9 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Shade Sails

9 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Buying Shade Sails

shade sail mistakes

What are some of the most common mistakes that you will need to avoid when buying shade sails? Continue reading to learn more.

Shade sails are a great solution for shading any outdoor area – and because they are so versatile, customisable and easy to install, it is not a surprise that they have been increasingly popular over the last few years.

While purchasing a shade sail may seem pretty straightforward (and in fact, it is!), this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some pitfalls along the way. 

In this article, we will take a look at some of the most common shade sail mistakes that people make when buying them – and how you can avoid them to ensure that you are making the best purchase for your needs.

So, without further ado, let’s get right into it:

1. Measuring your outdoor area incorrectly

Whether you are opting for a store-bought option or a bespoke solution, one of the most common shade sail mistakes that you should avoid at all costs is measuring your outdoor area incorrectly

Outdoor settings may vary by size and shape, which means that you should carefully consider the space that you will be working with. Taking incorrect measurements can lead to installation and tensioning issues, and even ineffective coverage from the suns’ harmful UV rays.

Some of the major issues include:

– Too small – if you underestimate the size of the area you want to shade, the shade sail may end up being too small. This means it won’t provide adequate coverage, leaving some parts exposed to the sun. It can also affect the overall aesthetic appeal if the sail looks disproportionately small in the designated space.

– Too large – on the other hand, if you overestimate the dimensions, you might end up with a shade sail that is too large for the intended space. This can lead to practical issues like difficulty in installation and a sagging or loose appearance. Oversized shade sails may also be more prone to damage in windy conditions.

– Inaccurate shape considerationshade sails and tensile canopies come in various shapes, such as triangles, squares, rectangles, and custom shapes. Choosing the wrong shape for your space can result in inefficient coverage or an awkward fit. Each shape serves a specific purpose, so it’s essential to select the one that suits your area best.

2. Ignoring the quality of the shade sail

Among the most common shade sail mistakes that people make when looking for a shading solution is ignoring the quality of the product.

Opting for the cheapest shading solutions may be tempting, especially if you don’t have a lot of budget for your project. However, this is likely to be counterproductive over the long run, because cheap shade sails often have poor performance and don’t last as long. 

The lifespan of a good quality shade sail can range from 5 to 15 years or even longer, depending on the specific materials used and the environmental conditions it faces. 

However, a low-quality shade sail may only last between 1 and 5 years, which means that you would have to replace it more frequently – resulting in significantly higher costs as opposed to investing in a good-quality solution from the start.

In addition, quality materials are treated to resist UV damage, preventing fading and degradation over time – which is not usually the case with shade sails made from low-quality materials.

3. Disregarding local regulations

Speaking of common shade sail mistakes, we can’t forget to mention the disregard to local regulations. 

Many municipalities have zoning regulations that dictate the types of structures that can be installed on residential or commercial properties. 

Some areas may require permits for installing shade structures, especially if they are larger. Ignoring these requirements can result in fines, forced removal of the shade sail, or other legal consequences.

Local regulations also often include rules about how close structures can be to property lines. Installing a shade sail too close to a neighbour’s property without permission may violate these regulations and lead to disputes.

common shade sail mistakes

4. Underestimating maintenance needs

Before you buy a shade sail, another thing that you will have to keep in mind to avoid commonly made shade sail mistakes is maintenance. Purchasing and installing any type of shading solution doesn’t mean that you forget about it – proper maintenance and cleaning is essential.

Outdoor environments are prone to accumulating dirt, dust, leaves, and other debris. If a shade sail is not regularly cleaned, this debris can accumulate on the fabric, affecting its appearance and potentially leading to mould or mildew growth.

Accidental spills, bird droppings, or other substances can also stain the fabric of the sail. Ignoring the need for prompt cleaning may result in stubborn stains that are difficult to remove over time.

Over time, environmental factors such as sunlight and weather conditions can cause wear and tear on the fabric of the shade sail. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and inspection, can help identify signs of weakening and address them before they become more significant problems.

In some cases, you may need replacement shade sails.

