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6 Tips For Buying Patio Umbrellas

Jun 17, 2008
To complete my outdoor patio furniture set I wanted to purchase a patio umbrella for my garden.

I live in a relatively high altitude area of the country where the evenings can get quite chilly in the evenings so eating out isn't always possible so when I plan a backyard BBQ cookout I like to go for lunchtime.

My patio area is quite exposed so if the sun is out then it's really easy for my guests to get burned and because many of them have young families I decided it was time to invest in a patio umbrella.

It doesn't matter what I'm buying, I always like to thoroughly research it and why not share my findings with you? So here are the salient points that I took into consideration before buying.

1. Frame

Basically the choice is wood or aluminium. The disadvantage of wood is that it's heavy but if portability is not a big thing for you then wood really does look the part. Aluminum is lighter and therefore more portable.

2. Lift

Dependent on the size of the patio umbrella the lifting mechanism may be important to you. For a heavy umbrella the best is a crank system which means there is a level on the umbrella pole that you wind and up it goes.

Less elaborate systems include a pulley where you pull on a rope and when the umbrella is up, secure its position with a pin. Finally there's the tried and tested collar that you simply push up until it clicks into a lock.

3. Tilt

The tilt will help you maximize the amount of shade that your patio umbrella delivers so keeping you out of the harmful UV rays of the sun and there are three options:-

a) The auto system uses the crank to gently tilt the umbrella.
b) The push button is exactly that and release the button when the desired angle is reached
c) Tilt by rotating one of the ribs

4. Shade Size

You would expect the quoted size of a patio umbrella to be measure across the diameter but this is not the case, most manufacturers measure the size from one end, over the top and down to the other end. So take care when considering what size you need.

As a general rule of thumb, the umbrella size should be 5 feet more than the area than the table you wish to shade as this will give the extra room needed to take the chairs into account.

5. Fabric

Along with size, fabric is probably the biggest driver of cost but it has to be said, if you go for the cheaper fabrics than the only thing that is sure is that the color will fade. During my investigations I came up with five fabrics that both look the part and deliver the right level of durability. These were:-

a) SolarVista. A French made lightweight fabric made from acrylic.

b) Olefin is a weather & sunlight resistant durable solution dyed fabric that's of slightly heavier weight than SolarVista.

c) Spun Poly is a type of polyester designed for high strength, uniform quality, colorfastness and smoothness.

d) Sunbrella. Made in the USA, this fabric is 100% solution-dyed and because of the dying process, color can't wash out or fade. This fabric has also been tested to give a UV resistance rating.

e) Coolaroo's "Open Weave" is the state of the art in that it is breathable yet at the same time giving excellent UV protection. The breathability allows air to circulate freely through the umbrella therefore keeping the air cool directly under the shade.

6. Maximum Shade And Flexibility With An Offset Umbrellas

These patio umbrellas have to be the ultimate. The main points are that they are free standing so there's no need for the extra cost of an umbrella stand and also because the pole is to one side, you have the freedom to position the umbrella where you want to maximise shade or simply to ensure that the view isn't interrupted.

Certainly my next BBQ party is going to be in the shade and to finish off I've also invested in covers to ensure that all my patio furniture remains in pristine condition for as long as possible.
About the Author
About the author:- Patio Umbrellas - Ideal for your BBQ cookout. Free BBQ Recipes - Outdoor grilling tips. Backyard Barbecue Furniture - Patio Furniture Guide.
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