Okay I admit, I'm addicted to shade. Things
could be worse. And yes, I can't stop. We live in the desert! The heat seems like it gets more intense every year and I need some relief from the
sun... like now. This blog is a step by step DIY
instruction of how to build a two sided shade canopy, but you can apply these steps to just about any canopy configuration.
Take accurate measurements of the space you're wanting to cover. It's a good idea to take an alternate measurement of a slightly different configuration that you would be happy with, just in case your first size request is not available.
Draw your design. Or you can come to my store (check home page tucsonbobcat.com for
this weeks schedule) and we'll draw up your canopy ideas on a dry
erase board. You always want to build your shade canopy around the size of
the Shade Nets that are available. A common mistake is to build your frame prior to doing any research on Shade Net sizes. Don't do that, you'll find yourself doing double work.
Figure out your budget and make adjustments to your plan if need be. A good rule of thumb when it comes to canopy pricing is to expect to pay between $1.30 - $2.30 per sq. foot. This pricing is for all of the materials needed including tax. The bigger you build your canopy, the less you pay per sq. foot. If you add sides to your canopy, which is a great idea, you will need to add the total sq. footage of any/ all sides including your overhead shade to your total sq. footage calculations.
If you purchase your shade canopy from Tucson Bobcat, I will make your life easier by pulling all of the parts you need based on your design. When you get them home, lay out your parts by separating them into like pieces. Also, the following is a list of tools that you will likely need, most of which I sell at my store. Hammer, screwdriver, a tool for cutting metal ( I sell a quality grinder/ cutter at my store for $23 or I charge $1 per cut), a level ( I sell magnetic levels for $4–15 depending on the size you want), and a small ladder or step stool.
It's always helpful to have two people
when building a canopy, but you can manage it by yourself too. I
always build canopies from the ground up. Start by placing your foot
pads or foot stakes in the correct locations. Double check your measurements and then use your hammer to
drive stakes into the holes of the foot pads at a diagonal to help
resist them from loosening during a strong wind storm or if your
using foot stakes like the ones in these pictures, make sure to place
a scrap piece of wood on top of the stake to cushion the blow of the
hammer when driving it into the ground, otherwise you will severely
dent/ damage the rim of the stake. Do your best to install the foot pads
Install the conduit metal legs of your
canopy into your foot pads. Don't worry about leveling these yet, and
don't do any tightening of the set screws. Then install your top corner
pieces and assemble your roof framing. When the complete frame is assembled,
take a minute to look at the configuration and make sure it's in the
Take your level and start anywhere on the frame making adjustments so that eventually the legs and the roof are level both vertical and horizontally. Hand tighten the set screws as you're leveling. When your finished, I always like to double check the leveling one more time on every piece of framing, and make final adjustments. When leveling is complete, and all set screws are hand tight, take a screwdriver through the eye hole of the set screw and turn it about 3/4 turn clockwise. Don't use all of your might when tightening or you'll strip the threading. The set screw just needs to be securely snug. If you are concerned with the screw backing out on its own for whatever reason, use liquid “Loctite” or wrap the threading of the eye screw with Teflon prior to tightening.
Hang your Shade Net onto the canopy frame. Start by using
ball bungees on the corners. Each corner uses 2 ball bungees, one going in each direction. There are other lesser products that can
be used to hang your Shade Net to your frame, but ball bungees are
definitely the way to go. Ball bungees are easy and fast to use,
and allow some give during high wind storms, which will add life to
your Shade Net and will apply less stress on your frame. 9” ball
bungees are the easiest to work with and can be wrapped around your
frame conduit twice if you need to make them smaller. After the corners of the Shade Net are hung, I will
usually skip every other grommet installing ball bungees, often moving around to all four sides of the canopy trying to maintain
equal tension on all sides. You can lightly pull on the Shade Net
to make adjustments, but don't use all of your force to stretch the
net if your framing is to big. If that is the case, you are much
better off taking some extra time to trim some of the conduit down in
size and re-leveling the frame, than to destroy a net trying to stretch it past
Enjoy your shade. Not only will you be
cutting out about 70-80% of sun light, but you will also
eliminate about 90% of the suns harmful UV's.
With the summer heat teetering around 100 degrees this week, I decided I was going to install some much needed shade where I park my vehicle at my store... tucson bobcat. I was somewhat avoiding this project because I knew the installation was going to be very challenging and time consuming. Most shade projects go together pretty quickly and painlessly, but this install was different. I was going to attach a Shade Net to a Shade Sail.
