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Which sun shade sail is best?

Any outdoor space equipped with a sun shade sail offers relief from the heat, mild protection from rain and an improved aesthetic. Many sails may prevent harmful UV rays from penetrating, while others may be more decorative.

Finding the best sun shade sail for you means accurately assessing the needs of your space. Quality sun shade sails, like the durable and breathable ColourTree Rectangular Sun Shade Sail Canopy, are relatively easy to set up and last a long time. 

What to know before you buy a sun shade sail

Set up

A sun shade sail is affixed to vertical surfaces high off the ground, such as trees, posts or the side of a house. Each sail corner has a D-ring and uses some combination of hooks, ropes or clips to anchor to the surface. The sail is pulled taut to cover as much area as possible.

Since the sail is tightly stretched, it’s recommended to tie it to a sturdy structure; if you must set up posts, you’ll need to dig deep into the ground, at least one-third the length of your post. The sail should slope slightly downward so that rain doesn’t pool.


Most sails come in one of three shapes: rectangle, square or triangle. A rectangle will offer the most coverage, but triangles tend to be easier to set up. Consider the shape of the space you want to cover, as well as where you can set it up.


Sails may be as small as a few square feet or feature sides that are up to 20 feet each. Remember that larger sails will require stronger support and take more effort to erect since they need to be kept tight.

Note that since the corners hold all the tension, the sail won’t be a perfect shape upon setup: the edges will curve slightly inward.


Most sails are made of high-density polyethylene, which allows the sail to stretch while still maintaining its structure and preventing sunlight from coming through. Heavy-duty nylon and polyester are also available for those seeking more durability.

What to look for in a quality sun shade sail


Some sails offer an element of protection from the rain. While fully waterproof ones are rare, plenty are water-resistant, which means most rain will roll off if angled properly.


Lots of colors exist, from white and tan to deep blue and green. You may be able to find some with patterns as well. Lighter colors are preferred since they won’t absorb as much heat from the sun as darker shades. The right tone can also enhance the attractiveness of your outdoor space, whether you want a pop of color or to complement existing decor.

UV protection

Most sun shade sails block out at least 90% of UV rays, with the highest-quality ones blocking out up to 98%.


Some sails include hardware to help facilitate setup, including a sturdy D-ring, reinforced rope, or a carabiner. There are various ways to install your sail shade depending on where it’s attached to, so it’s worth investing in what you need and whether you will need to buy it separately.


Seek sails that are machine washable, and be sure to clean them at least once a season. While the sails will block out the weather, they can accumulate leaves, twigs, dirt and bird droppings over time.

How much you can expect to spend on a sun shade sail

Most sails cost $30-$60, with the price increasing along with the size and the quality of the material.

Sun shade sail FAQ

Can I leave my sail out year-round? 

A. It’s worth taking down sails during storms and winter weather. Heavy wind can catch a sail and potentially pull it off the fixture or tear it; too much rain or snow accumulation can also pull it down and rip it. You may not need to take it down entirely, though. Unclipping one or two sides will protect the sail; just be sure to tie it up, so it doesn’t whip around in the wind.

How difficult is it to set up?

A. While one person can set up the sail fairly easily, placing it correctly requires some planning. Take into consideration the sun’s angle throughout not just the day but the seasons to make sure you’ll be covered as desired; you may want a significant angle to the sail depending on your location. If you need to install anchors high up on a post or side of a house, ask for assistance.

What’s the best sun shade sail to buy?

Top sun shade sail

ColourTree Rectangular Sun Shade Sail

ColourTree Rectangular Sun Shade Sail

What you need to know: This high-quality sail is offered in a range of custom sizes to get the exact, reliable coverage you want.

What you’ll love: You’ve a choice of a square or rectangular sail providing coverage from 36 square feet up to 576 square feet. It offers 95% UV protection and is made in 10 colors. Each corner features heavy-duty stitching and includes a stainless steel D-ring.

What you should consider: It’s fairly pricey for the size.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top sun shade sail for the money

Coolaroo Sail Shade

Coolaroo Sail Shade

What you need to know: This light, inexpensive sail shade is easy to set up and offers airy outdoor coverage.

What you’ll love: Made of HDPE, this blocks 90% of UV rays while allowing hot air to escape up and out. It includes pre-attached nylon ropes to make setting it up quick and simple. It also comes at a low price.

What you should consider: The material will let some rainwater through and cannot be machine washed.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

Shade & Beyond Right Angle Canopy

Shade & Beyond Right Angle Canopy

What you need to know: This heavy-duty shade features double-stitched seams and stainless steel D-rings for reliable and long-term use. 

What you’ll love: For a midrange price, this sail offers cool shade while protecting against 95% of UV rays. Made of HDPE, it’s light, airy and comes with a five-year warranty.

What you should consider: The curved edges mean it won’t provide perfect triangular coverage.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.


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