Last updated on September 24th, 2021
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Choosing The Best Patio Shade Sail and Everything You Need To know
We all love hanging out on the patio in the garden, whether barbecuing with friends, having a few drinks on a Bank Holiday or entertaining a children’s birthday party. It’s a great place for watching the kids play or just relaxing out on a weekend afternoon.
However, sometimes the conditions outdoors are very unwelcoming; it gets too hot and you find yourself with no shade in the garden. If that is the case, then a shade sail becomes a handy shelter to make the environment more comfortable.
A shade sail is a durable, weather-proof cloth that can be stretched across a patio or a section of the garden to provide cover. Based on the technique of a ship’s sail, shade sails use a flexible sheet tightened between several anchor points. Anchor points can be house columns, fence posts, trees or any stable place in the garden.
Do you even need one? A shade sail provides an affordable, simple and fantastic way of making your garden/patio cool unless you never hang out outdoors. If you are ready to bring a shade sail into your life, this article guides you on how to buy the best shade sail.
We have also handpicked five of the best shade sails from a plethora of products on the market just to ease your decision making and many of them are available in different sizes too.
Before we get into our buyer’s guide below, you will see a quick summary of the winner of our ‘Best Pick’ the Clara 3.6m Shade Sail which we think is a great option for the majority of people, plus it is waterproof.
The top 5 shade sails that provide affordable garden shade which we have included in our review:
- Clara 3.6m x 3.6m Square White Waterproof Shade Sail – BEST PICK
- Greenbay 3m x 3m Sun Shade Sail – BEST PICK FOR ABOVE SWIMMING POOLS
- Kookaburra 3m x 2m Waterproof Sun Shade Sail – BEST BUDGET PICK
- Kookaburra 4m x 3m Waterproof Sun Shade Sail
- Kookaburra 5.4m Waterproof Terracotta Shade Sail
Shade Sail Buyer’s Guide
This shade sail buying guide delves into why you should buy one and the things to consider when buying a shade sail.
6 great reasons to buy a shade sail
- No ropes or legs to trip over: As well as being more affordable than gazebos, there are no ropes or legs to deal with so they can be put up where it might not be practical to have a gazebo.
- Easy to set up and maintain – you don’t need any complicated skills to install a shade sail, just set up a few anchor points and tie up your shade sail. Maintenance can be done after every couple of months and takes very little time. Ensuring that your shade sail is well-maintained can see it last for a long time.
- Practical product – despite the fact that shade sails may appear as though they are only a stylish addition to your garden, they are totally practical and can give ample shade at a reasonable cost. They function admirably at keeping things light and breezy whilst reflecting UV rays and making your outdoor space cool, comfortable as well providing shelter from rain showers.
- Stylish choice – shade sails look stunning in any outdoor space and distinctive styles can bring a genuine individual aesthetic appeal to your garden. You can even use two or more styles of shade sails to create a significantly dynamic appearance. Shade sails come in a variety of colours and sizes, so you can pick one or more that blend into your landscape or one that creates a powerful impression.
- A convenient purchase – shade sails are readily available in most hardware stores as well as online from the many online stores, such as Amazon.co.uk or even ebay.co.uk.
- Semi-permanent solution to your outdoor needs – of course, a shade sail can be a permanent installation if you like where you’ve fixed it. Yet in the event that you want to rearrange your garden or move to another home anytime, your shade sail is ready to go as well. Just unclip your sail, fold it up and take it anywhere you want to go.
BEST BUDGET PICK
What kind of shade sail is right for you?
Choosing a shade sail from a variety of different kinds can be overwhelming. Every shade sail has its own positives and negatives. For you to arrive at your best shade sail, ask yourself the following questions:
How large is my garden or patio area?
Shade sails are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes and determining the size of your back garden can help you narrow it down to an ideal size. A rectangle or square-shaped sail would match a large patio really well, whilst triangular sails and other shapes are good for smaller outdoor spaces. Obviously, the size of the shade sail you choose is determined by the area you want to cover.
How much shade do I need?
