ZZZ Exterior Curtains – Rope and Pulleys


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A Tropical J’s Rope & Pulley system is an affordable and durable exterior or interior shade solution.  Their sturdy construction and tensioning systems allow them to be utilized as not only privacy screens but also as medium to heavy duty wind blocks, depending on their attachments.  They can be made from a wide variety of solid vinyls, acrylics such as Sunbrella, mesh material, or even clear vinyl.  When in use, the systems are fully deployed and tied to set anchor points.  When not in use, they roll up out of the way.  Operation is by means of a control rope, which quickly raises or lowers the systems.  If you are looking for a shade that is remote driven or can be raised or lowered to many different intermediate stops, then you should consider a Tropical J’s Wire Guide system.

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A rope and pulley shade is a simple and high performing system.  The diagrams below illustrates the critical components.  The bottom picture is of the system rolled up.

System:  The fabric is mounted via an aluminum track onto a piece of wood called the header.  The header is attached to the structure.  By use of control ropes, you simply roll fabric up and down.  There fabric goes through stainless steel Harken lift and control pulleys (the same kind used on America’s cup competition boats).  The pulleys are attached using stainless steel hardware.  At the bottom of the fabric shade is a pocket.  In this pocket there is a weighted PVC tube with PVC end caps called the hembar.  When the control ropes are used it makes the hembar roll up the fabric neatly.  Once raised, the control ropes are tied off onto a cleat.  To lower the system, the control ropes are released slowly and the fabric rolls down.  Once down the tie ropes are used to anchor the shade so that it doesn’t blow in the wind.  Good attachment for the tie ropes is mandatory for the success of the system.  We use 3/8″ stainless steel eye lags to anchor most systems.  Sometimes tie ropes are tied to hand rails. or other elements in the area.  We can make tie ropes as long as necessary.

Wall Mount Vs. Ceiling Mounts:  These shades can be manufactured to be attached to a wall, or to be attached to a ceiling.

Wall Mount:  The system can go up to 18 feet wide. If you are going above an opening you can give a few inches of overlap on either side for extra coverage.  The bottom of your system will be 6 inches higher than your tie off point.  If you need more coverage, review the valance information below.

Ceiling Mount:  Ceiling mounts can go up to 18 feet wide.  Ceiling mounts usually go into spaces and if there are walls involved you’ll need to back off 1 inch for each wall.  The bottom of your system will be 6 inches higher than your tie off point.  If you need more coverage, review the valance information below.

ceiling-mount-wall-mountWhen the systems are fully rolled up, they have different heights depending on their mount.  A wall mounted system has a retreated height of 6″ while a ceiling mount have a retracted height of 4″.  For drops larger than 12 feet, these heights may increase.

retractedValances: There are two types of valances, upper and lower.  The upper valance hides the system when it is rolled up, and it can be specified anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet.  The lower valance continues coverage from below the hembar.  Because we need 6 inches to tie off the system, the valance is good way to provide that extra privacy, sun protection, or rain protection.

The diagrams below illustrate both types of optional valances on a 2 pulley systems.




The cutouts in the lower valance are so that it doesn’t get caught up or pinched in the ropes.  The diagrams below illustrate both types valances on a 3 pulley systems.

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widthsSizes Widths:  Widths of these system can be anywhere from 2 feet up to 18 feet wide.  We do not recommend going more than 18 feet on a single unit for weight and control issues.

Sizes Heights:  Normal heights (drops) can be anywhere from 2 feet  to 12 feet.  After 12 feet drops, we decrease the maximum width of the system to keep them manageable.

Seams: We do our best to stay away from seams, but sometimes the size of a shade requires us to manufacture more than one panel of fabric.  There is an industry term called railroading, and it refers to using the running width of the fabric to create a seamless panel.  This is possible when the drop is less than the usable width of the fabric roll.


[/et_pb_accordion_item][et_pb_accordion_item title=”III Operation Videos” _builder_version=”4.4.8″ custom_padding=”30px|30px|30px|30px|true|true”]Tying off to a cleat:  When your system is up in the air you want to ensure that it is securely tied off to prevent it from rolling down and causing personal injury, damage to your property, or damage to the shade.

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Fabrics:  A Rope and Pulley system can be made with virtually any fabric.  The example below shows how you can even mix and match fabrics to create dual functions.  Function should be the driving factor.  Do you need to block wind?  Do you need to block rain? Do you need heat/UV protection? Is the view important?


fabric selection


Mesh – Textilene – For heat and glare protection while maintaining a view,  TJ’s primarily uses Textilene meshes in 80% or 90%.  The percentage describes how tight the weave is and how much light/UV it blocks.  Each percentage is available in 6 colors.


When choosing a color, note that the darker colors will allow you to see more detail.  The darker the color, the greater the contrast equates to the clearest view.  The warranty for this fabric collection is 10 years.  See .PDF for more info.

Acrylics – Sunbrella  – Sunbrella’s marine grade awning fabrics work great for these systems.  These fabrics will block 100% of the view but will provide much better protection that a mesh fabric.  They are available in a variety of colors, including stripes, and generally have a very nice residential look and feel. SunbrellaThese shades are sewn with Tenara  thread.  The fabric manufacturer’s warranty for this fabrics collection is 10 years; 8 years inclusive with the last 2 years prorated.  See .PDF for more info.

Specialty Fabrics – We can manufacture with Phifertex’s collection of specialty fabrics. Their yearly collections include wicker weaves, colorful patterns and solid colors.  The fabrics all have unique pricing.  See your salesperson of rmore information.specialty


Vinyls – Weblon™ or Ferrari™

Vinyls are PVC based fabrics.  They are  inherently waterproof and some are fire retardant.  The finished look of the fabric is dependent on the manufacture and they tend to have a shiny look and commercial feel.  They block 100% of the view and will provide the best form of barrier.  Tropical J’s primarily manufactures with Weblon™ or Ferrari™.  Each brand has a specific color palette available and warranties run from 5-8 years. See .PDF for more info.


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Our salesman will collect the information that our professional installation team will use to install your products.   Most installations usually take 1 day.  We install into structural elements in your building using Hillman stainless steel fasteners.  Our most common fastener attachments types are expansion anchors, self drilling/tapping screws, toggle bolts, and epoxy set all-thread.  Each installation is unique in it’s attachment but there are some common elements to consider so our salesman may price out installation accordingly.

Insurance:  Tropical J’s is a licensed, bonded and insured company, but if you need additional insurance there may be an up charge for that.

Vehicle Access:  Our work fleet consists of vans and flatbed with vehicle heights of 7′ 3″.  If they do not have access to on site contractor parking,  please work with our salesman to determine the nearest parking.

Hours of Operation:  Jobs are quoted out during our regular scheduled working hours which are 7:00-3:30.  If you require installation outside these hours, there may be overtime charges.

Power:  Most installations require the use of one electrical outlet during the course of installation.  Please help our salesman establish the nearest one.

Bathrooms:  In the event that there is a restroom available please inform our salesman.



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