Outdoor Umbrellas
Guide to Sizes, Shapes, Fabrics and Frames

Your guide to outdoor umbrellas will help you in selecting the the most durable, fade resistant fabric, the right weight patio umbrella base, and the best size umbrella for different seating arrangements. 

patio umbrella guide to frames, fabrics and sizes

With just a little forethought you can enjoy your patio umbrella season after season without having to replace it annually because the fabric has faded, the ribs have broken, or you find it too hard to open and close.  

Think about where your patio umbrella will be used, what are your opening/closing options, and how long you want to keep this piece of pool furniture to make the smartest buy that meets your needs.

Pool Umbrellas

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Pool umbrellas are a must around the pool, patio or deck.

pool umbrellas

Our summers in Georgia, and especially the record heat of this summer, made our outdoor umbrellas one of the best pool furniture investments we've made - in fact we have 4 of them but our favorite ones are the ones made from Sunbrella fabric and Coolaroo fabric.

They keep us shaded and cool in the hot sun and protect us if there is a light drizzle or rain.

There are so many attractive styles to choose from.

But before you buy your next patio umbrella there are a couple of things you should know, besides what color to chose.

Outdoor Patio Umbrellas

outdoor patio umbrella

Outdoor patio umbrellas comes in 4 main different styles.

They are:

1. Through a patio table

2. Freestanding patio umbrella

3. Offset or cantilevered patio umbrella

4. One that attaches to a Balcony or Railing.

Decide where you will be using your outdoor umbrellas.  Freestanding umbrellas require a heavier base than those that go through a patio table.  In our case we have 3 of them.

We own two through a patio table and one small free standing one to provide shade to our chaise lounge.

What Size and Shape Patio Umbrella?

Outdoor umbrellas come in three basic shapes - round, square and rectangular.

what size patio umbrella

Patio Umbrella Size. Here are some guidelines:

4.5' to 6' Umbrella - Covers up to 30" café and bistro sets

7' to 7.5' Umbrella - Covers up to 36" café and bistro sets

9' to 10' Umbrella - Covers up to 48" round or square tables

11' Umbrella - Covers up to 60" round or square dining tables and 72" oval and rectangular tables with 6 chairs

Sunbrella Umbrellas

Four Sunbrella umbrellas have found a place around our pool deck and patio area.

From large patio umbrellas to cantilever umbrellas, you can purchase one with confidence knowing that they will maintain their vibrant rich color and stay mold and mildew free.

Sunbrella Umbrellas

Patio Umbrella Pole & Frame

Trying to decide if you want a wood or aluminum patio umbrella frame? The frame consists of the pole, the ribs, the finial and the mechanism for opening and closing the umbrella.

patio umbrella pole and frame

A patio umbrella frame comes in either wood, aluminum or fiberglass. A wood market umbrella offers a more classic look, but the aluminum frame is usually more durable and practical.

How your umbrella opens is another important consideration. Being a total of 5' means that a manual lift with a pin and hole just isn't practical for me.

To learn about the benefits and disadvantages of each of these frames and the different opening mechanisms go to:

Patio Umbrella Pole and Frame

Tilt Patio Umbrella

sunbrella market umbrella

If your outdoor area is exposed to the sun for several hours consider getting a tilt patio umbrella. Before we took down 26 trees last winter, we had shade most of the morning and most of the afternoon.

We didn't need the tilt feature then...but now the pool area is exposed to the sun most of the day (which is warming up our pool nicely).

There are different kinds of mechanisms that will tilt your umbrella - the push button and crank mechanisms are the most popular. Patio table umbrellas need to protect you from the sun whether it's in the morning, noon or late afternoon.

To get this full protection you need a sun protection umbrella that has an easy to operate tilt feature.

Not all tilting patio umbrellas are easy to use - especially if you're 5 feet tall like I am. Sometimes the tilt mechanism is at the top of the pole - out of reach for me. 

To find out which one is best for you click here:

Tilt Patio Umbrella

Wood Patio Umbrellas

wood patio umbrellas

A wood market umbrella provides a classic look to any pool or outdoor area protecting you and your guests from the hot sun and harmful UV rays.

The umbrella pole and umbrella ribs are finished with several coats of marine varnish that protects the wood and can give it a finished look for years.

Most of them use a pin towards the top of the pole to keep the umbrella open. Remove the pin to close the it.

To learn more about the benefits and disadvantages of a wood umbrella click here:

Wood Market Umbrella

Patio Umbrella Fabric

Do you think that all you need to know about patio umbrella fabric is the color you want? Well, think again.

patio umbrella fabric guide

There's more to choosing fabric than just deciding on what color looks best around your pool. Some colors fade more quickly and noticeably than others, some fabrics breathe better than others and some fabrics with a really tight weave keep you and your furniture protected when there's a light rain or drizzle.

The two most common outdoor fabrics are Sunbrella and Coolaroo. We have both.

Find out what fabrics are the most fade resistant and which fabric actually helps to cool the temperature:

Patio Umbrella Fabric

Rectangle Patio Umbrella

A rectangle patio umbrella provides the perfect shade for an oval or rectangular outdoor patio table or an outdoor seating area. They also work great where space may be restricted, like on a deck. Instead of a round umbrella, try a rectangle umbrella for better shade protection. They come in several different sizes.

rectangular umbrella
Just like for a round outdoor umbrellas, you will also need to measure the size of your table or seating area in order to purchase the right size rectangle patio umbrella.

