Outdoor living areas, such as outdoor kitchens and patios, are very popular as they let people spend more time outside enjoying nature during good weather. However, not everyone can deal with all of the exposure to the sun. It can take away from the enjoyment if you constantly have to keep applying sunblock. Canopies, umbrellas, awnings and pop-up cabana structures can all help with this. Another option is to consider having shade sails installed. These are architecturally interesting and made out of special materials that give them some unique advantages.
The best shade sails are made out of a material called high-density polypropylene mesh, or HDPE, which can block up to 95 percent of the UV rays from the sun and help cool the area underneath the shade by up to 20 degrees. The knitted weave makes it very taut and helps prevent holes or tears from expanding should they occur, increasing the lifetime of the shade.
The cost of putting up one of these structures can vary based on a number of factors but runs somewhere between $10 and $20 per square foot in most cases. Keep in mind that these are supported by metal columns that need to be sunk approximately 4 feet into the ground in cement. When higher columns are necessary or multiple shades are overlapped to create a design, the overall cost is likely to be more.
There are a variety of different shapes of sail shades available, with the best shape for your purposes depending on the look and overall goals you're hoping to achieve. Very large square or rectangle sails may tend to sag in the middle if it rains if they aren't installed in such a way to ensure that the rain runs off the side. Those who want to create a pattern with multiple shades may want to opt for triangle shades because these are easier to arrange in different ways, but they will need to be overlapped to provide solid coverage over an area.
Keep in mind that the area covered by the shades will vary as the sun moves throughout the day. Some companies can show you a computer model of how the shade will vary based on the time of day given the location and the design of the shade. Look for a shade that's made with fire retardant material to limit the risk of fires, and be sure to take down the shade material during harsh storms, snowy conditions or very high wind conditions.