Shade Sail, Part 1

November 15th, 2010

I am completely psyched to finally show off a big exterior project we have been working on for the last couple of months. While the days may be getting shorter and summer seems so very far away, I’ve been dreaming about shade sails for our side yard to help alleviate some of the crushing heat that the side of the house always receives. Admittedly, I’ve been struggling with how to build and incorporate a pretty large DIY shade sail for above our planned stock tank pool so it was pretty incredible to randomly receive a very helpful email from my new shade sail guru Patrick Howe a few months back.

Patrick Howe, whose currently with Shade Industries, emailed some suggestions and tips about how to get the most out of a shade sail and offered to help design and build a couple of versions that would not only be customizable, but also a project that most home owners can tackle on their own. To start, I sent him an old SketchUp model I made of the landscape design for the side yard and told him what my crazy plans were.

There are two areas that I was interested in shading:

1: The weird nook between the garage and house, protecting what will be a bar/eating area.
2: Above the stock tank pool at the front of the side yard.

Patrick sent back a SketchUp design with his thoughts and ideas about how to do it and I was ecstatic. It was everything I wanted, but so much better.

Each sail has a very different installation approach, so first, how about we focus on the nook area installation nearest the fire pit.

The shade sail is laced to a structure of basic galvanized piping attached to the fascia of the house and made tight by a combination of the lacing and a pair of turnbuckles at each corner. Patrick had the black shade sail customized to fit the area and arc in towards the garage, giving a wide clearance to the fire pit below. Whats great about this type of installation is that you can buy all the fittings and supplies at your local Home Depot, or any home supply store, and with a few basic measurements Patrick’s company can have a shade sail custom made to fit your area. Installing it yourself creates a custom look at a much more cost friendly price.

We installed this bad boy in one day, in pretty much just a few slightly rainy and damp hours. Patrick really did most of it…I mean come on, someone had to take photos. Right?

First, be cool like Patrick and find your studs. Then pre-drill the attachment points in the fascia.

Testing out the first attachment point. Hey, it works.

The galvanized pipe is also drilled through to correspond with your pre-drilled fascia holes (usually about 16″ on center). The pipe is attached to the fascia with self tapping bolts with a washer/nut inserted between the fascia and pipe to act as a spacer for the shade sails woven cord to pass through.

A 90° elbow attaches the pipes together. From there, the same installation procedure applies to the entire galvanized support structure. Find your studs, use a spacer and bolt into place. Once installed that thing is solid as a rock. It seems that galvanized pipes are crazy useful for all sorts of DIY adventures.

To begin lacing the sail in place, first just casually secure the corners in place with a few bits of cord.

Once it is loosely hung in place the long process of wrapping the cord through the grommets and around the pipe begins. It’s like lacing the longest shoe in the world.

The initial cord wrapping is left a bit loose in order to later evenly pull the shade sail taught with the turnbuckles and cord.

Once the cord is loosely installed, it is time to attach the turnbuckles at the end of the sail.

Again, you want to find a stud and pre-drill a hole to install your eyelet screw. This point will have a ton of tension on it, so make sure its solidly secured.

The turnbuckle attaches to the eyelet screw and a ring at the end of the sail. Slowly, all of the cord and the turnbuckles are pulled tighter and tighter to make the sail taught, like a giant drum.

Patrick goes back through a second time and pulls out any slack in the cord. Tedious, but totally worthwhile.

Here is a closeup of the tightened cord as well as the spacers and elbow connector.

Finish installation by tying the loose cord off, cutting it to length and singing off the end of the cord. The shade sail fabric is exterior rated to last about ten years and will withstand the harsh weather all year round.

Shazamm. DONE.

The little bar/eating pony wall area is ready to be built out is already cooled off and protected. Loving it!

We’ve had the shade installed for about a month and already have had crazy windstorms, rain, heat and harsh temperature changes and this thing is performing like a champ.  It’s made a big difference in the temperature of our laundry room, back patio, the breezeway and the garage and we’ve had four or five fires in our steel fire pit without any issues whatsoever. In the pictures I know that the shade tends to look super close to the fire pit, but trust me, there is plenty of clearance space.

All in all I feel like this could be a pretty awesome DIY project for anyone willing to tackle it. Once we got started the whole thing was fairly simple to build with really easily sourced hardware. The super talented and savvy Patrick is currently building a DIY shade sail website and will be offering video instructions, design and installation advice, hardware kits, custom shade sails as well as design services in 2011. I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted when it launches.

For now you can contact Patrick directly via email or contact Shade Industries with any questions or if you have a shade sail project you’d like to tackle.

Get ready, get set, because shade number two is on the agenda for tomorrow. I’ll can’t wait to show you how we built the most dramatic addition to The Brick House yet.

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  1. alex sunday on 11/15/2010:

    love. it. love it!
    looking forward to tomorrow’s installment and i really can’t wait for the stock tank pool. it’s gonna rock.

  2. Brismod on 11/15/2010:

    It looks fabulous. Patrick is a star!

