If you’ve been to a backyard barbecue (or really any outdoor get-together) you’ve likely taken advantage of a patio umbrella’s cooling shade. They’re a must-have in the summer or any season when the sun or a few sprinkles may get in the way of a pleasant outside gathering. But for those in the market for a quality, patio umbrella there are a few things worth considering before “adding to cart.” Our outdoor living experts have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help guide you.
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General Patio Umbrella Questions
What are the different types of patio umbrellas available?
The different types of patio umbrellas available include the market umbrella, which is the most traditional and common type, defined by its central pole that supports the canopy; the cantilever or "offset" umbrella, known for its off-center or side pole design; and lighted umbrellas, which often include LED lights integrated into the umbrella’s structure for enjoyment after dark.
What size and shape outdoor umbrella is ideal?
The ideal size and shape of an outdoor umbrella depends on your outdoor space and the preferred use of that umbrella, be it with an outdoor dining or bar table or as a standalone. There are also a variety of styles and types, including market umbrellas, cantilever, titling, solar-powered, thatched or tiki, half or semi-circle, double-sided, square or rectangular, garden, and commercial-grade umbrellas. Our patio umbrella size guide can offer helpful considerations in finding out what size works best for you.
What pole or frame material is best for a patio umbrella?
The best umbrella pole or frame material for your patio umbrella depends on factors including climate, maintenance required, weight and portability, and aesthetic preference. Available materials include aluminum, fiberglass, steel, teak, and wood.
What are the different tilt mechanisms available for patio umbrellas?
Most patio umbrellas include tilt mechanisms that allow you to adjust the angle of the canopy. These various tilt mechanisms include push-button, crank, collar, auto-tilt, collapsible, rotating. Your ideal tilt mechanism is dependent on your patio umbrella wants and needs.
What kinds of fabric are available for patio umbrellas?
The canopy fabrics available on our site include Sunbrella, a high-performance outdoor fabric manufactured using 100% solution-dyed yarns; olefin, a synthetic fiber resistant to staining, fading, and mildew; and polyester, a synthetic fiber that’s durable and has high color retention.
What are the advantages of solar-powered patio umbrellas with built-in LED lights?
Solar-powered patio umbrellas with built-in LED lights are energy efficient as they use the sun instead of relying on electricity or batteries, which means long-term cost savings from reduced energy consumption. They’re also eco-friendly as they produce no greenhouse gas emissions and are convenient as many of these lights turn on automatically in the evening.
What are some popular accessories or add-ons for patio umbrellas?
Some of the most popular umbrella accessories include LED lights, umbrella covers, small tables that fit around the umbrella pole, and patio heaters. We also offer a wide variety of bases and stands.
How do I know if a patio umbrella is compatible with my outdoor dining set or seating arrangement?
To ensure that a patio umbrella is compatible with a dining set it is recommended that the appropriate measurements are made including whether the umbrella pole can fit in any designated space in the dining table, if the umbrella’s canopy can provide enough coverage over the table or seating area, and lastly, if the umbrella design matches the aesthetic of the dining set.
What are the best practices for ensuring the stability of a patio umbrella in windy conditions?
While most patio umbrellas are designed to withstand winds of up to 20mph, it is recommended that you close, cover, and store your patio umbrella inside if you are anticipating especially high winds. If that is not possible, consider weighing down the umbrella base with weights like concrete blocks, sandbags, or bricks. You can also tie down the umbrella, preferably in a sheltered spot.
What are the advantages of investing in a high-quality, durable patio umbrella compared to a more budget-friendly option?
By investing in a high-quality, durable patio umbrella owners can ensure better protection from harmful UV exposure thanks to superior fabrics. They can also enjoy higher-grade poles and frames, as well as sturdier lift and tilt mechanisms. Due to those superior fabrics and materials, high-quality patio umbrellas will last longer compared to more budget-friendly options, making them a better long-term investment. They often include better warranties.
What are the most common mistakes people make when selecting or using patio umbrellas, and how can they be avoided?
Common mistakes made when selecting a patio umbrella include not purchasing a base separately or buying a base that isn’t heavy enough to support the umbrella. Some buyers also elect to purchase lower-priced umbrellas made of low-quality materials, which are more likely to fade, fry, and break in the short term, in addition to such products offer lesser warranties.
How easy is a patio umbrella to use?
