Patio Umbrellas ~ Buyer's Guide

There are many options to consider when choosing a market or patio umbrellas for your patio, deck, balcony or garden landscape. This buyer's guide will help you make the best choice to suit your lifestyle and patio or garden decor.

Location: Where will you be using your Patio Umbrella?

Umbrellas are commonly used either positioned in the center of a patio table with umbrella stand or as free standing to shade an outdoor area. Many patio umbrellas are designed for either use, however there are some umbrellas designed specifically for a particular use. Here are our umbrella categories and the uses they will accommodate: (TT = Through Table) (FS = Free Standing)

  • Aluminum Market Umbrellas (TT, FS)
  • Wood Market Umbrellas (TT, FS)
  • Offset Umbrellas (Side Post) (FS)
  • Spa Umbrellas (FS)
  • Two-Tier Market Umbrellas (TT, FS)
  • Garden Umbrellas (TT, FS)
  • Beach Umbrellas (FS)
  • Hand Painted Umbrellas (TT or FS)

Size: What size patio umbrella is right for you?

The size of a patio umbrella is determined by its diameter. To choose the proper size umbrella, determine the size of the table or area to be shaded. The general rule is the umbrella should be at least five feet larger than the area to be shaded. For example, a 48 in. table should have a 9 ft. umbrella or larger. Here is a handy guide for choosing an umbrella for a table.

  • 6' Shade - covers up to 30" bistro/cafe tables
  • 7' Shade - covers up to 36" bistro/cafe tables
  • 9' Shade - covers up to 48" round or square dining tables with 4 chairs
  • 11' Shade - covers up to 60" round or square dining tables and 72" oval and rectangular tables with 6 chairs

Material: Wooden or aluminum pole?

Umbrellas are available with either wood and aluminum frames. There are two main differences between these two frame materials:

Decorative Considerations - depending on where you want to place your umbrella, and if applicable, what your table is made of, one material may match your patio furniture or outdoor decor better than the other. Wooden patio umbrellas are available in Asian hardwood or teak. Aluminum umbrellas are available in a number of different pole color finishes such as champagne, white, pewter and black.

Functionality - Patio umbrella functionality consists of the method to "open" it and whether or not it tilts or rotates. Most wooden umbrellas have a manual or pulley lift and do not tilt or rotate. Aluminum umbrellas typically have a crank lift and a push button tilt, which will allow the umbrellas to tilt in three directions. Aluminum umbrellas are also available with deluxe features such as remote control opening and automatic tilt.

Fabric: Choosing a Patio Umbrella Fabric

You have a choice in fabrics when selecting your market or patio umbrellas. Here is a fabric guide to help you choose the perfect patio umbrella for your outdoor decor and lifestyle.

Sunbrella: Sunbrella® is 100% solution-dyed acrylic fabric. Sunbrella withstands sun, wind and rain while remaining beautiful for years. The secret to the lasting color is found in the solution-dying process which locks colors into the acrylic fibers, so they can't wash out or fade. Sunbrella® fabric is not waterproof; it is water repellant. This means that during the finishing process a water repellant finish is applied to the fabric.

Normal wear and usage will reduce the effectiveness of this finish, as will cleaning the fabric. Sunbrella® fabrics, if kept clean, will not mildew. An inherent characteristic of acrylic fiber is that it will not support the growth of mildew, as a natural fiber will. Sunbrella® fabrics have been tested and proven to provide up to 98% UV protection from the harmful effects of the sun depending on depth of color. Whites and lighter colored fabrics provide less protection than darker fabrics which have more depth of color. This protective factor is inherent to the product and will not be reduced by usage and/or fabric exposure to the sun.

patio umbrellasCoolaroo's "Open Weave": This fabric is an open-weave knitted outdoor fabric. It contains literally millions of tiny holes that allow air to flow freely through. This breathing effect reduces temperatures beneath by up to 32% when compared to direct sunlight. This state-of-the-art material blocks out harmful UV rays, yet still allows cool breezes to pass through and refresh you. No matter how hot it gets outside, Coolaroo helps keep temperatures down—to keep you cooler and more comfortable.

SolarVista: SolarVista is 100%, 7 oz, solution-dyed acrylic fabric. A bit lighter weight than Sunbrella, SolarVista locks colors into the acrylic fabrics so they can't wash out or fade. SolarVista fabric is not waterproof; it is water repellant. This means that during the finishing process a water repellant finish is applied to the fabric. Normal wear and usage will reduce the effectiveness of this finish as will cleaning the fabric. SolarVista, if kept clean, will not mildew. An inherent characteristic of acrylic fiber is that it will not support the growth of mildew, as a natural fiber will.

Olefin: Olefin is a weather and sunlight resistant, durable fabric. Olefin is an 8 oz solution dyed fabric which is lighter weight than Sunbrella fabrics.

Spun Poly: Spun Poly is a special type of polyester that is processed with care using only the best polyester fiber for high strength, uniform quality, colorfastness and smoothness. Spun material is similar to cotton in flexibility, but stronger and with better resistance to stress such as mold and mildew caused by unexpected weather. The soft spun braid of the polyester is the highest strength S-Braid available. As well, it holds color up to 50% longer than most other synthetic fabrics. Spun poly is used in other products such as outdoor furniture, mooring lines and hammocks.

Do you need a Patio Umbrella Stand/Base?

The type of patio umbrella stand or base you need will depend upon how you intend to use your umbrella.

Standard bases can be used with a table or with a freestanding umbrella, as well as specialty bases such as a deck and dock base, or a spa mount base. For standard outdoor umbrella bases you will need to choose the weight of the base. This is determined by the size of your market or patio umbrella and if you are using the umbrella through a table or free standing.

patio umbrella standsThe guide below will help you to select a patio umbrella stand for your patio umbrella. To choose a base, consider these questions:

  • What size is your patio umbrella shade?
  • Is the patio umbrella positioned through a table, or is it free-standing?
  • Is the patio umbrella pole "oversized" (2" diameter pole or greater)?

BASE CHART

Umbrella Shade Size (ft) Umbrella Positioning Base Size Options (lbs)
4.5 Thru Table 25, 35, 50
4.5 Free Standing 35, 50
6 Thru Table 25, 35, 50
6 Free Standing 50
7 Thru Table 25, 35, 50
7 Free Standing 50
7.5 Thru Table 25, 35, 50
7.5 Free Standing 50
8 Thru Table 50,70
8 Free Standing 70
9 Thru Table 50, 70
9 Free Standing 70
6.5 x 10 Thru Table 50, 70
6.5 x 10 Free Standing 70
11 Thru Table 50, 70
11 Free Standing 70
Offset Offset Blow Molded Offset Umbrella Base

Large Diameter Poles
9 (2 in. pole) Thru Table 50,70 Large Pole Model
9 (2 in. pole) Free Standing 70 Large Pole Model
11 (2 in. pole) Thru Table 50, 70 Large Pole Model
11 (2 in. pole) Free Standing 70 Large Pole Model