Outdoor Patio Umbrella Guide
A sun umbrella is an easy way to add shade to your outdoor gathering area and block harmful UV rays from the sun. In addition to providing you and your guests with shelter from the sun's scorching rays, an outdoor patio umbrella can also make for a stylish accent piece to your backyard setup. In this comprehensive guide, we've included everything you need to know about choosing the right umbrella for your patio space.
The Best Patio Umbrella Types
Before you begin shopping for the perfect sun umbrella, it's important to know the different types that are available for you to choose from. There are over a dozen different kinds, so for simplicity's sake, we've included the three most popular designs.
Traditional Table Umbrella
Perhaps the most common choice is the traditional table umbrella. You've probably seen patio furniture with umbrellas set up outside your local home goods store during seasonal promotions; chances are those were traditional table umbrellas.
What makes these kinds of sun umbrellas such a common choice is that they're lightweight, affordable, and a breeze to set up and take down.
If you live in an area that gets a lot of strong winds and unexpected storms, this traditional type of covering may be the best option for you since they're simple to take down and move indoors.
Have you ever been to an outdoor gathering and you had to keep moving your seat to stay in the shade as the sun moved across the sky? The tilting umbrella is the perfect solution!
The name of this outdoor patio umbrella is pretty self-explanatory. Unlike the traditional design, this one features an additional joint about a third of the way up the support pole that allows the user to adjust the angle of the umbrella. This flexible design is a brilliant way to provide shade any time of the day. The tilting umbrella is ideal for mornings on the patio and evening barbeques when the sun is low in the sky.
The offset patio umbrella (also referred to as a cantilever) is primarily used to shade one specific area in your backyard. Because of the cantilever's heavy base, this umbrella is not so easily moved around the yard. However, what it lacks in portability, it makes up for in upscale design.
Rather than placing this backyard feature near the center of the area you want to shade, you can place it off to the side and out of the way without exposing anyone to the sun's harmful rays. Protruding from the heavy base is a long, curved arm that reaches away from the base and hangs the umbrella over your desired area. If you're looking to add shade, intimacy, and appeal to a tea table, lounge chairs, or an outdoor dining set, this is a great way to do it.
What is the Best Material for Patio Umbrellas?
Whichever type of umbrella you choose to outfit your patio with, be sure to buy one that is made from durable materials to withstand various types of weather. It is also important to store your umbrella in a dry, covered area during the off-season.
Sunbrella fabric is a popular product for outdoor items like sun umbrellas, awnings, and outdoor furniture cushions. This durable cloth is fade resistant, as well as easy to clean and maintain. It also repels water and provides some protection against harmful UV rays, making it a great addition to your patio in any climate. Sunbrella is the preferred choice of RST Brands and is used on our various types of outdoor umbrellas.
Polyester is lightweight and able to retain its color over time. Polyurethane is used as a protective coating, in this case, making the polyester sun umbrella water resistant. This type of fabric is flammable and should be kept away from candles and other open flames.
Acrylic fabric is synthetic, lightweight, and often treated with chemicals to make it ultraviolet-resistant and less likely to fade. Patio furniture with umbrella fabric of this type can last a long time if properly cared for.
Canvas fabric is durable and long-lasting, particularly when coated with a waterproofing agent or acrylic paint solution. Uncoated canvas is prone to mildew if left unchecked, but can be cleaned.
Do Patio Sun Umbrellas Block UV Rays?
Yes and no. While your outdoor patio umbrella does provide a fair amount of shade, it is only able to block some of the harmful UV rays trying to reach your skin. The best approach is to utilize multiple sources of sun protection when spending time outdoors.
You can rely on a sun umbrella to help keep you cool and avoid overheating, as well as block some direct sunlight, but you should always wear a generous amount of sunscreen when you go outside. You can also use clothing and hats to cover up, and try to avoid peak sunlight hours.
What Size Patio Sun Umbrella Should You Get?
Once you know what type of sun umbrella you want, you'll want to take extra care in selecting an umbrella of the proper dimensions. Otherwise, you could end up with half the shade that you actually need.
Patio umbrellas come in a wide range of sizes, which can make for a stressful selection process. As a standard rule of thumb, we suggest you choose an umbrella that is approximately two feet wider (on every side) than the area you want to shade. This will vary greatly, so grab your tape measure and step outside.
How do you measure a patio umbrella?
To measure a patio umbrella, measure the distance between the very center of the top to the outermost edge of the rib arm, and then multiply that measurement by two. Measuring the height of the pole is not necessary, but you may want to measure other areas. For example, if you are looking to buy an umbrella that fits a dining table, you will want to know the size of the hole it will fit into and make sure the pole of your umbrella will fit accordingly.
How Tall Are Outdoor Umbrellas?
Most standard sun umbrellas begin at seven feet tall and go up from there. Some even come equipped with the option to adjust the height as needed. If you are looking for something that will leave plenty of headspace above you, you may want to consider an offset/cantilever umbrella that can be positioned out of the way while still providing plenty of shade.
How Heavy Should a Patio Umbrella Stand Be?
More often than not, your new outdoor patio umbrella will come with a base heavy enough to support it, especially if you buy patio furniture with an umbrella as a set. However, if you find yourself needing to buy a base separately, you can do some simple math to make sure you buy one that can hold your umbrella.
All you need to do is measure the width of your new umbrella canopy as we described in the previous section and multiply that number by ten. Simple!
RST Brand Outdoor Furniture & Sun Umbrellas
Have you determined which type, size, and material are best for your backyard? View RST Brand's fine selection of outdoor patio umbrellas to find the perfect one for you!