How to Take Care of Your Outdoor Shade Sails

Like most things, shade sails regular maintenance as they acquire age, this is even if you buy a shade sail of good quality. Regular maintenance of your shade sail will not only make sure that they look good, but also keep them functioning well.

To maximize the lifespan of your outdoor shade sails, follow the following tips and advice and assure yourself of a great looking and functional shade sail even after years of having them installed.

Installation

Proper care of shade sails starts from having it installed first. When you buy your shade sails, it comes with an instructional manual that outlines the steps and procedures for installing your shade sail, along with proper handling to ensure that your shade sail does not get damaged during installation.

NOTE: Prior to installation, you should check with the local authorities about building codes and regulations about setting up extensions for your property. It is also a good idea to consult your utilities provider in case there are underground pipes or cables that you may accidentally damage while digging for holes for your posts.

There are professional handymen who can install a shade sail for you, but if you have a small shade sail and are pretty good with hammers and power drills, then you can install the shade sail yourself with the help of a family member or a friend. However, you need to make sure that you follow the installation manual properly.

Shoddy installation can lead to various problems and cause damage not only to your shade sails but also to the structures it is attached to. For example, a loosely attached shade sail is likely to experience wind flaps which causes the shade sail to move a lot and thereby weakening or loosening the screws and riggings. This can result to the shade sail being blown away, with the posts brought down or the screws on the walls or roofs removed.

If you’re in doubt, it is best to consult a professional shade sail installer who can reduce the wind flaps for your by making sure it tight and firm, as well as assess your posts, walls or roofs and make sure that they are safe and secure, as well as prevent other mechanical failures that may result from improperly installed shade sails.

In addition, be sure to install your shade sails away from barbeque grills and other sources of open flame. Shade sails are not fire resistant, and sparks flying and landing on the shade sails can cause them to burn.



Image via Flickr by KoryeLogan

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning shade sails, it is recommended that you do so every two or three months, even if there are no visible signs of dirt to keep dust from building up over time. When doing so, take down the shade sail first. Don’t try to spray water or hose it while it is attached to the posts or anchors. Lay it down on a flat surface free from any object that can penetrate through the fabric. Make sure that the water you use is not treated with chlorine.

Stains can be avoided by immediately removing those stain causing objects like dried leaves and bird droppings. However, if the stains do form, you can clean them by using a soft bristled brush and a mild dishwashing liquid to scrub the stain away. Never use strong bleaching agents that contain sulphur or halogens as they will damage the UV coating on the shade sail. If you’re going to rinse the soap suds, set your hose to moderate pressure, since strong jets of water will damage the fabric and the threads of the shade sail.

Posts and Anchors

Aside from the shade sail, you should also regularly check the posts and anchors, and the metal links and cables that connect them. When you’re using posts, make sure that they are buried and secured well into the ground. Try moving them a little to see if they budge or wobble, in which case you should consider reinforcing them.

If your shade sail is anchored to a wooden post or a tree, check for any signs or rotting or insect infestation. If you’re using metal posts, then check them for signs of rust. If such exists, clean it immediately and spray it with anti-rust solutions. If in case your shade sail is linked to a concrete wall, check the wall and make sure that the concrete around the screw is still intact and solid.

You should also check the cables and links as they are also prone to developing rust over time. Check your anchors (eye log screws and eyebolts with nuts), the links (snap hooks, d-shackles, S-hook, and turnbuckles) and the extensions (chains, cable assembly including thimbles, wire rope grips and the steel cable.) Rust can be removed by cleaning and scrubbing it, and then spraying it with anti-rust solution. You should also check for loose screws, as well as jammed turnbuckles.

Uninstalling the Shade Sail

Shade sails are meant to protect you from the sun and gentle rains, but they won’t fare well during strands and typhoons as the strong winds can rip the fabric and the weight of the accumulated water may become too heavy for the shade sail to bear. In such weather conditions, be sure to take down your shade sails to keep them from being blown away and damaging the structures it is connected to. Be careful when taking the shade sail down to avoid damaging it.

When storing your shade sails, be sure that they are completely dry first since storing them while wet will cause the formation of moulds and mildew. Fold or roll the shade sail and put it in a protective box or bag. Store it in a dry environment, free from rats, sharp objects and heat sources.


Coolaroo's Desert Sand Extreme Traingle 3.6m x 3.6m x 5m 90 Degree Corner Shade Sail from Gazebos Australia

Like most things exposed to outdoor elements, shade sails are also prone to being damaged – whether it is through natural causes or negligence on the owners part. They will also wear out and show signs of ageing. However, you can keep your shade sails looking great and functioning properly by following the tips mentioned above – which should help you extend the overall lifespan of your shade sail by years.