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choosing a shade sail choosing a shade sail

How to choose your shade sail

There is nothing like a shade sail over your terrace to make you feel like you are on holiday. The sail fluttering gently in the breeze and the slowly moving shade evoke a relaxing boat trip. All that is missing is the sea! Nonetheless, it is important to choose the right shade sail for you. Dickson, the solar protection specialist, has a couple of tips to guide you in this process.

Environmental and usage criteria for selecting a suitable shade sail

The biggest advantage of a shade sail is that it can be installed anywhere, as it does not necessarily need to be attached to the house or flat. A shade sail can provide shade on a terrace or balcony, over a defined space in a garden or next to a pool, or for a children's sandbox. As long as the support poles are installed in accordance with the safety rules, you can position your shade sail wherever you want.

However, like when installing a folding-arm awning or a pergola, you must take your environment into account before deciding on your shade sail.

choosing a shade sail according to region choosing a shade sail according to region

Choose your shade sail according to your region

The region where you live and its climate are highly important: does it rain a lot in your region, with occasional severe storms? Or are there just regular showers? Is there a lot of sunshine, with high temperatures? Is it windy? The climate of your region will determine the material to use for your shade sail.

Which way is your terrace or other outdoor area facing? A south-facing terrace has different needs compared to an east-facing space that only gets sunlight in the morning, or a garden oriented towards the south-west that retains warmth through to the evening.

Adapting your shade sail to your lifestyle

Finally, the way you will use your shade sail is crucial. What are your preferences or needs? Would you like to have breakfast outside when the weather is nice? Have lunch in the shade with all the family? Enjoy long evenings on the terrace? Read, nap or work outdoors? The size of your shade sail and its colour will partly depend on your habits.

lifestyle lifestyle

Technical criteria for choosing your shade sail

Define the anchor points for your shade sail

What to do before choosing your shade sail: Find the anchor points on the façade of your home or the location for the poles and make sure that nothing will get in the way of the shade sail, such as eaves, a gutter or a tree. Don't hesitate to ask for advice from a professional, who will be able to determine whether your shade sail is suitable for the surroundings and tell you what kind of anchoring is needed.

Calculate the dimensions of your shade sail

Various standard dimensions are available (often between 2.5 m and 6 m approximately), but if you consult an approved professional, you will be able to create a made-to-measure shade sail that fits your space and your needs perfectly. The professional will be there to advise you and support you in your project. If the space where shade is needed is very large, you can overlap several shade sails, creating interesting effects with the dimensions and the shapes. This will make the installation more resistant to wind while using the same poles.

If you would like to define the area over which you want to install your shade sail yourself, take away at least 70 cm from the terrace's surface area. Alternatively, you can measure your desired size directly on your terrace where the shade sail will be installed, using string and starting from certain anchor points. Ideally, you should test out the dimensions by holding the string up high, in order to check the shadow it casts on the ground. This will correspond exactly to the shade provided by your shade sail (the ideal height for hanging a shade sail is 2.60 metres, on a slant of at least 15%).

Please note: Allow for at least 35–50 cm of cord (1 metre max.) between the anchor point and the shade sail. This margin will be used to keep the shade sail taut.

Repeat this process several times throughout the day: in the morning sun, at lunch time, later in the afternoon and in the evening, so that you can check the area in the shade at different times.

Choose the appropriate UV protection and waterproof rating for your shade sail

The most important criteria of them all when choosing your shade sail is the quality of the fabric. Your comfort and the longevity of your shade sail depend on it! On the market, you will find fabrics weighing between 140 and 340 g/m²: please note that, when the density is higher, the shade sail is stronger, longer lasting and less susceptible to tears and soiling.

The main purpose of your shade sail is to provide shade and protect you from the sun. You should therefore check its UVA and UVB protection and whether or not it is waterproof, especially if you live in a rainy region.

Several Dickson fabrics are especially suitable for shade sails:

  • Orchestra: a range of 173 different fabrics in solid colour and patterned designs… Weight 290 g/m², Sunacryl solution-dyed 100% acrylic with Cleangard anti-dirt and waterproofing treatment. Blocks out between 90 and 100% of UV rays, depending on the colour (the darker the colour, the more UV protection it offers). 10-year warranty.
  • Max: ultra-strong 320 g/m² fabric, solution-dyed 100% acrylic and excellent UV resistance. 10-year warranty.
  • Infinity: These solution-dyed 100% acrylic fabrics, available in large widths (165-200-250-320 cm), are highly resistant to the extreme tension a shade sail can undergo, thanks to Dickson Resilient System technology. Special anti-dirt and waterproofing treatment. 290 g/m². 10-year warranty.
  • SWK15: 360 g/m² micro-perforated high-tenacity polyester fabric. The perfect compromise that offers solar protection, natural ventilation and visual comfort.

Check the quality of your shade sail’s finishes and fixings

The edges of your shade sail must be strengthened with stainless steel rings in order to last longer and resist pulling. The fabric and its attachments will be subject to a lot of pressure in bad weather (wind, rain, storms, hail, etc.).

Aesthetic criteria for your shade sail

shade sail shape shade sail shape

Different shapes for shade sails

Triangles, rectangles, squares, hexagons… No two shade sails are the same! The traditional shade sail is triangular, like the sail on a boat, but now there are versions in different shapes, which can adapt to the area you want to cover.

Rectangular shade sails can cover large areas. You can even combine several shade sails, mixing and matching different shapes and colours.

Of course, you can create your own custom-made shade sail at an awning manufacturer.

A wide choice of colours for your shade sail

Here's a brief guide to choosing the right colour:

  • Light or neutral shades: ideal in a traditional environment with an elegant, bright, cosy feel. These shades let more heat through than dark shades and they need to be cleaned more regularly, as any dirt is more visible.
  • Dark colours: these stylish shades are perfect for modern homes. They provide good solar protection in very sunny regions. Dark Dickson fabrics can even offer up to 100% UV protection.
  • Bold colours: red, orange, yellow... These dynamic, modern colours are sure to put you in a good mood.

As well as the aesthetic aspect, take a look at the comfort categories offered by Dickson for each colour. With Life Comfort by Dickson, each criterion is taken into account (thermal comfort, visual comfort, UV protection) so that you find the fabric that suits your needs.

Leave nothing to chance when choosing your shade sail by following our guide! Soon, you will be able to enjoy a much-deserved break in the shade.

wide range colours wide range colours

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