The Best Shade Sails for the Backyard

Shade sails combine sleek design with UV protection and easy installation, at an affordable price. 

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Best Shade Sail

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If you’ve ever watched a sailboat cut through water, you can appreciate how shade sails can harness the same technology for beauty and ingenuity at home. A shade sail works on the same design principles as a boat sail, only a shade sail installs horizontally to provide sun protection and shade on hot days.

Constructed from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material, these flexible membranes come in rectangular or triangular shapes and a range of colors and sizes. Though shade sails can be positioned flat above a patio, deck, or pool, consider installing your sail in a hypar twist. This dramatic look requires two high and two low fixed points, which the sail is strung between, creating a three-dimensional effect.

When it comes to choosing the best shade sail, look for products boasting high-density polyethylene fabric with a weight of 185 grams per square meter (GSM). Select a classic shape (either rectangular or triangular) and color to match or contrast with your home’s facade and trim.

Finally, make sure to measure correctly. Shade sail measurements run from the edge of their D-rings, which are fitted to each corner for hanging purposes. Leave a 1.5- to 2-foot perimeter around the shaded area for the hardware and rope to hang the sail tautly and prevent sagging.

Our Top Picks

Whether you have a postage stamp garden or a sprawling lawn, these hand-picked recommendations for shade sails cover outdoor areas of most shapes and sizes. These picks focus on high-quality material, UV protection (more than 90 percent blockage), versatile features (color, size, and shape), sag-proof design, and longevity (5-plus years of use).

Best Shade Sail Artpuch

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BEST OVERALL: Artpuch 10’ by 13’ Shade Sail 185GSM Rectangle

This Artpuch 10- by 13-foot, 185 GSM Rectangle Shade Sail has the materials, design, and specifications to meet nearly any outdoor space’s shade needs. The sail is made of 185 GSM in HDPE fabric, with stitched seams for extra reinforcement. It blocks up to 95 percent of ultraviolet rays, protecting skin and eyes from the sun. However, thanks to the breathable fabric, cooling breezes and some light—as well as rain—can pass through, so water doesn’t pool overhead after a storm.

Each corner has a durable stainless steel D-ring, making it safe and easy to hang and position the shade sail right where desired, without the sail sagging or stretching. When measuring, allow for an additional 1.5 to 2 feet of space for the hardware and ropes (not included). With 12 sizes and five summery colors from which to choose, Arpuch’s shade sail will suit most backyard shade needs.

Best Shade Sail Shade&Beyond

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RUNNER-UP: Shade&Beyond 2-Piece 12x12x12 Shade Sail Triangle

Buyers won’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability with Shade&Beyond’s 2-Piece Triangle Shade Sail. Constructed of 185 GSM in HDPE fabric, this set features stitched seams and stainless steel D-rings at each corner. The breathable design allows both wind and rain to pass through. This means water won’t collect overhead and the sails are less likely to stretch and sag from high winds. Shade&Beyond’s two sails can install separately or overlap for added protection.

Buyers can choose from three colors, each measuring 12 by 12 by 12 feet. The hanging kit is not included and will need to be purchased separately. Once installed, the sail can stay clean with the use of a mild soap and water solution. It only requires simple wiping down, no scrubbing. The sail is not machine washable or dryable. Shade&Beyond promises that these twin sails will block 95 to 98 percent of UV rays, adding sun safety and comfort.

Best Shade Sail Quictent

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UPGRADE PICK: Quictent 26 X 20 Ft 185G HDPE Rectangle Shade Sail

Like comparable shade sails, Quictent’s 26- by 20-foot Rectangle Shade Sail is made of 185 GSM, HDPE fabric. This fabric ensures blocking of up to 98 percent of UV rays, helping prevent skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. The shade also touts a 20-degree difference in temperature for those relaxing under it, for cooler outdoor fun.

Unlike most brands, Quictent comes fully equipped with all the hardware needed for installation. This hardware construction consists of 316 marine grade stainless steel and will hold up to wind and rain. Each corner is also reinforced with a D-ring and heavily stitched for added durability. The fabric sail comes in nine different colors, and two large sizes, both rectangular in shape. The brand expects its sails to last up to five years of normal use.

