Shade canopies are very much like the sail on a boat, except they are an integral part of providing protection from the searing rays of the sun while on land. A shade canopy is often referred to as a shade sail, it uses a large piece of cloth which is firmly secured at a minimum of three points. It takes the form of a sail but it won’t take you anywhere, all it will do is to provide a delightful area where you will be free from the sun’s rays, but not from the breezes.

Using fabric, tied at three points or more has been used for thousands of years as sails. The Greeks and later the Romans both used sails for advantage on the sea, and there are even records of them using them on land to provide shade for the aristocracy. The English took this further, by providing shade covers for the crowds who came to jousting matches.

Shade canopies today are not used for such exciting sports, they are usually found creating shades areas in parks, near office buildings and in homes. The fabric used for the sail is usually very light and has a curve to it during sewing so that it stays taut. Although the canopy will move with the wind, it rarely will break loose or sag, the curved shapes deflects the wind. As long as the sail, regardless of the material, is fixed well, it will not pose any problem or danger.

Typically, shade canopies are triangular in shape but they do not have to be. They can be manufactured as squares, rectangles and other exotic geometric shapes. The shapes allow for a “mix and match’ arrangement, it is often when you see two or more triangular sails nested together to form a pattern.

The fabric used on shade canopies is often treated with a chemical which stops the transfer of ultra violet rays which are quite harmful to the skin. The treatment is not only beneficial to those under the sail; it actually extends the life of the fabric as well.

When the layout for the position of the canopy is being made, there are a few things to bear in mind. They can be mounted in three different ways:

  • Flat, all corners are of the same height
  • Vertical, as if it was a privacy wall
  • Hypar design where two corners are high and two are low

The best looking installation takes advantage of the sails curve, with two low attachment points opposite one another and two high points, also opposite one another. When selecting the position, make sure the anchor points are strong enough for the tension; check the location of the sun and the direction of the prevailing wind.