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Quick Tips for Purchasing Shade Sails

1. Patio shade sails are the sun-blocking solution for open outdoor spaces such as large patios and decks, poolsides and jacuzzis, picnic tables, and anywhere else that an awning or umbrella can't cover. Square, rectangular, and triangular shade sails can also be combined in three-dimensional layers to create beautifully aerodynamic overhangs as an alternative to pergolas or large open tents.

2. Before buying a shade sail, it's critical that you determine its position and make measurements of the area and its likely fixing points or anchor points. Structurally-sound anchor points include support posts, large trees, or metal and wood fascia reinforced with fascia supports. Measure from fixing point to fixing point, subtracting about 10% of the sail length from each corner to allow for installation and stretching.

3. The sail-like appearance of shade sails adds boldly modern lines to patio decors. But stylish as shade sails are, aesthetics is a side effect of their functional geometric forms. A shade sail's inward-sloping sides are its visual signature and its engineering secret: the curves help to evenly distribute the tension placed at each of the shade's three or four connecting points.

4. Before installing a shade sail - particularly a large shade sail - you may want to check if local building regulations are applicable. Other installation points to consider include the proximity of tree branches and wiring, sun direction, and grill location (grilling under a shade sail is a no-no).

5. Tension at a summer party - bad thing. Tension in a shade sail - good thing. One of the most common installation mistakes is a lack of tautness. This causes shade sails to flap around in the wind and pull at their anchor points. A taut sail performs better, looks better, and lasts longer. We also recommend installing at an angled elevation (high corner, low corner, high corner). It not only looks good, but it also helps with water runoff.

6. Installation will require a number of accessories. These include tensioning cable and corner tensioning devices and hardware (e.g. cable clamps, D shackles, turnbuckles). Chain may be necessary to extend the sail at one of its corners. A wrench and a winch are standard installation tools.