How to Select the Proper Patio Umbrella

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

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Patio umbrellas offer welcome relief and protection from the sun on hot summer days, shading outdoor seating areas by the pool and in the backyard. They can also be used to shade spas and hot tubs. Patio umbrellas are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. In fact, the number of options can make choosing an umbrella a difficult decision but our guide is here to help. Read more to discover which umbrella is best for you and your backyard paradise.

Step by Step

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Step 1

Size & Shape - First, consider the size of the area you would like to shade with a patio umbrella. It is recommended that you choose one that is a minimum of 5 feet larger than the area you’re trying to shade. The most size options are available in the octagon shape at 9’, 10’ or 11’ across. There are also 10’ square and 10’ x 13’ rectangle umbrellas. The choice of shape would be based on the size you need and also just personal preference.

Step 2

Material - The two most common materials used to make the umbrella canopy are olefin and acrylic. Both are sturdy fabrics that are designed to stand up to the outdoors. Acrylic is the better of the two, offering greater resistance to fading and weather. You will see that patio umbrellas with acrylic canopies typically have a longer warranty and are more expensive.

Step 3

Color - The most common colors for patio umbrellas are earth tones like terra cotta, stone, cocoa and beige. Color choice is mostly a personal preference based on what best matches your outdoor décor but keep in mind that darker colors will show more fading over time while lighter colors will show more dirt. You also want to consider whether you want the umbrella to stand out in a bolder color or blend more into the landscaping.

Step 4

Canopies - There are a number of options when it comes to umbrella canopies – shape and color as mentioned above, valances or clean edges, and number of air vents. The most common umbrella canopy shapes are octagon, square and rectangle.

Step 5

Bases - Patio umbrella bases come in two main styles. One you would fill with sand to weigh down and secure it. The other features a cross-shaped bracket designed to be secured with stepping stones. You would purchase the stones separately at a garden or home center. The sand base is easier – just fill and you’re done with no lugging stones – while the cross stand allows you to customize your base by choosing decorative stones.

Step 6

Adjustments - There are several different ways patio umbrellas can be adjusted. Some have a hand crank that simply opens and closes the canopy. Others have a knob that moves easily to open and close it with just your finger. To rotate the canopy and keep the shade where you want it, patio umbrellas will typically have a base pole clamp or a base foot pedal that allows the pole to rotate 360 degrees. Some models also feature a tilt mechanism to adjust the angle of the canopy.

Step 7

Accessories - You can keep your outdoor party going well into the night with a rechargeable umbrella light. These are LED light fixtures that will fit most umbrella poles and come in either a 4- or 6-light model. Fully charged, an umbrella light will work for about six hours. To protect your patio umbrella from harsh winter weather, it is recommended that you use an umbrella cover. Some umbrellas will include a cover but covers are also sold separately to fit the most common sizes.

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