Posts for a shade sail


Old 05-30-15, 11:37 AM
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Posts for a shade sail

We have a deck on the west side of our house, but it doesn't get used much because it BAKES in the summer time after noon. In order to make it more usable, on a budget, I've been thinking about putting up a shade sail (see here). Each corner of the sail must be attached to either a wood post or metal post, and these posts must be secured deep in the ground with concrete.

The problem is, digging a 6 foot hole and dealing with concrete sounds terrible to me. So, here is my question:

Can I cut square holes in my deck, slide two new 6x6 posts into the holes and attach them to the existing posts that are already holding my deck? I figured that if I could attach them to posts that are already secured in the ground with concrete, that would good enough. Of course, I'd also have to put up a ledger board of some sort to mount the other two corners, but I figured that would be easier. See the attached picture.

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Old 05-30-15, 12:56 PM
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I'd save up and buy a real retractable awning or something like this.
Old 05-30-15, 01:01 PM
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Before chopping holes in a perfectly-good deck, I think I'd consider utilizing the existing railing posts for my shade sail column attachment points. Using the corner post and then the second one over to the left, columns could be spliced to them without butchering the deck structure. This is under the presumption that the railing posts are firmly attached to the underlying deck structure, of course.
Old 05-30-15, 01:40 PM
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While I'm a huge fan of shade sails I'm not sure your deck is a good application. I think the 6x6 timbers would look chunky and I'm not a fan of vertical posts for shade sails especially when close to a house where you already have a lot of vertical lines.

For a amateurish method I suppose you could attach to your existing posts. It probably would work at least until you had a good microburst or really strong thunderstorm. I don't think it's look would make people go "wow" but it would be functional.

A couple things to keep in mind about shade sails are the catenary/curve between the attachments and that the sail is some distance in from the attachment points. So, if you position your posts at the edge of your deck the sail will actually be some distance in from the edge of the deck. Wherever your attach points are located the shaded area will be a foot or so in from there.

Another big issue you have not mentioned are dimensions? What is the size of your deck. Where will your attachment points be located and what are the distances between them. The sail you linked has specific dimensions so you won't have much fudge room.

Seriously consider how you will attach your sails at the house side. Many manufacturers simply say attach a eye bolt to the fascia. To be honest they really don't care about the repercussions. How well are your fascias attached? What happens to them during a storm? Will your supports and attach points survive or will the sail rip off part of the house? In a situation like that you really don't care about the sail and it would be preferred for it to shred or its attachments to break free before doing serious damage to your house.
Old 05-30-15, 02:02 PM
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I have to agree with Joe on this one.
Old 05-30-15, 03:33 PM
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I have a friend who runs a local hot dog/ice cream operation free standing who asked me to drop by with one of my guys to help him hoist his new shade sail. He had 6x6's buried and concreted and cured with SS eyelets on top. He is on the windward side of the lake and that thing nearly launched my helper with a good gust. Eventually he determined the sail to be cut too large for his post openings, and I agreed. Dane has had more experience than me with the sails, but I think a three sided sail will work better in some instances, and at different vertical angles to deflect the wind and provide shade without becoming a...........well a sail, literally.

As far as your deck posts, they should be sitting on metal post bases fastened to your concrete footing. If they are buried, they will have a limited life.

In your situation a retractable awning would get my vote. By the time you spend good money for 16' 6x6's and all the periphery needed, plus the sail, you could be sipping margaritas under an awning.
Old 05-31-15, 08:39 AM
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Those retractable shades are pretty nice - but pricey. Nice thing is no posts on the outer periphery. I've been wondering if there isn't a DIY alternative for supporting the outer edge of a tarp or a sheet of Coolaroo fabric without putting posts in. Wouldn't be retractable but would hold the tarp taut using 2x struts extended from existing posts, say on a screen porch, or from a house wall?
Old 05-31-15, 09:50 AM
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I've done temporary posts on the dock at the coast with bamboo poles. I have several varieties of bamboo so it's readily available, free and provides a nice Gilligan's Island contrast to modern sails. You can also use fiberglass poles. They are often used for outriggers and large fishing poles and antennas.

Since out on a dock over the water I couldn't easily go for proper poles so I went for flexibility. I made brackets to hold the base of my bamboo poles. Steel tubes attached angling out and the poles just slid in. I attach the sail to the smaller end of the bamboo and then I put the fat end into the sockets. All the poles splay out at about a 15 degree angle which helps shade more deck area. The flexible poles sway and move with the gusts and when I forgot and left it up during a storm the wind/sail lifted a couple poles out of the sockets and the sail safely collapsed and fell into the water. Easily retrieved and set back up with no harm done.
Old 06-09-15, 08:24 PM
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Can you post some pictures?

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