The Patio Umbrella Buying Guide

Choosing the right patio umbrella can be easy when you know what you are looking for in terms of style, lift method, tilt method, fabric and frame material.

Decisions, decisions. Choosing the right patio umbrella can be easy when you know what you are looking for in terms of style, lift method, tilt method, fabric and frame material. But what if you don't? Our guide has been created to help you determine what elements to take into consideration when you pick your patio umbrella of choice. We broke down the different kinds of frames, styles, fabrics, lift methods etc. so you can shop for an outdoor patio umbrella confidently and worry-free.

The Different Styles:

- Garden/ Drape Umbrellas - 

Resembling a rain umbrella with an aluminum center pole and steels ribs for the fabric to be supported. 

7.5' Garden Drape Umbrella by Fiberbuilt Umbrellas


- Market Umbrellas -

These umbrellas can be used with a patio dining table or freestanding. Available in many shapes and sizes, the market umbrellas are built with 4 to 8 crossbars coming off a center pole for support and come in different frame finishes (usually wood, aluminum or fiberglass). The standard pole width of market umbrellas is 1.5".

9' Sun Master Series Market Aluminum Umbrella by California Umbrella


- Cantilever / Offset Umbrellas -

Any type of patio umbrella that does not include a center pole. The cantilever umbrellas have a pole located either to the side or on the outside of the canopy. The advantage to the cantilever umbrellas is that the pole does not obstruct the view between the guests. Can usually be positioned at an angle if desired.

10' Round Roma Offset Cantilever Umbrella by PatioDepot

The Lift Methods:

Crank: This system incorporates an internal pulley that uses an external crank to raise and lower the canopy. The crank method is considered the most convenient lift method.

Push: Raised manually by pushing up the canopy and securing it with a pin.

Pulley: an advanced push method system where an integrated cord system raises and lowers the canopy through the pull of a string

The Tilt Methods:

Collar: A collar tilt uses a ring located above the crank to engage the tilting system

Push Button: A button is pushed to release a lock that permits the umbrella to be tilted. The umbrella locks back into place once the button is released.

Auto-Tilt/ Crank: The same crank that is used to raise and lower the canopy also allows for the ability to tilt the umbrella to a desired position

The Fabrics:

Vinyl: Strong and economical plastic that is also resistant to moisture

Polyester: Quick drying, synthetic fabric which is also an affordable and durable choice

Olefin: If you are looking for something affordable without scarifying quality, olefin is a very durable synthetic with better fade resistance than lower graded fabrics.

Sunbrella: One of the most well-known brands in the outdoor furniture industry. High performance fabric that is 100% solution-dyed acrylic. Highly durable, it withstands rain, UV rays, stains and fading while being mildew resistant and easy to maintain.

The Frames:

Fiberglass Umbrellas:  The best option for windy areas. Flexible and strong, they handle the wing better than any other frame material. These are great for coastal location as they are also saltwater resistant

Aluminum Umbrellas: The most common material used for umbrella frames. These are available in many different colors and finishes. Light weight, naturally rust proof and resistant to the wind.

Wood umbrellas:  Usually made of teak or a comparable material. Timeless and elegant look. However, they do require additional maintenance and care in comparison to the other types of frames

More Buying Guides

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Caring For Your Outdoor Sunbrella Fabric

Sunbrella outdoor fabrics are designed and engineered to survive the toughest weather conditions and should stay looking new for years to come when properly cared for.

Your Guide to Outdoor Furniture Cleaning

This guide will help you to properly clean and care for your outdoor patio furniture, which does require regular cleaning and maintenance in order to preserve its original appearance.

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