Patio umbrellas are a centerpiece to any outdoor patio. It brings comfort, shade, and even a little pizazz to your patio. However, finding the right umbrella to set the tone for your outdecor (outdoor + decor) can be a bit strenuous. So we put together a handy-dandy guide to help show you how to find the right umbrella for your patio so you can enjoy the great outdoors in style & comfort.
Umbrella Size & Shape
The important questions to begin with are what will you be using the patio umbrella for: dining events, outdoor lounging, extra shade? This will help you decide what size of an awning you'd need and how tall you need it to be. For the shape, you get the most coverage with a square or rectangle shape, wheras the standard circle shape provides less coverage. The first good rule of thumb when picking height is 7 feet tall is good for all. Bumping heads on an umbrella isn't fun, so be sure your umbrella height is at least 7 feet. Another good rule of thumb is 2 feet wider than what you cover. So if you have a 4 foot round table, an 8 foot diameter umbrella (2 feet per side) would do you well. Here's some more sizing to help you further:
- Table = 30-36 inches — Umbrella = 6-8 feet
- Table = 38-48 inches — Umbrella =9-11 feet
- Table = 54-60 inches — Umbrella 11 feet or larger
Pole Diameter & Base Weight
It's important to note the diameter of the umbrella pole as it sometimes do not include a base. This is called a free standing umbrella. The average diameter is 2 inches, but double check to ensure yours matches the base. As for the base, you want to ensure you choose one that'll actually hold the weight of your umbrella. Also note if the base has wheels, as the heavier it is, the harder it is to move. Here's a useful chart to help you decide:
- 20 lb. Base – Up to 6' tall umbrella
- 30 lb Base – Up to 6.5' tall umbrella
- 40 lb Base – Up to 7' tall umbrella
- 50 lb Base – Up to 7.5' tall umbrella
- 70+ lb Base – Up to 11' tall umbrella
There are three basic types of umbrellas: free standing, cantilever, & tilting. Let's discuss the function of each.
- Free Standing - Also known as a table or market umbrella, this is typically part of a dining set with an umbrella hole measuring 1.75" in diameter on average.
- Cantilever - This is great for furniture sets or covering large areas, as they have a wider range of motion and shade coverage. They are typically heavy duty and a popular buy.
- Tilting - Much like a cantilever, a tilting umbrella allows you to adjust the shade as the sun moves, keeping you sun protected and happy.
Now you may see the obvious recommendation we have when it comes to patio umbrella fabric: Sunbrella. It's fade-resistant, has an excellent warranty, and comes in a wide variety of colors. It's important whatever fabric you choose that it is weather resistant, all weather, & waterproof. Additionally, if you're going to be in a more windy area, we recommend fiberglass, as it can bend and morph to the gusty conditions.
Pole Material & Color
You would think an umbrella pole would come in a standard material & color, but by now you've probably seen anything is possibly from canopy size to base weights. Most standard umbrella poles are aluminum with coloring options. However, you can also find the poles in hardwood, or flexwood, anondized steel, and even bronze. The metallic poles have more color options, such as white, sand, and black just to list a few popular options, whereas the wood typically is treated and comes in a shade of brown.
Single vs. Double Ventilation
Lastly, you'll want to note the ventilation you want with your umbrella, mainly a single or double ventilation option. Single ventilation is standard in most patio umbrellas and allows for a dissipation of heat, as well as the occasional wind. However, if you live in a more tropical area or more windy area, the best option is to go about a double ventilation, which will add more heat dissipation and holds up better in the wind. Additionally, the double ventilation adds a look of elegance for an outdoor patio.