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Patio Umbrella Buying Guide
Choosing the best patio umbrella for an outdoor space is easy. Choices like umbrella style, frame material, and lift method will depend largely on where the umbrella will be used and what it will be used for. Maybe a specialty shape umbrella is needed for a specific space or a lighted umbrella for hosting an upscale dinner party. Take a look at the Guide to Patio Umbrella & Base Sizes for information on what size umbrella and umbrella base you'll need for different types of patio sets. For more information on frame materials and outdoor fabrics, the Guide to Outdoor Furniture Materials lists the advantages and disadvantages of popular materials.
Things to Consider When Buying an Umbrella:
- Market Umbrellas - Market umbrellas are constructed with 4 to 8 crossbars coming off a center pole for support, and are available in many different shapes and sizes. Market umbrellas can be used freestanding or with a patio table that will accommodate the pole.
- Cantilever & Offset Umbrellas - This refers to any type of patio umbrella that does not have a center pole. While constructed similar to market umbrellas, the cantilever style has a pole located either to the side or on the outside of the canopy. Cantilever umbrellas will provide needed shade without obstructing the view between guests.
- Garden/Drape Umbrellas - This style of umbrella closely resembles a rain umbrella with an aluminum center pole and many steel ribs to support the fabric. Drape umbrellas usually have a valance extending down from the edge of the umbrella.
- Lighted Umbrellas - Some umbrellas have LED lights along the ribs underneath the canopy. These add a level of ambiance for a night on the patio. They can also be used during the day as a normal patio umbrella.
- Sunbrella - A high-performance 100% solution-dyed acrylic, Sunbrella is one of the most well-known brands in the outdoor furniture industry. Made to withstand rain, UV rays, fading, and stains, it's easy to clean and mildew resistant.
- Olefin - A great choice if looking for an affordable option without having to sacrifice quality. Olefin is a highly durable synthetic material with improved fade resistance over lesser grade fabrics.
- Polyester - A quick-drying, synthetic fabric. Polyester is an affordable choice that will bring several seasons of enjoyment.
- Vinyl - A strong, economical plastic that is moisture resistant.
- Aluminum Umbrellas - The most common material for umbrella frames, aluminum is lightweight, naturally rust resistant, and has the strength to support umbrellas in windy conditions. Aluminum is available in many different colors and finishes.
- Wood Umbrellas - Usually made from teak or something comparable, wood umbrella frames offer a timeless and elegant look. Although beautiful, they do require a little extra care compared to other frame types.
- Fiberglass Umbrellas - A fiberglass frame is the best option for extremely windy areas. Strong and flexible, they withstand wind better than any other material. Fiberglass is also resistant to saltwater, so they're great for coastal locations.
- Manual - A manual lift umbrella is raised by physically pushing up the canopy and securing it with a pin underneath the hub.
- Pulley - An advancement to the push-up system, pulley umbrellas use an integrated cord system that raises and lowers the canopy by pulling a string.
- Crank - The most convenient lift method, this system incorporates an internal pulley that uses an external crank to raise and lower the canopy.
- Push Button - A button on the umbrella is pushed in to release a lock that allows the umbrella to tilt. Once the button is released, the umbrella locks back into place.
- Collar - An umbrella with a collar tilt uses a ring (or collar) located above the crank mechanism to engage the tilting system.
- Crank - A crank is used to tilt the umbrella. Sometimes, the same crank is used for raising and lowering the canopy as well as tilting the umbrella to desired position, which is also known as Auto-Tilt.
- Rotational - For umbrellas with rotational tilt, any of the ribs can be pushed in a clockwise direction to tilt the umbrella until the desired tilt is reached. For the umbrella to get back to an upright position, any rib can be rotated in a counter clockwise direction.
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