The Secret to Buying the Perfect Patio Umbrella

Outdoor patio umbrellas are an important accessory for any outdoor space. Along with adding color and interest, they reduce the sun’s UV rays and help to keep you cool.

The trick to finding the perfect patio umbrella is understanding how shade protection works, knowing which umbrella features make a difference, and being able to spot quality construction in the umbrella frame and canopy fabric.

We enjoy helping people find the best patio umbrella for their decks, patios and pools, so we created this guide to share what we’ve learned about umbrella types, shade protection, tilting mechanisms, and umbrella bases.

How Outdoor Patio Umbrellas Provide UV Protection

Patio umbrellas keep you cool. A bright, sunny day can lift your mood but it brings solar radiation with it. Solar radiation heats up the objects it hits, raising the temperature of surfaces above the actual air temperature. You’re probably familiar with this if you’ve walked across concrete barefooted or touched a dark metal object that’s been sitting in the blazing sun—ouch. Good shade over your patio tables, lounge seating areas or pool protects you from direct sunlight and can reduce the temperature under it by as much as 20 percent. A hot, 90-degree day can become a balmy 72 degrees with a good patio umbrella.

Patio umbrellas protect you from harmful UV rays. Harmful UV rays from the sun can damage your skin, and can also damage outdoor furniture finishes and fabrics over time. A good patio umbrella helps keep UV rays off of you and helps extend the life of your patio furniture by creating enough shade to protect your patio table, lounge furniture, chaise lounges and more from the sunshine.

3 Ways Outdoor Umbrellas Add Style

1.

An outdoor patio umbrella signals to family and friends that you care for their comfort and have created a welcoming gathering spot. Take a moment and imagine a couple of comfortable chairs shaded by a patio umbrella. This restful environment beckons you to sit down and relax. With an outdoor umbrella, you and your guests will enjoy the warm weather while staying cool and avoiding UV rays.

2.

Outdoor patio umbrellas are an excellent design element to separate your outdoor spaces. If you have two dining tables or a dining space and a lounge area, adding a patio umbrella over each area helps define them.

3.

Patio umbrellas add color and interest to your outdoor space. Outdoor umbrellas come in a rainbow of colors: soft pastels, tropical brights, soothing neutrals, modern hues, stripes and more. Love to be surrounded by color? Choose a canopy material in a color that pops. Want a sleek, cohesive look? Choose a canopy material that matches your patio furniture. Craving a quiet retreat? Select a canopy material in an easy neutral. A patio umbrella helps make your space look finished.

Along with the familiar round canopy, patio umbrellas also come in square and rectangle shapes. These angular canopies add a lot of personality to your style.

How to Determine Your Perfect Outdoor Umbrella Type

Patio umbrellas come in two main types: market umbrellas and cantilever umbrellas.

Outdoor Market UmbrellaOutdoor Market Umbrella

A market umbrella has a central, straight pole with an umbrella canopy centered over it. The most common market umbrellas have round canopies but are also available with square or rectangle canopies.

The advantage to market umbrellas is the ability to place the umbrella pole through the center of a patio table or between two lounge chairs to provide shade for you and your guests. Look for umbrellas with tilting mechanisms so you can block the rays as the angle of the sun changes throughout the day.

A cantilever umbrella (often called an offset umbrella) has a central canopy that extends from a side pole. Like market umbrellas, the most common styles have a round canopy but they’re also available in squares and rectangles. This umbrella ranges from 10 to 13 feet for a residential-grade umbrella and up to 16 feet for a commercial-grade umbrella.

The large size is perfect for providing shade protection for large patio tables, lounge sets and chaise lounges. Because the pole is on the side, the center of your gathering area is clear and without obstructions to your view.

A cantilever umbrella (often called an offset umbrella) has a central canopy that extends from a side pole. Like market umbrellas, the most common styles have a round canopy but they’re also available in squares and rectangles. This umbrella ranges from 10 to 13 feet for a residential-grade umbrella and up to 16 feet for a commercial-grade umbrella.

The large size is perfect for providing shade protection for large patio tables, lounge sets and chaise lounges. Because the pole is on the side, the center of your gathering area is clear and without obstructions to your view.

