20 Shade Sail Ideas for Covered Patio Solutions

Shade sail ideas for covered patios

Ever thought about how other people attach their shade sails or how inventive they get when having their sails installed? Here’s your chance to see how practical and versatile sails are. See them in action and get ideas and inspiration for your own creative shade solutions.

In California’s hot season, you cannot stand outside without having a canvas stretching overhead. In other states, they find good use for them too. Using a shade sail is the least expensive option to create a covered deck or patio.

Where and Why Do People Install Sun Sail Canopies?

Here are the 5 most common uses:

  • Transform a driveway into a carport.
  • Keep a pool or hot tub cool.
  • Provide shade over a patio.
  • Entertain on your deck before the sun goes down.
  • Make a playground more comfortable for kids.


20 Shade Sail Installation Ideas

What about the rainwater accumulating in it, you ask? Yes, that is the issue you cannot disregard. The simple solution is to install the sail at a slight angle. Another is to use a triangular shape instead of a square one. The triangle accumulates less water. There are not many other options, really. Some water will always accumulate. Make sure it’s manufactured from strong canvas that is tightly stretched. A professional installer will generally recommend that a least one corner of the sail be lower than the others to allow for the rain to run off. If that’s not an option, periodically tighten all of the hooks and push the accumulated water out and onto the ground simply by (gently) nudging your sail with the long pole.

We’ve enjoyed ours for years now, with no problems.

20 Shade Sail Installation Ideas

1. Create a covered deck with four rectangular shade sails

Shade sail ideas for a covered deck

Posts for shade sail double as hammock supports

Shade solutions for a deck - four square canopies

We love this design idea. This backyard deck uses four rectangular shade sails anchored to custom posts, creating a covered deck without the expense of more permanent options. They also provide a comfortable relaxing space safe from the hot summer sun. They are positioned horizontally and tightly secured to reduce movement by the wind. These sails are deceptively simple in design but are attached in such a way that they create maximum visual impact.

2. Create a chill area in the pool

Ideas for triangle sail over a pool

Triangle canopy maximizes shade for poolside and water

Having a pool only partially covered by a shade sail is an interesting idea. It gives some relief from the sun for people sitting poolside, and creates hot and chill areas for those in the pool. It cleverly utilizes existing trees in the outdoor living space as anchor points, attaching the sail with cables.  This triangle sail provides ambient shade while filtering out harmful UV rays.

3. Save money by making a pergola roof from a shade sail

Custom shade sail idea to create a pergola roof

Here’s an interesting idea for adding a comfortable seating area around a fire pit. Build a pergola frame and form the roof using the shade sail, as shown. You will spend less on creating this architectural element than if you built a standard pergola roof. This custom rectangle shade incorporates an outdoor lighting fixture, making the covered deck more functional for entertaining after dark. The sail’s bold color amps up the deck’s atmosphere while maintaining a relaxed mood.

4. Shade solution for a hot tub

Colorful canopies create visual interest over a hot tub

Shade solutions for a hot tub? Why not! Two colorful shade canopies overlap over this hot tub, to offer some privacy and style to the bathers. They also add a touch of playfulness to the scene. The patio roof and surrounding structures are strong anchor points for both canopies. They keep the sun off during the day but allow you to leave your options open for gazing up at the stars.

5. Create a shady carport

Sun sail for shade ideas over a driveway

Don’t want to park the car in the garage but leaving it outside will turn it into an oven? A professionally installed sail provides shade solutions for a driveway. Now this residence has two user-friendly places to park – in the garage itself and the “carport” conveniently formed by a 4 point sail positioned over the pavement in front of the garage door. The rectangular canopy protects the vehicle from the sun and the occasional surprise rain shower. Look closely – one of the supporting poles is located right next to the rain barrel.

6. Shade sail idea for a small patio

A narrow patio is made useful with a sail canopy installation

Shade solutions for a narrow covered patio

If you have an awkward-shaped patio on your property that gets a direct hit from the sun here are some ideas to get some relief. Create a comfortable corner to hang out with family and friends with a sun sail for shade. The residents of this lovely home installed a privacy screen and hung the sail from it on one side and the house on the other. Translate a narrow patio from unpurposed to useful!

7. Sun canopy idea for a covered patio – cover the intended area only

This shade solution for a patio has a dramatic effect

Shade sail covers the entire deck

With so many sail shade options, how do you decide on which one? A shade canopy can be positioned over the area of a patio that receives the most intense sun at a particular time of day. Ensure the size of the canvas is large enough to cover the intended area. Give some thought to the color choice – this one blends in naturally with the surrounding landscaping. The large Trex deck with sun canopy is the perfect solution for a covered patio.

8. Use a huge canopy to cover the entire patio

Large sail provides maximum shade to stone patio

If the outdoor living area is extensive, you might think that you’re destined to bake in the sun. In this case, a large canopy is an excellent solution. Secured to the house and to two posts, beautiful yet functional, this huge canopy covers almost the entire stone patio. It defines the space, making it stand out by utilizing varying angles and tension. Stone patio plus sail canopy equals peaceful living.

9. Create a gazebo-like structure using triangular sails

Shade ideas for a pier - sails installed in a gazebo formation

Different sized shade sails allow pier some overhead light

Would you like somewhere to work on a project or relax out of the sun? They created a gazebo on the pier using eight triangular sails, eight perimeter poles, and one central pole. Why not an umbrella? Installing the shade sails on poles strengthens the gazebo-like structure while breaking up blinding sun rays and protecting it from the wind. Wow! What a clever idea!

