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LA Outdoor Newsletter

Info on Outdoor and Patio Umbrellas

About Patio and Outdoor Umbrellas

 Patio Umbrella Buying Guide

What do you want to shade?

  • Are you shading a small patio table or a large poolside or patio?
  • How big of a patio table do you have?
  • Are you looking for several market umbrellas for a commercial atmosphere or basic shade for the backyard?
  • What kind of weather is most common in your area?

This may help in deciding which type of fabric you want for your umbrella.

Patio Umbrella Sizing -

How much shade do you need?

To buy the right patio umbrella you must decide what type of area it will be placed in; whether it will be free standing over lounge chairs or through a bistro or patio table. The shade diameter of an umbrella is what determines how much shade you will receive. When you have figured what you would like to shade, the rule of thumb is that the umbrella be at least 4 to 5 feet larger than the area to be shaded. Therefore, a 30-in. bistro table should have at least a 6-ft. umbrella.

In a commercial application, you can maximize your space by following the guidelines below. In your own backyard, you can make sure everyone gets some shade on those sunny, warm days!

  • 6-foot Umbrella Shade Diameter - covers up to 30-inch bistro/cafe tables
  • 7-foot Umbrella Shade Diameter- covers up to 36-inch bistro/cafe tables
  • 9-foot Umbrella Shade Diameter- covers up to 48-inch round or square dining tables with 4 chairs
  • 11-foot Umbrella Shade Diameter - covers up to 60-inch round or square dining tables and 72-inch oval and rectangular tables with 6 chairs Patio Umbrella Frames

Most patio umbrella frames are made from wood, fiberglass or metal. Wood patio umbrella frames are elegant and go well with tropical or traditional settings. Metal and fiberglass umbrella frames have a lot of features and can blend with almost all patio settings.

For Commercial Patio Umbrellas or high traffic areas, we recommended patio umbrellas with the least moving parts. This will usually be patio umbrellas with single pole or strong couplings, manual or pulley lift available in wood, fiberglass and aluminum. Learn more about corporate sales of commercial patio umbrellas.

Wood Patio Umbrellas:

  • Frames and poles are usually made of teak or Asian hardwoods (Ramin, Chinese White Oak, Nyatoh).
  • Umbrellas have a center pole that comes in one or two pieces, measuring 1.375 inches to 2 inches in diameter.
  • Poles usually feature a manual lift or pulley mechanism and a holding pin.
  • Poles and frames usually don't tilt.
  • Ribs are sturdy, but cannot absorb strong gusts of wind. Ribs are easily replaceable if broken.

Fiberglass Patio Umbrellas:

  • Is now an option for umbrella poles making the frame lighter, but sturdier than aluminum or wood, but in limited finishes. •Poles can come as a solid piece or two-piece pole.
  • Umbrella ribs are ideal for wind-resistant market and patio umbrellas because they can absorb strong wind gusts.
  • Ribs last four to five times longer than wood or aluminum poles.

Aluminum Patio Umbrellas:

  • Patio umbrella poles can be one or two pieces.
  • Umbrellas open and close with a crank, manual lift, pulley mechanism, quick lift or remote control.
  • Poles features push-button tilting, non-tilting, auto-tilting and full rotations (offset umbrellas).
  • Frames and poles come in a large selection of finishes.
  • Poles are powdercoated, anodized or laminated for weather protection.
  • Crank and tilting functions should be avoided if umbrella will be used in high-traffic or commercial applications.

Understanding Patio Umbrella Frames:

The components of a frame make up the “skeleton” of your Patiot Umbrella. Here is some helpful information about the pieces and parts:

  • The Crank: An crank is a device that is rotated to open and close the umbrella. Certain market umbrellas have the tilt-mechanism incorporated with the crank feature to make tilting the unit easy as well. Crank types are “NOT” recommended for use in commercial applications.
  • Pulley & Pin: Although many aluminum units have cranks as a mechanism to raise and lower the unit, most wood styles have a push up mechanism or pulley & pin type of feature to raise it to the proper height. We highly recommend a simple manual push up type of operation with pin & hole option to keep the shade open for commercial applications. All too often restaurants and commercial resorts have challenges with patrons opening & closing units with pulleys and cranks resulting in damage or serious safety hazard issues from collapsing frames to the un-aware customers beneath the structure.
  • The Hubs: Almost all patio umbrellas have two hubs; a Runner Hub, which moves up and down the center pole raising and lowering the support ribs to open or close the umbrella. The Top Hub is stationary and holds the main ribs which swing outward to open the umbrella and downward to close the umbrella.
  • The Finial: The finial adds decorative functionality to your shade structure. It provides the finishing touch to the aesthetics of the top. It also serves the functional purpose of anchoring the top of the shade cover fabric to the frame.
  • The Pole: Most poles are assembled in two pieces for ease of shipping and storage. The most common pole materials are wood or aluminum, but also may be fiberglass, steel, plastic or resin composite types. Some commercial grade solid pole types come as single pieces which add considerable strength to help them better withstand wind pressure and the rigors of outdoor commercial applications around hotel & apartment pool areas, or restaurant applications.
  • The Ribs: The rib arms are the pieces of your frame that spread and support the shade cover into the open position. More ribs equal more strength and stability. The Fiberglass ribs featured on our Wind Resistant types are outstanding at absorbing wind gusts without breaking and last four to five times longer than traditional wood or aluminum ribs.
  • Tilt Mechanisms: Many residential styles have tilt mechanisms as a special feature to provide additional shade options for outdoor sun protection. Tilt features come in various arrangements, including buttons at the top portion of the umbrella underneath the rib runner hub, or crank feature tilts in conjunction with the crank handle. As a general rule, we “never” recommend tilt or crank features in a commercial application.

