Shade Sails: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning One

Despite being in use for decades, shade sails are still gaining popularity among many homeowners and business owners alike. This is probably spurred on by their increasing awareness about the different advantages of using shade sails, including lesser need for cooling systems, its low negative impact on the environment, and how it helps improve the image of the house or establishment it is attached to. Despite these, there are several disadvantages of using shade sails, which sometimes discourages many people from even thinking about buying a shade sail.

Advantages of Shade Sails

There are many advantages of using shade sails, and some of them are outlined below.

Environmental Benefits

The environmental benefits of using shade sails can be observed even in its production stages. Since most shade sails can be made from recyclable materials, it reduces the need for new raw materials in its manufacturing. In addition, using shade sails lessens the amount of wood and other materials used in the construction of housing or building extensions. The use of shade sails also decreases the consumption of electricity of houses and establishments, which then helps to preserve the energy resources of the country. A detailed discussion of the environmental benefits of shade sails can be found here.

Protection from the Elements

Many people who stay outdoors are prone to developing skin diseases and skin cancer brought about by the harmful UV rays of the sun. Shade sails are very helpful for these people since it allows them to still enjoy lounging in their verandas or in outdoor cafeterias and restaurants without direct exposure from the sun. Shade sails also offers protection from slight rains and drizzles.

Provides Ventilation

Installing shade sails in your property also provides extra ventilation and cooling. When installed properly and strategically, shade sails keep the sun from directly entering the house or establishments. The semi-permeable fabric that most shade sails are made of also allow for the circulation of cool air, usually lowering the temperature in the covered area by at least ten degrees or so.

Enhances a Property’s Aesthetic Value

Shade sails add fantastic artistry to both commercial buildings and residential homes. Shade sails come in different colours and sizes, and choosing one which will complement a property’s architecture shouldn’t be too difficult. Their low cost further add to their appeal as a cost-effective way of beautifying houses and commercial establishments

Easy Setup

As part of a property, shade sails make for wonderful extensions which can be installed and removed easily. This is unlike other structures which takes weeks to setup, and cannot be taken down without any negative effects on the property. This feature of shade sails is a pretty important consideration to make when choosing which shade sail to buy, especially in areas frequented by strong winds and storms.

Disadvantages of Shade Sails

Despite all its benefits, shade sails are not without any flaws. There are certain factors which contribute to these flaws, some of them may be the shade sail itself while other times it may be the way it is installed.

Sagging and Drooping

Shade sails manufactured from low quality materials and fabrics are prone to sagging and drooping over a short period of time. There are two main reasons why this is so. First, is the accumulation of water, dirt and other foreign objects at the centre of the shade sail. When these things become too many, their combined weight will force the shade sail to sag or droop. Thus, it would be wise to consult an expert for the proper installation of shade sails in order to measure the right pitch which should allow the dirt and water to run off to the sides of the shade sail instead of accumulating in the middle.

Wobbly Posts and Rigging

Shade sails need at least three (for triangular) or four (for square) posts or beams or anchor points in order to be set up. However, one concern is that after sometime of being installed, the poles or posts where the shade sail is connected to will start to wobble, and may even fall down in worst case scenarios. Again there are several reasons for this. One is that the poles and posts are unable to sustain the weight of the shade sail, which is true in cases where heavy and thick shade sails are used. Another reason is the wind. When a strong wind comes, there is a tendency that the shade sail will be blown around by the wind. This will in turn make the rigging loose, and pull on the posts or anchor points in the walls. It is recommended that in such weather conditions, the shade sail must be detached and taken down in order to avoid any damage and danger brought about by such situations.

Easily Destroyed

Some shade sails, especially the low quality ones are prone to being destroyed after several months of being used. Sometimes, there will be holes in the shade sails caused by insects or a sharp object that fell on it, or by the pulling apart (caused by too much stretching) of the fabric used in the manufacture of the shade sail. Another problem is the fraying of the threads on the edges of the shade sail. These problems will cause the shade sail to become unsightly and unable to function properly. Thus, it is better to spend on high quality shade sails which are manufactured with tough and durable fabrics.

Fire Hazard

Although this problem is rare, there are instances where shade sails catch fire. This can be caused by sparks flying from barbeque grills or other sources like wildfire. This can cause much damage not only to the shade sail itself but also to the structure it is attached to. Thus, it is always a good idea to be vigilant and spot any signs of fire, and have a fire extinguisher in immediate reach. In addition, keep all flammable or fire hazard materials such as your barbeque grills in safe distance from the shade sail.

Coolaroo Desert Sand Extreme Rectangle 5m x 3m Shade Sail from Gazebos Australia


Shade sails make great additions to any property, whether it is a residential home or a commercial building. They are not very expensive as long term housing extensions like verandas or porches, but also environment friendly. However, they do have some disadvantages, but these can be easily avoided by buying high quality shade sails and installing them properly.

Photo courtesy from Wikimedia by Mattes