Tensile Canopies

SD Sails – Tensile canopy manufacturer since 1992

SD Sails specialises in the design and fabrication of architectural shade sails and tensile canopies

With over 25 years of experience in the field, SD Sails are the premier supplier of shade sails and tensile canopies to the trade in the UK. Set up to exclusively service authorised trade partners. SD Sails manufacturers for hundreds of companies throughout the UK and Europe, who in turn have completed thousands of projects worldwide.

Our goal is to combine our specialist trade knowledge with your company’s construction experience to help you create stunning tensile canopy structures for your clients.

Freeform canopy

Custom Canopy Manufacture

The Freeform concept is a unique system specifically designed to take the complexity out of tensile canopies

Bespoke Canopies

Bespoke Textile Fabrication

Wide range of shade & waterproof fabrics to transform your outdoor space.

Premium Tensile Fabrics

Shade & Waterproof Fabrics

We hold a huge stock of premium architectural fabrics ready to cut and fabricate to your order.

With a choice between our pre-engineered Freeform tensile canopy system or a totally bespoke concept designed around your vision. SD Sails is the perfect partner to take your company’s scope of work into a whole new sector and expert in the design, manufacture and installation of a huge variety of outdoor canopies.

Get a quote on your custom tensile fabric canopy today.

Rigging Products for Tensile Canopies

SD Sails stocks a wide range of shade sail and tensile fabric canopy rigging components, many of which are specially designed and unique to us, and all available at competitive trade prices. Learn more about our tensile canopies.


SD Sails Hardware Elements Collection


Comprehensive Cable Swaging Service


Off-the-shelf Range of Steel Rigging Posts

Engineered to match the dynamic loads of the canopy with a minimum 1.5 safety factor, sourcing your canopy and hardware together at SD Sails has numerous advantages. Firstly, our rigging is guaranteed along with the canopy to the designed wind and snow loads. Secondly, we know the precise dimensions of each component, so we can ensure a perfect fit. And thirdly, you save time and money on your custom canopies project.

For more information about our tensile fabric structures, shade sails or tensile canopies, please contact us today to speak to one of our technical advisors.


What are the different types of tensile canopies?

There are three main shapes of tensile canopies, being hypar, conic and barrel vault, which are known as forms. These are 3-dimensional shapes that can be combined into a myriad of multi-forms and inverted forms, meaning the creativity potential is almost endless.

We also offer a flat 2-dimensional form, which doesn’t technically possess the opposing hyperbolic curves that defines a tensile shape, but these are still very popular being simple and economical.

What type of fabric are tensile canopies made of?

The vast majority of tensile canopies are either made of PVC fabric (Polyvinyl Chloride) or HDPE fabric (High Density Polyethylene). These fabrics are UV stable, hard waring, long lasting, and economical, which is why SD Sails specializes in manufacturing canopies cut from these fabrics.

There are other more technical tensile fabrics on the market, such as PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) and ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) that offer some superior qualities, but they are massively more expensive and require very specialist processing and handling.

What are the advantages of tensile structures?

There are multiple advantages of tensile structures, the biggest one of them being a cost-effective solution for covering large areas. As opposed to other types of constructions, tensile fabric structures are lightweight but are very strong and able to withstand even the harshest weather conditions.

In addition, they provide great protection from harmful UV rays and inclement weather, whilst creating a visually stunning focal point in any landscape.

Are tensile canopies waterproof?

The majority of true tensile canopies are made from waterproof fabric, but canopies described as shade sails are generally not waterproof, offering UV protection only.  There are waterproof shade fabrics on the market, but they tend to be quite stretchy, so they are very prone to collecting rainwater, which quickly damages the fabric and puts excess strain on the fixing points.

For this reason, SD Sails specializes in using proper tensile fabric for customers that require a canopy with UV and weather protection in one.