  3. Billy on 11/15/2010:


  4. Dan on 11/15/2010:

    Congrats, that’s pretty damn fly! I like the color and the amount of opacity looks really nice from the pics. Dude, all of your sketch-up pipe dreams are coming true, this is crazy.

    Okay, somebody’s bound to ask so I guess I’ll be the one. I know they were ikea, but are the old chairs gone for good? Hardoy’s make good replacements and all, but I always thought those looked super amazing out there.

  5. ModFruGal on 11/15/2010:

    Wow…very, very exciting…congrats!

  6. Thevintagecabin on 11/15/2010:

    Great, now I have that sail away song by Enya in my head. Looks awesome! Love it.

  7. Jaime (Design Milk) on 11/15/2010:

    Awesome! We want to do a shade sail too, but not sure our house configuration will work. It looks amazing. Can’t wait for part deux.

  8. The brick house on 11/15/2010:

    Dan, the ikea chairs are just out of frame. I think they are going to end up by the pool eventually.

  9. Anna on 11/15/2010:

    lookin’ good. impressed as always!

  10. Becky on 11/15/2010:

    Wow, that looks awesome. I really love the shape and color – really adds a lot to the exterior! Very nice.

  11. Jason | These Roving Eyes on 11/15/2010:

    This is super.
    I feel like it’s the culmination of every project you’ve ever done and just a perfect snapshot of the Clever Morgan DIY Aesthetic. Perfect. Amazing.

  12. avimom on 11/15/2010:

    Did you worry about getting the pipe level around the three faces of fascia? Would the tension be screwed up if the plane of shade weren’t level?

  13. Jill on 11/15/2010:

    Great project! Does he do house calls regularly or just for The Brick House? The year of the Exterior is rounding out nicely.

  14. Ryan on 11/15/2010:

    Super cool looking. We have a triangle shaped sail at my parents house. They really do cut down on the heat in the southern california summers. Excited to see the other on over the pool.

  15. julia wheeler on 11/15/2010:

    i freaking LOVE IT! i am so jealous… i really want to do shade sails but we need a deck first. so many effing projects. can’t wait to see the next part!

  16. Heela@lovely*retro*house on 11/15/2010:

    Oh wow! Thanks so much for posting this!!!! I keep telling my husband I want shade sails, but don’t have a good (residential) example to show him…until now! 🙂 This looks AWESOME against the white of your house! I also LOVE the concrete squares on the gravel, I always wanted to do this in my house in AZ, but never got around to it.

    However, like the last commenter, I will have to wait a little longer until we replace our deck.

    I would probably go for white or grey however. My house is “fire orange” so I’m trying to stay away from anything too Halloween-y.

  17. Tonia on 11/15/2010:

    It goes so pefect with the house. It’s looking good. I’m looking for you to be in the next home tour

  18. Shawn on 11/15/2010:

    Amazing! What an excellent addition to your home. It’s looks amazing already but it just keeps getting better.

  19. John on 11/15/2010:

    Wow, pretty cool. I haven’t seen it with those rails mounted to the house. I’ve just seen it attached to poles or certain spots on a structure but not that rail. It looks pretty secure. Can I ask how reasonably priced just the custom made sail was? I’m interested. Not sure if it would be worth making one and making the sail too or if I should just order one. I don’t park my cars in my garage and I’d like to put one over where I do park them.

  20. sally ogilvie on 11/15/2010:

    It looks amazing – and a great idea to boot! I can’t wait for tomorrow’s installment.

  21. celeste on 11/15/2010:

    pretty sweet!

  22. Jessie P on 11/16/2010:

    Shazaam, indeed! It’s like a superhero cape for your fortress of awesomeness!

  23. Juli on 11/16/2010:

    Patrick is an angel. A shade sail angel. Looks fantastic and really pulls the space together!

  24. Anna @ D16 on 11/16/2010:

    Wow!!! This is GREAT. I really wish our backyard configuration lent itself to something like this.

    Awesome job, guys…

  25. David j. on 11/16/2010:

    This looks great!

  26. Lauren @ chezerbey on 11/16/2010:


  27. DWC on 11/16/2010:

    Simply fantastic!

  28. Denise on 11/16/2010:

    You’ve outdone yourself ~~~

  29. my little apartment on 11/16/2010:

    just read ’em both. EFF YES.

  30. Creature of Habit on 11/16/2010:

    GORGEOUS!!!! I love the attachment detail.

  31. emily@thirtyeight20 on 11/17/2010:

    So ridiculously awesome! Your outdoor space is going to be amazing. There aren’t enough hours in the day to enjoy all the parties that need to be partied out there.

  32. Natalie on 11/19/2010:

    These sails look amazing. Will black be really hot in the summer though? Or is my scientific knowledge basically rubbish?

  33. Kazik on 12/13/2015:

    Angie Vazquez – The pictures are biuutefal. Thank you very much for a job well done. I can’t wait to see our biuutefal Joy’s complete baptism pictures. You were so wonderful, made everyone feel comfortable and we truly enjoyed having you with us for my grandaughter’s baptism.

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