Now is the best time for buying an umbrella to shade you from the direct rays of the summer sun. A good patio umbrella can make your patio or deck into additional living space and could be the most used relaxation and entertainment area of your home. A good umbrella can easily allow you to entertain well into the Spring and Fall months. Some umbrellas have vents to allow for air flow.
Buying an Umbrella
There are many factors to consider when buying an umbrella.
- Umbrella Style – market (straight up the umbrella) or cantilever (overhanging umbrella)
- Umbrella Size – diameter of the umbrella when opened
- Umbrella Frames – materials the umbrella frame is made of
- Umbrella Bases – weight and materials of the umbrella base
- Umbrella Fabrics – type, color, and pattern
For the sake of simplicity, we will focus on market-style umbrellas. These are the umbrellas that go straight up from a single pole, the classic upright patio umbrella. They may tilt, but as opposed to cantilever umbrellas, market-style umbrellas do NOT overhang off-center. Market umbrellas are great for shading a patio table, small seating area, or outdoor kitchen.
Here are some recommendations for selecting a size for your umbrella.
- 5′-6′ umbrella – cover of a bistro set and two chairs
- 7′ umbrella – shades a 36″ table with two to four chairs
- 7.5′ – 8.5′ umbrella – shields a 40″ table with four to six chairs
- 9′-10′ umbrella – covers a 48″ table or medium-sized conversation area.
- 11′ umbrella – perfect for a 60″ table with six chairs
Frames are generally made from three different types of materials: wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. Choosing an umbrella frame is mostly a matter of budget, weather conditions, and appearance.
- Wood umbrella frames – typically made from teak or other hardwoods and look good with wooden decks. It may fade a bit, and it is possible to snap in high winds.
- Aluminum umbrella frames – is lightweight, the least expensive, do well in a variety of weather conditions and are the most popular.
- Fiberglass umbrella frames – the most expensive but also the most durable of umbrella frames. They don’t rust, and survive even in fairly high winds.
Umbrella Bases are used to anchor umbrellas from falling or blowing away. Even if you have an umbrella centered in a table, you should use a base to protect yourself, your guests, your umbrella, and the table. Umbrella Bases come in a variety of materials (cement, metal, etc.), but the first consideration should be weight. Generally speaking, the greater the diameter of the umbrella when opened, the greater the weight of the base required to hold it.
- 5′-6′ umbrellas – at least 40 pounds
- 7.5′-8.5′ umbrellas – at least 50 pounds
- 9′ umbrellas – at least 60 pounds
- 10′ umbrellas – at least 70 pounds
- 11′-13′ umbrellas – at least 100 pounds
Besides enhancing the style of your patio or deck, the proper umbrella fabric will determine how your umbrella covering handles sun, rain, weather & cold. Sunbrella is one of the most popular and durable fabrics in the market today. Sunbrella umbrella fabrics come in a wide variety of colors and patterns and resist fading. Other fabrics include Outdura and Bella-Dura.
After following the recommendations here for your Umbrella Style, Umbrella Size, Umbrella Frames, Umbrella Bases, and Umbrella Fabric, it should be easy to select which type of umbrella you need to buy. The hardest part will be picking out a color or pattern to match your decor. There are literally hundreds to choose from.