Hang shade cloth outside to shade your windows from direct sunlight. You can hang them from the eaves, window frames, or the brick wall above your window. For this recipe, it's especially important to seek consent from your landlord.
How it works
If you’ve ever sat under a tree during a hot day, you know what a difference shade can make to your experience of the heat. Exposed windows are one of the greatest sources of heat coming into your home, and once the heat is inside, it’s hard to get rid of.
External shading, such as from a shade cloth, works to block sunlight and heat from hitting your windows directly. This can reduce the heat gain from your windows by around 80 per cent! By contrast, internal blinds will filter light from already-heated windows. By reducing incoming heat from your windows, you can drastically reduce the need to use cooling devices.
You can hang shade cloth over whichever windows you like. If you have limited materials, your best bang for buck is to hang shade cloth over any large, west-facing windows, which will help to block the afternoon sun.
- Effective: External window shading can block the suns rays that from making it to your windows, which can be more effective than internal blinds. Effective shading can also reduce your dependence on cooling devices like fans.
- Affordable: Shade cloth can vary significantly in price, depending on the materials and your buying source. However, you can generally get shade cloth that is much cheaper than custom-sized blinds.
- Reusable and versatile: You can set up shade cloth yourself, take it down when you no longer need it (i.e. in winter) and take it with you when you move for your next rental!
- Set and forget: Shade cloth requires little to no maintenance. Once it’s set up, you can simply kick back and enjoy the shade!
- Requires access to external windows: This recipe is not suitable to apartments, or homes without external window access.
- Wind: External shade cloth will blow in the wind and needs to be tied down, unlike indoor curtains or blinds.
- Airflow: Depending on the materials you use, shade cloth can reduce the amount of breeze coming in through your windows when they’re open.
- Installation: Installing shade cloth can be a bit time-consuming and requires a few materials. Alternatively, you can try your luck and ask your landlord to have shade sails professionally installed.
- Choose which windows to shade. This method is best for windows that get direct sunlight. Large, west-facing windows are particularly important to shade from the afternoon sun.
- Measure your outdoor window dimensions. Unlike for indoor curtains, these measurements don’t need to be exact. Add about 20cm of extra length so that your shade cloth will overhang your windows.
Purchase materials (see buying guide below)
- Shade cloth,enough to overhang your external windows.
- Wall hooks, to hang your shade cloth from.
- Grommets or a grommet kit, to punch holes in your shade cloth so it can be hung from hooks Grommets will protect the shade cloth from being ripped or damaged from these holes.
- Tethering materials, to tie down your shade cloth and prevent it blowing too much in the wind.
- Cut your shade cloth to the dimensions you need for your window(s).
Install your hooks outside: on the eaves, window frames, or the brick wall above your window, depending on what type of hooks you are using (see buying guide for options).
- Make sure your hooks are evenly spaced and that there is enough tension in the shade cloth that the material doesn’t sag.
- Test the height of the hooks from your window before you install them to make sure the cloth is high enough to cast shade onto the window.
- See tips below for testing the stability and tension of your shade cloth.
Create holes in your shade cloth that your hooks can pass through.
- The best way to do this is with a grommet kit, to make sure that the holes will be stable and that your material won’t rip.
- Once you’ve installed your wall hooks, mark the fabric to know where to place the holes on the cloth before you cut.
- Test the stability: Hang the shade cloth from your hooks and test the strength, spacing and shade. Adjust as needed.
Tether the bottom of the shade cloth to make sure it doesn’t move too much in the wind.
- You can create two new grommet-holes at the bottom of your shade cloth, one in each bottom corner, and thread through some sturdy nylon rope
- Tie your shade cloth down to a nearby anchor point. This could be with stakes in the ground, to a fence, or any other nearby sturdy structure (eg, a tree).
Test the anchor strength. Your shade cloth shouldn’t move much in the wind and shouldn’t put a lot of strain on the wall hooks or anchor points.
- Make sure there is some slack in the tethering rope so it doesn’t pull too hard on the wall hooks.
Enjoy the shade!
To test the stability of your shade cloth, follow these steps.
- Check the placement of the shade cloth to make sure if gives enough shade on your windows
- Test the tension in the shade cloth, it should be taut but not excessively tight, and it shouldn’t be putting strain on the wall hooks.
- Test this stability by making sure that there is a small amount of slack of the material between each hook.
- It shouldn’t sag but you should be able to wiggle it a bit without difficulty.
- Test the stability of the anchor points by gently pulling on the cloth to make sure it won’t move too much in the wind, but that it still has enough give that it won’t damage the cloth.
- If necessary, re-adjust the position of the wall hooks until your shade cloth reaches the desired balance of stability and flexibility.
- For best results, install shade cloth on west-facing windows to block the harsh afternoon sun.
To go the extra mile, you can also hose down your outdoor shade cloth (make sure your windows are closed first!).
- Once you open your windows, the air coming inside will have an evaporative cooling effect!
- This works best for knitted shade cloth (see buying tips for reference).
- You can also use shade cloth to create shade elsewhere around your home — if you have a balcony or a patio that gets a lot of sun, you can use shade cloth on these structures as well to create shade.
Picking the right shade cloth. There are a lot of choices out there in terms of what type of material is best for you, but here are some options to consider:
- High Density Polethylene (HDPE) has very high durability and UV resistance
- Knitted vs. Woven: Knitted shade cloth can have higher airflow through your windows. Woven shade cloth usually blocks more heat but reduces airflow.
- Shade percentage: Sometimes shade cloth will be advertised by how much shade it provides, usually between 30% and 90%. The higher the shade percentage, the more heat and light will be reduced,
- UV blockage: The best shade cloth will have a UV blockage rate of 90% or higher.
Buying the materials
- Shade cloth: look for affordable, second hand options first, on places like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.
Wall hooks: there are a few types of wall hooks you can consider including:
Adhesive outdoor wall hooks (i.e. these outdoor hooks)- these are temporary wall hooks you can install to your outdoor frames or eaves, that you can remove at the end of your lease.
- Check to make sure the hooks you choose are water-resistant, have strong weight bearing, are the right size to go through the holes you’ve made in your shade cloth, and are not window hooks.
- Brick hook hanger: this will let you hang your shade cloth from bricks on your wall. The effectiveness will depend on the types of bricks in your home.
- Permanent hooks: with permission from your real estate agent or landlord, you may be able to drill and install more permanent options like Pad eye.
- Adhesive outdoor wall hooks (i.e. these outdoor hooks)- these are temporary wall hooks you can install to your outdoor frames or eaves, that you can remove at the end of your lease.
- Nylon Rope: is durable, weather-resistant, and offers excellent strength to secure the shade cloth in place.
- Cable Ties: quicker to install than nylon rope, but are not reusable.
- Bungee Cords: more flexible, but are more likely to come undone if they aren’t properly anchored.