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What You Should Keep in Mind When Buying an Outdoor Patio Umbrella

Don’t Buy Cheap Umbrellas

Adding the right shade product to your outdoor space is an important decision. The experts here at Umbrella Specialists are standing by to help you with finding the right one for you and your family.

Here are some of the top considerations / tips when making this important purchase to add the perfect umbrella for your outdoor patio, balcony, terrace, and pool area.


Quality / Budget

The first consideration, regardless of your budget should be quality. In a word: This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on a good one but the old saying “you get what you pay for”, is especially true with an umbrella which typically is exposed to the elements: wind, rain, sun and in some cases, salt air.

Whatever your budget it, make sure the brand stands behind their product. Many “good deals” you see in a big box store or even online aren’t as good as they seemed. If you’ve ever been tempted to buy a cheap patio umbrella from a big box store, you probably learned this lesson the hard way – the canopy fabric fades and tears, canopy ribs break and are not replaceable, pulley systems bind up or break, and the lightweight umbrella base was not enough to keep the umbrella from flying up and out of your yard. If the patio is a place where you plan to spend any real quality time, invest in a patio umbrella that will stand up to the elements and provide shade for years to come.

Climate / Wind Resistance

What type of climate do you live in?

Windy Areas – Umbrella canopies are not unlike the sail on a boat, so locations with high wind require certain considerations. Wind gusts can bend or break canopy ribs, snap poles, or pull umbrellas out of their bases and send them flying three doors down. If you live in a windy area, here are some things to consider:

  • Buy a quality patio umbrella with flexible, replaceable canopy ribs, a large diameter pole, and an extra-heavy base.
  • Keep your umbrella closed when not in use. And an umbrella cover can really help increase the life of the canopy.

Seaside areas – If you live near the ocean, consider a patio umbrella with an aluminum pole that will not rust or deteriorate from the moist, salty air. Look for canopies available in fabrics that are UV-protected, resistant to mildew, and easy to clean.

High Altitude – Higher altitudes mean closer proximity to the sun and more intense rays beaming down on your umbrella canopy. Over time, this can result in fading and accelerated deterioration. All of our umbrella canopies are designed for intense outdoor sun, but Sunbrella fabrics in particular are renowned for their enduring color and UV protection, and offer a 5-year warranty against fading, mildew, and more. Spuncrylic fabrics carry a 2-year warrenty.

Depending on the area you live the wind factor will be different. But it is probably the most important consideration when choosing an umbrella because if it can’t hold up to the amounts of wind you get in your area, the color doesn’t really matter! So with that in mind choose an umbrella that won’t blow over in a strong gust of wind. Getting the right base is equally important and is discussed here.

Some of our Bambrella brand products are rated up to 78 mph for areas that really get a lot of wind, like off a lake or on the ocean.

Coverage and Size – What do you want to shade?

Whether you plan to shade a full table or just a pair of chairs, aim to cover an additional two feet on each side. So, if you have a round table that’s 48 inches in diameter, you’ll want an umbrella that’s at least 8 feet in diameter. This is just a general guideline.

For 2-8 person dining tables, a traditional market umbrella is probably the best choice. These umbrellas feature a center pole that mounts through a hole in the center of your dining table and rests in a weighted base. These umbrellas feature ribbed canopies and can be opened and closed via a crank or simple pulley system. Available in sizes up to 13 ft. in diameter, many market umbrellas have a tilt feature for optimum shade throughout the day. The canopies are available in a variety of fabric grades and colors.

Tip: For proper coverage, choose a canopy that is 5 ft. larger in diameter than the area you want to shade.

NOTE: Umbrella diameter / pole size: Make sure the umbrella you get has the right hole size for the table it will go in. While most patio tables are have a standard umbrella hole of approximately 2 inches, some tables have bigger holes and a standard umbrella will move around too much in these tables. Conversely some umbrellas ONLY come in large pole diameters and won’t fit in a standard table.

Depending on the areas you want to cover, a cantilever also known, as an offset umbrella might be the perfect shade solution. These umbrellas not only rotate on their base to offer coverage in adjacent areas but much tilt as well allowing you to change the angle of the canopy as the sun moves.

Bambrella Levante Side Wind (Offset) Bamboo Patio Umbrellas
Bambrella Levante Side Wind (Offset) Bamboo Patio Umbrellas

Height

Although most outdoor patio umbrellas average seven or eight feet high, if you’re on the taller side, or someone in your family is, you might want to go higher. Many center pole umbrellas have an option for a “bar height” pole which will raise the height of the canopy to fit in a bar or high top table.

Tilt Method

As the sun changes positions in the sky during the day, it’s important to be able to change the position of the umbrella canopy. You can generally pick between a collar tilt, crank tilt, and a push-button tilt; these vary in ease of use. One of our outdoor experts can help you choose the right one for you.

As discussed above, an offset / cantilever umbrella can provide tilt coverage and like standard center pole umbrellas, there are different methods of titling functionality.

Material

Umbrellas come in a few basic varieties of materials: Aluminum, Natural Bamboo and Wood (teak).

Aluminum: Umbrellas made from aluminum are rust free and are available in different finishes from a chrome look to powder coated colors (bronze, black gold etc.) These durable products will withstand the harshest environments.

Bamboo: Umbrella Specialist is proud to carry Bambrella’s line of Natural Bamboo Umbrellas. Different from wood, Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, able to grow on 80% of the world’s surface. Sustainable and renewable bamboo minimizes impact on the environment and there is no illegal logging or deforestation. Made from 100% solid laminated Moso bamboo strips Bambrella’s bamboo umbrellas are naturally strong and very durable, with a tensile strength similar to steel. They are resistant to warping, splitting, rot, mold and mildew with No splinters or leaching.

Wood: Umbrellas made from wood can come in different types of hardwoods, including teak. A good wood umbrella, such as one from Galtech will have up to six layers of marine grade varnish to protect and beautify the wood. Teak wood offers great durability, beauty & strength and is one of the best materials for an umbrella. Teak requires little or low maintenance depending entirely on the look you want. If left untreated, it will weather to a silvery grey color, but will keep its durability and strength for years to come. Treating it with teak oil, varnish or other finish, will enable it to keep is new bright honey golden color.

Fabric

Don’t forget to coordinate your new umbrella with your other patio furniture. You don’t have to match everything perfectly, but keep the other pieces in mind so your new umbrella doesn’t clash. The brands we carry at Umbrellas Specialists have a wide selection of outdoor fabrics in everything from classic solids to vibrant stripes!

Replaceable Parts

Even with proper care and maintenance, there is the old expression “Stuff Happens” for a reason. If nothing else, a reason to purchase your umbrella from Umbrella Specialists is that on all our high quality brands, the parts are replaceable. So if an umbrella component such as a rib, hub, or cable should break for some reason, you aren’t left out in the cold the way you would be if you bought that “deal” you saw at a Big Box Store.

Warranty

While they vary from brand to brand and can differ depending on usage (commercial / residential) our manufacturers offer some of the best warranties in the industry.

So if you want to purchase the right umbrella for your outdoor living area, give us a call today at (954) 376-3766. Our experts are standing by to help you along every step of the way to get you the perfect shade solution.