How to Determine the Perfect Patio Umbrella Size

To determine the right patio umbrella size for your outdoor dining table, add 48 inches to your table diameter to have enough shade for you and your guests. For example, a 48-inch table needs a minimum of a 96-inch canopy (48 inches for you plus 48 inches for the table). In this case, a 9-foot umbrella (108 inches) will completely shade the table and the diners, plus offer extra overhang to allow for the changing light patterns as the sun travels across the sky.

For lounge patio furniture, make sure the size of the canopy is large enough to completely cover the furniture set to provide adequate shade protection when the sun moves directly overhead. A 9-foot umbrella will shade two chairs or chaise lounges.

How to Choose a Quality Canopy Fabric

To get the most out of your patio umbrella investment, look for a canopy made from a quality performance material.

Because your patio umbrella will live outdoors, you'll want an all-weather fabric with at least a 4-year warranty against fading. A fade resistant fabric will keep its vibrant color longer and withstand UV rays better than canopies without fade resistant fabrics.

A 100% solution dyed acrylic, such as a Sunbrella fabric, is made to resist harmful UV rays. The fabrics are treated to be water resistant, mildew resistant and fade resistant. They're easy to clean, too -- simply hose them down or wash with a mild dish soap mixed with water, then allow the canopy material to air dry.

100% solution dyed polyesters are usually less expensive than a solution dyed acrylic like a Sunbrella fabric. These fabrics are water resistant, mildew resistant and fade resistant, and are easy to clean and maintain. Outdoor-rated polyester fabrics typically have a shorter warranty period than the acrylics. You will want to weigh the advantages of an additional warranty length against the increased cost.

Which Frame Material Should I Choose?

Most patio umbrellas come with either a wooden or an aluminum pole. Wooden poles often do not have a tilt mechanism, something to look for when considering patio umbrella options. They may also need additional maintenance to prevent mold or mildew.

We recommend an umbrella with an aluminum pole for its durability. Aluminum poles are rustproof, lightweight and strong. They're powder coated before getting a final finish coat of paint, creating a robust finish that's fade resistant. Scratches often can be covered by touchup paint.

We recommend Treasure Garden outdoor umbrellas for their durability and style. The umbrella frames are constructed of high-quality aluminum and powder coated before the finish paint is applied.

How to Choose a Quality Umbrella Stand

It's essential to choose a good, solid base so that your patio umbrella stays steady and stable in your outdoor space.

A market umbrella base should weigh at least 50 pounds if it's going into an occasional or outdoor dining table with an umbrella hole. The table will help provide extra weight and stability. For a free-standing patio umbrella, we recommend a heavier umbrella stand or adding weight to the base.

Look for quality materials and finish when choosing your umbrella stand, preferably made from cast iron or aluminum. Metal bases are typically heavier, stronger and easier to maintain than umbrella bases made of resin or plastic.

We recommend market umbrella bases from Treasure Garden. They're made of aluminum or cast iron and start at 50 pounds. A 30-pound add-on weight is available if your umbrella needs more weight to hold it down. The add-on weight is easy to attach to the umbrella stand by screwing it into the underside. This hides the umbrella weight from view and keeps the base profile low. The umbrella stands are powder coated before getting applied with the finish paint (available in four colors), making it easy to match your patio umbrella frame finish, your outdoor space, or your patio furniture.

The stem of the Treasure Garden umbrella stand comes in two sections, one 6.5 inches and the other 11 inches. The two sections can screw together to make a single stem of 17.5 inches. You should use the entire stem if your umbrella is freestanding. If your umbrella will go in an outdoor dining table, you can choose the section that fits the table base. Each stem piece has a bolt that secures the pole in the stem, adding more stability and strength.

Because of the size of the canopy and frame, a cantilever umbrella base will weigh a few hundred pounds. A smaller cantilever, with a canopy of 10 to 11 feet, should have a base that weighs at least 200 pounds. Larger cantilever umbrellas may need a base that weighs 400 pounds or more. Check the umbrella manufacturer's requirements and don't skimp on the base weight.

Recently, Treasure Garden introduced rolling bases for their cantilever umbrellas. The castors lock inside the base and are engaged when the drop pedal is activated. The rolling base allows you to wheel the umbrella into the optimal position as the sun moves across the sky. At the end of the season, you can easily push the umbrella against the house, garage or pool house to put it away.

