Are Shade Sails A Good Choice For Keeping You Cool?

  • Written By: Rachel
  • Time to read: 5 min.

It’s pretty obvious that shade sails can provide much-needed shade for your outdoor living spaces during the heat of the day. They become very useful during the summer months. But they’re also much more dynamic than other methods of providing shade.  

Shade Sails are a good choice for keeping your outdoor living space cool because they cover large areas, they’re sturdy, easy to install, and they tend to be made of environmentally sound materials. Not to mention, they come in many different colors and sizes, so can fit most aesthetics. 

There are several benefits to installing shade sails on your property, but they must be weighed against the price and limitations. Let me explain. 

Shade Sails Cover Large Areas

High-quality shade sails can block out 99% of harmful UV rays from the sun. They usually come with a 10-year warranty against solar degradation. But all in all, the construction usually lasts 5 – 8 years. You can get these things in triangles and in rectangles. There has to be at least a 15° slope to encourage water runoff. 

These things can cover large areas and small – depending on the size you’re willing to buy and install. I’ve seen some people install them on walls and poles around their swimming pool to keep a good portion of the water cooler. Also, if you’re like me and you burn easily, having a shade sail over part of the pool is a welcome thing. 

Other types of cover can’t help with pools. They have to be attached to permanent structures or they’re designed to be placed on a pole and have to be erected with that pole as the central support. Sails can be either attached to structure walls or just to well-installed and sturdy columns or poles all around the pool you’re trying to shade. 

Shade Sails Are Sturdy in Windy Conditions

Even the sturdiest umbrella will struggle with windy conditions. The normal method for dealing with storms is to take down an umbrella and put it away. For awnings, you either hope for the best or retract it if it’s retractable. Shade Sails that are made of good quality materials can handle high winds. This is because most of them are actually porous. 

For those that are waterproof, if they are installed correctly and are made of high-quality material, they should still be able to withstand high winds. You can get them custom installed for areas of high winds (such as here on the East Coast of the United States) and the tension needs to be strong enough. 

They can take a lot of pressure and weight, but obviously, if you are about to experience hurricane-force winds or heavy snow, it might be best to take them down. 

Shade Sails Are Easy to Install

It helps out that shade sails can be installed with relative ease compared to more permanent structures. You can use them right alongside more permanent structures as well. I’ve seen them used with pergolas and also used outside of rectangular gazebos. Extending from a house to another structure outside is also a common theme. 

So long as your connections are tight and your poles or connected structures (walls of a building, roof rings) are sturdy, they should last well wherever they’re placed. They can also then be adjusted and moved as needed, unlike more permanent structures like awnings. 

What I find that is odd for me is the cost of professional installation. It can run in the thousands. But once I researched it, I understood that these installs are often custom things, with columns built specifically for the space and shade sails at the perfect angles by professional contractors. 

There Are Often Environmental Benefits to Using Shade Sails 

The material used to make most shade sails is recycled and recyclable materials. It can be used over air conditioning units and over windows to provide enough protection from solar energy that the temperature can be at the very least 10° lower than outside of it. It can increase the efficiency of your air conditioning by 10% – %15 in most cases. 

They also provide plenty of airflow, because they shade, they don’t enclose. 

What Are the Shortcomings of Shade Sails? 

When it comes to using Shade sails, you get what you pay for. That goes for the product itself as well as the installation. The materials should remain taut and sturdy for years, but if the poles aren’t installed correctly or if you get a substandard sail, the material can stretch or the sail can sag. 

Worse than this, if you aren’t paying attention to the materials your shade sail is made of, you might end up with one that is flammable or at the very least, not flame retardant. Don’t compromise when safety is important. Double-check your materials and also just keep your fires and heat away from your shade sails. 

Why Are Shade Sails So Expensive? 

Cost depends on how much you want to spend and whether you can properly install these things yourself or not. You can purchase shade sails for very cheap, but you get what you pay for with these materials. 

And the better sails are going to be heavy-duty and cost at least $300 for smaller versions and make their way up from there. For instance, 30ft (approximately 9 meters) square heavy-duty shade sails can run around $1700. 

This is at least a 2-person installation, even if you DIY. If you don’t mind replacing your shade sails more often because they aren’t as heavy-duty and you install them yourself, you might get everything handled cheaper.  Big box stores carry less expensive versions and you can learn to install them from any number of sources. 

If you want to get the product along with a professional installation with designs specific to your space, mounting rigs, cemented poles, and guarantees, this can run around $5000 – $10,000 depending on the size and number of shade sails needed for the design. Professional installation always comes with a price. 

In Conclusion

Shade Sails can be an affordable way to cool off your outdoor living space. Or you can get a professional installation for a bit more money. You just need to be sure you choose the correct fabric and install the shade sails correctly to get the most out of them. 

If you can’t guarantee this or you would prefer a more permanent solution to keeping your patio cool, then don’t stop here.  Perhaps you should look into alternative ways to keep cool over the summer by reading my article on other ways to keep you cool.