Shade Sail Installation : Part 2

I’m back!  I had to take a day off due to this spirit-draining illness that has grabbed me, but I suspect things are on the way up.  I’m committed to drinking as many gallons of ginger + garlic + cayenne potion as necessary today to scorch the remnants of this micro-creature.


Alright, so we’re back to shade sails.  Remember part 1?  In that post we talked about digging the holes, setting the posts, and drilling holes in the steel to prepare for the attachment hardware.  Nothing too complex about any of that, it just takes time, tools, and a moderate attention to detail.  You can do it.


Part 2 is also doable.  I won’t say easy, but definitely easier with some of the tips I’ll share.  At first I thought I would give you the complete top-to-bottom installation manual, but then I realized I’d have to produce all sorts of detailed diagrams and well-worded instructions, and I don’t think it’s all that necessary.  We’ll go over the basics, and I bet you can figure out the small stuff while you’re in action.


Let’s start with the mounting hardware – there’s quite a lot.


In the 3/8″ hole at the top of the steel post, you’re going to insert a 3/8″ stainless steel eye bolt.  Secure that bolt with 1) the nut that came with the eye bolt, 2) a 3/8″ washer, 3) a nylon lock nut.  The nylon lock nut will have to be secured using a wrench (but isn’t all that hard to twist).


Once you have that part set up, you’re ready to attach the hardware that will connect the eye bolt to the sail.  The picture shown is not quite accurate – I could explain why but it’s a long and boring story, so let’s not.  What’s missing in the photo is a length of 3/8″ steel chain, another 2 “D” shackles (more on that in a minute) and something called a “quick link.”  Tons of hardware.  Here’s the order of the whole works:

eye bolt + D Shackle + 6 links of 3/8″ chain (buy it by the foot, have it cut at the store into equal lengths) + D Shackle + 8″ long 3/8″ turnbuckle + 3/8″ quick link


This whole series of stuff attaches to the corner of the shade sail.  Why so much?  One reason is that shade sails stretch over time, so you need a way to take away the slack over time, which in this case can be done by closing the turnbuckles or taking away a link of chain.


shade 1


The particular brand of shade sail we went with for this project, made by Tenshon, is made for use with a 3/16″ steel cable that is inserted through the perimeter of the fabric.  The cable is what gives you the most ability to tension the sail (less movement in the wind = longer life) and it also distributes the weight of the wind against the sail more evenly, rather than causing distress at the corners.  In order to weave it through the sail you’ll need to wrap up the end with duct tape (or the cable will fray and not move forward).  Better done with two people, but I managed on my own.


shade 2



shade 6


When the whole cable is through the sail, you’ll secure the two ends with a series of two cable clamps.


shade 7


By this point in the game you have your sail stretched out on the ground, cable through the perimeter, and hardware hanging from the posts.  The next part requires 2 people, 2 ladders, and a piece of equipment called a “come along.”  The fantastic installation manual I was using said “you may want to consider using a come along for extra help.”  What they meant was “without a come along, you will need hulk-like strength, summoned with all the anger of the world in one key moment.”  It’s not an option, at least if you have your poles set at the distance the same installation manual recommended.


shade 3


You put one hook of the handy-dandy come along on the eye bolt (on the post), and the other hook on the corner of the shade sail.  Then, from your ladder perch, you start ratcheting until the corner meets the quick link.  Repeat for corners 3 and 4 (corner number 1 is done by hand).  Ta-dah!  I know, you think I’ve left out tons of steps.  Yes and no.  It’s one of those things that you have to get your hands on, then it will all make sense.  Plus, this post is getting way too long.


shade 4



shade 5



Isn’t it a beauty?


Okay let’s talk money for one minute.  Part #1 came to about $400 in materials.  Part #2 breaks down like this:

Connecting Hardware: $150

Steel Cable: $50

Come Along: $30

18′ Square Sail: $380

Total: $610 (no labor included)

Part 1 + Part 2 Total: let’s call it $1000 (no labor included)

Here are some ways this could drop: there are cheaper sails out there (I’ve seen an 18′ square for $60 – I can’t vouch for quality), you might find a deal on hardware online (?), you could mount one or more corners to a stable house beam and not use steel poles.  So as a DIY, you could bring that $1000 down by as much as $500, maybe more (I don’t feel like doing the math right now).


If you’re not into DIY (who has the time for this stuff?!) installation can be costly.  For this same installation, not including materials, I found quotes ranging from $1600 to $3500 (!!!).  What’s my charge, you ask?  Less than $1600!  Inquire within if you’re preparing for summer and shade is becoming an urgent requirement.

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