The size of your garden does not precisely determine the amount of coverage that you want your shade sail to provide. Maybe you only want to cover a section of your garden, above your patio set or perhaps you want to cover a larger area of the lawn for children. Go with what fits best to your coverage needs. Don’t forget that you can always have more than one sail if you want to shade an entire garden.
What is my favourite colour?
Some people are attached to certain colours whilst others don’t mind. If you care about colour, then your options may be a little bit limited. Perhaps you want a shade sail that conforms to your patio’s decor or one that matches well with your garden scenery. If that’s the case, you will have to shop around till you land on the right shade sail.
How long can I leave it intact?
Some shade sails feature durable fabric that allows them to withstand the elements, even when left out for months – most won’t last for the UK climate though if left out during the winter so it is a good idea to take it down. Most shade sails will need to be taken down and stored during the off-season. No need to expose the fabric to harsh weather that may limit the sail’s durability. You can get more commercial-grade shade sails but these are very expensive but they can be left out all year round.
Will I need to cover a pool?
Pool party enthusiasts may fancy covering their pools that’s okay, but it is important to note that not all shade sail fabrics are good for this scenario. Some fabrics may be damaged by the evaporating chlorine from pool water so it is best to find out whether or not the sail you want to buy can be used over a pool. Not a problem for most people but something anyone with a pool needs to take into consideration.
BEST PICK FOR ABOVE SWIMMING POOLS
What to look out for when buying a shade sail
You have finally decided to buy a shade sail there are a few important considerations that can help you select a product wisely. Here is where you pay attention to the product itself and the following are the things to remember;
- Fabric – the cloth greatly determines the cost of a shade sail. An inexpensive fabric is good for a start but you’ll need to replace it after a year or two. Look for durable, high-quality fabric that can save you a lot in the long run.
- Shade sail measurements – basically, the product measurements gives an idea of how much shade it can provide. Get accurate dimensions of the area you want to cover in your garden before you invest in one. You want to choose a shade sail that isn’t too big nor too small for your space.
- Accessories – some products include hardware such as carabiners and D-rings for easy attachment and take-down. For those that don’t, you may have to buy the accessories separately.
Are you so much into specific brands? If so, you may want to stick to your brand but keep in mind that you limit your options in so doing.
What’s more? Basic carpentry skills will help you a lot, especially if plan to install the shade in an open space. That includes setting up anchor points. A set of handy tools will be required for the job too. Otherwise, you can always make use of trees, fence posts and wall columns.
How much should you pay for a shade sail?
This depends on various aspects including the quality of the fabric and supplied accessories. Also, do you want to create one yourself or just buy a ready product? This is what you should expect:
- DIY shade sails – if you want to assemble a shade sail, then calculate the cost of each individual piece so you know how much it will cost you. You may even need to buy a sewing machine if you don’t have one. A roll of fabric will start from around £20 and the hardware anywhere from £15 to £40. So you can expect to spend over £60 to build a shade sail from scratch.
- Inexpensive shade sails – these are usually made from low-cost fabric and most of them won’t come with hardware. They may also be small and triangle-shaped and colour variations are limited. Expect to spend around £30 or slightly above for these shade sails.
- Mid-range shade sails – these feature a durable, aesthetically appealing fabric and they may be quite large but not always. The installation hardware will most likely be included too. These shade sails are available in the region of £50 to £80 and are often also waterproof.
- High-end shade sails – these are highly durable products and manufactured by renowned brands. You can expect a variety of colours and sizes, and high-quality hardware included. Be ready to spend £100 upwards depending on the size and style.
Top 5 Shade Sail Reviews
1. Clara 3.6m Square White Waterproof Shade Sail
This 3.6m Clara White Waterproof Shade Sail is a stylish replacement for a garden umbrella yet being extremely versatile. This shade sail is designed for both indoor and outdoor use where they can be a great option for conservatories. It’s perfect for patios, terraces, gardens, balconies, swimming pools, conservatories and virtually anywhere sunshade is needed. Furthermore, the shade sail comes with a carry case, which allows you to fold it down and take it with you on camping trips, beach holidays and even picnics.