Offset Patio Umbrellas vs. Freestanding Patio Umbrellas

Offset patio umbrellas are a more versatile choice than standard, freestanding umbrellas. These offset umbrellas feature cantilever designs with an offset umbrella base and a shade that extends over the desired area. For covering a seating area, hot tub, or patio table without an umbrella hole, offset patio umbrellas provide the shade you desire without obstructing center pole. Freestanding umbrellas are the standard patio umbrella design: an umbrella pole that extends up to the center of the shade and down to the base, where it is secured in an umbrella stand. These are a reliable choice for general shade and the best option for patio tables with umbrella holes. We highly recommend an appropriate umbrella stand for stability wherever you use a freestanding umbrella. Generally, these patio umbrellas are more portable than their offset counterparts, which tend to be heavier and require weighted slabs to secure their bases.

Patio Umbrella Fabrics

Once you know the size and frame, you will need to determine what kind of fabric you would like on your patio umbrella. If you will always store it away during the winter or in the rain - then a thinner, less expensive fabric might do, such as polyester. However, if your umbrella is going to sit outside in the rain or be full time in the hot summer sun, you may need a more durable fabric such as Sunbrella. Better quality often translates into higher price, but with our discounts and frequent sales, you may find that our high quality patio umbrellas are less expensive than you would have thought. With patio umbrellas, depending on your usage, storage and application, it is true that you get what you pay for.

Sunbrella Patio Umbrella Fabric: see all Sunbrella Patio Umbrellas

  • 100% 8-oz. solution-dyed acrylic fabric with locked-in colors
  • Withstands sun, wind, and rain without fading, remaining beautiful for years
  • The largest color selection
  • Water-repellent. During the finishing process, a water-repellent finish is applied to the fabric
  • Mold- and mildew-resistant
  • Tested and proven to provide up to 98% UV-protection
  • Three-year warranty against fading
  • Excellent for very frequent use Coolaroo:
  • Unique High density Knitted Polyethylene fabric by Coolaroo
  • Provides up to 90% UV block
  • Allows cover to ‘Breathe’ reducing temperatures underneath by up to a third
  • Resists mold and mildew
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Pacifica Patio Umbrella Fabric:

  • Solution dyed Polyester
  • 4 year Fade Resistance Warranty
  • 4 Year Rot and Mildew Warranty
  • 20 Fashionable and popular Color choices to pick from

Solution-dyed Patio Umbrella Fabric:

  • Durable, washable, and easy to clean
  • 100% 5.8-oz. solution-dyed fabric - good for outdoor use
  • Mold- and mildew-resistant
  • Two-year warranty against fading

Olefin Patio Umbrella Fabric:

  • 8-oz. solution-dyed fabric
  • High-density and light weight
  • Durable, abrasion-resistant, stain-resistant, and easy to clean
  • One-year warranty against fading
  • A good choice for value-priced, season-or-two use

Polyester and Spun Poly Patio Umbrella Fabric:

  • Special type of polyester that is processed for high strength, uniform quality, colorfastness and smoothness
  • Similar to cotton in flexibility, but stronger and with better resistance to mold and mildew
  • The soft spun braid of the polyester is the highest strength S-braid available
  • Holds color up to 50% longer than most other synthetic fabrics
  • Provides all the advantages of polyester in a flexible construction that is suited for use in both marine and industrial applications
  • Typically no fabric warranty
  • A value-priced quality fabric


  • High grade solution-dyed Olefin umbrella-grade outdoor fabric
  • Excellent UV protection
  • Mold, mildew, fade, and water resistant (machine washable)
  • One-year warranty Sundura:
  • 100% 10oz. yarn-dyed fabric provides colorfastness
  • Easy to clean
  • PU (polyurethane) coating provides extra water repellent features
  • Quick drying, abrasion resistant fabric
  • Extra UV protection
  • 1 year warranty against fading

Patio Umbrella Bases/Stands

Sizing the Base (Stand):

  • It is critical that all outdoor umbrellas be properly weighted to prevent it from tipping over from its own top end weight or taking flight in a breeze. The proper weight for your umbrella base or stand is determined by the size of your umbrella and whether it is being utilized through a table or freestanding. To choose the right umbrella stand, you need to consider a few things:
  • What size of shade do you need? The diameter of your umbrella shade is important in determining how much weight will be necessary to hold the umbrella.
  • Is it positioned through a table, or is it free-standing? A table can add weight to help hold down your umbrella. A freestanding unit requires a considerably heavier base.
  • What size is the pole? Pole sizes are listed for all market umbrellas on the order page under Product Details. However, the most common size pole is 1.5” in diameter, but can range anywhere from 1 1/8 to 3” depending on the type and size you order. Base sleeve diameters are listed on the base ordering page under Product Details. Be careful to order a base that is properly sized for your pole, as well as check the hole diameter in the patio table to make sure it will fit. As a last check, you should measure the height of any table leg supports to ensure the what ever base you purchase will fit.