Design Services

Design Considerations

Using state of the art CAD modelling and rendering techniques, Paradise Shades’ can superimpose your proposed shade structure onto a digital photo of the site location.  This gives an excellent indication of the finished product.

Orientation and post heights

To maximise shade coverage, the shade sail should be as low as practical.  This is to localise the shade over the area in which it is required.  The sun is rarely directly overhead so shade will not be vertically below the sail and will continually move across the ground.  Obviously there are various factors governing sail fixing heights.  What is under the shade sail: play equipment, a BBQ, basketball court?  Is the sail in a private or public place: could vandalism be a problem?

What time of day is the shade required?  Low fixing points should be facing West to maximise shade from the setting sun.  High points above doorways and pathways.

A recommended design is to have diagonally opposite corners, which are either high or low giving a twisted effect or hypar, which helps with the deflection of wind and rain as well as providing a high visual impact.


A four-sided or multi-sided sail is preferable to a triangle.  This is to maximise the area of shadecloth in relation to the number of fixing points.  A triangle will result in sharp angles and tapered corners, which reduce the area of shadecloth.

Shade sails should not be horizontal, whether shadecloth or waterproof fabric.  This ensures rainwater runoff and will help keep the sail fabric clean.

One large sail is more efficient than several smaller sails but this may be impractical due a large area to be covered.  Several smaller sails will require many posts and there may be gaps in between (although gaps may be preferred).


The supply and installation of shade sail posts may well be 80% of the cost of the shade project and their frequency should be minimised.  They need to withstand the loads transferred from the shade sail particularly during strong winds.

As a rule only steel posts should be used.  A constant horizontal load on a timber post may well result in the post bowing towards the sail tension.

Posts should be either hot-dipped galvanised or electro-galvanised with the option of a powder-coated, or paint finish purely for aesthetics.

Tensioning fittings should be galvanised or stainless steel turnbuckles or chain.

The location of posts should minimise obstruction and visual impact.  Darker colours are less noticeable to the eye than light colours.  Fall zones apply around play equipment.

Posts should lean away from the sail tension.  If posts are installed plumb (vertical), when the sail is tensioned it may bend the post towards the sail and although this is structurally acceptable, it is not pleasing to the eye!

Posts are usually ground-bearing with an excavated hole filled with pre-mixed concrete one the post has been installed.  The bearing capacity of the ground needs to adequately take the load of the post.  The post location may be natural ground or fill.  An alternative to in-ground is to have a welded baseplate bolted to an existing concrete slab.

To minimise the risk of damaging underground services, a Dial-before-you-Dig report should be obtained before any excavation is carried out.  For high risk areas an underground services survey should be undertaken, which we can arrange.

Where there is a risk of people climbing shade sail posts, we can fit anti-climb fins to ensure this not occur.

Talk to the Shade Experts

If you would like to discuss a possible project, learn more about us or any of the jobs we've done, please get in touch.
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1300 068 500

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