Market Umbrellas

When I first heard the term market umbrellas, I thought they might be something that was used to advertise something or used as some insurance policy against disaster. Well, I was partly right. A market umbrella is a great thing to help you avoid disaster if you consider blazing intense sun a real problem like I do. In the summer, there is nothing that we all enjoy more than going outside, catching some sun, relaxing on deck or taking a nap in our favorite patio chair. The term market umbrella comes from the fact that these are the types that can be found in cafes and outdoor markets all over Europe.

Unfortunately, if you sleep too long out on your patio, you will be feeling the price for days to come. That is, unless you have a patio cover or some other way of providing shade for yourself. These umbrellas are the perfect solution for you if you just can’t get enough of the outdoor air. There are several different styles of umbrellas even in the market umbrella sub-category of outdoor umbrellas.

This photo of these market umbrellas says it all.  Photo by
This photo of these market umbrellas says it all. Photo by
A simple look at a yellow market umbrella near a cozy spot.  Photo by
A simple look at a yellow market umbrella near a cozy spot. Photo by
More classic looking market umbrellas.  Photo by
More classic looking market umbrellas. Photo by

What Do Market Umbrellas Look Like

It is quite simple actually. They look like the pictures posted here on the right. However, just know that there are a few variations on this theme. For instance, you can find market umbrellas that have different styles of canopies to them. The common style of market umbrella is a post with a canopy on top of it. The canopies can range in size from 6’ up to 11’ or more with special custom bases or lever arms. These are the perfect type of pool umbrella, because they can give you a wide range of coverage.

The poles and canopy support structures called ribs can either be made of wood or metal. The wooden variety of market umbrellas have both the natural and warm elements of wood combined with its durability. There is nothing that beats the qualities of wood when it comes to grain appearance and appeal. There is some flexibility with wind and movement, however, because of issues with age and rot, metal can be a great alternative. Wood umbrellas require that there are metal reinforcements at key stress points to avoid shearing in windy conditions and with prolonged use. So, you will often see some brass or brushed metal accents at the pole’s handle area and in the rib structure for extra support. Where the wood ribs meet the material of the umbrella canopy, there may often be added fabric stitching for extra strength. With a metal pole and rib set-up, the issue with strength is less of a problem. However, metal has its own set of problems. Even with a well-done finish like a powder coat, these materials are still prone to rusting and staining of umbrella fabrics. Also, due to their material, these metal umbrellas can get quite hot to the touch. You will likely find these and other patio umbrellas made with a combination of wood and metal for price and durability issues.

The stands of most market umbrellas are made of either heavy materials like a cast iron or can be water filled plastic bases. Usually, in a café setting, the choice is for a flat and heavy metal base. These provide more in the way of eye appeal and also less bulk for more foot space while sitting outdoors. In the markets and outdoor areas where most umbrellas like this are used, there are issues and concerns with wind. Not only can an airborne umbrella be quite dangerous, but you don’t want your investment to get blown over or break with your first wind. So, some canopies of these umbrellas are made with some type of venting system up top. It looks like a flap or other piece of fabric that has been laid over the top or stacked on top of the larger canopy. This provides for a type of escape for high winds that may gust up from time to time. They act like those semi-circular holes you may have seen cut into large banners at sporting events and concerts. It essentially eliminates the ‘sail effect’ of a large piece of material. Both the wood and metal market umbrellas are made using standard sizing for most standard sized 1 ½” umbrella holes in patio furniture tables, stands, etc.

Who wouldn't want to be sitting beneath one of these market umbrellas in Sorrento, Italy?  Photo by
Who wouldn't want to be sitting beneath one of these market umbrellas in Sorrento, Italy? Photo by

How Much Do Market Umbrellas Cost

This is one of those questions whose answer has changed thanks to the internet.  In the past, these types of umbrellas were only available locally, so the price was determined by your local merchants.  With the global economy, the pricing has come down quite a bit for a basic umbrella.  You can find a basic market umbrella in for between $50-100 USD.  For a larger or more ornately designed or crafted one, maybe $250-400 USD.  There are other styles of outdoor umbrellas like cantilever and off set models that can range from $750-1,000 USD.  These are usually quite a bit larger and are the styles used for commercial purposes.  Whether you find that these classic market umbrellas are suitable for your needs or you opt for a more custom style, remember that you can’t go wrong finding shade on a sunny patio day.     

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Comments 4 comments

Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

Wow, i am first here too. they just don't get it do they patioman. lol

patioman profile image

patioman 6 years ago from USA, Arizona Author

Hey there Granny's House. I thought writing a site about market umbrellas would really help those looking for ideas and the styles available. I guess they just don't aren't the type to comment. Thanks again!

John 6 years ago

For best protection and durability, try to look for outdoor umbrellas that uses Sunbrella fabric. As explained at , this fabric can protect you from UV rays.

patioman profile image

patioman 6 years ago from USA, Arizona Author

John, you're absolutely right! We highly endorse Sunbrella fabrics and recommend them for all types of outdoor items, including market umbrellas, patio cushions, awnings and other outdoor shades. Thanks for mentioning it!

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