Hot fun in the summertime is all well and good but everyone needs a little downtime; a cool place to relax; a few feet of respite from the UV rays. An umbrella or awning is a quick, portable, cost-efficient way to provide some place to chill during those doggie days of summer.
Buying the right umbrella for your outdoor space isn't complicated; there are just a few things to know to make the best decision.
Think about where you need shade the most and whether it is only during certain hours of the day. Do you need to provide shade for your dining table, your seating area, or poolside? Is it a small area, like a bistro table, or a large area like sectional deep seating?
Normally, an umbrella that measures a 5' diameter larger than the area you shading will be adequate. But here are some more specific guidelines to help you choose the best size of umbrella for your use:
A 6' patio umbrella will work with tables up to 30" in diameter; these are typically 2 seat café or bistro sets. It would also work for 4-5 people standing at a bar height table.
A 7' patio umbrella is appropriate for a 30-36" diameter bistro table with 2 to 4 seats.
An 8' patio umbrella works for a dining table up to 48" diameter with seating for 4; it is also appropriate for a pair of chaise lounges.
9' patio umbrellas are the size that you will encounter most often; this is the standard size carried by most patio stores. A 9' umbrella is perfect for a 48" diameter table with seating for 4-6; small chat or conversation areas (typically 2 lounge chairs and a small side table) and 6 to 7 people standing.
A 10' – 13' umbrella works for dining tables 60" – 72" dining table with seating for 6-8; they are also appropriate for a typical deep seating area (sofa, loveseat, lounge chair) and 6-8 people standing.
A 16' umbrella works for patio tables that seat 8-10 people as well as a typical deep seating area or sectional sofa and is also ideal for shading several café tables at once.
Rectangular umbrellas are ideal for, obviously, rectangle and also oval shaped tables. Square umbrellas are ideal for, obviously, square tables. They come in a variety of sizes; not sure what size you need? Add an approximate 2' to each side of your table to determine what size umbrella will keep your dining guests in the shade.
For example, an 8'x11' rectangular patio umbrella works for patio tables 60" – 100" long, seating 8-10 people or a pair of small round or square tables.
Unlike traditional patio umbrellas, off-set or cantilevered umbrellas don't have a center pole. Instead, the pole is set off to the side (get it? – set off; off-set) This allows for a lot of shade without obstructions. Cantilevered umbrellas are an ideal option if your dining table doesn't have an umbrella hole; they are also ideal if you have a deep seating area you would like to transform. A cantilevered umbrella is an easy way to create a polished (and protected) outdoor room. Cantilevered umbrellas are available in many shapes and sizes and many of them come with a tilting or rotating feature so you can adjust the shade as needed.
Speaking of tilting…a tilt feature is desirable on an umbrella because it allows you to control the umbrella canopy to block the sun as it moves across the sky. Classic market umbrellas, which usually feature a wood pole and pulley system, held open with a pin, do not tilt. Crank umbrellas come in two styles; one with a manual tilt mechanism and one with an auto-tilt. The auto-tilt allows you to use the crank to open the umbrella and tilt it with one gesture.
Umbrella poles are usually wood or aluminum. Wooden poles are commonly used with less expensive umbrellas and do not offer any convenience features. Aluminum poles allow for more functionality and are available in a variety of colors; many patio furniture manufacturers will customize the pole to match patio furniture finishes. Aluminum poles are also rust-resistant.
Polyester is widely used on budget-priced patio umbrellas; it is not colorfast and will fade fairly quickly. The preferred fabric for umbrella canopies is solution-dyed acrylic; the Sunbrella brand of solution-dyed acrylic is not only water-resistant, it has been treated with UV inhibitors to prevent fading. The result is an umbrella canopy that will look great for several years.
Many umbrellas have replaceable canopies; these are easily changed out for an updated color look without having to invest in an entirely new umbrella.
This 9' Tilt Market Umbrella by Leisure Select features a bronze finish pole with a crank lift and push-button tilt. This is an entry level patio umbrella that will look great on any 4-seat dining table.
A step up (and top seller) is the 9' Aluminum Auto Tilt Market Umbrella by Leisure Select offers the convenience of an automatic tilt; simply crank the umbrella open. The heavy-duty steel cable does all the work. This umbrella is customizable with your choice of standard, premium and super-premium fabrics.
This 11.5' Cantilevered Umbrella, also by Leisure Select, gives the convenience and versatility of an off-set umbrella. Its available in henna, heather beige or canvas teak canopies to complement your patio furniture. The 11.5' Cantilevered Umbrella offers 95 square feet of sweet shade.
The 9' Collar Tilt Umbrella by Treasure Garden. The exclusive collar tilt feature allows you to effortlessly adjust the position of the umbrella canopy; a simple twist of the wrist and you will have shade exactly where you want it!
The European-styled 11' Cantilevered Umbrella by Treasure Garden has a unique hanging design and Treasure Garden's patented tilt and lock system which allows you to tilt the canopy at practically any angle. An accompanying foot pedal gives you the ability to rotate the canopy as well.
Check out the 11' Starlight Collar Tilt Umbrella, also by Treasure Garden can be used day or night. It offers shade for those hot summer afternoons and “starlight" for those sultry summer nights. The 11' Starlight Collar Tilt Umbrella has built-in LED lighting that will provide 50,000 hours!
Family Leisure has an umbrella to suit you; check out the complete collection by click here.