Make a Tiny Oasis in Your Backyard with the Coolaroo Shade Sail

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Here's an easy and inexpensive way to throw some shade in your yard or campsite.

Providing shade to a large part of your yard can be challenging. The options for covering pools, outdoor eating areas, decks and patios are limited.

One option is to build a covered shelter or pergola, which may require building permits and easements, take days to complete and cost tens of thousands of dollars. But there’s another quicker, more cost-effective way: Setting up a fabric sun shade sail.

After losing one of my favorite shade trees in a storm. I bought the Coolaroo Ready-To-Hang Shade Sail and strung it up in my yard.

What is the Coolaroo Sun Shade Sail?

A sun shade sail is exactly what it sounds like: Fabric protection from the sun in the shape of a boat’s sail. The triangular Coolaroo Ready-To-Hang Shade Sail measures 11-ft. by 10-in. on all three sides. It’s made from a high density polyethylene woven fabric that resists fading, tearing and UV rays. Plus, it’s backed by a three-year warranty.

With its preattached nylon ropes, the Coolaroo Shade Sail works for permanent or temporary installations. Use it on your deck, patio, lawn or pool, or bring it along on outdoor adventures. You can even string several up in clusters to cover a larger or oddly shaped area.

This lightweight shade sail came in a clear plastic zippered bag similar to those for bedding or drapery. Upon opening, it felt less coarse than I anticipated. In seconds, it was ready to hang.

How We Tested It

Coolaroo Shade SailEthan O'Donnell for Family Handyman

Installation

The Coolaroo Shade Sail comes with 16-foot ropes attached to all three corners. These are especially convenient if you bring it camping, since there’s plenty of rope to hang it almost anywhere. But for our more semi-permanent placement, I removed the ropes and attached the Cooleroo Shade Sail with braided steel cable, wire clamps, turnbuckles and carabiners.

Once I picked out some rafters on the back side of the fascia board, I installed eyelets and strung up a few feet of heavy duty braided cable. After swapping out the rope ends for quick clip carabiners, I clipped it to the braided wire and tightened it using a turnbuckle in each corner.

Performance

After hanging it, the woven fabric seemed so transparent I was skeptical it could be 85% UV protective as the manufacturer claimed. The weave also offered limited protection from the rain. But it was noticeably cooler under the sail.

Continuous air flow is the key feature of shade sails. Under one, you won’t be subjected to wind tunnels or drafts as you might under a large umbrella or covered canopy. I also appreciated how quiet it was. Even with large gusts of wind, the lightweight shade sail seemed to glide through them rather than bounce around the way umbrellas and awnings do.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the Coolaroo Shade Sail. There’s no doubt that it isn’t as durable as an umbrella or a permanent canopy. But for less than $35, and with a three-year warranty, it’s the right solution for creating the shade we like at a price we love.

Pros

  • Affordable;
  • UV protective;
  • Permanent or temporary;
  • Easy to install;
  • Great airflow;
  • Quiet;
  • Three-year warranty.

Cons

  • Thinner transparent fabric;
  • Provides little rain protection.

FAQ

Q: Is there any metal hardware included for permanent installation?

A: No.

Q: Can I wash the Coolaroo Shade Sail?

A: Yes. The manufacturer’s instructions suggest you gently wash with a mild detergent, rinse with a hose and air dry.

What Others Had To Say

Amazon Verified Purchaser Christine DeMeyer writes: “These sails can take 10 degrees off the temp in our back yard. Easy to install. Fold down to nothing when you need to store them. Came with everything we needed to put it up.

Writes Kat9, who purchased the shade sail from Lowe’s: “Lightweight yet durable. Filters light and provides some shade without completely blocking the sun. Very quiet, does not make noise on windy days. We hung four of these under our pergola, overlapping them slightly in a pattern. Very happy with the result!”

Final Verdict

Regardless of where or how you hang your Coolaroo Shade Sail, you’ll enjoy the breathability and UV blocking shade it provides. It’s portable, durable, affordable and whisper quiet. Whether you’re going camping, swimming in your backyard pool or relaxing on the patio, this shade sail is a great option to keep you and your loved ones cool, comfortable and sunburn-free.

Where to Buy

Coolaroo Shade Sailvia merchant

You can purchase the Coolaroo Ready-To-Hang Shade Sail at Lowe’s and Amazon.com in lots of sizes and colors.

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Ethan O'Donnell
Ethan is Family Handyman’s go-to editor for finding and testing the latest and greatest products, tools, and gear in the DIY space. Ethan has experience building custom woodwork, sets, props, and exhibits. Over the course of his career, he has completed projects for several Fortune 500 companies as well as for the United States Park Service. During his spare time, he likes to ride anything on two wheels, read, draw, or spend time with friends discussing recent Formula 1 events.