Wholesale Shade’s Robin DuBroy, director of training programs, and Gregg Burrows, sales manager, presented a session at IFAI Virtual Expo 2020 about shade sail design and installation. Using numerous case studies of various designs and difficulty levels, the speakers discussed each project in terms of client goals, site challenges and an evaluation of results.
Shade sails are tension structures that use cable or webbing to pull the sails tight. They are designed to block UV rays, provide shade and allow heat to rise through the fabric, keeping the area below cool. According to Burrows, durable fabrics makes all the difference. “The right fabric depends on the size, color choice and client budget for each project,” he says. “This industry has good, better and best fabrics. Larger sails need the heaviest, most durable fabrics.”
The speakers say the first step in any shade sail project is to assess whether the customer’s goal is shade, design or both. Project decisions include attachment points at the location, fastening options, design enhancements and site challenges. The cases studies included projects requiring a variety of installation skill levels such as basic three- and four-point sails, overlapping sails with numerous attachment points, and custom shade sails with unusual curves and challenging site conditions such as trees, chimneys and flag poles.
The speakers answered a number of technical questions on design, materials, attachment fasteners and building codes. If a project fails, which happens rarely according to Burrows, “It is almost always the connection point or hardware, not the fabric.” And DuBroy noted that in many climates, shade sails can stay up year-round. However, in snowy conditions, she noted, they have to be taken down due to snow loads, but some companies are offering take down and reinstall services as part of an overall package.
“We’ve definitely seen a pick-up in homeowner and restaurant interest in shade sails during COVID-19,” says DuBroy. She attributes this to the amount of time people are spending at home and to restaurants providing outside areas for their customers.
Both speakers encouraged participants to get serious about taking pictures of their shade sail projects using a drone or a professional photographer. “Potential customers,” says Burrows, “need to see what they’ll be getting.”
Registration for IFAI Virtual Expo 2020 is open through Nov. 12. All Expo sessions will be posted on the Virtual Expo platform for viewing during Expo and for 30 days after Expo has concluded.