Shade cloth, also known as shade fabric, is an ideal solution for creating shade under pergolas and other open air structures, whether they are freestanding or attached to a home or place of business. Many homeowners opt for installing shade fabric themselves, rather than hiring a professional installer, because installation is relatively straightforward and easy, as home improvement tasks go.
How to Select Shade Cloth
When choosing shade cloth for your project, be sure to insist on the highest quality fabric. Paying more up front for the best product will save you money in the long run. Inferior fabrics will fade and suffer damage from ultraviolet rays as well as harsh weather conditions. You’ll end up paying more later when you have to replace the inferior fabric. Superior shade fabrics should be able to block 90 percent or more of ultraviolet rays, but they should be breathable as well, allowing air to circulate so that the shaded area stays cool. Don’t expect shade cloth to be completely waterproof, but it should be resistant to rot, mildew, and mold. It should also be able to withstand other harsh weather conditions, such as accumulated snow, ice, and brisk winds.
Shade cloth fabric is available in many versatile colors and is usually sold by the linear yard or in rolls. When installing this product on a pergola or other open air structure, it’s best to purchase the fabric by the roll. The fewer seams you have to work with during installation will make the process easier, and fewer seams will also make the end result look better.
- Shade cloth by the roll. Be sure you have enough fabric to cover your structure, plus 25 percent more.
- Measuring tape. Be sure to measure twice, and cut once.
- Utility knife, or another sharp cutting tool.
- Attachment hardware. Ideally, the attachment points will not be visible from underneath the structure. Choose screws, nails, or 1 inch staples.
- Drill, hammer, or staple gun to attach your choice of hardware.
- Safety glasses or goggles.
- Unroll the shade cloth across the structure you wish to cover, and pull it loosely into position. Leave 8 to 12 inches or more of overhang on all sides.
- Attach the shade fabric to one of the longest sides of the structure first using your chosen hardware. Start at one end and pull with medium pressure as you move along the edge. Pulling with medium pressure means pulling out the wrinkles and making the fabric slightly taut. Attach the shade cloth to the structure at approximately every 12 inches.
- Finish attaching the outside edges of the fabric to your structure, continuing in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Make sure that the fabric’s knitted knot lines remain straight as you go along.
- When attaching the shade cloth along an edge of the structure where excess fabric will need to be cut off, be sure to leave enough room between your attachment points and the outer edge so you can easily cut the fabric. To do this, move your attachment points in from the edge of the structure in from the outside edge, beam, or post.
- When joining the edges of two rolls of shade cloth, avoid overlapping them.
- Attach the cloth to any interior support beams, if necessary, and trim off all the excess shade fabric around the edges using a utility knife or another sharp cutting tool.
Once installed, you can enjoy your newly shaded pergola or other open air structure immediately.
To view photos of any step in this installation process, visit the Mighty Covers Shade Cloth Installation page.