How to Build Your Own DIY Shade Sail

backyard canopy

If you're looking to add some shade to your deck or porch, you have a few options. You can add a patio umbrella, curtains, or install an awning. Another creative option is to build a shade sail, which is exactly what Bob did with this DIY shade sail and trellis combo (a shade sail mimics a ship's sail yet provides a unique way to add shade).

In this project, we cover the full details of Bob's custom shade sail, the structural pipe fittings needed to build it, and how and where to use each fitting so you can build your own. So follow along:

Bob's Shade Sail Project Details:

deck shade

Bob has a large back deck that he wanted to cover to make sitting out in the summer more enjoyable. However, with the options being limited, Bob decided to create his own shade sail. The resulting structure is anchored to the house and the deck railing. It also features a built-in 20 ft. trellis on one side.

To build the structure, Bob used Kee Klamp fittings and pipe. These fittings are similar to threaded pipe fittings. However, instead of connecting via a threaded connection, Kee Klamp fittings slide over the pipe and secure down by tightening a set screw on the fitting. This generally makes them easier to use. It also allows for some adjustability within the structure. Lastly, Kee Klamp fittings allow for easier assembly and tear down.

Bob even started to build the shade sail using threaded fittings and pipe to start. However, he quickly realized their drawbacks:

"I started out using threaded pipes and typical "big box" store fittings but their fittings were limited and installation would have been more complex."

That's when he decided another approach would be best and he chose Kee Klamp instead.

Kee Klamp Fittings Used in This Project:

back deck canopy

Below, we've listed the major fittings that Bob used to build his shade sail and trellis structure. For a complete look at our entire inventory of fittings, visit our Kee Klamp fittings page here.

deck shade sail

How Each Fitting was Used:

We've listed a few key areas where each fitting was used. However, if you need help designing or building your own Kee Klamp project, please reach out to our team for help.

  • The Single Socket Tee fittings were used to terminate the vertical pipe supports into the horizontal pipe. Single Socket Tee fittings were also used for the support bars that run at the top of the structure.
  • The Side Outlet Elbow fittings were used at the corners of the structure.
  • The Flange fittings were used to mount the structure to the exterior wall.
  • The Wall Flange fittings were used to attach the vertical pipe supports to the outward-facing side of the deck railing.
  • Each of the different clips was used to attach the wire grid (for the trellis) to the vertical pipe supports.

full deck shade

Bonus Project: Patio Umbrella Support

umbrella shade

Since many of you visiting this article are looking for a way to add shade to your deck or patio, we also wanted to include this umbrella support as an possible alternative to building a shade sail. This support was built by our customer, Patrick in Napa, California.

Instead of going with a traditional umbrella to cover the patio table, Patrick decided to build his own umbrella support. Strength and stability were a big concern as the support needed to hold two large umbrellas. The resulting support makes use of the Single Swivel Socket, the Adjustable Swivel Socket, the Double Swivel Socket, and the Single Socket Tee.

Here's what Patrick had to say about the project:

"I built a dual umbrella support. I built it because the umbrella supports that are commercially available will only support one umbrella at a time. I liked the ability to make small changes to pipe lengths and angles so that I'm able to align the umbrellas with respect to each other. I never would have been able to get them right the first time with a weldment (welded solution)."

If you want to build your own shade sail or any other type of shading structure for your patio or deck, we can help! Our team is experienced in designing and building Kee Klamp pipe structure projects. We'll even go so far as to create a 3D drawing of your project so you can imagine it before you buy. Reach out to our team here and get started on your project today!


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