How to Measure For a Shade Sail in 4 Simple Steps

How to Measure For a Shade Sail in 4 Simple Steps

how to measure for a shade sail

In the market for purchasing a shade sail? Here are four simple steps on how to measure for a shade sail with detail and precision. 

If you are in the market for buying a shade sail, you are probably wondering how to measure your outdoor space precisely and effectively to ensure that your shade sail is going to provide maximum coverage and protection. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about measuring for a shade sail – including how to determine the points and fixings, how to measure perimeters and diagonals, as well as how to measure heights correctly.

So, let’s get right into the basics:

Main considerations before purchasing a shade sail 

Before we get into the precise steps on how to measure for a shade sail, there are a few important considerations that you will need to keep in mind. Let’s take a quick look:

Store-bought vs made-to-measure shade sails

One thing to keep in mind before buying a shade sail is whether you are looking for a store-bought or a made-to-measure option

This is important because regardless of how precisely you measure your outdoor space, you may lack full coverage and protection if you can’t find store-bought options that fit the size or shape of your space. In this case, opting for a custom shade sail can be the better option. 

Store-bought shade sails usually come in limited shapes, sizes, and colours, so they may not perfectly fit unique outdoor settings.

Measurement and installation

Another consideration before learning how to measure for a shade sail is whether you prefer to get professional help or you want to do a part of the process (the measurement and installation) yourself. 

As a rule of thumb, if you are concerned with whether you are taking the right measurements for your shade sail, or you want to ensure that it’s been installed and tensioned properly, a professional shade sail company like SD Sails can do that for you. 

Free-form vs fully custom shade sails

Fully customised shade sails doesn’t necessarily mean high costs and long waiting times. SD Sails offers a proprietary Free Form Technology that allows you to order a bespoke canopy in minutes, choosing between different fabrics, shapes, and forms. 

How to measure for a shade sail: 4 simple steps

Now that you know the main considerations before purchasing a shade sail, and you have opted for measuring for a shade sail yourself, let’s take a look at the steps:

1. Select the correct form

The first step when measuring your outdoor space is to select the desired form of your shade sail. You can typically choose between the following forms:

Flat shade sails

Flat shade sails are simple and functional, featuring a clean, rectangular or square design. Stretched tightly between anchor points, they provide a straightforward and effective solution for shading outdoor spaces. 

Their ease of installation makes them a popular choice for those seeking a practical yet stylish way to block sunlight and create comfortable areas for relaxation or gatherings.

Hypar shade sails

Hypar shade sails boast a distinctive hyperbolic paraboloid shape, characterised by two opposing curves that create a twisted, saddle-like surface. This unique design not only offers an aesthetically pleasing and dynamic appearance but also ensures effective shading. 

Achieving the desired shape requires careful tensioning, resulting in a visually striking addition to outdoor environments that goes beyond mere functionality.

Conic shade sails

Conic shade sails feature a cone-shaped design, with a central point elevated higher than the surrounding edges. 

The elegance and modern aesthetic of the conic shape make it a popular choice for those looking to enhance outdoor spaces with both style and functionality. 

Configurable in various arrangements, conic shade sails provide effective coverage while adding a touch of sophistication to landscapes, requiring proper tensioning for stability and performance.

2. Reference the site

When measuring for a shade sail, the second important step is referencing the site. This involves aligning your drawing with the actual outdoor space, and determining the specific points where the shade sail will be anchored.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the process:

2.1. Align the drawing to the site

Lay out the drawing of your shade sail in the actual outdoor area where you plan to install it. This helps you visualise how the shade sail will fit within the space.

2.2. Choose Point A

Decide which post or fixing point you want to designate as Point A. This could be a physical post, a part of a building, or any other fixed feature in your outdoor space.

2.3. Mark Point A

To ensure you remember the chosen Point A, mark either the drawing itself or the actual post/fixing with the letter A. This can be a visual reminder that helps maintain consistency throughout the measurement and installation process.

2.4. Reference or mark subsequent points

Working clockwise from Point A, reference or mark the subsequent posts or fixings as Points B, C, D, and so on. This step involves identifying and labelling each anchor point in the order they will be connected to the shade sail.

2.5. Memorable features

You can use memorable features in the outdoor space, such as fences, buildings, or cardinal directions like North, to aid in referencing. This helps ensure accuracy and consistency as you move around the space.

types of shade sails

3. Measuring perimeter and diagonals

Determining the perimeter and diagonals of your outdoor space is a crucial step when measuring for a shade sail. You can do it by following these steps:

Measuring the perimeter

Begin at the chosen reference point (Point A) and use a measuring tape to measure the distance along one side of the space. This is the first segment of the perimeter.

Next, work your way around the entire space, measuring each side sequentially. If you marked subsequent points (B, C, D, etc.) during the referencing step, use them as a guide for your measurements.

Continue by recording the measurements of each side, noting them down in a systematic manner. Finally, add up all the individual side measurements to find the total perimeter of your outdoor space.

Measuring the diagonals

Begin at the reference point (Point A) and use the measuring tape to measure the diagonal distance to the opposite corner. This is the first diagonal. Next, measure the diagonal from Point A to the opposite corner in the other direction. This is the second diagonal.

Record the measurements of both diagonals, and then check for squareness.

If your outdoor space is intended to be rectangular, check if the diagonals are equal. If they are, it indicates that the space is square.

4. Measuring heights

The last step when measuring for a shade sail is to measure the heights. 

While it’s not mandatory to incorporate height measurements into the initial plotting of the shade sail’s shape, they serve as a valuable crosscheck for both the perimeter and diagonal measurements.

Height measurements also play a crucial role in visualising the trajectory of rain runoff and strategically placing seams for optimal functionality.

To accurately measure fixing heights, the first step is to establish a level datum line encircling the structure. You can achieve this using a laser level or a straightforward water level, as detailed in resources like this one.

The specific height of the datum line is flexible, but you must position it either at or below the lowest fixing point. Starting from the marked level on each post or fixing, take vertical measurements to the bearing face of each fixing point. 

Then, record these height measurements in the designated section of the measuring form, ensuring precision to the nearest millimetre.


Why is choosing the correct form of shade sail important for measuring?

Choosing the right form of shade sail before measuring your outdoor space is crucial because the design of the shade sail directly impacts its functionality, visual appeal, and how well it integrates with your surroundings. 

Each form, whether flat, hypar, or conic, has its own aesthetic and practical considerations. For instance, a flat shade sail provides simplicity and ease of installation, making it suitable for various spaces. 

On the other hand, a hypar shade sail offers a dynamic and visually striking appearance but requires careful tensioning. Meanwhile, a conic shade sail adds an element of elegance and modernity.

Why do shade sails posts need to be angled?

Angling shade sail posts is crucial to achieve proper tensioning of the fabric. Angled posts enhance stability and prevent sagging by providing optimal directional pull on the fabric. 

This ensures a taut and effective shade sail that can withstand wind loads and environmental stressors, enhancing both durability and performance.

How do I keep my shade sail from sagging? 

To prevent sagging, ensure proper installation with angled and tensioned posts. Regularly check and adjust tension to accommodate weather changes. Choose high-quality, durable materials and consider reinforcements at stress points. 

Proper maintenance and prompt adjustments will help maintain a taut and effective shade sail over time.