The Patio Umbrella – An Essential Outdoor Accessory

With the proper shade, your patio can be the place for a great escape or retreat from the demands of everyday life.  This is true whether you have a pool, garden or just like to be out in your backyard.  A quality patio umbrella can provide you with just the right amount of shade in just the right spot.  There are several different styles to choose from within this category.

Within the class of outdoor umbrellas – an ironic term since I can’t imagine why you would want an indoor one – are several smaller families of umbrellas.  These include poolside ones, offset or cantilever styles and the market umbrella.  We will discuss each of these here in a moment.  As you know, patio covers provide you some general shade for a specific area, but more ‘spot shading’ is really better accomplished with the selection of a great umbrella.

Styles of Patio Umbrellas

This is a wood and brass patio umbrella.

This is a wood and brass patio umbrella.

As mentioned, a patio umbrella is really just a name given to the fact that you use this one for your deck or patio.    It can be like having someone hold a shade up to block the sun just for you while you sip your cool drink and daydream about life always being like this.  A similar thing is true of naming the umbrella out by your pool.  Yup, you guessed it, it’s called a pool umbrella.  In effect, it is the same style of one you might use for your patio, with the exception that the materials used might be better suited for more water exposure.

photo credit

Essentially, these styles are more classic of the market umbrella style.  It is so named because of its ubiquitous use throughout European open markets.  Now, these styles of umbrella can be found everywhere.  They are usually made with a straight pole, canopy and some type of stand.  Umbrellas stands for these can either be made of a heavy iron or a plastic base that can be filled with water or sand for weight.  The obvious reason for this is that you are trying to eliminate the danger of wind or other forces causing your umbrella to blow down or otherwise fall.  The heavier iron stands are more typical in restaurants, cafes and outdoor markets because they look nicer and have a smaller footprint or profile than the larger plastic types.  For home use, it is common to find the plastic ones that can be filled with whatever material you choose for weight.

Most market umbrellas have a fixed or rigid pole, but some have a tilt mechanism that can allow you to position the canopy to provide just the right angle for shade cover as the sun moves through the sky..  The shape and size of these umbrellas is typically in the 6’ to 10’ range for the canopy itself.  There are larger styles, but usually are custom ordered or can be accomplished with the next type of umbrella we will discuss.

Larger outdoor shades or umbrellas can be used if you need a greater amount of shade, but don’t want to commit to a fully built patio shade structure.  Here, we are talking about styles called cantilever umbrellas or offset umbrellas.  These are sometimes terms that are used interchangeably.  The basic point is, like the name suggests, an umbrella with a canopy that is offset from the base.  This allows for two things:  you can have more usable space beneath your umbrella and you can get more flexibility with shade positioning.  For example, let’s say that you are having a party out on your deck or patio and you would like to have as much free space for setting up or sitting as possible, an offset model is perfect for this application.  What you can do is set the base of the umbrella away from the table with food or the chairs you have set up and then the canopy can be positioned in such a way that your guests and/or food have it made in the shade, so to speak.

This is an example of the cantilever umbrella style.

Another option for a cantilever style is to mount the umbrella base to a fixed place like a wall or part of a more permanent building structure.  This allows for much more space freedom as you don’t have to worry about even where to position a base.  Now, keep in mind that with this style relocating it is a bit more of a chore, if even possible.     photo credit

So, what are your options with fabrics and other umbrella materials?  Like most things related to your patio, quality will greatly affect your choices.  Fabric patterns range from simple to bold to anything in between.  If you want to make your patio look like a tropical island, there is an umbrella for that.  Sunbrella, a brand-name in outdoor fabrics, has UV resistance built in to their products.  Because of the way that the dye is added during the ‘wet’ stage of making this special acrylic fabric, the final product is fade resistant and wears well for years.

You can also find fabrics such as canvas and other vinyls that work well for an outdoor fabric that needs to withstand the elements of nature.  Other materials such as the wood and metal parts should be kept in mind as well.  Woods such as teak and properly treated softer woods can last fine outdoors.  The support members and attachment points to the canopy should be made of stainless steel, brass or aluminum for best results.  These will not only resist staining of your fabrics but will last longer than cheaper metal options.  Wind sheer is also an important thing to consider for both safety and longevity issues.  If you live in a windy region, you’ll need to ensure that you close your umbrella to make sure it stays in your yard.  As long as you follow the advice of proper maintenance and cleaning, your patio umbrella should last for many years.

TropiLight 9-Foot Bronze Aluminum Lighted Canvas Market Umbrella

9-foot lighted canvas market umbrella with bronze aluminum frame.
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Ace Evert 9-Feet Auto Tilt Market Umbrella, Olefin Fabric, Khaki

9′ Auto tilt market umbrella you can maximize shading area with the easy to use auto tilting mechanism and angle the umbrella against the sun. Sturdy aluminum construction provides for years of trouble free use and fade resistant Khaki color olefin fabric looks great.
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New 2010 Deluxe Burgundy 10′ Offset Patio Umbrella Off Set Outdoor Market Umbrella

You are viewing a Brand New 10′ Burgundy Off Set Patio Umbrella. Attractive & stylish design make this patio umbrella a must have. Please make sure to look at our other products, because we do carry other colors.Brand New in Retail Packaging10′ DiameterBurgundyDeluxe Offset patio umbrellaAttractive…
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Adams Mfg./Patio Furn. 8129-23-3716 Umbrella Base

Designed to fit most full size umbrellas. Simply styled, can be easily weighted for added support with either sand or water. Made of durable resin. 14.5″ L. x 14.5″ W. x 5.5″ H. No. 8120 23 3716: Desert clay No. 8129 01 3716: Sage No. 8120 48 3716: White
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