The shape and size of your outdoor umbrella is determined by the the size of your garden patio table or conversation area.

Typically, your umbrella should be at least 5 feet larger than the area you want shaded. i.e. a 48 inch table (4 feet) needs a 9 foot umbrella.

Besides size, the other features you want to consider before you make your purchase are a crank opening mechanism, a tilt feature and long lasting fade resistant Sunbrella fabric. The suggested weight for a rectangular patio umbrella base is 75 pounds or more.

Rectangle Patio Umbrella

Cantilever Patio Umbrella

A cantilevered patio umbrella is another name for an offset or side post patio umbrella.
cantilever patio umbrella

This type of sun protection umbrella works great for a sitting area that requires some shade or if you don't like the idea of a pole sitting in the middle of your table.

Some of them can rotate making it possible to shade either your outdoor patio table or your outdoor seating area if they are in close proximity.

Cantilever Patio Umbrella

Outdoor Umbrella Stand

Think you can just run to your favorite home improvement store and pick out the best looking umbrella base? That is if they even still have them and rarely can you find the right weight. You can't buy patio umbrellas without buying an outdoor umbrella stand. Well you can, but it just might end up in the pool like ours did.

outdoor umbrella stand

The main thing to know is what size or how heavy of an umbrella base is needed to hold the umbrella? It depends on whether the umbrella will be free standing or sitting in a table and what size umbrella you are buying.

patio table umbrella base

Generally speaking, error on the side of buying a heavier stand to prevent the outdoor umbrella from toppling over or being lifted by a heavy gust of wind.

Many people think that by putting the umbrella through the table hole that that is enough to keep it from blowing away or tipping over. Well it is not. Ask me how I know ...

Patio umbrella bases come in a variety of styles and material. Some of them rust and last a short time and stain the pool deck while others look good for years.

To get a guide for the correct size and weight that you need for your pool umbrella go to...

Patio Umbrella Bases

Wind Resistant Patio Umbrella

Ever find your outdoor umbrella sitting in your yard or pool?

My neighbors and my daughter have all had their wood market umbrella ribs cracked when a gust of wind carried the umbrella out of the base and threw it into their yards or pool.

It may not be your umbrella's fault. As we say at work, it is probably "user error."

Most outdoor patio umbrellas get damaged when a strong gust of wind or a sudden storm pulls the umbrella out of the stand and sends it flying to the ground bending or breaking the ribs or pole.

Or the strong wind just gets under the fabric and damages the ribs. Look for a vented umbrella that will help prevent "lift off."

With a wind resistant patio umbrella, wood and aluminum ribs are replaced with fiberglass ribs which are very strong and resilient.

Their flexibility makes them ideal for a wind resistant patio umbrella frame.

Find out different ways to keep your umbrella safe and protected from the wind:

Wind Resistant Patio Umbrella

Stabilizes Wobbly Umbrella


Is the hole in your patio umbrella table a bit too large for your umbrella pole?

If you would like to stabilize your pool umbrella so that it doesn't wobble around especially if you have an outdoor glass table, then this handy gadget is for you.  It doesn't replace a patio umbrella base - it just keeps the pole from moving around too much in the umbrella hole.

My sister and her husband love theirs.  They quickly bought one for their glass patio table when they saw how much the glass and the pole of their new umbrella was getting scratched.  Not only has the wedge stabilized their umbrella but the rubber wedge provides protection to their glass table and umbrella pole.

Slide the plug over the umbrella pole with the narrow end facing down.

The tapered design means it will work in any table and pole combination.

Patio Umbrella Cone (Brown) Fits 1.5" Umbrella. Weather Resistant

Umbrella Tablecloth

An umbrella tablecloth can dress up any patio table - get a solid colored one or one with stripes or checks. 

umbrella tablecloth

When there is a pole sticking in the middle of your table, you can't use your pretty round or oval tablecloths.  I often used colorful placemats - until I found this great umbrella tablecloth at Tuesday Morning.

A brightly colored tablecloth adds to any pool entertaining - whether the patio table is being used to serve food, appetizers, or desserts. This tablecloth with a split is hid by a zipper, velcro or tabs.

With a hole in the middle of the tablecloth and a hidden zipper - these linens can accommodate just about any size pole.

Find out how to care for them and where and when to buy one:

Umbrella Tablecloths

Outdoor Umbrella Lights

Outdoor umbrella lights include umbrella solar lights, battery powered lights or electric lights.

patio umbrella light

Depending on the mood you want to create you can use the lights for a quiet meal by the pool or something brighter for a rousing card game.

Patio umbrella lights make any evening out by the pool more enchanting and inviting.

We love to spend time outdoors in the evening as well as during the day and having just the right lights for evening of entertainment and enjoyment is money well spent.

Outdoor Umbrella Lights

Purchasing a patio umbrella that's the right size and shape for your table or seating area along with a few umbrella accessories, you will find yourself enjoying your outdoor patio or pool more frequently - entertaining friends and family or quietly relaxing in the comfort and shade of the perfect outdoor umbrella.

Go from Outdoor Umbrellas to Pool Fun for Everyone Home

pool fun

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Outdoor Party Lights - Patio Umbrella Lights to Solar Torches

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