10. Protect your wooden deck from direct sun

A perfect fit-to-patio-size shade sail installation

Inspired shade sail idea - installed between house and gate

Stretched between the house and the gate arbor, the canopy covers the entire small wood deck patio. The sail selected perfectly fits the intended space. The neutral tones in the living area (cedar shakes, brick, patio, fence) are a perfect foil for the complementary colors of the sail and patio furniture. This simple installation brings several shade solutions to this backyard – protects from the sun, adds aesthetic appeal, and creates a cool retreat.

11. Create a shaded area on a large deck

Square shade sail ideas to cover a deck

Nice shade created with a square sail

Just as popular as the triangle canopy, a square canopy allows you to design a unique outdoor area. They typically offer more coverage per square foot. Plenty of shade is created here with this square canvas sail. The weight of the sail is sensibly balanced between the roofline of the house and two posts.

12. Make your outdoor living space pop!

Rectangle shade canopy protects large area from sun

A large rectangular sail installation idea for a pool

Look at this interesting setup. A rectangle sail hangs low over the water and covers almost the entire surface of an infinity pool. If you think about it … this is probably the most cost-effective way to create some shade over a pool of this size. And it even works well with the lush scenic view. Color choice is key here – the bright yellow makes this outdoor living space pop.

13. Overlapping triangle shade sails is one practical idea

Covered patio ideas using three sails for shade

This inspired patio design takes advantage of three overlapping triangle shade sails to set the stage for stylish entertaining. Using outdoor furniture that would look as good indoors such as the large mirror and area rug lends a subtle sophistication to the patio. The modern sensibility of the triangular sails contrasts nicely with the contemporary dining table and the rustic sideboard. Here you have the ability to control where the rainwater goes, directing it away from the dining table by strategically placing the sails. Plus the overlapping canvases create more shade than just one layer.

14. Create shade over the large pool

Three connection points anchor this shade canopy

Triangle shade sail ideas for an over pool installation

A huge triangle sail provides protection from the sun to this outdoor living space. The setup uses the house and two dedicated poles to secure the shade sail in place. During the intense heat of the day, the canopy allows the residents more lounging time by the pool and cooling off in the water. This installation maximizes the presence of lighter breezes. The same anchor poles are used to hang the lights around the pool.

15. Add value to the property with a simple shade sail

Triangle shade sail creates covered patio

Transform an exposed patio using this simple installation idea – three posts and a triangular sail. Positioned in front of the patio doors, the canopy increases the functionality of the patio and the overall value of the property. It’s somewhere to sit and relax after a busy day or host an impromptu barbecue. This attractive design adds a playful element while letting in some light.

16. Can you use your neighbor tree to attach the sail?

Triangular shade canopy attached to house roof

Creative shade sail installation ideas for a patio

Is traditional pergola or gazebo not an option for your backyard? But a sun shade sail doesn’t appear to be the answer either. Don’t be discouraged in finding the perfect shade solution. This unusual installation attaches the triangular canopy to the garage roof on one end, the house on another, and the neighbor’s tree on the third.

17. Create shade poolside to cool down after the swim

Rectangle sail installed poolside

A versatile and aesthetic way to make the most of a poolside area, a tightly stretched canvas creates a practical place to cool down in front of a sunny pool. When it comes to relaxing after a swim it’s important to have an outdoor space that works for you. The canopy increases the amount of sun protection while maintaining the view. The two overlapping canvases generate visual interest while adding another focal point.

18. Form a shaded area over a large patio

Three triangle shade canopies installed over patio

Large patio protected from sun with three shade canopies

Triangle sun canopies add depth to this large patio design

Create a much-needed shade for a large patio. It might look complex, but the design is stunning in its simple goal to provide the most coverage to a large outdoor area. Three triangular sails installed side by side are supported by five wood posts. Forming a shaded area over the patio means you can sit outside any time of the day and enjoy your backyard even if the sun shines too brightly.

19. Small patio shade idea

Triangle shade sail ideas for small patios

Do you have a patio surrounded by trees and lush greenery but don’t use it much? The palm trees in this outdoor space double as contact points for the loosely attached sunshade. A single triangle sail provides just enough coverage for this smaller sized patio.

20. Covered patio idea for a desert home

Shade sail ideas to create a covered patio

While it’s nice to soak up some sun, take cover from intense rays with a triangular canopy. Secure enough to handle winy days, the shade sail is stretched between three metal poles, two of which are an integral part of the structure of the house. Having the patio mostly covered makes it a comfortable place to workout or to relax. Matching the color of the sail to one of the entry doors gives this setup a casual flair.

21. Sail installation on very long cords

Triangle canopy provides shade for a backyard pool.

This pool takes charge of summer heat with a shade sail

While there’s plenty of shade for those relaxing poolside, the pool itself is completely exposed to the sun. To provide some sun relief for people in the water, these homeowners installed a large “floating” triangular shade sail. Stretched tightly between the house roof and two pergolas, the sail is attached by very long sturdy cords. Strategically placed over one end, this canopy conveniently provides both light and shade to the pool.

22. Create your backyard oasis

Two triangle shade canopies protect lounge chairs

Hammock gets private oasis treatment with shade canopy

Using two triangle sails, a person can relax either in the hammock or on one of the lounge chairs. In the desert and other drier environments,  you can anchor your shade canopies with less tension giving a “flow” to the sails. To make the most out of your downtime, carve out your own backyard oasis. Design a quiet and calm yet vibrant space that appeals to your senses.

About Heather Brown 8 Articles
Heather Brown is a freelance writer from Vancouver, British Columbia. Knowing only the basics about furniture and design, she wrote copy and edited web pages for an online furniture company. She started small with product descriptions and buying guides for beds, dressers, cribs, and office desks. Eventually, she became head copywriter/editor, managing six corporate blogs ranging from nursery ideas to bedroom furniture to home décor to garden and patio design. In no particular order, she is passionate about interior design, reading, movies, and unique housewares.