What Size Pipes For Shade Sail

What Size Pipes For Shade Sail?

My friend needed help putting up his shade sail a few months ago and asked if I could help. We went to the hardware store and bought most of the supplies we would need. He said he had enough pipes of various sizes, so that is the one material we don’t need to buy. When we got to his home, we needed to cut the pipes, and I wondered what size pipe you use for shade sail?

Experts agree the pipes for a shade sail must be a minimum of 6×6 inches pressure-treated wood posts or 4-inch, schedule 40 steel pipe. Remembering the number and size of pipes will depend on the style of shade sail you are installing, where the sail is attached, and the height they are attached.

After I helped my friend put his shade sail up, I was surprised by the strange configuration and size of pipe we used to put the sail up. I did some extra research and found that the number of pipes is different between a triangle shade sail and a square shade sail, and the sizes also differ. I thought I would share what I found.

What Size Pipes For Shade Sail?

What Size Pipe For Shade Sail?

The size of the pipes/post you will need to install a shade sail is, on average, a minimum of 6 x 6-inch pressure-treated pots, or you need a 40-inch schedule 40 steel pipe. If you use PVC pipe, you will need to encase the footing section in cement to give the pipe more weight and structural stability. The size needs to be at least 11-inches in diameter.

The size and diameter of the shade sail will largely depend on a few crucial factors. Here are some of those factors.

The Style Of Shade Sail

Shade sails come in eleven different types of sails and two different styles; the square and the triangle. The square will need four support posts that are all the same size, but the triangle shades need to have two support posts of the same size and two that are shorter.

Material Of The Support Structure (Wood, Plastic, Or Steel)

The material your support posts are made from will also influence the size as they need to be strong enough to withstand the wind and other elements of the outdoors. Most of the shade sails we come across use wooden posts/beams, steel piping, or PVC (plastic pipes) to which you attach the shade sail.

How High The Shade Sail Needs To Be

The height that you want the shade sail will influence the size of the pipes/posts, as you will need to remember all posts need to have some extra length at the bottom to accommodate how deep the posts are placed.

Where The Shade Sail Will Be Attached

Depending on where the shade sail will be attached, the posts may have different sizes. The size of the pipes/posts also has a lot to do with where the shade sail will be attached. Some people attach the one side of the shade sail to their home and thus use an existing support structure, so they only need two posts.

Other people installed the shade sail on the side of their home and attached two anchor points to the side of their home and the other two to their property wall. The angle the people want their shade sail will also mean different size posts.

We have a collection of Shade Sail Articles on the site which you can access in the list below and there are more in the search if you need them

What Size Pipes For Shade Sail?

The Correct Depth/Footing Of The Support Posts

To ensure that your posts are secure enough so the shade sail won’t fly off in a windstorm and will keep the correct tension and shape, you need to have at least 5 feet of the posts buried in the ground. Depending on if the posts are wood, PVC, or steel, the depth will differ.

For example, if you want the shade sail to be 12 feet high, the posts need to be at least 18 feet. It’s because the post depth needs to be half the size of the exposed post (half of 12 is six; thus, you need to bury 6 feet, and 12 feet will be above ground).

Keep in mind that the base of the footing needs to be prepped before you can install the posts. It’s to ensure that the posts stay anchored even during severe storms.

Tip For Choosing The Right Size Pipes For Shade Sail

When you are choosing the right size pipes or posts to attach your shade sail to, you might find these tips useful:

  • It’s best to use thicker and wider pipes if you use PVC. PVC is plastic and can get damaged easily, but if you insert the footing into wet concrete, it can last much longer.
  • No matter what posts or pipe you use, you should lay at least 4-inch deep ¾ diameter gravel at the base of each post hole and put the post in the hole. Pour concrete around the post, and remember to brace the sides, so the post in the concrete dries straight.
  • Remember to check with local authorities if there are any building codes you need to follow; it would be horrible to be done with your shade sail and then need to redo it.
  • If you are attaching more than one part of the shade sail to a single post, it needs to be bigger in diameter, and you might need to dig deeper for the footing as the pressure on the one post is now more.

We have loads of information and articles on shading your outdoor space, while a search will help checking out the articles linked below is also a good way to start.


When you want to install a shade sail but are unsure of the supporting posts/pipes size, you can follow the general guidelines in the post or ask the hardware store to help you select the right size pipes/posts. The post size will depend on how high you need the shade sail to be, where it will be attached, and the style of the shade sail; triangle or square will differ.

You should remember to contact the local authorities or the homeowners’ association to ensure you don’t violate any building codes and to make sure you use the recommended size of pipe or post to attach your shade sail to.


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