What state are your shade sails in?

September 17, 2021


At Lidgard Shades, not only do we manufacture and install shade sails, we are often commissioned to do plenty of maintenance work of others shades. To that end, we see the full range from fantastic shade sail installations through to the… head scratchingly less than fantastic.

What makes a shade sail installation less than fantastic? Here are a few things to look out for:

Saggy, Baggy Shade

Cheaper shade cloths will inevitably stretch over time. At the extreme end, a cheap “off the shelf” shade sail from the likes of Bunnings or Mitre 10 will likely be obviously baggy and saggy within 12 months. (They’re not dissimilar to a $2 Shop umbrella: they work perfectly well so long as the wind never blows, at which point they’re inside out and straight to the rubbish bin!)

As the cloth stretches, the weave opens. The more open it is, the more of the sun’s UV rays are coming through. So, the shade sail you bought offering 90% UV block out, now only offers you perhaps 70%. In effect, the protection you thought you were getting simply isn’t there.

The shade sail also loses its tension. A loosely fitting shade tends to pulse, or “flap about”, in the wind. This makes it less pleasant to sit or play under and increases the maximum loadings onto the fixings, causing them to wear out more quickly. It also heightens the risk that a fixing will fail and this is a significant health & safety risk – no one wants to be on the receiving end of a corner of shade sail (potentially with chain, shackles and/or turn buckles) whipping about in the wind!

If the shade sail is in good condition, poor tensioning may simply reflect that adjustments need to be made to the fixing hardware. This should generally be achievable with the fixing hardware already in place but, on occasion, we find that they may need to be swapped for shorter fixings to achieve an optimal outcome.

It is often difficult for us to appropriately understand the immensity of nature’s forces. Shackles and turn buckles have a nasty habit coming loose and working their way undone under wind load if they are not appropriately locked off in the first instance. This is the most common reason that we observe for shade sails failing in windy conditions, and it is entirely avoidable with professional care and attention.

Dirty Shade Sails

This issue with dirt and grime on your shade sail is that over time, mould spores and lichen will form on the shade cloth. It will ultimately cause the fabric and thread to rot (seams will pull apart). It also means that under wind load, tiny mould spores will drop from the shade sail and fill the air being breathed under the shade.

As a general rule, we suggest that shade sails left up year-round are cleaned every two years; shades taken down through the winter months, every three years.

Should you have concerns with the integrity and safety of your existing shade sails, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re only too happy to share our expertise, with no obligation.

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