Simple Retractable Patio Shade Sail System


Sun Sail DIY

So, we had problem with the sun beating down on our back porch during summer.  It only occurred in the afternoons, from 3 o’clock and beyond during May-September.  We love our back porch, just relaxing watching our wildflowers dance in the breeze.  But once that sun started finding its way into our porch, we would just keep ‘migrating’ our chairs back to keep in the shade, continually being chased by the sun.  

Due to the orientation of our back porch, with it facing North West, the sun would come in at an askew angle.  This made conventional awnings a challenge since they normally extend straight back from where you are building.  Well, with our situation, this would be a very expensive project as we would need to have an awning that would need to span our back porch/deck, plus and additional 15-20 feet off the side of the deck if we wanted to be able to use it all the time.  An awning of this size, necessary due to the direction our house sits would look pretty goofy and probably cost $2,000 or more. Not to mention we would have to deal with our back breakfast nook. Prices for that would range in the thousands of dollars….so not an attractive solution for us.

Sun Sail DIY

Our DIY Awning

We weren’t sure if we would want to expand our home and possibly build in that room someday, so we didn’t want to make any permanent structures.  Also, when the sun isn’t hitting the porch you have such a wide beautiful view, so we didn’t want anything that would need to stay up all Summer long, or have to sink poles in the yard.  We’ve only lived at our current home for a couple of years, and were debating adding on to the backside of our home.  So, additionally we wanted a system that would not be permanent, but still last for years.  So, here is our solution;

We utilized a sun shade sail system, but decided that we didn’t want to have it up all the time.  So we came up with a robust solution that we could set up and take down within 5 minutes and looks beautiful.  Thus, we created a fully retractable, non-permanent system to provide shade to our patio/deck!  And it was more than affordable!

How much did it cost?

And the best part?  We did it for around $300!  Now, we didn’t sink poles/posts that would stuck in the ground forever, so it took a bit of planning on our part to make sure it could withstand moderate wind.  And it is unlikely that anyone would want to be relaxing in the shade outside in fast wind.  But, we made a rule – if the shades-sails are moving too much in the wind, or any wiggle on the poles – then we take the shade-sails down immediately. And I can do that job, by myself, in less than 5 minutes and have them folded/stored.  The only routine maintenance on this set up is to paint the poles, and seal the whiskey barrels periodically.  But, we don’t use this system in high winds, or when nobody is present.  It gets taken down when are not there, and when we sleep.

How we made it happen:

Want to see how we did it?  You can purchase our ebook on how we did it for $5 at the link below.  It has a detailed bill of material, and all the steps we did from initial design through construction/operation!  Now, this is what we did at our home. All of the dimensions are very specific to our geometry.  We made a couple of unique features, using common materials in a novel way to make this system a ‘winner’ when we entertain friends and family.  

Ebook Description

Hi – This is our ‘ebook’, aka what we did at our home to give shade to our patio.  Our system is fully retractable, and easy to construct with common tools found at many homes.  Our total amount of money spent (not including paint/wood sealer) was just under $300.  You will be purchasing a detailed ebook on what we did, what materials we used (and approximate costs, with links to some of the products).  This is 15 pages long with detailed explanations, and also includes some additional things we did recently to help extend the life of the barrels/post further (liner and pavers).

You can have our ebook for $5

Although we have ads on our page, it still doesn’t cover the cost of running/maintaining this website.  So, if you have enjoyed our content thus far, and want to help us out while getting something in return – please consider purchasing this ebook.  You might learn something!  Or get some good ideas for your own home.

Warning/Disclaimer/Terms and Conditions

Warning – This document is what we did at our house.  Each house is different, and may require modifications.  Use this as reference, and at your own risk. This is not considered instructions for your home.

We’ve found our system to withstand breezy days, but we never set it up, or leave it up when we feel  there is potential for high wind or gusts. Our sails/posts have never fallen over or broken free, but it is possible.  If you decide to build a shade sail system, never leave your system unattended, or up over night when you sleep, or when nobody is around.   We take no responsibility or liability damages/injury for what can occur at your home. This document is to be used for reference only.

We considered how our system would work – we will have large ‘sails’ shading an area.  At least half of the anchor points are fixed to permanent structures (our house). However, the anchor points that extend to our yard are not.  So, if a strong wind comes up and blows perpendicular to the sail, the tendency would be for the whiskey barrel/post holders to tip over. Now, we don’t use our system on windy days, we never leave it unattended, and we never leave it up overnight when nobody is around.  We made our system to shade our patio on sunny, calm days.

Click on the image below to go to our Etsy page for purchase!

Sun Sail DIY
Click on the image above to go to our Etsy page!

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Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over six years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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