Umbrella Buying Guide - Choosing the Right Umbrella for You

Blue Wood Market Umbrella

It can be very confusing when you are selecting an outdoor umbrella. There are many characteristics to patio umbrellas that can make a difference where you place and position them. Umbrella Source wants our customers to know they are making the best choice possible for patio umbrellas for their business or home. The main difference between a patio umbrella and a market umbrella is: patio umbrellas have valances around the edges that hang down five or six inches, and market umbrellas have clean edges without valances. Here are a few suggestions to help make the best patio umbrella choice possible.

Types of Umbrellas

Market Umbrellas

Market Umbrellas are more expensive than Standard Crank & Tilt Patio Umbrellas. They are used in public areas such as restaurants or cafes as well as in homes. Market Umbrellas may have either a single or double vent on the top. Frames may be aluminum with crank and auto-tilt, or wood with pulley and rope. Like other Patio Umbrellas, Market Umbrellas require a base.

Patio Umbrellas

Patio Umbrellas are generally for residential use on a patio or deck. Patio Umbrellas usually are placed in an outdoor table with a hole to accommodate the umbrella pole. Most often they require a base for support. Patio Umbrellas may be pop-ups (that is, hand opened) manual tilt, or auto-tilt. The frames for Patio Umbrellas usually are made of aluminum. They have metal bell caps as finials.

Beach Umbrellas

Our beach umbrellas are made with sturdy aluminum, wood or fiberglass umbrella frames that are crafted to withstand strong winds and humidity. Beach Umbrellas are distinguished by their poles, which are pointed for use in the sand. Frames may be aluminum or wood, but Beach Umbrellas never feature a tilt so they can withstand windy conditions. They have plastic bell caps as finials.

Commercial Umbrellas

Our commercial grade umbrellas are ideal for your business, restaurant or other commercial application. Commercial Umbrellas are constructed with heavy-duty aluminum center poles and fiberglass ribs for durability. They come standard in silver or white frames only.

Logo Umbrellas

Once you know what kind of umbrella you want, you may consider adding a logo. We have state-of-the-art printing available to put your logo on your Sunbrella canvas. We use the Sunbrella Graphics System to apply your logo directly to your umbrella. This process uses heat bonding, which provides superior durability unlike other processes, such as silk screening. We warranty any logo printing for up to 3 years! If you are looking to promote a product or have logos or graphic designs printed on your umbrellas, the Logo Umbrella is the right choice.

Offset Umbrellas & Cantilever Umbrellas

Cantilever umbrellas also known as Offset umbrellas have a base and pole at the side of the umbrella. This base anchors the umbrella and allows it to move and shade larger areas. These are a great substitute for awnings because they are more portable and can be moved to different locations.

Umbrella Size

In choosing an umbrella size for home use, it is important to measure how much room is available on your patio or deck. Umbrella size can range from 5.3ft to 13ft depending on what type of umbrella you select. The standard size umbrella is 8.5 ft, obviously, the larger the umbrella, the more shade it provides. However, when choosing a 13 ft. umbrella (the maximum size), be sure your table can accommodate its 2" pole diameter and its one-piece shaft. It does not break down for shipping and storage like other sizes.

Umbrellas differ not only in their diameter, but also in the number of panels and ribs.

  • A 6 ft. pop-up has 6 panels and ribs.
  • All 7.5 ft., 9 ft., and 11 ft. umbrellas have 8 panels and ribs.
  • The 8.5 ft. standard has 12 panels and ribs.

However, the most important thing you can do to extend its life of your umbrella is to always crank down your umbrella when not in use. You will want to store your umbrella in a safe place in the off-season and/ or during inclement weather.

Umbrella Frames

Aluminum Frames
  • Aluminum Frame with Steel Ribs: These are the most economical frame sold. They are light weight umbrella poles that have steel ribs, great for outdoor eateries and pizzerias as well as residential.
  • Aluminum Frame with Fiberglass Ribs: These are light weight poles with more flexible ribs, great for breezy environments, like pool areas.
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Frame with Aluminum Ribs: These umbrellas are your highest quality frame and are ideal for commercial outdoor applications. The aluminum pole is thicker and is coated with a layer of silver powder that helps protect it from corrosion. Although most aluminum is naturally non corrosive the heavy duty frames are made to last longer.
Wood Frames
  • Wood Frame with Steel Ribs: These umbrella poles are made out of hardwood and great for the beach or pool areas. These are the most economical of all the wood frames.
  • Wood Frame with Fiberglass Ribs: These are hardwood umbrella poles made with fiberglass ribs, so they have more flexibility in high wind situations. These are slightly more in cost.
  • Wood Market Frame: These are umbrellas that have hardwood poles and thick wooden ribs. These are great in commercial outdoor environments, such as resorts and hotels.
Fiberglass Frames
  • Fiberglass is a very flexible and versatile non-corrosive material commonly used in fishing poles and boats. The fiberglass spokes in the umbrella frame makes the umbrella incredibly wind resistant. With fiberglass umbrellas, the spines actually bend in the wind and are less likely to damage. These are great frames for beach applications because they are so bendable in the wind.

Tilts and Cranks

Some of the features you have to choose from when purchasing your umbrella are whether you want to be able to tilt the umbrella, open with a pulley, pop up or auto-crank. You have many choices. You can have a manual umbrella that opens and closes by using an EZ latch spring or pop up. Some umbrellas come with a pulley that opens and closes the umbrella. Other umbrellas have cranks that you turn to open and close your umbrella.

  • Automatic Tilt: When you purchase an automatic tilt umbrella, you can use a crank to open and tilt your umbrella just by cranking the handle. When you crank to open the umbrella you can stop at your desired shading or you can keep cranking until the umbrella bends or tilts. This will help block the sun at every angle.
  • Manual Tilt: When you purchase a manual tilt umbrella, you will have a crank to open your umbrella but in order to tilt it, you will have to press in a button located on the umbrella pole and bend or tilt the umbrella yourself at the same time.

Umbrella Valances

Patio Umbrellas have valances, which add a decorative touch and can be for residential us or to display logos or company slogans for special promotions. Patio umbrellas are a more economical option for when shade is more important than a high-grade frame.

Beach Umbrellas are closely related to patio umbrellas, as they also have valances. The difference is that some offer the feature of a spiked pole base for easy mounting into sand.

Market Umbrellas do not have valances, but they do feature a more straight sleek edge. Most market umbrellas come with a choice one or two wind vents. This allows the wind to flow through the umbrella and keep it stabilized.