If you’ve started shopping for a patio or pool umbrella you might be surprised – and maybe a little overwhelmed – by the wide selection of options. With so many sizes, materials, and features available, how do you know which outdoor umbrella to choose? This buying guide covers patio umbrellas from top to bottom – size, fabric, features, and more – so you can make your best purchase.
The shape of your patio umbrella can be determined by a few factors: the area you wish to shade, the space available, and the look you prefer. The most common umbrella shapes are round (octagonal), rectangle, and square. Are you shading a dining table and chairs? You may want a large rectangular umbrella. Setting up shade for a pair of chaise lounges? A round pool umbrella may be what you need. As you measure for your umbrella space, look around for any potential obstructions including tree branches, power lines, and your home’s roof line.
The size of your umbrella should be the right fit for the space where it will be used and for the purpose it will serve. Consider the rule of thumb that your umbrella should have a diameter 5 feet larger than the area it’s intended to cover. If you’re planning to shade a dining set, make sure your table is equipped with an umbrella hole. If not, or if you’re shading a conversation set, an offset umbrella will do the trick. Don’t know what size patio umbrella you need? Check out this handy chart or view our Patio Umbrella Size Guide with its helpful infographic.
|Umbrella Size||Recommended Table Width||Pairs with Furniture||Umbrella Stand Weight|
|6 – 6.5 ft. Umbrellas||Up to 30 in.||Bistro set, single chair||Up to 35 lbs.|
|7 – 7.5 ft. Umbrellas||Up to 48 in.||4-person patio dining set or single chaise lounge||35 – 55 lbs.|
|8 – 8.5 ft. Umbrellas||Up to 54 in.||4 to 6-person patio dining set, small outdoor sectional or sofa||40 – 55 lbs.|
|9 – 9.5 ft. Umbrellas||Up to 62 in.||6-person patio dining set, patio conversation set, or set of chaise lounges||65 – 75 lbs.|
|10 ft. & Up Umbrellas||Up to 84 in.||6 to 8-person or larger patio dining set or patio conversation set||75 lbs. or larger|
All fabrics are not created equal, especially when it comes to outdoor-rated textiles. Quality, durability, and price can vary widely, as well as the fabric’s ability to weather the elements over time. You’ll want to consider not only the umbrella’s fabric, but also its structure. What makes an umbrella wind resistant? The answer is fiberglass ribs. A must for gusty climates, fiberglass ribs allow the umbrella to bend and flex in the wind when other materials would likely snap. Fiberglass is resistant to salt air and heavy moisture, and lasts 4 to 5 times longer than traditional a steel or wood frame. Take a look at the options before you buy:
- The industry leader in outdoor fabric
- 100% solution-dyed – color is locked into the fibers
- Will not fade due to UV-ray exposure
- Offered in solids and stripes and lasts for years
- Solution-dyed and impressive performance
- 4-year fade, rot, and mildew-resistance warranty
- Wide selection of fashionable colors and patterns
- Includes Pacifica and O’Bravia
- Budget-friendly option that doesn’t sacrifice quality
- Highly durable synthetic fibers that last for years with proper care
- Better fade-resistance than polyester or cotton without expense of acrylic
- Solution-dyed grade A+/A fabrics
- Durable, colorfast, and the standard for outdoor use
- Suitable for outdoor pool umbrellas, cushions, pillows, & draperies
- Fun alternative to traditional fabrics
- Consists of polypropylene strips sewn into spun polyester base cloth
- Will not rot, mildew, or attract insects
- Hose it down to clean and allow to air dry
Trying to decide between a steel vs. aluminum patio umbrella? The material you choose will play a role in the umbrella’s strength, weather-resistance, and overall look. Take a moment to understand the options as you shop.
- Wood: Wood umbrellas have that classic market umbrella appeal. They pair well with wood patio dining tables and are offered in a full range of sizes. Wood poles or frames generally lift via a pulley system or via the push-up-and-pin method. Tilting wood umbrellas are less common but they do exist.
- Aluminum: The most durable and versatile of the pole material options, aluminum is rust-resistant and extremely strong. Most aluminum umbrellas feature easy-to-operate crank lifts, but there are push-up and pulley-system models as well. Many aluminum umbrellas have a tilt feature and aluminum is usually offered in a wide range of finishes.
- Steel: Steel umbrellas offer many of the strength and feature benefits of aluminum but it’s less expensive. This is due in part to the fact that steel doesn’t have aluminum’s resistance to rust. It may not look as new as long. Steel umbrellas tend to be heavier than aluminum as well.
The size of your umbrella and how you plan to use it are important factors in choosing the right weight of umbrella stand to keep everything in place. Use the chart below to help you decide what stand weight is appropriate for your needs.
|Stand Weight||Thru-Table Use||Freestanding Use|
|35 lbs. or less||6 to 7.5 ft. umbrella||Not recommended|
|40 – 55 lbs.||7.5 to 9 ft. umbrella, low-wind location||Not recommended|
|65-75 lbs.||9 to 11 ft. umbrella||Up to 9 ft. umbrella, low-wind location|
|75 lbs. & up||Not necessary for thru-table use||Up to 11 ft. umbrella|
To keep your umbrella looking good and functioning at its best for as long as possible, follow these simple tips:
- Don’t force your umbrella open. It should open gently – if it doesn’t, there may be something caught up and forcing it could damage the ribs or the mechanics.
- Close the canopy when not in use. This will reduce the chance of broken ribs in strong winds.
- Use an umbrella cover. A cover is easy to slip on and can add years to your umbrella’s life by blocking out sun and moisture. Money well spent.
- If possible, store your patio umbrella in the garage or a storage shed during the off-season.
Ready to relax in the shade? Whether you place a patio umbrella on your deck or add it as a poolside retreat, you’re sure to welcome a little escape from the sun. Follow our buying tips and you’ll find the right outdoor umbrella for your space that you can enjoy for years to come.