Depending on the style of patio umbrella, it may be necessary to ask a friend to help with the installation. Patio umbrellas are designed to be easy to operate. Lift methods vary, and a crank lift is generally considered easier to operate than a manual or pulley system. As for tilting, many umbrellas use the lift crank for tilting, which is very easy. Other methods may require a taller person to reach the tilt mechanism. Learn more about operation in our Patio Umbrella Buying Guide. Regarding setting the umbrella up, larger sizes can weigh in at over 30lbs., (plus the base) and cantilever umbrellas can exceed 100 lbs. including the base/stand, so you may need assistance setting up and taking down an umbrella.
Umbrella Size Questions
Don’t get caught outside in the elements with the wrong size patio umbrella! Instead, use our Outdoor Umbrella Size Guide to find out which size umbrella and base is best suited for your backyard.
What size and shape outdoor umbrella is ideal?
The ideal size and shape of patio umbrella depends on your outdoor space, specifically the square footage of the area and whether you have a dining set.
How do I determine the appropriate size of an umbrella for an outdoor table?
The Patio Umbrella Size Chart in our Outdoor Umbrella Size Guide provides the appropriate umbrella size and base recommended based on your table’s size.
What is the recommended height of an umbrella for dining tables, counter-height tables, and bar-height tables?
For the recommended heights of umbrellas for dining tables, counter-height tables, and bar-height tables, please see the Patio Umbrella Size Chart in our Outdoor Umbrella Size Guide.
Umbrella Base Questions
Do all patio umbrellas need a base?
Patio umbrellas are typically sold without a base (the exception is cantilever umbrellas, which include bases), though, we do recommend bases for all patio umbrellas. Before purchasing any patio umbrella see whether that specific model requires base, which is typically sold separately. Our Outdoor Umbrella Size Guide includes information about base sizes.
How heavy does a patio umbrella base need to be?
The primary purpose of a patio umbrella base is to provide stability and prevent the umbrella from tipping over. The larger the umbrella, the heavier the base should be. Here’s a rough estimate:
- 6’–6.5’: 35-pound base
- 7.5’–8’: 40–60-pound base
- 9’: 50–65-pound base
- 10’: 65–75-pound base
- 11’: 75-pound base
What kind of pool umbrella base is appropriate?
Due to its exposure to sun, water, chlorine, and possibly salt, a pool umbrella base should be made from weather-resistant materials, like resin, concrete, stainless steel, or plastic. It is also worth considering a base with built-in wheels to make it easier to move in the event of extreme weather conditions like high winds.
Umbrella Cleaning & Maintenance Questions
How do you clean a patio umbrella?
To clean a patio umbrella, follow these steps and be sure to wear protective gloves to prevent skin irritation:
- Remove loose dirt and debris.
- Mix a solution of mild soap and water or specialized fabric cleaner.
- Use a soft brush or sponge to scrub the fabric canopy.
- Rinse thoroughly with water.
- Allow the umbrella to air dry completely before storing it.
- Apply a fabric protector.
Be sure to check out our Patio Umbrella & Maintenance Tips for more instructions, including how to clean an umbrella frame and how to store your patio umbrella.
Can I leave a patio umbrella open all the time?
We do not recommend leaving a patio umbrella open all the time as exposure to the elements can lead to damage, fading, and reduced lifespan. It’s best to close and secure the umbrella when not in use.
Should I bring my patio umbrella in when it rains?
If possible, it is good practice to bring in your umbrella when it rains to limit exposure to the elements and extend its lifespan. Though if left outside, you should cover for added protection.
Do I need to oil my patio umbrella’s mechanism?
In the case of most modern patio umbrellas, their mechanisms do not require any oiling and we always recommend following a manufacturer’s instructions before any maintenance.
What wind speed should trigger closing my patio umbrella?
If winds exceed 10–15 mph, we recommend closing your patio umbrella and covering to prevent any potential damage. It’s a good idea to take down your umbrella when the wind exceeds or is forecast to exceed 20 mph.
Can I leave a patio umbrella out year-round, or is it recommended to store it during certain seasons?
We recommend storing your patio umbrella during the off-season (whenever that may be in your geographic location) in a dry, cool place indoors to prevent any unnecessary damage. We recommend storing your umbrella in a cover for added protection.
Are there any safety precautions I should take when using a patio umbrella, especially around children or pets?
Yes! When using a patio umbrella around kids or pets ensure that the umbrella is securely anchored and closed in the case of high winds. It is also best to supervise children and pets whenever using your patio umbrella to avoid incidents.
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