Customers were asking to see the Ocean Blue Shade Net that I recently fell in love with, so I wanted to show her off... right there in the hardest location possible. The right hand side of my parking lot, tucked into a tight corner, with limited anchor points and adjacent to an 18' Triangle Shade Sail. I had contemplated building a custom fit canopy instead in this location, but that idea was quickly nixed as we often drive heavy equipment through that area, and anything built on the ground would be in the way.
From my experience hanging a complex 1000 sq. foot Shade Net structure over my service yard, I knew there was a technique to hang a Shade Net with the use of multiple ropes, using triangular configurations to create a frame. Similar to how a spider spins a web, you can string a web of ropes together to build a support frame for a Shade Net where each grommet is being used.
The biggest difference here was that I needed support from the corner of a Shade Sail that was being pulled in the opposite direction (see middle picture). This marriage of the Shade Net and a Shade Sail was as unpredictable as two "A-listers" getting hitched at "The Little White Wedding Chapel" in Vegas. Just ask Britney about it. Quickly I said my "I do's" and was bound to make this marriage work. Besides, in my opinion, this color blue is the most beautiful of all Shade Nets especially hanging in our desert environment. Bold? Yes. Daring? Yes. Cool? Very.
Note, that when installing a Shade Net, they are not meant to be stretched with rope, especially not stretched by just the corners only! If you want to stretch a shade product tightly and by the corners, buy a Shade Sail. They come in triangles and squares. Rectangles need to be special ordered. Shade Nets have grommets and are meant to be hung on frames of some sort.
With risk comes reward and this install was no exception. Keep in mind, I was working 15'
feet up on a ladder and by myself. So honestly, I was just happy to get the net up
properly without falling off the ladder. Phew~!
As you can see, I have used a rope to build a frame to support the Ocean Blue Shade Net and each grommet is being utilized. When installing, I did my best to apply equal tension on each grommet in order to distribute the stress evenly, likely extending the life of the Shade Net. Notice in the above picture how the corner of the Ocean Blue Shade Net is being supported by the Desert Tan Shade Sail. This created all types of problems.
Sir Isaac Newton's "Third Law of Motion" had to intervene. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That being said, the mutual forces of action and reaction between the two bodies (that being the Shade Net and the Shade Sail) are equal, opposite and collinear. The result is that the Shade Net changed how the Shade Sail was originally hanging, causing a large wrinkle that I could not live with. The only solution was to make an adjustment to one of the Shade Sail's mounting locations in order to make this configuration hang properly. Lucky for me, the necessary relocation was not a deal breaker.
Shade is dictated by the suns location based on the season, time of day, and the angle that the shade product is directed. Due to the Hooligan's that try to cut my rope for no particular reason near the city sidewalk, I was forced to mount my anchor points for all three products so high and out of reach that the angle is not perfect. Otherwise, I would have anchored the southern end low and the north end high, which would have provided the ultimate in shade effectiveness.
The above picture was taken at about 9am, on May 8th. Starting at about 11am through sunset, this configuration casts a cooling and protective shadow on my retail store parking lot for any of my customers to enjoy.
All of these products are relatively inexpensive, provide immediate shade relief and they look good too! If you are considering hanging Shade Nets, Shade Sails or both, the sizes, colors, and shapes are plentiful and I try to stock them all. Come on in and see my selection, I'm certain you will find a combination that fits your liking.
I enjoy learning from my customers on many levels. Since my store often links us together, our conversations are often about how a customer intends to use one or multiple products that I sell in my store. Some people like to open up. When these conversations get going, I am like a sponge. Especially when the information is coming from an experienced and/or educated person.
In this case, a doctor purchased two 275 gallon water tanks to collect rain water to service his pool. This is the first time I spoke to anybody who collects rain water to replenish a pool caused by evaporation. I asked if he would be willing to send me some pictures and he did.
Below are two tanks totaling 550 gallons that are linked together using PVC. If you look closely he has added a wood frame around each tank. He then installed a composite wood facade, and painted it a similar color to the slump block blending the tanks into his environment. Pretty ingenious, I would say. Even though this water harvesting unit services his pool, it could just as easily water his surrounding plants, and / or a nearby garden. What I like best about this unit, is that he has built the rain gutter with a clean out. Here is a explanation from him...
"The system is set up so that the first flush off of the roof with the dust and dirt goes into the down pipe. Once that is full, the rain water will then start flowing into the tanks. After the rain stops and no longer drains off the roof, I can open the cap and drain out the dirty water that is in the down pipe.
Ours is an old pool so we have to manually turn on the water to fill the pool. To use the stored water we just use a hose off the tanks to gravity feed the pool. We did this the other day using the water we stored from the last rain we had in Tucson and the system worked just fine."