Tilting Mechanisms: Push Button Tilt, Auto Tilt or Collar Tilt?

Look for an umbrella with a tilt mechanism so you can adjust the angle of the canopy as the sun changes location throughout the day. Most people are familiar with the traditional push button tilt. Auto tilt and collar tilt functions are newer and have their own features and benefits.

Read on for more umbrella tilt info:

Push button tilt. The push button tilt is activated by pushing a small button in the umbrella frame, releasing the canopy to tilt at a set angle, usually 45 degrees. A patio umbrella with a tilt mechanism offers good shade protection and is usually less expensive than other tilt options.

One drawback to a push button tilt is button placement. It's usually just under the umbrella canopy, which can be hard to reach for people who are short, or when the umbrella is in the center of an outdoor dining table.

Auto tilt. Many people prefer an umbrella with an auto tilt function because it's easier to operate and gives more choice in the tilt angle. Simply turn the crank lift handle to open the umbrella, then continue to crank the handle as the umbrella tilts. Once the patio umbrella reaches the perfect angle, stop cranking the handle. To return the canopy to the overhead position, turn the crank lift handle in the opposite direction.

The auto tilt function is easier to manage if you have arthritis in your hands or wrist as it requires less grip strength. It's also easier to use when the umbrella is in the center of a table since it doesn't require reaching up into the canopy.

Collar tilt. A newer tilt option is the collar tilt. To operate the collar tilt, simply twist the collar above the crank lift. As with the auto tilt umbrella, the canopy will continue to tilt as the collar is twisted. Stop twisting the collar when the canopy reaches the perfect angle for you.

Like the auto tilt, this is a great option for a patio umbrella that's in the center of a table since you don't have to reach up into the canopy to get the umbrella to tilt. It's also easier for people who are shorter since the tilt function is next to the crank lift. The umbrella can be a challenge to operate for people with arthritis or weak hand and wrist strength.

Pro Tip: Extend the Life of Your Umbrella with a Protective Cover

A protective umbrella cover can extend the life of your patio umbrella and help keep it clean. We suggest covering your umbrella when it won't be in use for extended periods of time, like an extended vacation or at the end of the season.

Treasure Garden makes a durable, breathable and water resistant cover that won't crack or peel, and will protect your umbrella from sun, rain, snow, wind and heat. Simply slip the cover over your umbrella and cinch it in place.

Pro Tip: Add LED Lights to Your Umbrella

Umbrellas offer more than sun protection when you add lights. LED lights, either attached to the pole or incorporated into the umbrella ribs, offer ambiance and let you continue to use and enjoy the umbrella past dark.

Treasure Garden offers three styles of LED lights that fit traditional market umbrellas. The LED lights easily clip around the center pole and come with a rechargeable battery. Treasure Garden's Luna LED light has a built-in Bluetooth speaker, perfect for parties or just relaxing. Each of these LED light units can remain attached to the center pole when you close the umbrella at the end of the day.

For peak drama and style, consider a Treasure Garden Starlux umbrella available in a 9-foot market umbrella or 13-foot cantilever. LED lights fill the ribs for a clean, modern look. The lights can be turned low or high and they're built to last with 20,000 lifetime hours of use.

Common Questions About Patio Umbrellas

Will this umbrella handle the wind?

Wind is one of the most damaging element a patio umbrella faces, so it's good to be prepared.

Make sure your umbrella has wind vents in the canopy to allow air move through it. Look for a market umbrella with at least one wind vent. A double-vented umbrella is available by special order if your location warrants it.

Look for two wind vents in a cantilever umbrella. These canopies are usually larger than those you find on a market umbrella, so two wind vents are needed to allow for good air flow.

Make sure you have the right umbrella base for your general weather conditions and how you plan to use the patio umbrella. A free-standing market umbrella needs more weight than an umbrella in an outdoor dining table. Also, look for an umbrella stand with bolts in the stem so you can secure the pole in the stand.

A quality patio umbrella will have ties built into the canopy. You should close up the umbrella each time you're ready to head indoors and secure the canopy with the ties. If ties aren't provided, invest in some small elastic cords to secure the canopy.

