The right patio umbrella can transform the ambiance of your outdoor space to one of elegant dining, relaxation with loved ones, a wild beach party, or anywhere else your imagination and creativity takes you — regardless of your space or budget limitations.
In fact the sheer variety of sizes, styles, and features may be a little overwhelming at first. There are a few important factors to consider when comparing patio furniture umbrellas to ensure you get the best fit for your unique home.
Deciding on a type of umbrella is easier if you first have an idea of where you want it placed. Patio furniture umbrellas generally come in two categories:
The standard patio furniture umbrellas, consisting of a canopy situated centrally on a pole. The pole may secured to a stand or mounted on furniture designed to accommodate it. Many models allow the canopy to be tilted for optimal shading or atmosphere.
Offset, Or “Cantilever Umbrellas”
These differ from freestanding umbrellas in that the umbrella hangs from an arm which is attached to an offset pole. This design maximizes space by eliminating the central pole; ideal for shading areas where a central pole is simply not feasible or if an unobstructed view is desired. Offset umbrellas can offer great versatility in positioning, but tend to be considerably heavier than freestanding models.
The tilt control mechanisms for both types may be manual (push-button), auto or collar tilt or even remote controlled.
Size is also important. On average patio furniture umbrellas range from 7 to 9 feet tall at their highest point. Canopies are typically 6 to 11 feet in diameter; ideally the canopy should extend several feet past the area you want shaded:
- 6-foot umbrellas can shade a 30 inch table.
- 7.5-foot umbrellas can shade a 36 inch table.
- 9-foot umbrellas can shade a 48 inch table.
- 11-foot umbrellas can shade 60 to 72 inch tables.
Materials used to construct the umbrella will influence both appearance and durability. Both freestanding and offset patio furniture umbrellas share the same material options:
Poles And Ribs
Poles and ribs are typically aluminum, wood, or fiberglass.
- Fiberglass is strong and lightweight, ideal if the umbrella will be moved frequently, but has limited finish options.
- Aluminum is the most durable and is available in a wide assortment of finishes and textures.
- Wood can be quite attractive, particularly in tropical or rustic themes, but also has some drawbacks — wood is heavy, may warp and discolor over time, and wood umbrellas are rarely built to tilt or rotate.
Canopies are typically canvas or woven fabric. Since the canopy will bear the brunt of the elements, extra care should be taken to choose a canopy that will protect and last.
- Sunbrella fabric is the most popular type because of it’s durability and wide variety of colors and styles.
- UV protection is important in sunny climates for skin health and to prevent fading. Some canopies have UV resistant materials woven in the fabric, or applied separately.
- Mold and mildew resistant canopies are useful in damp climates. Mold inhibiting products may also be applied separately.
- Vents on large canopies will help prevent wind damage.
- Other materials, such as palm thatch, vary widely in durability and care requirements, and typically won’t last as long.
Modern patio furniture umbrellas offer an assortment of creative extras as well — lighting options, styled canopy covers for a quick change of atmosphere, attachable mosquito netting or other lightweight fabric for privacy, and of course a myriad of colors, designs and styles.
Exploring all the various types of outdoor patio umbrellas can be fun and exciting. Adding your own creative flair will transform an average patio to an enchanting outdoor space uniquely yours!