The ease of installing and taking down the shade sail is another thing many will appreciate. Simply tie each corner of the sail to poles or existing structures using the included 1.5m nylon ropes and create a temporary shade. Durable, stainless steel D rings are also supplied that are designed to last and ensure it can be pulled tight. Larger shade sails may need extra secure installation using established, concrete secured metal poles, turnbuckle fixings and snap-hooks. If leaving the shade outside, be sure to fix the sail at a 30 to 40-degree angle so that water can runoff. The Clara Shade Sail is rainproof thanks to a woven PU coated fabric that can help protect from the typical British summer rain showers.
In addition, the material is high-density yet lightweight (160 gsm) and dries quickly when rained on or washed. Cleaning simply involves wiping it down with water mixed with a mild detergent. The shade sail provides UV protection too, blocking up to 97% of harmful UV rays which not only protects you from the UV rays but also helps prolong the life of the shade sail. A great piece for enjoying events outdoors with family and guests. In fact, you could use multiple shade sails if you plan to cover a large outdoor space. Make sure to store away your shade during the extreme winter months to ensure it lasts for many years.
- Versatile shade sail that cuts across all shading needs. Multiple set ups can be made for larger spaces too.
- Has a rainproof construction to protect from summer rain showers.
- Easy to install and take down by simply tying the corners to nearby structures, especially with the smaller shade sails.
- Has a lightweight fabric that easily folds up and sneaks into a carry case for transportation
- Low maintenance – a simple wipe down with a mix of water and detergent is all that is needed.
- Supplied with installation hardware – stainless D rings and 1.5m nylon ropes for each corner.
- No problems found.
This shade sail is rather large so you ought to ensure there is enough space on your patio, garden or wherever you may want to install it. Some smaller versions of this shade sail are really easy to install but larger ones may need a bit of work. UV protection and its rainproof ability are excellent features of this shade sail as they are not all waterproof, some are only water-resistant. The supplied carry case is additionally handy and we also like that it is super easy to maintain.
We did see a few comments online that said the shade sail tends to sag in the middle when set up, however, we think this is because they were not fitted correctly, most likely not tight enough.
Overall, we think this is a decent mid-range shade sail and it’s even available as a 3.6m triangle or 3m triangle as well.
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2. Greenbay 3m x 3m Sun Shade Sail
BEST PICK FOR ABOVE SWIMMING POOLS
Buy on Amazon
The Greenbay 3m x 3m Shade Sail is a low-cost product that will offer decent protection from the sun when you want to enjoy time outdoors. It really is a versatile shade sail that suits a range of applications including covering bbq areas, outdoor dining patio sets and anywhere in the garden you need a little shade.
The fabric used in the making is polyester, which has been PU coated (160 gsm) to protect against abrasion and other degrading elements. In addition, the cloth is sun protected with a UPF 40+ rating which is good, meaning very little UV rays will pass through the fabric if it does at all. Featuring grade 4 colour fastness, the fabric should barely ever fade which is a big plus, thus you can rest assured the shade sail should also preserve its original appeal for many years.
It has a water-resistant rating of 400mm HH, which means it may not stand heavy rain but will keep you dry from passing showers. In fact, remember to install this shade at an angle so that rainwater runs off, as you should with all shade sails.
Each corner of this shade sail has a stainless steel D ring, grade 304, which is the same quality that you see in pans and cookery tools. This material is loved by welders because of its oxidation/corrosion resistance, which is a desired characteristic for fixtures that are often left outside to the elements. The D rings are durable as well and can withstand very low temperatures. Also supplied are 2m nylon ropes, with one at each corner.
Thanks to the supplied accessories, this shade sail couldn’t be easier to set up and take down. And if you thought cleaning it would be a hassle, all you need to do is set your washing machine at 30 degrees celsius and it will finish the job for you, which means no hand washing.
- Set up and take down is very easy thanks to supplied fittings.
- Easy to clean and doesn’t fade thanks to grade 4 colour fastness.