Best Shade Sail LoveStory Rectangle

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MOST VERSATILE: LOVE STORY 12’ x 16’ Rectangle UV Block Awning

Whether looking for a shade sail to blend perfectly into a home’s facade or to provide a contrasting hue or pattern, buyers can check out the choices of Love Story’s 12- by 16-foot rectangle sail. The brand’s rectangle awning comes in 12 different colors and patterns, including solids and stripes. The sail also comes in eight sizes for versatile use. Like other top picks, this shade sail is made of 100 percent 185 GMS in HDPE fabric, has stainless steel D-rings at each corner, and sports a slight curve to the sides to prevent drooping.

This sag-free design feature shrinks the overall shaded area slightly (4 to 6 inches per side). So it requires careful measurement before purchasing, allowing 1.5 to 2 feet of extra space on each side to accommodate hardware and rope. Installing two or more of these sails, side by side, can shade larger areas. The Love Story sail includes nylon ropes, but hardware sells separately.

Best Shade Sail SunnyGuard

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BEST OVERSIZE PICK: SUNNY GUARD 20’ x 23’ Rectangle Shade Sail

Outdoor lovers can cut down on 95 percent of the sun’s rays with Sunny Guard’s ultra-large (20 by 23 feet) rectangular sail. The breathable 185 GSM, HDPE fabric allows both rain and air to pass through, and with the right hardware (sold separately), it stretches tightly to prevent unsightly drooping. Strong nylon ropes come with the purchase, and each corner is reinforced with stainless steel D-rings for easy installation.

The company recommends installing their sail at a 20- to a 40-degree angle to create maximum tension and water runoff. The brand warns against use in very rainy climates, since the product can get damaged by accumulated water. With a wide range of color and size choices, Sunny Guard will protect larger patios and outdoor spaces from bright sunlight.

Best Shade Sail Amgo

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BEST CUSTOM SIZES: Amgo 12’ x 16’ Rectangle Sun Shade Sail

Fit is essential when it comes to shade sails, so those who don’t want to leave fit to chance will appreciate Amgo’s rectangle sun shade sail. Buyers can choose from dozens of unique sizes, unlike other brands that come in just a few standard sizes. The Amgo sail also boasts nine bold colors, all of which reduce UV rays by up to 95 percent.

Shade sails measurements run from D ring to D ring, and the actual sail should be 0.5- to 1-foot shorter than the distance between mounting points. While hardware does not come with this sail, it has durable, breathable HDPE fabric. Amgo finishes the sail with heavy-duty webbing inside the seamed edges to prevent fraying and help keep the sail taut in sun, wind, or rain.

Best Shade Sail SunnyGuard16

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ALSO CONSIDER: SUNNY GUARD 16’5” x 16’5” x 16’5” Triangle Shade Sail

A shade sail like the Sunny Guard 16.5-foot triangular sail can boost comfort and sun protection on a small patio. With UV protection of up to 95 percent, this smaller version of the brand’s rectangle sail also is made of 185 GSM, HDPE. It is easy to set up in spring or summer and take down in winter, with D-rings at each corner for durable installation.

The sail works best when hung with sturdy nylon ropes (included) at a 20- to 40-degree angle to allow water and dew runoff. The triangular shape is highly versatile, and several of the sails can go in various spots around a home or backyard. With the right hardware kit (sold separately), this sail will last at least five years of daily use. Buyers can choose from five colors and a variety of dimensions to best fit an outdoor area.

Best Shade Sail LoveStory

Photo: amazon.com

ALSO CONSIDER: LOVE STORY 16’5” x 16’5” x 16’5” Triangle Tierra Sail

Love Story’s 16.5 by 16.5 foot by 16.5 triangle shade sail has the versatility that comes from great design. Made of 100 percent 185 GSM HDPE, the breathable fabric allows both breezes and light to pass through, and isn’t waterproof (so rain won’t gather and cause sagging). It also prevents up to 95 percent of UV rays from contacting the skin.

The unique design has curved sides to enhance pull strength and prevent drooping. This also means that the actual shading area shrinks slightly—between 4 and 6 inches per side. Nylon rope and clips to stretch the sail tightly are sold separately. With a choice of five sizes and seven colors or patterns, buyers can find the style and hue that work best for their outdoor space.