Patio Umbrella Comparison
Patio Umbrella Buying Guide
The size of the patio umbrella you choose is an important decision. You want it to match the size of the table or the area you want to provide shade for without looking unbalanced. There are many different sizes of patio umbrellas available. We have listed the different sizes below along with the number of people that size will accommodate.
- 5 to 7 feet – Pair this size with a table that is 30” to 36”. If using as a freestanding umbrella you can expect it to shade 4 to 5 people standing up.
- 7 ½ to 9 feet – This is a good size for a table that is 36” to 48”. If people are standing and not sitting, this size umbrella will accommodate 6 to 7 people standing and milling around.
- 9 ½ to 11 feet – A table that measures 48” to 60” works well with this size umbrella. It can also provide shade for 7 to 8 people standing up.
- 11 ½ to 13 feet – this monster umbrella works great for large outdoor tables measuring 60” to 72”. If you are using it as a freestanding umbrella it can accommodate 9 to 10 people standing.
Types of Patio Umbrellas
There are many different types of patio umbrellas on the market. Each of them have different characteristics. We have listed the different types below for you to consider.
- Market – The most popular style of patio umbrellas is the market umbrella. It has a clean edge with 7 or 8 ribs that come out from the center support.
- Beach – Beach style patio umbrellas have loose flaps around the edge for a decorative, vintage look.
- Cantilever – A cantilever patio umbrella has an arched design that allows the stand of the umbrella to be off to the side and the umbrella can be directly over a seating area or table and chairs.
- Drape – The squared off edge of the drape style patio umbrella features a flap that hangs off the edge or each side of the umbrella.
- Illuminated – The built-in lighting that is part of the illuminated patio umbrella adds a beautiful look to your outdoor area. The lighting runs along the lines of the frame and ribs.
- Wall Mount – A wall mount patio umbrella mounts to a pole or wall so it does not take up any floor space. It is a very convenient way to provide shade for your outdoor gatherings and time spent just hanging out on the deck or patio reading a book or having a glass of wine.
Common Patio Umbrella Pole Materials
The pole of your patio umbrella can be made of several different materials. We have listed the most common materials below along with their characteristics and features.
- Wood – Patio umbrellas that have a wood handle are very stylish and the mist decorative of the choices. They look beautiful with wooden patio dining sets and come in many different sizes. The wooden poles and frames open and close with a pulley, crank style or sometimes they can be the push up method. Although wooden poles are hard to find that offer the tilting feature, they are around but they may cost a lot more.
- Aluminum – The most common and durable of all the pole choices is the aluminum pole. Aluminum is popular because it is very strong, long lasting and rust-resistant too. The majority of aluminum umbrella poles use the crank method to open and close the umbrella. Some may have the push up method as well. A lot of the aluminum patio umbrella poles have a tilt feature for even more versatility. They come in a variety of finishes to match any type of outdoor furniture.
- Steel – Steel is less expensive than aluminum and offers many of the same features. The main reason steel is less expensive is because it does not offer the same rust-resistance that aluminum has. Steel poles are also heavier which can be a problem in a strong wind. Some steel umbrella poles may be coated with a powder coating that can help reduce the chances of rust but these coatings will wear off after a time.
Different Lift Methods
“Lift” is how the patio umbrella opens and closes. There are three basic ways that a patio umbrella will open. We have described these three methods below.
- Push Up Method – To use the push up method, grab the collar of the umbrella and push it up. Keep pushing up until it locks into place at which point the umbrella will be fully opened. To get it to close, you will need to push in the pin which automatically disengages the umbrella so it can be pulled all the way down.
- Crank Method – Another common method of opening and closing the patio umbrella is the crank method. The handle of the crank is usually in the center of the pole. Turning the crank lifts the pole. To close the umbrella, reverse the direction you turn the crank until it is all the way closed.
- Pulley Method – This is the least common method and involves a rope or cord that is integrated into the design of the pole. Pull on the rope or cord to expand the umbrella and open it. The umbrella will be held open by a pin.
As the sun moves overhead, it will be necessary to have different shading angles. Having the umbrella straight up and down will work for a time but it is best to have a tilting patio umbrella to accommodate all of the directions that the sun can come from. Not all patio umbrellas have the tilting capability but they are definitely more convenient and provide much more sun protection than those umbrellas that don’t have it. There are three different types of tilting methods. We have listed them below.
- Crank Tilt – These types of patio umbrellas are very easy to use. A crank is used to open the umbrella and also tilt the top. This makes it very easy to block the sun the way you need to without having to move the umbrella itself.
- Push-Button Tilt – Push button tilt umbrellas are less expensive than crank models but the push button method isn’t always that easy to use. The user pushes the button and then arranges the tilt to the desired angle. It is much easier to use the push button method if two people work on it together. Once the desired tilting angle is achieved, release the push button and the umbrella will lock into place.
- Collar Tilt – This is another easy method to operate. Instead of dealing with buttons or cranks, all you have to do is twist the collar to adjust the angle of the umbrella. You don’t even have to stand up to adjust the angle when using the collar tilt method. Twisting the collar the opposite direction straightens the umbrella up.
If you prefer not to use your patio umbrella with a table you will want to look for offset patio umbrellas. Instead of the pole being in the center it is off to the side. Many of the offset styles have umbrellas that move from side to side. Some will even move a full 360 degrees. Most offset umbrellas are 9 to 13 feet in diameter and accommodate several standing people.
Lights for Ambience
If you want to add a ton of ambience to your patio umbrella, think about umbrella lights. Some umbrellas have LED lights that are integrated into the ribs of the umbrella. You don’t have to purchase umbrellas that already have the lights. You can also purchase umbrella lights separately for any patio umbrella you purchase.
Wind Resistant Patio Umbrellas
If you want to ensure that your patio umbrella won’t turn inside out during a windy day or storm, the answer is in the ribs that the umbrella has. They can be made of metal or heavy duty fiberglass. Fiberglass is the key for windy climates. It allows the umbrella to flex and bend when it is windy instead of snapping or allowing the umbrella to turn inside out. Fiberglass ribs are resistant to salt air, a lot of moisture and will last up to 5 times longer than regular patio umbrellas made of steel or wood.
Patio umbrellas are designed to provide your outdoor entertaining area with shade so you and your guests can be comfortable even on hot, sunny days. With so many different choices available, you are guaranteed to find one that works well with your outdoor furniture and needs.
We have suggested three patio umbrellas that are top rated choices due to their durability, quality, and design. Any one of them is going to provide you with an attractive, functional umbrella that will make your gatherings, cookouts, and pool parties much more comfortable for everyone.
If you haven’t found what you’re looking for yet, use the information you have learned from this guide to help you sort through all the different styles and choices so you can make a decision that will fit everything you are looking for.
- Tropishade – http://www.tropishade.com/
- Abba Patio – http://www.abbapatio.com/
- California Umbrella – http://www.californiaumbrella.com/