Shade Sail Project

tclayton10

Active member
Jun 17, 2019
27
Cypress, TX
My pool is in direct sunlight 100% of the time during daylight hours, so I've been wanting to add some shade over the pool as my pool temp from July through September can reach as high as 95 degrees. Screen enclosures are much too expensive in SE Texas, so I decided to install shade sails to try to help provide some solar relief. After finally getting approval for the project from my HOA board of directors at the end of July, I was able to start the project this past Friday and complete it in two days.

I installed two 24-ft equilateral triangle sails supported by 6x6x14' pressure treated pine posts, a strategically placed 6" eye lag bolt into my 2nd floor joists, and varying lengths of 2000# WLL chain. Here are some photos of the project.

This first photo shows the tow-behind auger I used to dig the three post holes. I wanted to go 48" deep, but I just couldn't get there with this auger and stopped at 42". I would have had to rent a skid steer with auger attachment to go deeper. Pro tip: If you have hard soil, use a smaller auger to get to the desired hole depth, then a larger auger to get to the desired hole width. I started with a 6" auger and finished with a 10" auger. And I also found out that a powered auger drills a hole 2" larger than the auger. So my 10" auger provided a 12" wide hole - exactly what I wanted.

Auger.jpg

The next two photos show the posts in the holes before being leveled and set using Secure Set instead of concrete. The posts were delivered as 6x6x16', but since my connection points were only 9' above ground, I cut off 2 1/2' while the poles were still on the ground, making the poles much easier to muscle into the hole. I also mounted the eyebolt (3/8"x6" stainless steel) while the poles were on the ground too. This made the overall above ground pole height 10' after accounting for the 3 1/2' in the ground.

West Post.jpg

Posts.jpg

As I mentioned above, I did not use concrete to set the posts; instead I used a product I found online called Secure Set (www.secureset.net). This is a foam product that ships in two liquid parts and is mixed like epoxy, then quickly poured as a soupy liquid into the post hole. The mix begins to rise as foam in less than a minute, and the hole was completely filled in about 2 minutes. The cool part about this stuff is that the pole braces can come off in 5-10 minutes, and the foam is TOTALLY cured and ready for tension in one hour. My project took 3 gallons (1 1/2 gallons of each part). So instead of moving over a ton of concrete mix (Quikrete website indicated EIGHT HUNDRED POUNDS PER HOLE!), I only had to move a few ounces of mix at a time. Since it expands and compresses against the soil (think of a blood pressure cuff) until it can't expand anymore, it is ideal for highly compressed soil like the hard clay we have in SE Texas. After applying full tension to the sails (approaching 1000 pounds), the posts are still perfectly plumb. The cost once you get to this volume is cheaper than concrete. Highly recommended. The photo below shows the foam in its final risen state; I have not gone back and trimmed the foam or backfilled the dirt up to the post.

Secure Set.jpg

At the house, I used a 1/2"x6" eye lag bolt as the final attchment point. I was able to determine where my 2nd floor plywood subfloor began, so I predrilled through the Hardiplank, sheathing, floor joists and into the subfloor plywood the full 6 inch depth. I think the side of the house would fall down before the eyebolt would come out!

Eyebolt.jpg

After the posts were set, it was just a matter of attaching each sail to the posts and to the house using 2000# WLL chain and turnbuckles, getting the chain as tight as possible by hand while leaving the turnbuckles totally extended. This is the first sail before being tensioned.

First Sail.jpg

I then used a ratchet strap to put tension on each leg of the sail (and moving the chain links up while doing so), until the strap was as tight as I could get it. I then used the turnbuckle to finish the tensioning. This photo is of both sails almost fully tensioned.

Untensioned Sails.jpg

Although the temp has not yet dropped from the 90 degree mark it was at when I started the project Friday morning, the comfort level just moving from the sun to under the sails makes the water much more tolerable. We are expecting rain here the next couple of days, so that will hopefully lower the water temp a bit and I can really see if it's going to make the difference I believe it will.

I have a video of the finished project, but it is too large to upload, so I'll try to edit it down some and post it later.

I would estimate that I spent about $650 on this project, including the auger rental. The only thing I would do differently would be to rent the skid steer auger.

Let me know what you think!
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
This and the other sail thread are really making me want to figure out a way to mount the sails I bought a few years ago.
 

tclayton10

Active member
Jun 17, 2019
27
Cypress, TX
This and the other sail thread are really making me want to figure out a way to mount the sails I bought a few years ago.
Happy to provide any advise or guidance that I can. Hardest part of the planning process was making sure I could set my posts without hitting any underground utilities or my sprinkler pipes. The rest was just time and labor.
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
This is a great thread. With 100% full sun on our pool and a water temp of 96 degrees, we've kicked-around the options of partial shade here as well. Your sail looks great, and I'm guessing you can disconnect the sail at any time of your chosing, either if a major storm approaches from the gulf, end of swimming season, or periodic cleaning. I just wrestled a few 6x6 posts (and lots of concrete) for a lean-to I built a couple months ago. I now have spare 2-ft scraps laying around for some odd project later. :) I've never used that foam product, but did see it on other YouTube videos. Might be time to break some old Quickrete habits and give it a try. Good posting!
 