Does a light-colored umbrella canopy give the same UV protection as a dark-colored canopy?

UV protection comes from a quality umbrella fabric. Treasure Garden patio umbrellas have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating of 50 or better, regardless of fabric color. A fabric with a UPF rating of 50 will block about 98 percent of harmful UV rays.

How do I clean my patio umbrella?

A Treasure Garden patio umbrella can be cleaned quickly and easily. Start by brushing off any loose dirt from the fabric canopy and frame. A mild cleaner like a bit of dish soap in a bucket of warm (not hot) water can be used to wash the umbrella frame and canopy. Rinse your patio umbrella thoroughly and allow to air dry.

If you have a Treasure Garden umbrella, the canopy can easily be removed to treat tough stains. For a market umbrella, unscrew the finial and lift the canopy over the top. For a cantilever or offset umbrella, simply unzip the canopy at the finial and drop the canopy off the ribs.

If the canopy of your patio umbrella needs a stronger cleaner, we recommend using Treasure Garden Upholstery and Fabric Cleaner Spray or Treasure Garden Mold and Mildew Stain Remover Spray and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse the canopy thoroughly and allow it to air dry. Never steam press or dry the canopy in an electric or gas dryer, as it can cause the fabric to shrink or warp.

After cleaning, you may want to apply a protectant to your umbrella frame and canopy. FeronGard Outdoor Protectant Spray conditions the aluminum frame’s powder coated finish and adds UV protection. Trivantage 303 Fabric Guard Spray restores water repellency, stain resistance and UV protection.

How do I make sure my market umbrella fits my outdoor dining table?

There's nothing more frustrating than bringing home a great umbrella and discovering that it doesn't fit your table. Below are some dimensions to check when shopping for an umbrella.

Check the pole diameter. Most outdoor tables come with a 2-inch umbrella hole. This should fit most umbrellas; doublecheck the diameter when shopping.

Check the height of the umbrella crank mechanism. You want to be sure the crank mechanism clears the height of your tabletop. You need enough room to clear the table and be able to turn the crank.

Check the placement of the canopy when it's folded down. To keep your umbrella secured when not in use, you need to be able to completely fold down the canopy. Check to see if the bottom of the canopy hits the umbrella when folded. Some umbrella models will have canopies that extend below the crank lift.

Treasure Garden market umbrellas feature a center pole that comes in two parts that securely snap together below the crank lift. This makes storing your umbrella and installing it in a table easier. It also gives you flexibility in fitting your umbrella to your outdoor furniture. The standard base pole (the section below the crank lift) is 32 inches tall; base poles in 36 and 45 inches are available by special order to fit taller tables, such as counter and bar heights.

Do I need to take down and store my patio umbrella during the winter?

If possible, take down your market umbrella at the end of the season, put a cover on it and store it where it's protected from the elements. If you don't have room to store the umbrella away, use a quality water resistant cover like the Treasure Garden cover.

It isn't necessary to take down a cantilever or offset umbrella to store it over the winter if you have a good water resistant cover.

It's a good idea to clean your patio umbrella frame and canopy before covering or storing it for the winter.

What if something breaks?

Hey, accidents happen. From the umbrella finial to the base, most Treasure Garden umbrella parts can be replaced or repaired. We’ve helped people replace a crank lift handle after losing theirs in a move, order a new canopy when they changed their patio decor, and get a replacement base pole when they accidentally left their patio umbrella open on a windy day.

We’ve gleaned some basic tips to helping to extend the life of your patio umbrella:

  • Never leave an unattended umbrella open. Wind gusts can swirl or create updrafts that put pressure on canopy ribs and umbrella poles.

  • Secure the closed canopy. A quality patio umbrella has ties attached to the canopy. If your umbrella doesn't have attached ties, use an elastic cord.

  • Use a protective cover during the off-season. This reduces wear and tear from dust and UV rays and helps to keep the canopy clean.

Have More Umbrella Questions?

Patio umbrellas are an important outdoor accessory and we hope this umbrella buying guide helps you find the right umbrella and umbrella features for you. If you have more questions, our outdoor living experts are happy to help you.

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