Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shade - Extremely Low Tech

So, spring is here and the temps are rising.  Ignore the temps that are reported by my XBee temperature device; it's obviously wrong these days.  What happened is that I built a new patio and had to move the device and the location is terrible.  I'll build an enclosure for it in the near future, but suffice it to say, that it is starting to get hot.  An old fashioned analog thermometer outside in the shade is showing 96F right now.  So, my new patio is absorbing the heat and re-radiating it into the house.  Obviously, I need some shade on it.

However, have you priced those roll up shades for patios?  The cheap ones ($22) are plastic and come in 8 ft lengths.  I need 40 feet so, five of them will do it, but they won't fit to look nice on the patio.  To look nice, I need some custom lengths and those are expensive, plus the plastic will last about the same amount of time a tie wrap does wrapped around a pipe in the sun; 6 months or so.  That will get me through the summer, but I'll have to replace them next year.  If I get a nice polypropylene shade cloth roll up they cost about $100 each in a ten foot length and if I custom order it to fit properly, the price skyrockets.

So, I ordered some shade cloth, got some pulleys, pvc pipe, screws, washers, and clothes line and built my own.  I only have one of them done, but it works pretty well and didn't cost me a freaking fortune.  Here's what it looks like so far:
And, from the other side:
The distance between the center of each viga on this section is 9 ft 6 in and would have cost me well over $150 to buy.  Heh, heh, I did it for around $60 hardware and all.  Now, I have to do two more, one 14 ft and the other 15 ft 9 in.  This way they'll fit the vigas nicely and will look custom made. Which they actually are, now that I think about it.  

There's very little on the web about how to make roll up curtains for outside use and I'll probably discover something I should have done differently.  But, hey, it works and looks pretty good.  Here's how I used the pulleys to handle the cord for rolling it up and down:

I have three small pulleys, one for each cord held to the frame with an eye screw.


And one large pulley that all three cords feed through to form the combined pull cord for raising and lowering the shade.


I don't have a tie off cleat installed yet, but that will come after another trip to the store for washers.  I just wish the local store sold 1" fender washers by the box instead of those stupid little bags of 10.

This shade cloth is 70% shade and should work fine for sheltering the patio while still allowing enough sun to support some plants behind it.  The material is polypropylene as is the cord, so they should survive pretty well in the sun.  At least three or four times longer than the cheap plastic stuff that I first considered.  The color works nicely with the terrain and color of the house and I think I'll be pleased with the result when I finish it.

16 comments:

  1. Unrelated, but you can supposedly get 10% energy savings (maybe more in your climate) by putting some shade over your air conditioner. You might be able to use some similar shade sail cloth as an overhead covering for your A/C unit that is visible in the 2nd photo.

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    1. Just be sure that you leave enough space away from it to avoid impairing airflow...

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    2. I didn't know that. It would be easy to put a shade over the compressors. I have heard of people putting misters on them to keep them slightly damp, but that sounds like a possible mess. The shade idea is certainly worth a try.

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  2. Can we get your permission to link to your article

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  3. Sure, go for it. The whole point of putting it on the web is to share ideas. When you get it up, leave me a note so I can look too (and tell my friends)

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  4. i found your article while looking for ideas on how to make a shade to cover a patio that is 18 x 25.
    any advice you can give me from this experience a couple years ago?
    thanks!!!
    federico

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    1. I can try. First, where I live, the wind will take out a shade that is 25' long (assuming you mean feet here), and I would count on doing something to protect it from wind storms. In my case, I'd rig some way to roll it up when the wind came or fasten it down really tight with some straps over the top to keep it in place.

      A guy down the street has his stretched over pipe and a couple of adjustable straps to cinch it up as it stretches over time. He also has a couple of straps over the top that he can cinch up to tighten it as needed.

      Polypropylene is a really good material for survival in the sun; there are others also. Be sure to look at the sun resistance of the material you choose carefully. Otherwise, you'll be replacing it in a year and that's really annoying. If you get a material that doesn't allow water to pass through it, be darn sure to provide a good slope to the shade. Nothing is more annoying that a sunk in place in the shade that holds water for a week after the rain. If you get a partial shade material, the water will leak through and the shade will dry really quickly. This depends on what you want, full shade or partial.

      I lean towards partial because you still get light for plants and such, plus it make for a really nice cover in the evening with a gentle breeze.

      The grommets, rivets, holes, whatever they're called are hugely important. They are what you hook to to tie the thing down. If the pressure is too much and the grommet starts to tear the cloth, it's a pain to fix. I hate using stretchy tie downs. They work great for a week, then they start to fail in the sun and weather. It's better to get adjustable straps of some kind to pull it tight with.

      There are probably things I forgot, so feel free to ask a question. If I don't know the answer to it, someone else might pop up and tell us both.

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  5. It's really good to know that shade sails are a good way to provide a large amount of shade on a tight budget. My wife and I have been wanting to have more shade in our backyard for barbecues and family parties. We like the look of shade sails, especially if they're surrounded by trees like the ones in the picture at the top of the article. From what you said, it sounds like they provide quality shade as well. http://www.shadesofblueshadesails.com.au

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    1. Folks, this is spam, but I'm leaving it up because they really are a good idea in many instances, and the site shows some nice looking ideas.

      I usually trash these things because I hate advertising on my site that isn't paying me to be there.

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    2. Agree, Dave. That place costs an arm and a leg. Blatant ad.

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  6. Dave, where did you order / purchase sail cloth? THANKS!!!

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    1. http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/ They sell the stuff for covering greenhouses and such. Nice company to deal with.

      By the way, the shades are still going strong. I have to replace the ropes that I used, but the shades themselves work great.

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  7. Am I missing something here or can you help me as to where the instructions for making these are? I'm going to be moving into a west facing apt. and these look like they would be perfect to shade the balcony

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    1. Uh, er, there aren't any instructions other than this page. I used shade cloth I ordered off the web, one half inch pvc tubing, some washers, screws, cord and pulleys from Home Depot. I just fastened the tubing to the shade cloth and rolled it up. I wrapped the cord around the roll and fastened the whole thing to a beam on the patio.

      You should be able to see how I did it from the pictures. If you can't tell, just look at some roll up shades at one of the big stores and you'll see how I did it.

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  8. Hola Dave - I live in Costa Rica where we have plenty of sun! I bought shade cloth some time ago after finding your blog. I like the idea of the roll-up shade as there are certainly many hours in the day to enjoy ocean & mountain views.....just not during the heat of the day! I found a site that provides fairly clear instructions. I haven't started my project yet so I can't give it the thumbs up...but hopefully will share photos soon.
    Pura Vida!

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    1. I really, really want to see pictures of what you wind up with. Look around for big pulleys; it makes raising and lowering the shades much easier. Basically, the bigger the pulley, the easier it is to work with.

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