The Outdoor Umbrella Buying Guide

The warm sun on your face is one of the finest feelings in the world, and summer provides plenty of opportunity to grab a quick vitamin D boost and get a sun-kissed glow on your cheeks. But when you’re ready to take a break from the heat and UV rays, settling under an outdoor umbrella is the perfect solution. Whether you need one to shade a dining table or to tuck between two pool chaises, outdoor umbrellas come in a variety of sizes, styles and built-in functionalities to suit your needs and outdoor space. The only question is: which is right for you?


When considering an outdoor umbrella, size matters. Measured by diameter, canopies generally range from 7-1/2′ to 13′ and can cast a shadow up to 132 sq. ft. So whether you’re looking to shade a small bistro set, a full-sized outdoor dining table and chairs, or anything in-between, you’ll be covered. Once you’ve decided on the right size for your space, ask yourself some questions. Do you have an outdoor table with a pre-drilled umbrella hole? Or do you need something freestanding? Are you looking for an umbrella with a center-mounted pole or one that’s offset and lets the canopy hang over your desired area? Picking the proper style is essential to maximizing space and the effectiveness of the canopy. Now that you know the size of your canopy and the type of umbrella you’ll need, your next step is to consider shape. Outdoor umbrella canopies are diverse in form – from traditional octagons to classic circles or modern squares. Personal taste and existing decor play the biggest role in this decision, but you may find one shape more fitting for your outdoor space than the others.


Solving for style and shape are a large part of the puzzle when picking the perfect umbrella, but an equally important piece is function and versatility. All-purpose fixed umbrellas stand at the ready to block UV rays from an overhead position, while cantilever umbrellas tilt, pivot and swirl 360° to adjust to the movement of the sun.


Stripes or solids? Stunningly ornate or something simple? Design the perfect accent for your outdoor space with an endless array of options – from the finish of the base and pole to the color of the canopy – for personalizing your umbrella.


The mechanics of an umbrella designate quality. The pole and ribs, the canopy fabric, the base and the lift mechanism are a litmus test for overall durability and longevity.

Poles and Ribs

Lightweight and incredibly durable, both powdercoated aluminum and solid teak poles and ribs are built to stand up against driving wind, rain, and anything else mother nature may have in store. They come in a number of finishes and look fantastic, even after years of use.

Premium Canopy Fabrics

The very best umbrella canopies are made from premium materials that won’t rot, tear or fade, even after several seasons spent in the elements. From awning-grade material made in Spain to durable and UV-blocking Sunbrella® fabrics, our favorites are equal parts robust and attractive.

Heavy-duty Bases

The last thing you want is your umbrella lifting off or toppling over during a fierce summer storm. Whether you seek the movability provided by wheels, or need a fixed solution, look for bases that can carry substantial weight and have a strong grip to ensure your umbrella stays upright.

Lift Mechanisms

Opening or closing your umbrella’s canopy should always be effortless. Struggling with a stiff crank or awkward pull cord is frustrating, time consuming and indicative of sub-par construction. Precisely crafted mechanisms will allow your umbrella to open up smoothly and with minimal effort. You have an abundance of options to explore when searching for the perfect outdoor umbrella, but we’re certain that you’ll find the right one with help from our buying guide. Consider all the details – form, function, size and style – to find the umbrella that best fits your space, and you’ll be happy with your purchase for years to come.

August 7, 2014
August 7, 2014