tclayton10

Active member
Jun 17, 2019
27
Cypress, TX
This is a great thread. With 100% full sun on our pool and a water temp of 96 degrees, we've kicked-around the options of partial shade here as well. Your sail looks great, and I'm guessing you can disconnect the sail at any time of your chosing, either if a major storm approaches from the gulf, end of swimming season, or periodic cleaning. I just wrestled a few 6x6 posts (and lots of concrete) for a lean-to I built a couple months ago. I now have spare 2-ft scraps laying around for some odd project later. :) I've never used that foam product, but did see it on other YouTube videos. Might be time to break some old Quickrete habits and give it a try. Good posting!
Thanks for the compliment! I would say that I could have the sails down in well under an hour. Once the long chain tension is reduced, the others will come off easily. I do plan to take them down after swimming season just to keep the still-hot sun in SE Texas from degrading the fabric any faster. And I definitely recommend giving the SecureSet a try. Even if it fails for me in the future, it will be a lot easier to wrestle a 150 lb pole out of the ground that only has a few ounces of foam surrounding it vs trying to dislodge a pole with almost a half-ton of concrete surrounding it. The other thing I forgot to mention about the foam is that the hole doesn't have to be as wide. I only had to go 12" wide instead of the 18" that Quikrete recommended.
 
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Nectarologist

Well-known member
Apr 3, 2015
579
New York
It looks awesome! Thank you for sharing Tracy. I appreciate the feedback on the foam. I'll use it for sure. I'm going to build a cedar fence around my equipment pad next spring and i'll use that for sure.
-Chris
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,527
Hays, Kansas
Nice work, interesting use of chain instead of wire rope. I'm going to rebuild my setup as my holes are not big enough at 6" and my pole location and height is wrong, but I learned by doing so its ok. I was planning on going 8" holes but I might go up to 10" after seeing your install. I'm thinking of renting a skid steer auger as well.

The other upgrades I'm doing to my setup is using the closed and threaded carbiners instead of the just spring latch ones, and trying to find closed hooked turnbuckles and adding a jam nut on them. On high wind I have problems of them shaking loose.
 

tclayton10

Active member
Jun 17, 2019
27
Cypress, TX
Nice work, interesting use of chain instead of wire rope. I'm going to rebuild my setup as my holes are not big enough at 6" and my pole location and height is wrong, but I learned by doing so its ok. I was planning on going 8" holes but I might go up to 10" after seeing your install. I'm thinking of renting a skid steer auger as well.

The other upgrades I'm doing to my setup is using the closed and threaded carbiners instead of the just spring latch ones, and trying to find closed hooked turnbuckles and adding a jam nut on them. On high wind I have problems of them shaking loose.
I considered using wire rope, but they can be so hard to properly tension, and I know that the chain will never break. I was able to get all of my hardware at Lowe's; hey had a nice selection of turnbuckles, but nothing Stainless Steel in the size I needed. I may swap out those components for SS hardware next year (I'll take these down when the season ends). The jam nut is a great idea too. Good luck!
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,527
Hays, Kansas
I got everything off eBay, some was junk and some wasn't, some was ss and some wasn't.

I'm probably will use concrete again as the added weight will help with winds
 

nlindelldc

LifeTime Supporter
Mar 21, 2015
429
South Texas
Your project looks amazing! We did shade sails a couple years back but much more temporary using rope and attaching points to trees, fence, and our offset umbrellas. When my shade sails are up I get about 50% shade coverage of the pool but to my surprise it really did not lower the pool temp at all. It does feel nice being in the shade while in the pool though. I would like to know if your pool temp lowers at all. Here in South Texas we get so many high winds that I have to be prepared to take mine down at a moment's notice but a more permanent solution that could withstand the high winds would be appealing to me
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,363
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Great project and write up! Nice job.

I have a shade sail over my pool, because even though I don't have the same water temp issue, it's nice to be able to hide from the sun, even while in the water.

I used SS wire rope, because I wanted to minimize its visibility against the skyline. One of my runs goes about 20', right over the pool, so I wanted that to be as inconspicuous as possible. I bought a simple tool and taught myself how to swage an eye onto the ends of the ropes. That went well. I have some very nice (and expensive!) SS turnbuckles, but I now realize the SS eyebolts I used through my 4x4 posts could have served that purpose and I could have saved that money. I got away with 4x4 because I used guy wires to stabilize the posts, which are not set into the soil, they just sit on pier blocks (two of them, the third corner attaches to the house, like yours). My yard and landscape are such that I didn't need to set the posts, the guy wires are hidden well enough. I've never heard of that foam. What a great solution.

I use several loops of a rope though the eyes (like a pulley system without the wheels) to draw the ends together, then slip on a SS threaded carbiner to attach the sail. I take my sail down for about half the year. I'm hoping that will double its life...

A properly tensioned sail can withstand severe weather. Mine barely moves even in 20+MPH winds. So to those contemplating a cheap sail hung with ropes, I'd encourage a better sail and proper mounting and tensioning. They look and last better and you don't have to worry about them in the wind.

My landscape project this year included 40+ plantings. I wanted to dig a nice hole for each, and amend the soil, so I rented the exact same post hole digger you did. Best $120 I ever spent. I dug all those holes, by myself, in just a couple hours! What a great tool. I, too, was worried about hitting something, so I called 811 and had all my underground stuff located and marked (a highly-recommend step). As it turned out, while some of the lines were where I expected, others were way off. More importantly: I was told the repair cost for hitting an underground utility line is on the "digger" and can run well into five figures (that's if you don't electrocute or blow yourself up!!). Considering the 811 service is free, it's a no-brainer for any kind of excavating project, even just a few post holes...

Enjoy your sails! :)