The patio umbrella

How to Choose the Right Patio Umbrella

The red patio umbrella

Every year we welcome the sunshine of spring and begin to get our outdoor living spaces in order, preparing for lounging, entertaining and relaxing during the lazy days of summer. We often remember summer days through rose colored glasses – sipping cool lemonade, feeling the dewy grass in between our toes and feeling like everything is moving just a little bit slower. What we tend to forget is how hot the sun’s rays can be, especially during peak hours of the daytime! If your backyard does not have trees to offer shade from the hot sun, a patio umbrella is the perfect décor accessory to provide both form and function to your outdoor living area. This spring, as you are preparing your patio for summer fun, consider finding the perfect umbrella to keep you cool in the summer sun.

With any good, durable product, you will want to take some factors into consideration prior to purchase. The right patio umbrella can help keep you cool, offer shade and block the damaging effects of the sun’s harmful UV rays all summer long. Choosing the right umbrella for your outdoor space can certainly add enjoyment to your summer activities. But it is not just about functionally, is it? You will also want an umbrella that is fashionable and aesthetically pleasing to the eye; luckily, that will not be hard to find! You can easily hone in on a practical umbrella in a lovely color or print to match your outdoor décor perfectly! But before you buy a patio umbrella from your neighborhood home improvement store or make a purchase online, here are a few things to consider as you are searching for the right patio umbrella:

  • Picking the Right Size:
  • No two outdoor spaces are equal, so make sure that your umbrella fits with your outdoor living area. First, determine how much shade you need to enjoy outdoor activities. Also, consider the size of the outdoor space you are working with; do not risk overcrowding your patio with too large of an umbrella. One pro tip is to choose an umbrella that is double the size of your patio table; for example, if you have a 4-foot round table, consider an umbrella that is 8-feet in diameter or figure that the umbrella should be 4 to 5 feet larger than the area that needs to be covered.

  • Determining the Height:
  • You will also want to consider the height of a patio umbrella so it both stays out of your way and provides enough shade; for example, the average pole height is 7-feet. Another question to ask is will you need a table umbrella or a free-standing one? A table umbrella is great if you already have an outdoor dining table and a free-standing umbrella is a perfect option if you need to cast shade on a larger area. Another consideration is that table umbrellas are typically more cost effective than the free-standing options. The decision is yours based on your budget and shade requirements.

  • ​Selecting the Tilt Mechanism:
  • There are also variations in the design of the umbrella pole; some are straight up and down and others tilt, so consider the model that will provide ample shade for your patio area. For instance, a tilted model can easily be adjusted throughout the day as the sun moves from the east to the west. If you typically spend the entire day in your outdoor living space, this might be the best fit for you! There are a couple of different types of tiling mechanisms as well; these tilting options are typically featured on patio umbrellas in sizes that can accommodate an average-sized backyard space nicely:

    Patio umbrellas
    • Crank and Tilt – this feature allows you to rotate the angle of the canopy to block out sun in any direction throughout the day.
    • Cantilever – this design hangs to the side of the umbrella frame, with a curved arm that supports the canopy. The cantilever design enables the umbrella to rotate a full 360 degrees.

    With either of these tilting options, you will enjoy sun protection all day long!

  • ​Selecting the Fabric:
  • Since your patio umbrella will be used exclusively in outdoor weather, be sure that the materials that make up the umbrella can withstand both sun and rain. The most common types of material used for patio umbrellas are PVC, canvas, and shade cloth, all able to effectively block out most of the sun’s harmful UV rays. When encountering rainy weather, remember that not all materials are waterproof, so be sure to pay attention to the type of material that makes up your umbrella. There are also two different type of frame construction, wood and metal. If you live in an area that tends to experience heavy winds, consider a material with a little more give, like aluminum, which bends (instead of breaking) in the wind. Also, check out the open/close feature (manual vs. crank) and whether the umbrella has a tilt feature. These will be important options to consider as you are envisioning how you will use your patio umbrella throughout a sunny day.

  • Accounting for the Base:
  • As with anything sturdy, you must have a strong foundation, and a patio umbrella is no different. Regardless of whether you have a table model or free-standing umbrella, be sure to secure the base properly to prevent shifting from the wind or other factors. Free-standing umbrellas tend to require a stronger base than a table umbrella. Remember, the larger the umbrella, the bigger the base!

    Only you can know exactly how much shade you need to enjoy the outdoors this summer. Regardless of how much time you spend in the summer sun or which activities you plan, you are sure to find a functional and stylish patio umbrella that will totally fit your needs. So, cheers to taking a nap in a hammock underneath your free-standing umbrella, followed by lounging near the pool under the shade of a cantilever tilt and sipping refreshing cocktails with friends beneath your very own patio umbrella – nothing beats finding the perfect fit to comfortably enjoy your outdoor living space this summer!