How to Attach a Shade Sail to a Deck

Shade sails provide shelter from the sun and create privacy on decks and porches. Installed shade sails create a unique, visually appealing space and dramatically enhance a home's facade. These sails are triangular and come in many sizes, colors and patterns. Most shade sails are made of polyethylene or acrylic and are extremely durable. You can easily install these sails, using common tools and hardware, in a weekend.

Step 1

Sketch the existing deck on a sheet of paper. Draw in the desired location for the shade sail. At least one vertex of the sail will attach to the roof structure, and the other ends of the sail will connect to railings or walls. If multiple shade sails are used, lay out the sails so that the ends of the individual sails share connections with neighboring sails. Multiple sails can create interesting and rich patterns.

Step 2

Move all furniture from the deck. Lay out the sails in their proper location on the deck, as drawn in the sketch. Mark the proposed location of the sail end connections on the roof, wall and railing surfaces.

Step 3

Drill pilot holes for eye hooks and pad eye slots at the marked locations on the roof and wall. Eye bolts and rafter bolts are used at the roof structure. Connect these bolts using a friction connection, such as nuts and bolts with washers. Lag screws are a viable option, but they cannot carry the same load as friction connection bolts. Use pad eyes at walls and railings. If possible, fix pad eyes with friction connections.

Step 4

Screw or bolt the rafter bolts, eye bolts and pad eyes to the surfaces around the deck. Do not overtighten lag screws because the wood can be weakened by slipping threads on the screw. Tighten bolts until the washers visibly deform the surface of the wood.

Step 5

Attach the turnbuckles to the rafter bolts, eye bolts and pad eyes. Attach the ends of the shade sails to the turnbuckles. You may need to adjust the shade sails and their hardware to remove slack from the sail. After adjusting the shade sail hardware, turn the turnbuckles until there are no ripples in the sail's taut surface.


  • Proper installation is extremely important. The tension in the shade sail can cause injury if a connection fails. Be sure to use the proper hardware when installing shade sails.

About the Author

Ryan Crooks is a licensed architect with 15 years experience in residential, institutional, healthcare and commercial design. Crooks is also an instructor, teaching architecture to high school and college students. He has written hundreds of articles for various websites.