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How To Select The Perfect Umbrella For Your Patio

September 30, 2017

How To Select The Perfect Umbrella For Your Patio

Finding the right patio furniture, finding the right type of flooring, finding the right type of grill for outdoors and yes, there should be a place for finding the right type of umbrella for your outdoor haven. Whether it’s protection from the scorching heat or the cold rain, getting the perfect patio umbrella will let you and your family and friends enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of nature's harsh elements.

Table or Free-standing Umbrella?

Both types each have its own advantages. Table umbrellas are more affordable than free-standing umbrellas and if you make use of tables very often, then this is a practical choice. Most table umbrellas insert easily through picnic tables with holes and are also easy to replace, should you ever get tired of the look. On the other hand, if you need to provide a shade to different areas in your landscape, the freestanding umbrella is your best bet. It has a larger and sturdier base and is best used if you have scattered furniture you want to shelter from the sun. Free-standing umbrellas are also mobile and will keep the center of your table pole-free.

Sturdy Umbrella Base

Choosing a sturdy umbrella base or stand is vital as this is the determining factor of how strong it is to withstand the wind. Even table umbrellas should have a sturdy stand that will keep the table from toppling over during strong winds. Umbrellas that span over 10 feet should have bigger bases. Here’s a guide for the base weight for each height of umbrella:

5 – foot to 6- foot umbrella          40 lbs. base stand weight

7.5 – foot to 8.5 – foot umbrella          50 lbs. base stand weight

9 – foot to 10 – foot umbrella          50 – 70 lbs. base stand weight

11 – foot to 13 – foot umbrella          100 lbs. base stand weight

Umbrella Size

The canopy size, as well as the height of your umbrella, will determine the amount of shade you will receive. An oversized umbrella may provide you with lots of shade but might not match the size of your furniture. A good rule of thumb is to always get an umbrella that’s 4-5 feet bigger than the space you need to shade. For example, if you have a 4-foot round table, you might want to get an umbrella with a diameter of 8 feet. Select an umbrella that is appropriately sized to cover the table and the people seated around it.

The height of the umbrella matters as well. Minimum umbrella heights are 8 feet in height and if you are expecting to have tall guests, consider getting a much taller umbrella.


Frames – Patio umbrella frames are typically made of two types: wood and aluminum. A newer type of frame is made of fiberglass.

Wood umbrella frames include teak and other hardwoods that are repellent to weathering, moisture, rotting, and insects. While wood frames are chosen for its classic look, it does not have the sturdiness of aluminum and fiberglass frames and is likely to bend and snap during strong winds.

Aluminum frames are lightweight and durable and while it may not look as classy as wood, it comes in a variety of powder-coated finishes that gives you lots of options. Aluminum is corrosion-resistant, affordable and long-lasting which is a great buy for your outdoor spaces.

Fiberglass frames are more popular for use in extremely windy areas. Fiberglass is made of plastic reinforced with glass fibers and is a material that is durable and bendy making it perfect for strong winds. While it runs on the expensive side, the performance of fiberglass umbrella frames offset all the cost. Most patio umbrellas combine fiberglass and aluminum with the former being used for the ribs and the latter as poles, to create a seamless and long-lasting design that uses each of the material’s best property.

Canopies – A patio umbrella canopy needs to be both resistant to sun and rain. Polyester fabric dries a lot faster and is ideal for wet environments. Acrylic has the ability to retain its shape and is resistant to wrinkling. The downside is that it is sensitive to high temperature. Most manufacturers prefer Sunbrella fabric which is designed for the outdoors and is hardwearing and resists fading. It also comes in a lot of fashionable color and print options that are also suitable for use as outdoor pillow covers.

Umbrella Features

Unlike a regular umbrella where you just press a button to open it, patio umbrellas have different features that expand its functionality depending on its size and weight. Larger umbrellas will have more features than a smaller umbrella because these are more difficult to open and close because of its size.

Umbrellas have three types of lift mechanisms. One is push mechanism where you just push the umbrella upwards to open, like how you open a regular umbrella. Second is the pulley system which uses a wheel and rope to lift the canopy upwards. Last is the crank system which uses a rolling crank to lift or pull down the canopy. This is the easiest mechanism and is ideal for large canopy umbrellas.

Another feature is the tilt mechanism which allows the user to tile the canopy in different positions. One is a push method where you manually push the canopy into your desired position and the other is a crank mechanism which continues from the crank lift mechanism. Once the umbrella is opened or cranked to its full position, you can continue turning the crank to tilt the umbrella.

Replaceable Parts

Should some parts of your umbrella be damaged, there are replacement parts available for its pole, ribs, finial, and hub. The pole is the upright component of the umbrella. The ribs are the thin rods that support the canopy fabric. The hub helps in opening and closing the umbrella. The final is the decorative top of the umbrella that helps secure the canopy to the umbrella frame.

Umbrella Care

Make it a habit to clean your umbrella from mold and mildew, water stains, and tree sap stains. Spray the frame of your umbrella with WD-40 to keep its mechanism working smoothly and make sure to let it dry before covering it when not in use.

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