A Simple Guide to Outdoor Shade Sails

When the hot Australian summer months approach, spending time outdoors can be unpleasant without the proper shade and coverage.

With an outdoor shade sail, you'll enjoy a beautiful aesthetic and plenty of shade to keep yourself and your guests comfortable and cool.

If you're considering a shade sail at home, read on to learn more about choosing and setting up these helpful home accessories.

Do You Need Council Approval For Shade Sails?

Depending on your location, you may need to obtain council approval before attaching a shade sail to your home or patio. In general, you likely won't need to obtain approval, but there could be some exceptions.

For example, if your shade sail is exceptionally large, it's always best to ask beforehand. When you check with your local council in advance, you can avoid the worry or stress about potential issues in the future. Consult with your local council and ask them about size limits, design or style requirements, and more to ensure you're able to use a shade sail.

Some councils require that triangle shade sail are no longer than 20 square meters in size and three meters in height. The sail should also not extend past your home's facade in most localities. Anything beyond those guidelines may require prior approval, so it's always best to confirm before you look for a shade sail for your home. 

If you're still not sure about sizing, feel free to contact us and we can help you work it out. 

What Size Outdoor Shade Sail do I Need?

The size of your specific shade sail can vary depending on the shape and design that you want to install. Always ensure that the shade sail will provide you with ample coverage over an uncovered outdoor space, such as a concrete patio.

You'll also want to make sure that you have enough room for maximum tensioning at the corners. Corners that are not taught can wear the shade sail down faster, and you also won't have a tight, secure fit which can cause the material to buckle.

Make sure that the sail starts approximately 30 cm or 0.3 meters from each anchor point. If you're using multiple sails, there should be approximately a 45 cm or 0.45-meter gap between each one to keep them from rubbing together on windy days.

As for the actual size of the sail itself, many options come in predetermined sizes and shapes such as triangles, squares, and rectangles. You can also opt for a custom-sized shade to meet your exact specifications. As long as the shade sail provides you with the coverage you need, you'll enjoy a cool, comfortable outdoor space.

Measure your patio, deck, or porch to get the total dimensions before you decide on the size of your shade sail. Next, measure the distance between each attachment point to give you a clearer idea of the dimensions of the shade sail itself. The final size will be smaller than the total dimensions of your patio or deck since you'll need to keep that distance of 0.3 meters between each anchor point.

How to Install a Shade Sail on a Deck

Once you've determined the proper size of your outdoor shade sail, you'll need to decide on the location of each anchor point. To install a shade sail on a deck, you'll likely need to add posts to each corner to hold the sail in place.

Posts should be made of thick wood and secured either by anchoring them to the deck itself or in holes filled with concrete (footings) on the ground. You may also use a large tree, fence post, or fascia depending on how your deck is oriented. Steel is another option for shade sail posts, but attaching them may require different parts.

Once all of your mounting posts are secured, you'll need to add the hardware and make sure that each connection is facing toward the centre of your shade sail. Tighten each connection securely, then lay your rectangle shade sail out in the correct configuration or orientation.

Begin by connection each corner of your shade sail to the fixing or anchor points. Hook each one up loosely, then slowly start to tension them using a strapping tensioner. As you tighten the sail, it will begin to look taught and rigid without any wrinkles, which means it's ready to be enjoyed.

If your shade sail starts to sag, you can re-tighten it and bring it taught. One way to do this is by using a wire rope that runs through a pocket sewn in the perimeter of your sail. Simply pull the wire rope on each corner until the shade sail retightens and all sagging is removed.

Another method to fix the issue is through height variation, where the sails are installed at alternating high and low anchor points. This creates something called a hyperbolic parabola. The opposing high points pull the sail up and out, while the lower points pull it down and out to keep everything tight.

You may also use tensioning hardware such as turnbuckles or pulleys. This hardware should be included with the installation, and you can use it to retighten your sail whenever it sags or becomes loose.

It's easy to get the comfort level you need to beat the Australian heat with an outdoor shade sail. Not only do these sails look beautiful, but they're an easy way to enjoy a cooler, shaded outdoor space any time of year.

Make sure you install durable and secure anchor points before installing the shade sail. Select the proper size and hardware to install your sail and experience the ultimate in cool relaxation.

To explore our range of products, be sure to visit our website or get in touch with us today for more information. 

Please note the contents of this post is information only and general in nature.

If you require advice it is best to contact one of our shade specialists who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.

A shade sail is a patio or deck covering made from durable outdoor fabric that provides protection from the sun. Shade sails are installed by stretching the fabric and using tension to affix the corners of the shade to mounting points (like a pergola, post, tree or wall). Shade sails are considered a more affordable and versatile alternative to a hard-structure roof. Shade sails come in various shapes, sizes and colors to fit any style backyard.

Of course the main benefit of rectractable shade sail is sun protection. Most shade sails block between 90 to 95 percent of UV rays. There are some variations in UV absorption depending on the shade material’s weight color and the tightness of the weave, but the differences are typically less than five percent. But if you want maximum sun protection, know that heavier fabric, a tighter weave and darker colors generally block the most UV rays.

