How to Measure Your Area
If you're unsure exactly how you want to apply shade to a given area, you'll want to start with some top down sketches of the area you're looking to shade and run some ideas through one of our project managers. If you already know where you want your shade product, there are generally two ways to convey those desired dimensions: attachment point measurements and finished dimensions. It is important to understand the distinction, as they result in different sized shade sails.
Attachment Point Measurements
Whenever possible, we strongly encourage using attachment point measurements. This means you’ll need to measure the actual distance between each attachment point, often a tab on a pole, wall mount, etc, rather than the dimensions of the shade sail itself. We will use those measurements to pattern your sail, accommodating for the stretch of the fabric and the hardware offset. In the beginning, you may not have any attachment points installed, and this is actually best. It gives you an opportunity to check with your project manager to make sure the design you want is indeed feasible. We can pattern to fit many irregular dimensions, but there are practical limitations. If your attachments are already in place, but won't accommodate a functional shade sail, we may not be able to pattern for them.
If you don’t yet have your attachment points installed, start with an estimate of where you want them to be. This will be enough to get you started on a quote, and for your project manager to let you know whether or not your design will work. Once you do install those attachment points, we will ask for finalized attachment point dimensions before fabricating your shade sail. This process is all to ensure that your shade sail fits perfectly.
When measuring attachment point distances, be sure to measure from the inside of the hole where your hardware will attach on one corner, to the same spot on every other corner. Like this:
Simply measuring the distance between poles won’t suffice, since it doesn’t take into account the variation in the height of attachment points. While these additional inches may not seem like a great deal, this extra distance could mean the difference between a shade sail that fits properly and one that does not.
While we do not recommend it, you can provide the desired finished dimensions of your shade sail. The relaxed sail will be made to those dimensions, and it will stretch to be larger under tension. This means that you will have to account for fabric stretch and hardware offset yourself.
Which Method Should You Use?
You should use attachment point measurements in almost all situations. This is to ensure that your shade sail fits correctly, and so you don’t have to do the math yourself in accommodating for hardware offsets and the stretch of the shade fabric. Roman shades and shade panels don’t stretch the same way shade sails are designed to, so all dimensions given for these products will be taken as finished dimensions.
How do you convey these dimensions to your project manager?
Before sending measurements to your project manager, check to make sure you have every dimension, not just the perimeter. On any sail with more than three corners, it is important to include all diagonal measurements. This is because there are many shapes that can be made with the same perimeter lengths. For example, each of the below shapes have the same side lengths, but are clearly different:
You may find it helpful to label each corner and then fill out a list of dimensions as shown below:
Or simply draw in the dimensions like this:
Whatever method you choose, we rely on you to provide accurate dimensions so that we can pattern your sail to perfectly compliment your outdoor living space. If you have further questions about your specific application, as always, feel free to contact us!