Shade Sail Installation

Installing a shade sail doesn't have to be complicated - we've invented some great ideas to help make installing your shade sail quick and easy.

Our Pole Holder means you can easily remove poles when you want to mow the lawn, and along with our Easy Hoist Kit allows you to whip the sail shade up in no time - ready for that brief spell of sun! We've put together a quick install guide that uses the Easy Hoist Kit and Pole Holder, or alternatively read about all your install options in greater detail below.

Quick install guide

Skip to:
  1. How do I plan my Shade Sail Structure?
  2. Where shall I fix it?
  3. How long will it be in position?
  4. How do I set it up?
  5. How do I care for my Shade Sail?
1. How do I plan my Shade Sail Structure?
You will probably already have in mind the area you would like to cover and perhaps how you would like the design to look. If you haven't decided there are some ideas below for how single or multiple designs could look.

Shade Sail design ideas

Shade Sail design ideas

These are the points you need to consider:
  • Attaching your shade sail to existing structures such as your house or garage is a good start. If that is not suitable, then you will need to consider buying posts to hold your shade. (skip to 2. Where shall I fix it?)
  • Consider whether you plan to leave the shade up for months, or take it up and down to suit the occasion. (skip to 3. How long will it be in position?)
  • Most importantly, you will need to install at least one corner of the shade sail lower than the others to allow any rain water to run off. If the sail shade is either not taut enough or installed at an insufficient angle, rain water will accumulate on the waterproof shade fabric like a bag causing the fabric to stretch or tear. We recommend at least a 30 degree angle of incline for each shade sail, providing the shade is sufficiently taught.
2. Where shall I fix it?
Find a suitable anchor point for each corner of the shade sail, such as those listed below. These need to be strong enough to take the strain of the shade sail material when tensioned. (more)

To enable a good tension between anchor points these points need to be correctly aligned to each other. This can be achieved by running a straight line to the proposed anchor point from the centre of the shade sail.

If not taut, the shade sail will balloon in the wind and exert strong forces against the fixings. Also water must run off as otherwise the weight of it can cause damage to the installation. Ensure that the shade sail slopes down at one corner.

Anchor points could be:
  • A wall or strong beam
  • A suitable tree
  • A wooden post at least 100mm diameter set in the ground (available here).
  • A metal pole at least 48mm diameter set in the ground (available here).
  • A metal pole at least 48mm diameter fitted into a sleeve in the ground, like a rotary washing line (available here).
Fixing points should be at least 7ft 10inches above the ground, and it is extremely important that these are sufficiently strong to take the full weight of the shade sail in windy conditions. The wind can add significantly to the stress of the shade sail on any fixings, so it is vital to be certain that they can stand the additional drag.
NB: If you have any doubts you should take advice from a builder or structural engineer.

Wall or Fascia
If you need to install posts, these should be 48mm wide galvanised steel which is 4mm thick (these can be easily painted if required). Posts should be angled away from the centre of the shade sail by at least 10 degrees to provide additional strength and stability.

Pole diagram


Footings for posts for shade sails up to 16ft 5inches should be 400mm square and 800mm deep and this should increase to 400mm x 1200mm for larger sizes.

Footings diagram


Concrete should be well packed down around the post and sloping slightly outwards at the top to ensure water does not collect around the post. This should be left for a minimum of 48 hours to allow it to set completely before you attach the shade sail. We do not recommend the use of rapid set concrete.

Firm ground
Lay a 100mm depth of 20mm gravel at the base of the post. Add concrete and brace post on the angle. Pole installation diagram - firm ground
Soft ground
Pour a 100mm depth of concrete at the bottom of the hole to provide a solid pad. Allow this to set. Add the gravel at the base of the post. Add concrete and brace post on the angle. Pole installation diagram - soft ground
Once you have decided on a suitable site, the shade sail should be laid out in position on the ground allowing an additional 10% at each corner for tensioning. For larger gaps you may require stainless steel cable or similar to reach more distant fixing points.

Fascia fixing

If you choose a fascia
As a fixing point you may want to consider adding a fascia support for added strength. These are available from most good hardware distributors and connect the fascia to the joists or trusses.
If you decide to use a tree as a fixing point then it should be at least 250mm in diameter.

Using whatever structures you already have will make the job easier and cheaper.

We can supply the posts and sleeves for the installation, see our full range of installation accessories here.

We also have a lightweight portable option, which consists of aluminium pole sections and guy ropes for a very temporary set up, perhaps a day out at the beach.

Close section
3. How long will it be in position?
Decide first if you want to fix it in place long term, hoist it up and down as and when you need it for short term use, or put it up temporarily for just a few hours.

Both the long and short term methods could use the same type of strong anchor points, and these need to correctly located by a straight line running from the centre of the shade sail.

Option A - Long term fixing method
Option B - Short term "Easy-hoist" method
Option C - Temporary method
This will mean that the shade sail will be secured in place under good tension for a prolonged period by one of the following methods illustrated in section 4. How do I set it up?. It is essentially clipped into place and tensioned with turnbuckles.

This may be suitable for fairly constant use in an outdoor area, as the shade sail can provide shelter from both rain and sun.
(Skip to section 4. How do I set it up?)

This will mean that the Shade Sail can be put up and down quickly and the shade sail will be taut, but not as drum taut as in the previous method.
This may be suitable for an outdoor area that need occasional shade or shelter, but perhaps might have plants underneath that need light and water.
Each of the above methods can use the same anchor points but different fixtures.

View our Easy-Hoist Fixing Sets:
Galvanised Steel Easy Hoist Fixing Kit - Standard - $15.99
Stainless Steel Easy Hoist Fixing Kit - Standard - $25.99

(Skip to section 4. How do I set it up? or view our basic step-by-step guide with photos )

This is a simple construction of aluminium poles that slot together which are tensioned by guy ropes fixed into the ground. It is ideal for a day out, but not suitable for a situation with strong wind. (Click here to view these products)
Close section
4. How do I set it up?
Option A - Long term fixing method
Option B - Short term "Easy-hoist" method
Anchor Points Accessory Type
Flat surface (wall, etc.) Pad Eye
Metal Pole Eye Bolt
Wooden Post or Tree Eye Screw

  1. Screw in Pads Eyes to the walls with rawl plugs, the Eye Bolts to metal poles, or the Eye Screws to a wooden beam, post or tree.
  2. Attachments to anchor points
  1. If you have been able to locate your anchor points close to your shade sails, then attach the fixing as illustrated below.

  2. If you need to extend the point of shade sail attachment, use the appropriate length of stainless steel wire, see the image below. (See product page for more details)

  3. Stainless Steel extension cable
    Shade Sail installation diagram
    Eye Bolt (for metal poles)

  4. Using a Strap Tensioner
    Even when your shade sail has been set up with a sufficient slope for rain to run off, it is still essential that the shade sail is sufficiently taut so that wind will pass over it and rain run off it. To achieve the additional tension for your sail shade use a Strap Tensioner. This needs to be done at all anchor points.

Step 1 Attach the strap tensioner to both snaphooks, and a turnbuckle to only one snaphook as shown in the diagram below.

Using a Strap Tensioner - Step 1

Step 2 Use the strap tensioner to tighten the sail shade sufficiently.

Using a Strap Tensioner - Step 2

Step 3 Hook the turnbuckle onto the other snaphook and turn the middle section, tightening the turnbuckle until it will turn no more.

Using a Strap Tensioner - Step 3

Step 4 Release the strap tensioner and unhook from the snaphooks.

Using a Strap Tensioner - Step 4

How To Tie A Taut-Line Hitch
How To Operate Your Strap Tensioner