You also might want your shade sail to block rain. Triangle sun shade sail are water resistant but not waterproof. A light sprinkle will roll off the shade, so it’s important to install it at an angle. In a heavy downpour, water will drip through the shade because it’s made from breathable woven fabric, which allows air to pass through and keep the shaded area cool. If you want full rain protection, look for a shade specifically categorized as waterproof.

Skin cancer is among the most common cancers in light-skinned populations worldwide, and melanoma incidence has increased beyond that expected because of population growth and aging.1 There will be an estimated 87?110 cases of melanoma in the United States2 and 13?941 cases of melanoma in Australia3 in 2017. The primary risk factor for skin cancer, and the most avoidable, is exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation.4

To prevent skin cancer, individuals are advised to minimize UV exposure by staying in the shade.2,5 Permanent purpose-built shade can provide known amounts of reduction of UV exposure.6 Shade is part of the built environment,7 which according to social-ecological models8 can have direct effects on behaviors (e.g., increasing individuals shaded, providing a visible cue for sun protection, and enabling access to protection without planning9,10). Shade may attract high-risk individuals with unfavorable attitudes toward sun safety to use shade for maintaining comfortable body temperatures.11

Identifying environmental features amenable to change holds promise for improving population health7; however, evidence is limited mainly to cross-sectional or quasi-experimental designs with scant prospective trials.12 The prevalence of, trends in,13,14 and demographic and attitudinal correlates of shade use, along with the association of shade with temperature and sunburn incidence, have been reported.15–17 A study in Melbourne, Australia, secondary schools remains the only prospective randomized trial of purpose-built shade for sun protection9,11; it found that students used rather than avoided shade.11

The ability to improve sun protection by introducing shade needs to be tested in other locations and with adults. Public parks are popular for outdoor recreation, and shade is a desirable feature in parks.10 The present trial prospectively tested the effect of purpose-built shade on use of passive recreation areas (PRAs) in public parks (i.e., areas used for sitting or standing while socializing, preparing or eating a meal, watching or coaching sports, watching a concert, taking a class, or waiting, or areas where people stroll for sightseeing or while observing outdoor displays). We hypothesized that the introduction of triangle patio shade sail over PRAs would increase the use of the PRAs by park visitors compared with unshaded control PRAs (hypothesis 1). Social-ecological models suggest that built environmental features influence health risks through their interplay with the social environment. Australia has a longer history of comprehensive efforts to prevent skin cancer than the United States.18,19 Accordingly, stronger norms for sun safety in Australia than in the United States are expected, so we hypothesized that the increase in use of PRAs at shaded PRAs would be larger in Melbourne, Australia than in Denver, Colorado (hypothesis 2).

We included a sample of 144 study PRAs, together with 144 comparison PRAs, in the trial in 2010 to 2014 in public parks in 4 municipalities in the Melbourne area (Manningham, Monash, Whittlesea, and Shire of Nillumbik) and Denver. Lists of public parks were provided by municipal staff, who designated some parks as ineligible because of location, amenities, or scheduled construction or renovation. Each park was audited by research staff to identify suitable PRAs.20 To be eligible, PRAs had to (1) be located in public parks containing at least 2 unshaded PRAs, (2) meet the definition of a PRA, and (3) be in full sun (i.e., no shade) at pretest; 1 of the 2 PRAs had to (4) contain a space where a shade sail could be constructed (i.e., free from underground or above ground obstructions, relatively level, and large enough to accommodate the shade sail), and (5) be approved by parks department staff for shade sail construction. We excluded PRAs when major construction or redevelopment was planned within the study period. We selected a single study PRA for full assessment and potential randomization to shade construction, which avoided bias because of clustering of PRAs within a park. We selected a second unshaded comparison PRA (if more than 1 was available, the PRA closest to the study PRA was selected) and assessed it as in use or not to provide a measure of how extensively PRAs were being used in the park.

Trial Design and Procedures

We conducted a stratified randomized pretest–posttest controlled design study by enrolling PRAs within public parks in 3 annual waves. After completion of the pretest assessment, parks were randomized by an independent biostatistician in an unequal 1:3 allocation ratio to treatment (shaded) versus control (unshaded) stratified by city, wave, and pretest use of the study PRA. The project biostatistician was blinded to conditions, and the independent biostatistician had no further role in the project. At treatment PRAs, shade sails were built to similar designs in both cities, with some variation to fit the site requirements and preference of the municipalities, between pretest and posttest assessments, by working with parks department staff and shade sail vendors. The PRAs were observed by trained observers for 30-minute periods on 4 weekend days during a 20-week period in the summer months (June to September in Denver; December to March in Melbourne) at pretest and posttest. Study condition was apparent to data collection staff at posttest because shade sails were impossible to conceal.

Treatment Using Shade Sails

Shade sails were designed to create attractive shade structures that maximized available shade from 11 am to 3 pm in summer and complied with local engineering, building, and planning codes.20 Shade cloth had a minimum ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating that reduced UV exposure by at least 94% and exceeded the minimum safety requirements for strength and resistance to light degradation. Project staff recommended that the shade sail be the largest size acceptable to the municipalities.

Ownership of the shade sails was transferred to the municipalities once built and thereby compensated them for work on the project. Nearly all shade sails were completed before the following summer. Completion of a few shade sails was delayed until part way through the summer because of permitting and construction delays and unanticipated underground obstructions, so the posttest observations occurred after construction finished.

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