Choosing The Right Shade Structure Hardware

Which Tensioning Hardware Should I Use?Corner hardware is the most important source of tension in a sail. Tenshon sells three different types of corner hardware, each with their own unique benefits and mode of achieving the desired tension. Let's dive right in.


A turnbuckle consists of two eye-bolts with opposite thread inside a center body free to spin. Due to the opposite thread directions of the two eye-bolts, rotating the body one direction brings the bolts together, thus tightening the sail, and the other direction lets the tension out. Using turnbuckles at every attachment allows for freedom to adjust the tension in the sail at each corner. Our turnbuckles are 7.5" closed and 10" open, which works great for any of our standard shade sails or custom shade sails of comparable size. Learn how to install a shade sail with turnbuckles here.


If you're looking for an easy up, easy down option, we've got just what you need! Pulleys make for super easy installs because there is no need for lubricant or tools, or additional tensioning assistance from a come-along or similar winch. With 30" of take, one can simply attach the pulley to each corner of the sail and then to each attachment point. Once the sail is in place, pull the rope tight at each corner and tie off the loose ends. A 4:1 mechanical advantage makes tensioning your sail a breeze, and the take down is just as simple! Like our turnbuckles, pulleys are great from shade sails within our standard size range. Learn how to install a shade sail with pulleys here

Commercial Brackets

These suckers are our big guns for any custom projects larger than any of our standards. When it comes to large sails, turnbuckles and pulleys just won't do the trick. You need a commercial bracket that we've designed to hold up to the added stress of large sails. Additionally, an 18" tensioning rod provides for much more take allowing for application of more stretching force at each corner. For more information on commercial brackets, check out last year's Matching Larger Sails with the Right Hardware.

Choosing the Right Hardware

Turnbuckles and pulleys are both fantastic corner hardware for standard shade sails and customs within that same range, so choosing between the two is really a matter of cost vs. convenience. If you're looking for the best price, turnbuckles will be your best option. If you want better functionality and easier install, go for pulleys. As for larger sails, you really do need to use commercial brackets for best performance and safety.

The Three Keys to Tension

If you didn't read the previous articles, or if you need a quick recap, remember that the three keys to tensioning your shade sail (and keeping it under tension) are:

1) Perimeter Wire Rope

2) Height Variation

3) Tensioning Hardware

For best results, we recommend applying all three techniques. If the parameters of your project limit one or more of these tensioning methods, discuss it with one of our project managers to see where we can help.

What About Commercial Shade Sail Hardware?

Here at Tenshon, we use turnbuckles for all of our standard shade sails. Each turnbuckle has two eyebolts screwed into a single metal body. One eyebolt has left hand threads, and one has right hand threads. As a result, turning the body one direction will bring the bolts in, and the other will let them out, thus increasing and decreasing tension respectively. With a turnbuckle at each corner, the tension in the shade sail can be adjusted according to needs.

Commercial Bracket

For most of our larger sails, however, we take our hardware up a notch with commercial brackets (shown above). We’ve designed our commercial brackets to stand up to the added stress of larger sails and provide the extra tension needed. Additionally, a wider surface area of contact with the fabric prevents corners from tearing under the heavier load. While turnbuckles attach to a d-ring sewn into the corner of the sail, commercial brackets sandwich the fabric between two plates and an HDPE disk. These plates are bolted together through the fabric to ensure that the load is distributed well. When it comes time for tightening the sail, a tensioning rod allows for over half a foot more take than turnbuckles do, meaning you will have the additional room needed to sufficiently adjust your shade sail.

Commercial bracket taken apart

Put simply, if you’re designing a custom shade sail larger than our standards, then commercial brackets are the way to go. They will stand the test of time, never failing to provide adequate tension and look great doing it. Click the picture above to learn how to install a shade sail using commercial brackets. For pricing and specs, click the first picture. Still unsure about whether to use turnbuckles or commercial brackets? Contact us to talk with one our project managers about your specific needs. 

Baseplate Detail

Using Your Own Hardware

Tensioning hardware is a critical factor in maintaining tension in your shade sail. We offer turnbuckles and pulleys for standard shade sails and commercial brackets for larger shade sails. You can provide your own hardware, but we will not pattern for it. That is to say, we will not take into account fabric stretch and hardware offset from attachment point measurements. We will require finished dimensions. Learn the difference between attachment point measurements and finished dimensions to see why you'll want to use attachment point measurements if at all possible.

Larger shade sails use commercial brackets and have different corner shapes and reinforcements to accommodate greater forces. However, if you are using your own hardware, we can only put d-rings in the corners. This will make your corner less prepared to withstand the strong forces exerted in large shade sails. As a result, we do encourage you to use our hardware designed specifically for our shade sails to ensure the best functionality.