Sail CanopiesSail canopies, also interchangeably called shade sails and shade sail canopies, have become one of the best values for backyard and patio remodelers. They require less installation time than permanent awnings or overhangs and are more affordable than fixed-frame canopies. Growing more popular by the year, sail canopies still bring a modern, fashion-forward accent to their surroundings.

Many Shapes and Sizes

Sail canopies are available in a variety of colors and shapes. Traditionally the sail shade is either square or rectangular. Nevertheless, the shape of the triangle – the length of its sides, the angles of its corners – varies, sometimes depending on size. The triangular shape gives the sail shade its name, of course, as mainsails have had a triangular configuration for thousands of years. While the origin of the sail shade canopy itself is lost to history, it’s very possible that its origins are at least as old.

The square canopy, owing to the sail’s non-rigid construction, isn’t a fixed “plate” so much as a sail constructed with four equal sides. Typically, the square shade sail is rigged from its corners, though some models may vary.

Grommet Eyelets And GSM: Sail Canopy Terminology

In many cases, sail shades connect to their mounting brackets by grommet loops in their sides and corners. Grommet loops, or eyelets, are the metal or plastic rings set into fabric. (The most common example is found along the tops of shower curtains.)

GSM stands for grams per square meter, the basic unit of measurement for weighing paper. Many kinds of sail canopies are constructed from polyethylene materials, a kind of plastic polymer known for its light weight and flexibility. The greater the GSM, typically the heavier the sail shade. However, in this case “heavier” often means thicker and better at reflecting sunlight and withstanding elements. Finding the right balance of shade and weight is best left to the buyer’s individual preference.

Look for shade sails that are porous: they allow water to pass through them. This will prevent the sail canopy from sagging as precipitation accumulates across its surface. Standing water atop the canopy can stretch the fabric and, in drastic cases, weaken the mounting hardware.

Purchasing and Installing Sail Canopies

Sail CanopiesThough simple in operation, installing the sail canopy isn’t a task to take lightly. Some instruction manuals estimate setup time to take approximately one hour to complete, though some may take longer, especially if anchoring poles need to be sunk first. Also, the installation process is often a two-person affair.

Most sail shade canopies can be installed using conventional household tools. Be sure to check the canopy’s manual before making your purchase.

Buyers are also encouraged to follow the old adage, “measure twice and cut once.” Though cutting the sail shade won’t be necessary, it’s a good idea to measure the area you want covered before you begin shopping. You can then make a more accurate determination what kind of sail shade shape would best service your needs.

Remember, there is no right or wrong answers except what’s best for your patio, deck, or pool area. Once installed, your sail shade canopy will bring years of stylish, comfortable shelter to you, your guests, and your family.