Buyer's Guide - Patio Umbrellas
Patio umbrellas may be the final accent to complete your backyard. Not only do they provide shade, they serve as a focal point and gathering area in your yard. An umbrella with a few comfortable chairs and a chilled bottle of chardonnay is the epitome of a summer afternoon. A patio umbrella invites people to sit under it on a warm day and enjoy the backyard.
If this sounds like the perfect summer to you, it's time to learn more about outdoor patio umbrellas! There are many different styles and shapes of patio umbrellas, so the more you know, the more likely you are to get exactly what you want!
Here is more information on patio umbrellas.
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What to Look For
Patio umbrellas come in many shapes and sizes. Determining which size you need is important before you make a purchasing decision. Having a table for it to go into has to be factored in as well. Measure the area that you want to be shaded, or the size of the table to determine the size that you need.
The standard heights for patio furniture umbrellas are 6', 7', 9' and 11', which cover an area of about 30", 36", 48", and 60", respectively. Even though most patio umbrellas are designed to tilt to block the setting sun, having an umbrella that covers an area slightly larger than you need is ideal. Materials used for the frames are wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. Wood patio umbrellas are great for a classic look, but are heavy. Aluminum is very light, but not very durable. Fiberglass is both lightweight, rigid, and available in every color imaginable.
There are many different types of fabrics available, the most important thing to look for is a warranty against fading. Sunbrella fabric usually has the longest warranty against fading. It also blocks the most UV rays out of all types of fabrics, but tends to cost more.
The patio base is the most important factor in keeping your umbrella safe (more of that below). A quality base is concrete filled and weighs upwards of 50 pounds. If your umbrella is not secured to a table, you need about 1.5 times more weight than if it is. Always err on the side of safety and buy a base that may be a little heavier than you need. Offset patio umbrellas are much safer and sturdier than the upright type.
Patio umbrellas can last many years with proper care. An umbrella that is left open in the sun for very long periods of time will fade quickly and lose its effectiveness. Heavy rain can rust the inside parts or rot them if they are wood.
To care for your umbrella, close it while it's not in use. Store it in the garage, or other covered area during the off season. This prevents the sun and rain from beating it up. If there is a storm or very windy day in your forecast, store it. Broken frames are difficult to replace on aluminum and fiberglass patio umbrellas. Proper storage of your umbrella will ensure many years of enjoyment and shade.
Patio umbrellas can be deadly. I know that seems a little far-fetched, but when an umbrella is caught be the wind and sent into the air it has to come down some time. What if it lands on a busy freeway or in a playground full of kids? Many restaurants are required to have umbrella insurance for this exact reason. It has happened in the past and will happen again if proper safety measures aren't taken.
Windy days make patio umbrellas fly. Watch your weather forecast for gusty winds. An even better solution is to store your umbrella when it's not in use. When you are using it, make sure that it is securely fastened to its base, and that base is a suitable weight for the size of the umbrella.
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