails (pdf)  -- Some information on laying out and designing shade sails


So-Cal Shade Sails (San Diego, CA) -- Some helpful photos and design information, and a DIY section.  The offer custom sails and a selection of off the shelf sails, as well as mounting hardware.


ABACUS Shade Structures -- extensive project library with pictures and a little design information on each project.


Sundance Shadesails -- a wide variety of off the shelf shade sails.


Shade Solutions  -- Some design and installation information, and some interesting design examples.


Greenhouse Megastore  -- Some shade sail kits in several sizes with hardware at pretty reasonable prices.

BlueDotTrading -- Various size shade sails and installation gear.



Example Photos

Here are a few pictures of shade sails used for various purposes:

These pictures are taken from the websites listed above.


Ocean Blue Shade Sail
This is the kit shade sail from the Greenhouse Megastore



The 4 sided polygon style of shade sail.  The support heights are arranged with the diagonals at different heights to promote stability in the wind.


Deck and window shading

Simple deck and window shade.  Another deck and window shade.  Quad shade with tree for support point.



More Examples:

Click on pictures to enlarge

Rocio Romero LV Prefab Home in
Napa, Ca

Rocio Romero LV Prefab Home in
Napa, Ca



The installation manual on the Greenhouse Megastore kits has a lot of good installation detail...




One configuration of shade sail corner showing cable pockets and corner attachment fitting





Gary 8/11/2007, Mar 4, 2011