4 Expert Tips To Choose A Patio Umbrella

Investing in a high-quality patio umbrella means that you'll be able to enjoy the outdoors without having to worry about the heat and harsh rays of the sun. There are many factors that influence how good a patio umbrella is, ranging from the canopy material to the weight of the base, which may make this process a whole lot more confusing. 

That's why we've compiled some expert tips to make choosing a patio umbrella much easier!

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How big should my patio umbrella be?

  • As a general rule, the height of your umbrella should be no less than 7 feet, no matter how large or small the area you're using it in.
  • If you plan to cover a table and seats, make sure the umbrella extends over the table by 2 feet on each side.
  • Make sure to use exact measurements as having a largely oversized umbrella can be too overwhelming, which will throw off the balance of your patio.

How heavy should my patio umbrella base be?

Choosing the correct weight of the umbrella base is crucial! If the base is too light, you run the risk of your umbrella falling over or even flying away if there are strong winds. If the base is too heavy, it'll make maneuvering the umbrella incredibly difficult.

  • The ideal base weight for table umbrellas is between 20 lbs and 40 lbs.
  • They only need lightweight bases as they have the additional support of the table.
  • Free-standing patio umbrellas need a minimum of 50 lbs in base weight.
  • The weight should be proportional to the umbrella's diameter.
  • A 6 foot umbrella should have a 60 lbs weight, a 7 foot umbrella should have a 70 lbs weight, and so on.
Beige Octagonal Metal Cantilever Umbrella
Polyester Striped Color Octagonal Beach Umbrella
Black Octagonal Metal Cantilever Umbrella
Aqua Polyester Round Market Umbrella
Green Polyester Hexagonal Market Umbrella
Taupe Polyester Octagonal Illuminated Umbrella

What type of patio umbrella should I buy?

The type of patio umbrella you should get is very much dependent on your needs, as well as your available budget. There are only three main types, each with different pros and cons that are outline below to help you make an informed decision.

Need something small and simple? => Table umbrella

Table umbrellas are one of the most common types of patio umbrella as they're lightweight and relatively cheap.

They offer protection to both the people around the table and the furniture itself.

Also, these umbrellas are only slightly bigger than standard hand-held umbrellas, so they can be stored very easily.

However, you can usually only adjust their height, so they may not always provide the best protection from every angle since the sun is constantly moving.

Table umbrellas are also usually quite flimsy, as they do partially rely on the table for support, so they're not recommended for areas with strong winds.

Black White Stripe Octagonal Table Market Umbrella
Tan Hexagonal Table Market Umbrella
Black Polyester Round Table Umbrella
Off White Square Table Market Umbrella
Navy Hexagonal Table Market Umbrella
Burnt Orange Polyester Table Market Umbrella

Want something adjustable? => Tilting umbrella

This is a very similar design to the table umbrella, with the only major difference being a pivoting feature.

This means that the umbrella can rotate around the pole, allowing for maximum protection from the sun.

Tilting umbrellas are usually more expensive than table umbrellas, but are definitely worth the money - you don't want you and your guests having to move every half hour or so just to hide from the sun!

Navy Polyester Square Tilting Market Umbrella
Octagonal LED Light Tilting Market Umbrella
Cobalt Polyester Hexagonal Tilting Market Umbrella
Navy Dark Blue Polyester Tilting Umbrella
White Polyester Octagonal Tilting Beach Umbrella
Beige Polyester Tilting Market Umbrella

Love a bit of luxury? => Cantilever umbrella

Cantilever umbrellas are a more luxurious version of tilting umbrellas - these umbrellas are often used commercially in expensive hotels!

Their large, heavy bases allow the pole to be more of an off-set arm, rather than having it go through the middle of the canopy, giving cantilever umbrellas a much larger movement area.

Everything from the pole to the canopy is made from heavy-duty materials, so this type of umbrella will be able to withstand almost anything.

Cantilever umbrellas are the most expensive type of patio umbrella, and the price can even go into the thousands, so keep this in mind if you're on a budget.

Lavender Blue Hexagonal Cantilever Umbrella
Sand Polyester Square Cantilever Umbrella
Bug Polyester Square Cantilever Umbrella
Black Polyester Square Cantilever Umbrella
Grey Polyester Octagonal Cantilever Umbrella
Yellow Polyester Octagonal Cantilever Umbrella

What is the best patio umbrella material?

A good patio umbrella canopy will be made out of a durable, weather-resistant fabric, and will ideally be on the cheaper side. There are many materials like that, which is why we have a summary of the most popular types to help you choose!

Want a great all-rounder? => Acrylic

Acrylic fabric is considered to be one of the best material options for patio umbrella canopies as it is able to resist wind, rain, and sun without damage.

It's proven to provide up to 98% UV ray protection and is even resistant to mold.

Acrylic canopies are quite versatile as they are available in a range of colors and patterns.

It is, however, one of the most expensive patio umbrella canopy materials.

Red Acrylic Octagonal Market Umbrella
Tan Acrylic Octagonal Cantilever Umbrella
Forest Green Acrylic Octagonal Market Umbrella
White Acrylic Rectangular Market Umbrella
Sunbrella Acrylic Octagonal Market Umbrella
Aruba Sunbrella Acrylic Octagonal Market Umbrella

Live in a particularly rainy area? => Polyester

Although patio umbrellas are usually only supposed to withstand the sun, you may not always have the ability to take your umbrella down or move it indoors once it starts raining -- that where polyester comes in!

Polyester is a naturally hydrophobic material, meaning that it won't absorb any water and will dry much faster than other fabrics, making it ideal for wet and rainy environments.

The fabric is pretty resistant to chemicals, so you can clean it with bleach or chlorine without having to worry about ruining it.

It's also usually much cheaper than other patio umbrella canopy materials.

However, this material isn't super breathable, meaning that it may be prone to mold and mildew if not taken care of properly.

Lime Green Polyester Octagonal Cantilever Umbrella
Navy Blue Polyester Rectangular Market Umbrella
Blue Striped Polyester Hexagonal Market Umbrella
Red Polyester Hexagonal Beach Umbrella
Polyester Wood Octagonal Cantilever Umbrella
Red Polyester Round Cantilever Umbrella

Need a compromise between price and durability? => Olefin

Olefin is a cheaper alternative to acrylic patio umbrella canopies.

It's a bit less durable but can still stand up to heat and moisture pretty well.

This fabric is much more lightweight than other materials, making it a good choice if you plan to move your umbrella around a lot - it won't add too much to the overall weight of the umbrella.

Just like with polyester, you can confidently clean olefin canopies using chlorine or bleach as it is strong enough to withstand those chemicals, although the material is pretty resistant to stains anyway!

Royal Blue Olefin Octagonal Market Umbrella
Light Gray Olefin Octagonal Cantilever Umbrella
Terrace Seqouia Olefin Octagonal Market Umbrella
Blue Olefin Hexagonal Market Umbrella
Beige Olefin Octagonal Market Umbrella
Teal Olefin Round Market Umbrella

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.