Looking for a patio umbrella? Here are the 6 best types

Patio umbrellas keep you comfortable in the hot summer sun, rainy spring weather, and even on days with light snow. The main factors to look for in a patio umbrella are their opening mechanisms, fabrics, bases, and rib strengths. We’ve gone ahead and detailed how to shop for the perfect patio umbrella for your home, and we put together six different types worth checking out.

Types of opening mechanisms

When looking at patio umbrellas, consider what type of opening mechanism works best for your family.

Manual crank: You might be most familiar with this type of opening mechanism. On the pole or the base, you’ll find an attached arm that you need to crank when you want to use your umbrella. This type of opening is popular because you can adjust how expanded your umbrella is.

patio umbrella
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Pin and pulley: This type of opening requires a little more work than manual cranks, but they are still fairly common. You’ll need to pull on the string, cord, or cable attached to the top of your umbrella until the canopy is fully expanded. Then, you’ll insert the provided pin through an opening in the pole to keep the canopy open.

Button or pop-up: Like regular hand umbrellas, a pop-up umbrella opens and closes with a button.

Type of poles and shades

The most common type of patio umbrella is the market or beach umbrella. They’re easily removed from the base, so you can take them with you on a picnic or a breezy outdoor nap on your backyard lawn. Market umbrellas usually have fixed shades that do not tilt. 

By contrast, cantilever umbrellas are built with two poles: One to hold it up and another to hold the shade off to the side. This lets you cover various seated areas without the pole getting in your way. For instance, you might use a cantilever umbrella to keep you cool on a pool chair. 

When it comes to shade type, you can choose from single or double canopies. Single canopies are best for smaller groups of people, and double canopies can provide shade for about eight adults. Commercial-grade double canopy umbrellas feature two large, separate canopies on either side of a pole, but for patios and decks, opt for connected canopies on a smaller pole. 

Rib strengths and fabrics

If you live in a particularly windy or rainy area, choose durable fabrics and rib strengths. The ribs provide structure to your umbrella, and the more it has, the stronger it will be against all conditions. Fiberglass is the strongest option, while wood and aluminum are ideal for light use.

Acrylic, sunbrella, and polyester are common materials because they’re durable and weather-resistant. Specialized materials like fiberglass and synthetic grass are also available, depending on your umbrella model.

Market umbrellas

Best for: Round patio tables

A market umbrella is the traditional option. They’re attached to a base that is strong enough to keep the umbrella in place on windy days, and some are detachable, so you can stake them through soil or sand.

offset patio umbrella
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Cantilever or offset umbrellas

Best for: Versatile seating arrangements

Cantilever umbrellas are sought after because they don’t require a center pole to stay in place. There won’t be an awkward pole in the way during summer lunches or when squeezing around a small table for a little bit of shade.

 Double canopy umbrellas

Best for: Large seating arrangements

Double canopy umbrellas are great for covering multiple tables or rows of chairs. If your family spends ample time outside, this means a table arrangement and a playing area can both stay covered under one umbrella. 

Pagoda umbrellas

Best for: Single poolside chairs

Pagoda umbrellas are small and are used mainly for aesthetic reasons. A pagoda umbrella features an exaggerated pointed tip resembling a circus tent top, and they come in a variety of fun colors and designs. The classic choice is white and red striped (or any stripe combination).

Pagoda umbrellas typically give shade to just one or two people, making them ideal for lounging next to the pool.  

garden with patio umbrella
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Fiberglass umbrellas

Best for: Windy regions

Fiberglass umbrellas are hardy and weatherproof. They won’t budge during storms or break down even when exposed to rain. Although these are typically used in commercial settings, they’re a charming addition to any patio.

Sail umbrellas

Best for: Families with children

As the name suggests, a sail umbrella is shaped like a boat sail and is held up by multiple poles. You can design your own shade structure with a single or multiple sail umbrella, thanks to their versatile installation methods. You can attach them to existing poles in your yard, fences, ground stakes, or even walls, given the right tools. They offer wide shade coverage and don’t require bulky bases, so parents should take note! 

Patio umbrellas protect your family from the elements and make your outdoor spaces more inviting. Whether you choose a classic market umbrella or unique fiberglass umbrella, make sure the fabric, rib strength, and type is appropriate for your climate and family lifestyle. With any of the umbrella types on our list, your patio might just become your family’s new favorite hangout spot.

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