Patio Umbrellas

When you start searching online for umbrellas for your outdoor patio, the first thing you need to analyze or consider is how you plan on using your space. In order to get the best fit for your use needs and the type of patio umbrella you want, you’ll need to do just a little bit of homework. Hopefully, this brief site will help you achieve that. What we will discuss here are the different types of patio umbrellas, what other names they go by to simplify your searching and also the specifics of how they work, styles, materials, cost, etc.

Let’s begin by getting some of the language straight. There are really synonymous terms when it comes to this topic, patio umbrellas and outdoor umbrellas are really the same thing. The only difference is in where they would be used. For example, if you plan to use your umbrella on your deck or patio, then you could call it a patio umbrella. Not really blowing any minds here. If it is to be used outdoors, beneath a shady area or rocky path, then outdoor umbrella could be a more accurate description of its use. While we’re at it, pool umbrellas would describe any umbrella that you plan to use, well, by your pool.

Photo of this patio umbrella by
Photo of this patio umbrella by
Here is one of those offset patio umbrellas mentioned.  Photo by
Here is one of those offset patio umbrellas mentioned. Photo by
A great patio umbrella on a beautiful deck.  Photo by
A great patio umbrella on a beautiful deck. Photo by

What Types of Patio Umbrellas Exist

There are several styles of patio umbrellas that we should discuss. These styles would fall within both the outdoor and patio umbrella categories. The first is the market umbrella. This is the classic umbrella style. It got its name from the umbrellas that you can find all over in the markets and cafes around Europe. These particular styles are usually quite simple, with a base, a pole and the umbrella canopy itself.

The base can be a number of different kinds from a flat, metal or iron base to a plastic base that can be filled with water for weight reasons. The umbrella poles can be made of wood or metal and the canopy itself can be made of a variety of fabrics. In the past, the canopy would have been made of a plastic or heavy canvas material. Today, canvas and woven fabrics are the norm with UV resistant fibers being woven within the material as well. There are other UV resistant products that can be applied to the fabrics that make them better suited for long term use on your patio or deck.

If the pole is made of wood, there will usually be a metal element near the opening and closing mechanism to allow for additional strength as well as anchoring of the crank handle. The ribs are what hold the umbrella canopy open and can be treated to allow for smooth operation without binding and locking. Now, if the poles are made of metal, this can provide for extra strength, but usually has issues with rust over time. Even the best maintained umbrella will take some effects of aging over time. This can be remedied with a light sanding and some rust-resistant paint. The canopy can be cleaned with mild soap and hosed off for best longevity. Most outdoor tables and other patio furniture sets will have the standard 1 ½” openings that will accommodate most pole diameters.

The other major category of outdoor patio umbrellas are the cantilever and offset umbrellas. The cantilever umbrella refers to the way that the canopy is attached to a swing arm that can be positioned in a variety of ways to provide the best shade. Similarly, offset umbrellas refer to the way that the pole is positioned off to the side, usually with a curve to it, that allows for the canopy to be positioned over the area to be shaded while the base and pole stay out of the way. These type of deck umbrellas are popular for non-standard seating arrangements or where you want to maximize your usable space beneath your umbrella. These umbrellas are becoming more popular as we move our indoor entertaining outdoors.

These market style patio umbrellas were lined up along the riverwalk.  Photo by
These market style patio umbrellas were lined up along the riverwalk. Photo by

Patio Umbrella Sizes and Prices

Most patio umbrellas range in size from a canopy size of around 6’ to 11’.  They can be custom built to be larger and these are what most higher end patio dining and commercial designs require.  They are often of the offset or cantilever style, allowing more uncluttered patio and dining space.  For a simple 6’ market umbrella, you are probably going to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-100 USD.  If you get a larger size, it could be more like $75-200.  If you opt for the offset and cantilever models, then you will probably be looking to spend somewhere close to $250-700, depending on materials, fabric choices, size, etc. 

Using Umbrella Lights

There are a variety of ways to add some additional lighting to your patio space as well.  If you use your patio for outdoor dining in the evenings, then consider some form of umbrella lights to use for spot lighting or even extra ambiance. 

Styles come in both string light versions and also an umbrella 'ring' light form.  The string lights typically are wrapped around the wooden or metal 'ribs' of the umbrella framework itself or attached with special clips if they are made specifically for umbrellas. 

The ring-like version simply mounts around the umbrella pole near the top and shines light down from above. These lights are often either solar or battery powered and utilize LED lights for brighter, longer-lasting illumination.

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Comments 4 comments

barry 6 years ago

is it best to keep the umbrella open all the time or close it when not in use?

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patioman 6 years ago from USA, Arizona Author


I suppose your question is more about safety and deterioration than anything else. There really is no 'right' choice, however, closing your patio umbrellas when not in use sure does allow them to be safer in the wind and such. Also, the exposure to the sun and its damaging rays (even though some fabrics like Sunbrella can resist fading and deterioration) can be mitigated by having them closed up. Hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

John 6 years ago

Great hub about patio umbrellas. Patio umbrella lights also are great addition. They can highlight and make outdoors more exciting at night,

patioman profile image

patioman 6 years ago from USA, Arizona Author


You're so right. There are a variety of patio umbrella lights to help give your patio umbrellas a function even at night. Thanks for stopping by to share.

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