Shade Sail Blinds Guidance & Benefits

Published On: 12th September 2017

In our website, we regularly advise customers on how and when shade sails can be used and when they should not. In many instances, customers are unaware of the possibilities, versatility as well as certain restrictions which shade sails present. We have therefore put together this brief guide to help customers make the right decision when it comes to the use of indoor and outdoor shade sails.









Shade sails can add instant designer impact whilst at the same time providing practical cover from harsh sunlight or the occasional torrent of rain (liquid sunshine as we like to call it). But to truly benefit from the use of a shade sail you must understand its practicalities and usage limitations. Shade Sails are an engineered structure made from specialist fabrics which have been designed to perform a certain task.

Protection from Sun, Rain or Both? – Nearly everyone we speak to wants an outdoor or indoor shade sail to offer it all. They want it to protect them from the sun, provide usable outdoor space when it’s raining and have the ability to leave it up all year round. Whilst this is all possible, unfortunately, we have to tell you that compromises will have to be made.


  1. Shade sails are highly susceptible to wind. Depending upon the geographical location of where the sail is to be installed, wind loadings can place up to a tonne of pressure per square meter of fabric. Remember it’s a sail, the same thing that’s used to push 20 ton plus sailing boats around the world. This can put tremendous loadings on the sail and fixing points causing them to fail. This limits the maximum size of the sail being installed. To reduce the wind loadings and increase its size a porous shade fabric that filters UV rays can be used. Additionally, the shape and installation angle of the sail also contributes to its ability to withstand wind loadings. 
  2. To have a waterproof shade sail you have 2 main options: A ‘water resistant’ canvas or a waterproof PVC membrane fabric. Either way, they need to be properly engineered with tensile calculations to work out the optimum shape and size which can be installed at within your location. Without such calculations, you are effectively putting yourself and others, plus your property at risk.
  3. Ideally, shade sails should be independent structures that are supported via their own posts. Although in some instances they can be attached to the side of a building, the size and protrusion will need to be confirmed with the assistance of engineering calculations. At have seen the side of a pub being pulled down after inappropriate shade sails were attached to the buildings outer wall.
  4. Commercial shade sails have to comply with European Tensile Structure Guidelines. They also have to adhere to the British Standard Codes for wind and snow loading (BS 6399 parts 2 & 3). This requires that each structure undergoes a myriad of engineering calculations and data analysis to prove the constructions safety loadings. These calculations and engineering analyses are then correlated against the geographical data of where the structure is to be installed.









ALL Fabrics and Shade Sails are not the same – The shade sail market is flooded with standard shaped imported sails. Whilst these can appear to offer exceptional value, the production and fabrics need to be looked at more closely. For a shade sail to be effective and offer a good lifespan it has to have had UV testing; not only to confirm its color stability during prolonged sun exposure but also to verify its ability to block harmful UV rays. Such fabrics also need to be tested for their tensile strength, durability and to ensure they comply with EU health and safety guidelines. Shade sails can not be made from just any old fabric, but unfortunately, we have seen Companies supplying imported shade sails made from some very cheap and unsuitable fabrics.  

Indoor Shade Sails  Indoor shade sails are rapidly becoming the must have for interior designers. They offer unparalleled versatility in shape, size, color and even use. Indoor sails are now being used to act as privacy canopies above hotel and office reception areas. They are being used as promotional signage and acoustic dampeners in shopping centers. As ceiling design features in commercial spaces and exhibition centers. More commonly, shade sails are being used as a practical and stylish alternative to conservatory, orangery or garden room shading system.

Things to think about:

  1. Where shade sails are being installed to act as a privacy screen or canopy in a commercial environment, they still need to have wind loading engineerings. This is because air conditioning units, open windows, and doors can cause significant uplifts which increase air pressure and circulation around the sails. Sails installed by a firm at Heathrow airport several years back did not have Engineering’s carried out. As a result, a number of the sails broke away from their anchor’s points and caused thousands of £Pounds worth of damage to the surrounding facilities and shops.
  2. Indoor shade sails have to be designed to fit the space. You cannot install sails on a best-fit scenario as this will lead to sagging and flapping which will damage the connection and anchor points.
  3. Even though your shade sails may be installed indoors, they still need to have at least a 5% curve built into the straight edges. This specifically correlates with the above points and helps reduce an impact of updrafts.
  4. Always make sure your shade sails can be easily removed, cleaned and reinstalled with the minimum of effort.

We hope the above provides you with practical advice whilst helping you understand how shade sails can and should be manufactured and installed. However, if you would like to know more or have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at Tel: 0844 8111382