- Fabric features UPF40+ sun protection rating, meaning it blocks more than 98% of harmful UV rays.
- Supplied D rings are made from grade 304 stainless steel, which is corrosion resistant.
- Useful for a range of uses, including covering decked areas, patio, lawns or even swimming pools if you are lucky enough to have one.
- Comes at a great price with all its nice features.
- Also available in many sizes.
- Not fully waterproof.
The Greenbay 3m x 3m Sun Shade Sail is a great choice for a few individuals who need a shade outside. It will protect really well against harmful UV rays whilst remaining a sturdy fixture if rain comes. We still advise against leaving it out in heavy rain, but this is the case for most shade sails, not just this model. The fittings supplied are quite handy, we really like the convenience brought about by easy installation/take-down and being able to machine-wash the shade sail is a huge plus.
Whilst some may consider this a small shade sail, it isn’t really a negative because the product does suit someone else’s needs plus it’s actually available in many sizes, up to a very large 5m x 5m x 5m. Overall, a nice kit at reasonable a price.
The only situation we would advise not to consider this model is if you need a fully waterproof shade sail, it is ok for the odd shower but not for longer periods of rain as it will start to seep through. Remember it’s water-resistant not waterproof.
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3. Kookaburra 3m x 2m Waterproof Sun Shade Sail
BEST BUDGET PICK
Buy on Amazon
The Kookaburra 3m x 2m Waterproof Sun Sail Shade Canopy also comes in on the lower end of the price scale and the dimensions suggest it is a rectangular shade sail. The fabric has been woven to create an effective shade sail that provides optimum UV protection. We are talking about high-density polyester cloth, 160gsm that are tested UPF50+ to ensure that these shade sails are almost impenetrable by harmful UV rays. As a result, over 98% of harmful UV rays are blocked out.
Alongside the heavy construction, this shade sail is also waterproof and that makes it ideal for unpredictable weather, come rain or shine. Worth mentioning is that the fabric has been designed to resist rot so you can be at peace with your shade sail exposed to the British weather more long term. The full length of each side is strapped for tension whilst there are 4 stainless steel D rings grade 304 attached to every corner of the shade. These are tough, even against the harsh British weather.
This versatile shade sail is easy to install and as with most shade sails, it can make use of walls, posts, fences or even trees. However, you will have to purchase separate fixing kits for installing this shade sail so this will be an extra cost. The kits are readily available on Amazon.co.uk but they cost nearly the price of the shade sail itself.
Note that this is a low maintenance shade sail that can be machine-washed for maximum convenience. The product has a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, which is to say it can last for a few years if well-maintained.
- Offers maximum UV protection due to the wooven, high-density polyester construction of the fabric.
- Waterproof shade sail, making it perfect for all-weather use.
- Machine washable at 40 degrees for hassle-free cleaning.
- Supplied with durable grade 304 stainless steel D rings that won’t rust or corrode.
- Easy installation, which you can do almost anywhere there are stable structures to offer support.
- 2 years warranty for full peace of mind.
- Fixing kits have to be bought separately.
The Kookaburra 3m x 2m Waterproof Sun Sail Shade Canopy we have reviewed is a sizeable device for covering small spaces. It has a woven fabric that results in something quite thick that guards well against UV whilst remaining waterproof. The shade sail can be installed anywhere, taking advantage of any nearby sturdy structures as with most sails. It is easy to maintain and the product has a decent warranty which covers you for 2 years.
Unfortunately, some fixing kits ought to be bought separately but how much they cost is a shame – you are better off with a shade sail supplied with all components if you can. Apart from that, the fabric is high-quality and that’s why we have this product on our list. Finally, the 500+ reviews on Amazon.co.uk only further confirm our findings. It is also available in many other sizes should you need a larger or smaller version.
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4. Kookaburra 4m x 3m Waterproof Shade Sail
This larger 4m x 3m Kookaburra Waterproof Shade Canopy is another product in the mid-range price and it has a black stylish look which is like charcoal. Just like the smaller version, this shade sail features woven fabric, something that is known to offer maximum UV protection as we have already discovered. The super-tight weave has been tested to UPF50+, which is the highest rating given to clothing fabric, thus very little of the sun’s radiation can reach your skin.
