For the places in your garden that do not have tree cover, a patio umbrella is an essential item to provide shade and protection to keep you cool. There are hundreds of patio umbrellas available, which can make it challenging to choose the right one for your home.
Here is our easy-to-follow guide to help you find a patio umbrella that offers the perfect combination of function and style.
What Are the Different Types of Patio Umbrellas?
If you're looking for a sturdy, long-lasting patio umbrella, you need to know about the different types available. Here are some of the most popular types of patio umbrellas.
These parasol-style tops are more architectural, inspired by the shapes of pagoda roofs.
Durable, with an octagonal shape and ventilated tops, you will see these types of umbrellas often at outdoor cafés.
A basic round disc on a pole, these patio umbrellas are perfect for one person and are an excellent option for a pool umbrella.
These umbrellas aren't planted straight down, through the hole in your patio table. The base is off to one side while the umbrella cants over the area you want shaded and can easily be adjusted to suit your sun protection needs.
Adjustable umbrellas are the best option for all-day sun protection as they feature a hinge in the center that allows you to angle the umbrella against the sun.
These are the basic umbrellas used for patio tables as they have a weighty base and rise straight up.
What is the Best Patio Umbrella Fabric?
These days, umbrellas are made of UV resistant synthetic materials and come in all colors of the rainbow. Some of the more commonly known umbrella materials include:
Polyester is a popular, affordable option for umbrellas as it is colorfast and quick drying. Opt for spun polyester as it is more durable and offers a high-end look compared to standard polyester fabrics.
Olefin is a budget-friendly option that is slower to fade than cotton or polyester and more affordable than acrylic. It is water and UV-resistant, making it ideal for warm climates with high humidity. It comes in a wide range of styles so you can create a cohesive outdoor look with your other furniture.
Eco-friendly and evoking a tropical oasis, thatch-topped umbrellas are breathable to keep you cool and protected. They are also low-maintenance and not prone to mold. Simply clean by hosing it down and letting it air dry. Perfect for by the pool or to coordinate with a coastal garden.
Acrylic is the standard fabric for outdoor umbrellas. This material does not fade or deteriorate. If you have other outdoor furniture, you can match your umbrella to the fabric since acrylic fabric is often used for other outdoor furnishings due to its high durability.
What Material Should I Choose for an Umbrella Pole?
Your umbrella frame needs to withstand the elements without losing structural integrity. Some of the most popular options include:
Metals such as aluminum or steel are tough, hard-wearing materials for an umbrella frame. They are ideal for modern and contemporary homes due to their sleek aesthetic. However, avoid choosing metal if you are in a climate that has extreme wind as the rigid material will snap or bend.
What Is the Best Umbrella Mechanism?
There are two types of patio umbrella mechanisms available: pulley and crank.
Pulley umbrellas have the simplest type of mechanism and rely on your strength to pull down on a rope to raise the ribs of the frame. The rope is then tied or anchored to the central pole to secure the umbrella in place.
Crank style mechanisms use a winding handle to open the umbrella, which automatically locks in place. This is a more convenient option found in high-end umbrellas and larger models.
How Can I Find the Right Size Patio Umbrella?
Patio umbrellas can range from 4-12 feet wide. Your patio umbrella must exceed the diameter of your table setting or outdoor area to offer the optimal amount of shade and sun protection.
To measure your table setting for an umbrella, position your chairs, so they are a comfortable seating distance from the table. Measure the diameter from the edge of the backrest of one chair to the chair opposite. Add 2-3 feet to the total diameter for a reliable estimate of the size of the umbrella you will need.
If you want to shade an outdoor area without permanent tables and chairs, roughly measure the width and length of the space, and add 2-3 feet of space to the measurement.
How Heavy Should an Umbrella Base Be?
Unless you have an outdoor table with built-in umbrella support, you are going to need a base to prevent damaging your lawn and to stabilize your umbrella. The minimum safe weight for an umbrella base is 50 lbs.; however, the larger the umbrella, the heavier the base needs to be.
Multiply the diameter of the umbrella by 10 to find the ideal base weight. For example, a 10-foot umbrella needs a base that weighs 100 lbs.
Your patio umbrella should reflect your home's aesthetic as well as fulfill your sun protection needs. Choose from free-standing, cantilever, or tilting styles to find an umbrella that offers the most shade.
The fabric of your umbrella should be UV and water-resistant but also coordinate easily with your other outdoor furniture. Acrylic fabric is the top-of-the-line material for umbrella canopies that is valued for its durability and style.
The frame is the supporting structure of the umbrella and must be strong and flexible to withstand high winds without breaking. Fiberglass is the most durable option, while wood offers exceptional style.
To find the right size umbrella, measure your outdoor space or your table and chair setting, and add 2-3 feet to estimate the minimum diameter of the umbrella.
If your outdoor table does not have a hole or support for your umbrella, you will need a base. The base should weigh 10 times the diameter of the umbrella for the best safety and stability.