How to install a shade sail on a balcony?
The elegant, sleek, contemporary Dickson shade sail will whisk you away to a holiday destination while offering great protection against the sun and light showers. Thanks to its modular nature and the range of sizes available, the shade sail is a popular solution for providing shade on a balcony of any size with an attractive decorative touch. It can also shelter a patio, a small terrace or a children's play area.
The shade sail is a stylish, affordable, simple solar protection alternative to the parasol. Why not try one on your balcony, over your terrace or in your garden?
Choose the shape of your shade sail
Fabric shapes and colours for all tastes
Shade sails come in all sorts of colours. You can choose from a range of soft, delicate tones and bright, eye-catching shades. The Dickson ranges offer a number of options:
- Orchestra, the biggest range on the market, with 173 possible choices.
- Max, the ultra-waterproof acrylic fabric.
- SWK6 and SWK15, the micro-perforated fabrics that bring together thermal efficiency, strength and translucence.
The most common shape for a shade sail is a triangle, like a boat's sail, but you could equally go for a rectangular, square, hexagonal or even octagonal version!
Big and small shade sails
You can find small, rectangular shade sails measuring 3x2 metres and triangular 3x3x3 m options on the market, as well as models that measure up to 5 metres. The choice is even bigger for professionals.
If you have a large balcony, you can even combine various small or medium-sized shade sails, overlapping them slightly.
Choosing the best layout for your shade sail
- 1 wall anchor point and 2 mobile anchor points: in this case, fix the point of the triangle (the smallest shade surface) to the façade to provide the most shade possible in the middle of the balcony.
- 2 wall anchor points and 1 mobile anchor point: this is the solution that provides the most shade inside the home (ideal in front of a large window).
For a balcony, we recommend a concave shade sail with curved edges, in a triangular shape. Very large shade sails and square or rectangular models are usually reserved for garden installations or pergolas.
Determine and install the fixing points of your shade sail
Though it is possible to install a shade sail yourself, the smartest option is to consult a professional. You are sure to find a professional awning manufacturer near you, and they will be able to give you advice and install your shade sail.
Deciding where to put your shade sail
There are few limitations when installing a shade sail on a terrace or in a garden, because you can set up the poles wherever you like and even opt for a free-standing structure, unlike the folding-arm awning, which requires a wall.
On a balcony, it can be difficult to find sturdy enough anchor points to install a shade sail safely. Once again, make sure you get in touch with a professional.
On top of that, it is important to seek the necessary authorisations for installing a shade sail, as some co-ownership systems impose restrictions.
Here are some anchor points where you could attach your shade sail (though, of course, this will depend on the configuration of your balcony and façade):
- Building façade
- Roof edge
- Balcony guardrail
- Pole bolted to the balcony
Before installing your shade sail, you will need to examine the orientation of your balcony in terms of the sun, as the shade sail must protect you at the hottest time of the day.
To work out the right anchor point for the shade sail, place it on the floor of the balcony and position it in your desired placement. Add between 40 cm and 1 m between the mount and the ring on the shade sail.
The shade sail must be kept away from all heat sources for fire safety reasons.
Calculating the angle of your shade sail
It must be installed with a minimum slant of 25% between the different anchor points. This difference in level guarantees much better wind resistance. It also lets rain run off, so that water does not gather in the middle of the shade sail.
Installing the poles for your shade sail
On a façade, you can use good-quality hooks attached directly to the wall with wall plugs or a ring eye bolt.
If you need a pole to hold one corner of your shade sail, opt for a wooden, steel or aluminium one. Of course, these poles cannot be driven into the ground, like you would do in a garden. Instead, you can use an installation kit with bases to be screwed into the floor.
Choosing the right fittings for your shade sail
Shade sails come with an installation kit, which generally contains wall mounts (depending on the model: please check this) and all the necessary fixings and fasteners:
- Stainless steel ring screws
- Stainless steel carabiners
- Adjustable stainless steel tensioners
Check that the attachment accessories are made of stainless steel to make sure they are corrosion-resistant, so that your shade sail lasts as long as possible!
There are several types of attachment available for the corners of the shade sail:
- Metal ring
- Fabric tab
- Metal triangle
Mounting and tensioning the shade sail
Your shade sail must be properly tensioned, so that you can enjoy your balcony with total peace of mind. A taut sail increases the amount of shade on the balcony. Tension also makes the fabric stronger and prevents it from flapping in the wind.
To properly tension your shade sail, use a tensioner, a tensioning strap or even a carabiner, pulley and rope to assist you.
Make sure the shade sail is tensioned equally across all the attachment points, so that it is centred between them and the tension is distributed evenly. Poorly distributed tension can lead to damage to your shade sail and even tearing.
Why should you stretch your shade sail :
- Wind resistance
- No flapping
- Less risk of tearing
- Attractive finish: no wrinkles
- No puddles of water when it rains
The shade sail must be kept away from all heat sources for fire safety reasons. In addition, if you live in a very windy region, an awning may be a more sensible, more robust option. Please consult your local awning manufacturer for advice.
Idea: you can also install a shade sail vertically : In this case, rather than sun protection, the shade sail will offer privacy from your neighbours…