The Sail Shade Boutique - UK

UV protection from the Australian specialists
☰ Menu

Frequently asked questions regarding Sail Shades

 protection -  sun -  sun - intr01  garden -  triangle -  garden - intr02  shade -  protection -  shade sail - intr03  shade sail - sail - sail - intr04 sail - sail - sail - intr05

What is a shade sail ?

The origin of the shade sail, as the name suggests, was from the sails of ships. A modern shade sail is essentially a large cloth suspended above an area creating a shaded area beneath. Using sails removed from boats to create shade has been documented since the age of the pharoes in Egypt. Documents also prove that the Romans frequently used ships sails on public holidays to create shade for their festivities, notably around the Colosseum in Rome and for other large gatherings.

Whilst the modern shade sails have their origins in ships sails, the technology has evolved significantly. The best modern shade sails use woven fabrics developed to block UV and have little in common with boat sails. The knitted fabric allows air to pass through the sail shade so that hot air can escape keeping the shaded area as fresh as possible. The knitted fabric stretches slightly when tensioned so that interesting three dimensional shapes can created .

The main purpose of a shade sail is to create a 'safe shade' where the sun's harmful uv radiation can not penetrate. Scientists have alerted us for some time that exposure to the sun's uv rays significantly increases the risk of skin cancer and this was one of the primary reasons for the creation of the modern shade sail in countries such as Australia and South Africa where the summer sun can be very dangerous. From these countries the shade sail rapidly gained in popularity around the world as the understanding of the health risks of long exposure to the sun was understood.

Is installation difficult ?

In most cases anyone competent in DIY can install a shade sail. It requires strong fixing points for each corner which can be achieved either by using a suitable existing structure or by installing posts. If posts are required these will need to be securely anchored in cement and strong enough to hold the shade sail. The Shade sail should be attached to the fixing points using adjustable fixings (see fixings information below). If necessary stainless steel chain can also be used to further extend the distance.

Visit our 'Installation Guide' for more information. You may also find the videos below of interest :

How should I install my shade sail ?

There are no defined rules although we advise that if possible a shade sail is installed on an angle to allow any rain water to run off to the side. A single shade sail or multiple sails can be used. Please see our 'inspiration' page.
 triangle -  sun -  protection - layout01   uv -   uv - sail - layout02 sail -  sail shade -  garden - layout03 sail -  sun -  garden - layout04  sun -  triangle -  sun - layout05

Where to attach a shade sail ?

A Shade Sail must be securely fastened. It can be attached to any solid existing structure, normally the wall of a house, or wooden / metal posts can be used.

The fixings must be very strong. The force of any wind effecting the shade sail will be transmitted to these fixings, so using top quality fixings and attaching the shade sail to a solid structure is very important.

We advise using the fixings shown below. One set will be required for each corner. If the fixing point is further than these maximum distances, then a suitably strong stainless steel cable can be used to join the two.

Are Shade Sails safe in strong winds ?

In strong winds the sail shade will 'catch the wind' and forces will be transmitted throughout the structure. As each installation is different it is not possible to give specific advice but we can say that from our experience, because of the very strong reinforced borders used in our Shade Sails, it is more likely that the Fixings or fixing point will fail before the shade sail suffers any damage.

In order to reduce the impact of wind, it is very important that the shade sail is installed with each edge fully tensioned to keep it from flapping in the wind as this movement can greatly increases the forces transmitted to the fixing points. The fixing should be checked periodically and tightened if necessary as the shade sail will expand slightly over time.

Can I leave it installed all year round ?

This will depend upon weather conditions. If your Shade Sail does need to be taken down then using our fixing kits will make this a simple job that will take as little as 5 or 10 minutes. We advise taking down the shade sail in the following circumstances :

Strong Winds : If strong winds are forecast then it is advisable to take the Sail shade down as strong winds not only creates pressure on the shade sail but more importantly the fixing points.

Snow : If snow is forecast the shade sails should be taken down as the weight of the snow can stretch the fabric and create enormous strains on the fixing points.

Barring these circumstances it is common for shade sails to be left in place.

How can I clean my Shade Sail ?

We recommend using a garden hose and a soft brush to clean your sail. As the shade sail is woven and each fibre is coated to make it UV resistant, it is not advisable to use either a hard brush or any strong chemical cleaners.

Is a shade sail waterproof ?

Shade Sails were specifically designed to protect from the sun and not the rain. Their woven fabric is intentionally porous to allow hot air to rise through them and for any breeze to pass through. However, as long as it is not installed flat, the vast majority of rain falling on the Sail with flow to the edges.

 sail shade -  rectangle -  shade sail - uv protection 01  sun -  sail shade -  sun - uv protection 02  protection -  shade sail -  rectangle - uv protection 03  protection -  sun -  sail shade - uv protection 04  protection -  shade sail -  shade - uv protection 05

Why choose a shade sail rather than parasol ?

  • Few parasols block UV, the primary objective of the shade sail
  • Life expectancy - even the best parasols do not usually last more than a couple of seasons.
    Installed properly, your shade sail will last over 10 years meaning that over the life of the product the sail shade can be much more cost effective
  • Shade Sails do not need to be removed accept in extreme weather conditions
  • A Shade Sail can cover a much larger area and does not need to be moved throughout the day as the sun moves in the sky
  • A Shade Sail does not obstructing the view!
  • A shade sail can be used to create interesting, visually pleasing structures. By combining multiple sails you can create your own unique structure

Why choose our shade sails rather than an alternative


Our shade sails use the best sail cloth, have reinforced borders and use marine quality stainless steel fixings.

Our shade sails are made to last and the fabric has a 10 year guarantee against deterioration caused by UV sunlight.

Cheaper shade sails are available but these will be lower quality :
  • they will not last as long
  • they will not keep their UV protection which is often applied to the finished product rather than coating every thread before weaving
  • they will not be strong enough to withstand the same weather conditions
  • they will use less flexible material that will not be able to be stretched into the same elegant shapes possible with quality shade sails

Why are sail shade borders not a straight line ?

 shade sail -  rectangle - sail - Shape 01  sun -  protection -  shade sail - Shape 02  shade -  square -  square - Shape 03  shade -  sail shade -  shade - Shape 04
The edge of the shade sail must be rounded to allow the shade sail to be properly stretched during installation . This gives the elegant look characteristic of the shade sail.

Straight edges would not allow the shade sail to be stretched correctly. This would allow the structure to flap in the wind causing serious consequences for the fixing points and the lifespan of the product.

Which way around do I install my Shade Sail ?

A shade sail can be installed in any orientation. The only difference is that the reinforced webbing is sewn on only one side. As the UV protection is in coated onto each fabric strand the orientation of the sail will not affect the UV protection.

What is the difference between a 'ready to install' and 'custom-made' shade sail ?

'Ready to Install' sail shades are cheaper but they are only available in the most popular sizes and colours as defined by the manufacturer. They are manufactured in large numbers and can be 1 /3 the price of an equivalent custom sail. If one of the sizes in the 'ready to install' range, it may be the best solution.

Custom sail shades do offer additional options regarding sizes, although in almost all cases a ready made sail can be made to work.

Do you have any other questions ?

If you have any more questions please use the contact form from the menu and we will try to answer any questions you may have ..