Patio Umbrellas

Patio Umbrella and Market Umbrella Summary:
  • Market patio umbrellas with integral nighttime lighting are a hot new trend.
  • Make sure your patio umbrella fabric is solution dyed acrylic like Sunbrella or some other durable fabric like UV stabilized polyester.
  • Make sure your patio umbrella has heavy base so it won't blow over in a storm.
  • Take a look at the new side post patio umbrellas which eliminate the central pole and can be used in a variety of patio furniture arrangements.

Colorful Patio Umbrellas Protect You from the Sun

Modern patio umbrellas do double duty these days, protecting us from the sun during the day and providing the frame for table lighting at night. They also are highly decorative in their own right coming in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, fabrics, construction and colors.

Patio umbrellas come in a variety of materials including open-weave material that filters the sun and lets the hot air waft out. If full shade is a priority, you can choose one made with opaque fabric that blocks every ray of sunlight. If you're buying outdoor furniture in a single color, the patio umbrella you choose can set the color theme for your outdoor room. Like a blue market umbrella with solid white furniture. Or, if you've fallen in love with cushioning in a pretty Wisteria print, you will find a matching patio umbrella available for you, usually in a choice of sizes. Outdoor furniture manufacturers offer companion umbrellas for virtually every pattern in their fabric line-ups.

Patio Umbrella Shapes and Sizes

The most common sizes for patio umbrellas are 7 1/2 and 9 feet in diameter, though there are umbrellas that are smaller and larger. Shapes range from the retro mushroom style, to the wildly popular market umbrellas you see in today's finer patios. Umbrellas can come in unorthodox shapes like square, rectangular, oval or multi-tiered. The size of the table to be covered will determine the size umbrella you choose, and a good rule of thumb is to choose a patio umbrella that is at least 4 feet wider than your table. Since people sit back from the table in their chairs, you need the extra width to shade them.

Quality patio umbrella poles are made of aluminum that has been anodized, plated, or powder-coated. They can also be made of a strong wood like teak or oak. Some patio umbrellas have built in cranks to raise and lower them, but others, like the market umbrellas, may have rope pulls or no pulls at all.

Some patio umbrellas offer a tilt mechanism, which can help place shade where you need it as the sun travels across the sky. To tilt the umbrella, you push a button halfway up the patio umbrella, pull a side of the umbrella and the umbrella tilts.

Market Umbrellas

Market umbrellas are very attractive and add instant atmosphere to your patio setting. Market umbrellas are first cousins of the umbrellas that shade the produce of European street vendors. Their ridged ribs and poles can be made of wood, aluminum or resin, with a canvas or acrylic fabric cover. Ensure that the acrylic fabric is solution dyed; many products sold at mass merchants are not and will not last. Sunbrella fabric is a good choice for market umbrellas. We know of an entire lot of umbrellas that had inferior acrylic fabric that began to deteriorate within weeks of being placed outside.

market umbrella lights

One of the biggest trends in patio umbrellas is night lighting. For example, some market umbrellas come with built in twinkle lights on the ribs that softly light your table at night. There are also add on lamps that attach around the pole and provide nighttime lighting. Some of these use batteries for power so that no electric cord or outlet is required.

Side Post Patio Umbrellas

Another trend in umbrellas is the side post patio umbrellas, which put the post to the outside of the seating area, removing the center pole. Traditional center poles take up room for serving food and they block your view of your guests.

Side Post Umbrellas, including one with a light for nighttime use

By necessity these side post patio umbrellas have a rather massive base so that they can float over your table without falling over. Many come complete with lighting for night use. They use a crank to raise and lower the umbrella.

Patio Umbrella Bases

Never buy a patio umbrella without an appropriately weighted base attached to it. The base is critical for safety because it holds the patio umbrella steady so it will not blow over in a burst of wind. Always close your umbrella when you leave your outdoor area. A heavy wind under an open patio umbrella may topple your table, which could damage both the table and the umbrella!

Types of Umbrella Stands

Today's most popular patio umbrella bases come in a wide variety of attractive iron and aluminum designs. The aluminum designs won't rust, but the iron bases are heavier. There are also very heavy concrete bases for larger umbrellas like the new side post patio umbrellas. Another form of umbrella base is one that can be driven into the ground or set in wet concrete to provide a permanent umbrella mounting.