How To Hang a Shade Sail

Updated: Jun. 15, 2023

A shade sail can turn a sun-baked yard or patio into a comfy outdoor hangout. Here's how to hang one at your home.

What Is a Shade Sail?

An outdoor canopy, commonly triangular, made from a tightly-woven weatherproof mesh. A shade sail provides protection from the sun while allowing water to pass through. It can also add function and a relaxed-yet-refined aesthetic to patios and other outdoor gathering spaces.

While it might look easy to just tie up a shade sail over a patio, it’s not entirely simple to install one correctly and safely. For decades, my husband made canvas products, and his clients were usually flummoxed when quoted a price for a shade sail. How can a nondescript piece of canvas cost between $2,800 and $3,500?

That’s because it must be installed in a way that doesn’t risk damaging your home or leaving fabric flapping on windy days. It requires a lot of hardware and prep. Most importantly, the attachment points must be sturdy and well-anchored. You’ll also need concrete bases for the support poles (more on that below).

Here, we’ll focus on triangular-shaped shade sails. Let’s dig into how to hang them the right way!

How To Hang a Shade Sail: Tools and Materials

Triangle Sun Shade Sailvia merchant

While you can install shade sails directly onto building walls under some circumstances, the most reliable way is with standalone poles. That’s what we’ll cover here.

Hanging a shade sail isn’t rocket science, but it does require precise measurements. Also, because you’ll be pouring concrete, check the forecast to make sure there’s no overnight rain expected.

(Note: If your installation area includes a building or other fixed object to replace one of the support poles, you can follow the steps below to find your attachment tension allowance. But you’ll have to adjust the hardware needed, which will vary greatly depending on the material, substrate and strength of the substitute mounting point.)

Cost: $700.

Time: Six hours, plus 24 hours for concrete to dry between setup and installation.

Complexity: Experienced.


  • Drill with 3/8-in. bit;
  • Ratchet and sockets;
  • Wrench;
  • Pliers;
  • Hacksaw;
  • Post hole digger;
  • Spade shovel;
  • Hammer;
  • Tape measure;
  • Level;
  • Six-foot stepladder;
  • Work gloves.


  • Triangular shade sail;
  • Six stainless steel quick link triangles, 5/16-inch;
  • Three stainless steel six-inch turnbuckles, 3/8-inch;
  • Three stainless steel 3/8-in. by 5-in. eye bolts with nuts and washers;
  • Three heavy-duty 12-inch tent stakes
  • Three 12-foot-long Schedule 40 galvanized steel poles, 3-1/2-in. in diameter;
  • Six pieces of 3/8-in. by 18-in. galvanized steel all thread (aka threaded rod);
  • Twelve 3/8-in. nuts;
  • Three 80-pound bags of fast-setting concrete mix.

Step 1: Layout the Area

  1. Lay the triangular shade sail on the ground where you want to install it.
  2. Stretch it out so it’s laying completely flat, with a slight bit of tension.
  3. Attach a quick link triangle to each corner attachment point.

Step 2: Attach the Hardware

  1. Open each turnbuckle approximately halfway, about 1-1/2-inch.
  2. Attach one end of each turnbuckle to the quick links on the shade sail.
  3. Attach the remaining quick links to the other end of the turnbuckles.
  4. Attach the eye bolts to the quick links on the turnbuckles, opposite the end attached to the sail shade.

Pro tip: Add more quick links to the ground setup if you think your shade is exceptionally stretchy. This ensures you have wiggle room to tension the shade properly.

Step 3: Mark the Hole Locations for Support Pole Installation

  1. Using the heavy-duty tent stakes, put tension on the shade sail with all the hardware attached.
  2. Put the first tent stake through the eye of the eye bolt and drive it securely into the ground.
  3. Go to the next attachment point, pull tension on the eye bolt, and drive the next stake into the ground through the eye of the bolt.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for the third and final eye bolt. You should now have the shade fully tensioned on the ground.
  5. Use a pencil to lightly mark each attachment point on the shade sail, and each hole: A, B and C. This way you’ll know where to realign it tomorrow when you go to hang it.
  6. Use the tape measure to record the distance from point A-to-B, B-to-C and C-to-A. Make sure to measure from the back (thread) side of each eye on the eye bolts. Note: These measurements are critical for setting your support columns. The placement of the tent stakes marks the CENTER of your post hole.

Step 4: Dig the Holes for the Support Posts

  1. Using the post hole digger, dig down approximately 30 inches. Note: The hole must extend beyond the frost line, so the depth will vary depending on where you live.
  2. Take the shovel and widen the hole to approximately 18 inches in diameter.

Step 5: Prepare the Support Poles

  1. Measure six inches up from the bottom of the support pole.
  2. Drill a hole through both sides of the support pole with the 3/8-in. bit.
  3. Insert a piece of 18-inch all thread (use a hacksaw to cut to size) through the support pole. The all thread will protrude about 7-1/4-in. through each side of the support pole.
  4. Measure up another six inches and drill another hole through both sides of the support pole. But this time, rotate it 90 degrees from the first set of holes. With the all thread inserted through this second hole, it should look like a crosshair, with pieces of all thread protruding at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
  5. Thread a nut on each end to hold the all thread in place.
  6. Repeat this step for the other two support poles.

Step 6: Set the Support Poles in Concrete

  1. Place the support poles into the holes. Be careful not to jab yourself with the all thread or knock a bunch of dirt into the hole.
  2. Starting with the first hole, pour in the fast-setting concrete mix. Make sure it entirely covers the all thread cross braces. If they’re not covered, add concrete mix until they do.
  3. Add six to 12 inches of water and agitate with your shovel until it’s slightly blended. The moisture from the ground and the water you’ve added provide the necessary moisture for the concrete to set.
  4. Use the level to make sure the pole is set plumb from front to back and left to right.
  5. Repeat these steps for the next two poles. Make sure to double-check your measurements from Step 3, to ensure the poles are properly spaced.
  6. Do a final recheck to be sure all three support poles are plumb.
  7. Let the concrete dry overnight.
  8. Once the concrete sets, backfill the dirt from the hole and tamp it tightly with your foot.

Step 7: Prepare the Attachment Points on the Poles

  1. You should now have approximately 9 feet 6 inches of support pole exposed above ground.
  2. Select the desired height of the shade sail (eight or nine feet is standard).
  3. Measure up to your desired mounting height and drill a hole through both sides of each pole with the 3/8-in. bit. Place the hole on the circumference of the pole as if you’re aiming the alignment of each hole toward an imaginary spot central to all three support poles.
  4. Once you’ve drilled the holes, unhook the quick links from the eye bolts.
  5. Place the eye bolts through the holes you just drilled with the eyes facing one another.
  6. Tighten the nuts to securely affix the eye bolts to the support poles.

Step 8: Hang the Sail Shade

  1. Loosen the turnbuckles a little more, maybe an inch or so each. This lets you easily clamp the quick link to each eye bolt.
  2. Once all three attachment points of the shade sail are affixed to each eye bolt, tighten up the turnbuckle bolt the same amount you loosened it to hang the shade.
  3. Go back to each turnbuckle to tighten it more, to achieve proper tension on the shade sail. Start by tightening one end almost all the way to its limit, and repeat on all three points.
  4. If it still needs tension, tighten each point again until you achieve a taut and secure shade.