The fabric is additionally waterproof, thus you’ll not have to worry if you get caught out by rain showers. The polyester shade has a density of 160gsm, which ensures rainwater runoff and it might be very effective if set up at an angle. Installation can be done anywhere in the garden by fixing the corners to posts, fences, trees or solid tall garden structures. The entire length is strapped for tension, whilst premium stainless steel D rings (grade 304) are fixed at each corner. The versatile shade sail is also rot proof.
Another impressive thing about this shade sail is that it’s quite easy to maintain. A simple wash inside the washing machine will go a long way towards keeping the sail looking attractive. Make sure the temperature is set at 40 degrees. Kookaburra provides a standard 2-year warranty for this product, therefore, you can trust the quality.
- Offers sun shade and rain shelter due to its UV protection and waterproof properties.
- Comes with high-grade stainless steel D rings for maximum durability.
- The fabric is machine washable for hassle-free cleaning.
- Easy to install the shade to posts, fences or even trees.
- The product is covered by a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.
- The package doesn’t include fittings.
The Kookaburra Waterproof Sun Sail Shade Canopy 4m x 3m covers a good area and provides great protection from harmful UV and rain. A great piece of kit made from high-density fabric, this will last a long time if it is well maintained. Maintenance is just cleaning inside a washing machine. This shade can be set up anywhere in the garden and that’s a major benefit. However, some fittings must be bought separately, therefore, spiking the overall price of the shade sail. In conclusion, a good choice for hanging out in the summer months.
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5. Kookaburra 5.4m Waterproof Terracotta Shade Sail
The Kookaburra Waterproof Terracotta Shade Sail 5.4m square is an ideal choice for those who need to cover a larger area. The fabric has also been woven so as to create an ultra-tight weave that provides maximum UV protection. This tight weave is ideal for the British weather, where we tend to have more rain showers than most. You get a shade sail that has been tested to UPF50+ for excellent protection against UV rays whilst remaining dry.
Waterproofness is a core shade sail requirement and this Kookaburra version excels in that department, thanks to the high-density polyester material that promotes rainwater runoff. Another major attribute of this product is that it is rot-proof, therefore, you can be certain it will last even when abused by the elements.
There’s a stainless steel D ring, grade 304 at each corner, which not only enhances set up but they are non-corrosive too. Strapping done on the full length of each side makes tensioning really easy. The shade sail looks very attractive when installed in its terracotta colour and square shape.
The fabric is low maintenance and even machine washable for straightforward cleaning. Kookaburra’s 2-year standard warranty is a bonus too because not every other product has this guarantee.
- Provides safe shade from the sun and rain at the same time.
- The sail is anchored in the corners with premium grade stainless steel for maximum durability.
- Low maintenance fabric that is machine washable for hassle-free cleaning.
- Can be installed anywhere in the garden, making use of posts, fences and any garden structure.
- The product has a 2 year warranty for full peace of mind.
- Because of its size, its a little more difficult to put up, so we recommend having a spare pair of hands to help.
- Fixings need to be purchased separately.
In terms of how much shade you can get, the Kookaburra 5.4m shade sail makes a great choice for larger areas. The sail provides basic shade from the sun and protection from the rain showers. Installation can be done anywhere there are sturdy supports and maintenance is really simple overall. The only downside is that it does not come with any fixings so these need to be purchased separately.
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We believe you now have all the information you need before buying a shade sail. The best shade sail is simply one that suits your own personal and spatial requirements as covered in the buyer’s guide featured at the beginning of this article.
You can see the distinctiveness of these products from each shade sail review above. Note that some shade sails will require you to purchase fixing kits which can cost around £15-£30.
All in all, you can find shade sails of all budgets but they ought to be durable enough so you can enjoy value for your money. One brand that kept impressing was the Kookaburra shade sails, mainly because of their high-quality materials and the fact they are fully waterproof.
That’s it for now, we hope you have found our reviews helpful.
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Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API