5. Not ensuring proper installation and tension adjustment

If you want to avoid one of the most common shade sails mistakes, pay close attention to this section – proper installation and tension adjustment are crucial for the good performance of your shade sail, and make sure that it will reach its expected lifespan.

Proper installation involves securely attaching the shade sail to robust support structures, such as poles, walls, or other designated anchor points. This ensures the overall structural integrity of the shade sail, preventing sagging, tilting, or potential collapse.

On another hand, tensioning is essential for maintaining the appropriate level of tightness in the shade sail. Adequate tension helps the fabric withstand wind forces, reducing the risk of flapping or billowing. Properly tensioned shade sails are more resistant to wind damage.

If you want to ensure proper installation and tension adjustment, you can also opt for professional installation services.

6. Buying a shade sail without UV protection

The primary purpose of a shade sail is to provide protection from the sun, including blocking harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to serious health risks, including sunburn, premature ageing of the skin, and an increased risk of skin cancer. A shade sail without UV protection does not effectively shield individuals and belongings from these risks.

That’s why buying a shade sail without UV protection is one of the most common shade sail mistakes that people make.

7. Neglecting sun angles

Neglecting sun angles when installing a shade sail can result in suboptimal shading and reduced effectiveness in providing relief from the sun. 

Understanding the path of the sun throughout the day and how it interacts with the shade sail is crucial for achieving the desired level of shade coverage.

The angle of the sun changes with the seasons. Neglecting sun angles means that you might not account for seasonal variations in the sun’s path. 

In winter, the sun is lower in the sky, and in summer, it is higher. A well-designed shade sail takes these variations into account for year-round effectiveness.

8. Ignoring warranty and return policies

Ignoring warranty and return policies are among the most frequent shade sails mistakes that people make when looking for a long-lasting shading solution.

Manufacturers typically provide warranties to assure customers of the quality and durability of their products. 

Ignoring the warranty means you might have limited or no recourse if the shade sail has defects, structural issues, or fails to meet quality standards. You could end up bearing the cost of repairs or replacement yourself.

However, keep in mind that not all manufacturers offer warranties – low-quality solutions typically come without any warranty at all. So, choose a provider like SD Sails if you are looking for a peace of mind with your shade sail.

9. Not knowing the different types of shade sails

Not knowing the different types of shade sails is a frequent shade sail mistake that many people make. 

However, understanding the key differences is essential because it allows you to make informed decisions based on your specific needs, preferences, and the characteristics of your outdoor space.

Shade sails may differ by:


Flat shade sails

Hypar shade sails

Conic shade sails


Square shade sails

– Rectangular shade sails

Triangular shade sails

– Hexagonal shade sails

– Customised configurations


Breathable shade sails

Waterproof shade sails

In summary, knowing the different types of shade sails empowers you to make well-informed decisions that consider both functionality and aesthetics. 

It ensures that the shade sail you choose aligns with your specific needs, creating a more satisfying and effective outdoor shading solution.


Why does my shade sail sag in the middle?

A sagging shade sail may result from insufficient tension. Ensure proper installation, adequate fixing points, and correct tensioning to prevent fabric sag in the middle. 

Regular adjustments maintain optimal tautness for effective shading and an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Should a shade sail be tight or loose?

A shade sail should be taut for stability and sun protection. Optimal tension prevents sagging, enhances aesthetics, and ensures longevity. However, avoiding excessive tension is crucial to avoid strain on fabric and hardware. 

Regular checks maintain the desired tautness for effective performance in diverse weather conditions.

How do I stop water pooling on my shade sail?

Prevent water pooling on your shade sail by ensuring proper installation with a slight slope for runoff. Tension adjustments and periodic checks maintain the desired angle, minimising the risk of water accumulation. 

Additionally, choose a breathable fabric to enhance drainage and reduce the chances of pooling during rainfall.

Do shade sails stretch over time?

Yes, shade sails can stretch over time due to factors like wind, sun exposure, and temperature changes. Regular tension adjustments and proper maintenance help minimise stretching, preserving the sail’s longevity and effectiveness in providing shade. 

Choosing high-quality, durable materials also contributes to minimising stretching over the lifespan of the shade sail.