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It’s Cool to be Shady: Choosing the Right Umbrella for Your Patio Space

It’s Cool to be Shady: Choosing the Right Umbrella for Your Patio Space

Posted by Leader's Casual Furniture on 7th Dec 2018

The sunny weather is why most of us choose to move to – or stay in – Florida. But even if you mainline Vitamin D like it’s your job, with an average of 240 sunny days annually, any Floridian worth their sea salt needs intermittent respite from the rays. Since it’s likely you’ve already outfitted your outdoors with quality patio furnishings, including an umbrella in the deck décor is a natural fit. But how do you make sure you get the right outdoor ‘brolly for your space? We break it down in three simple steps below:

1.  Assess your space

Before you even set a sandaled foot in a store, assess the specific umbrella area. Will it cover a large or small table? If you’re in the market for a bigger umbrella, you’ll need to determine if it will interfere with any part of a roof, gutter or overhang. You’ll also want to keep safety in mind if placing an umbrella near an outdoor kitchen or grill and ensure there’s enough distance between it and any flame elements. Also, look at how the umbrella impacts the flow of traffic in your outdoor space; they can quickly go from convenient to cumbersome if placed in the way of natural foot traffic. Finally, scan your overall backyard; what kind of plants and flowers are planted in beds? What kind of planters do you have, and what plants do they hold?

2.  Choose the right size

Next, you’ll need to get out the measuring tape and start looking at numbers. How big is the space in which the umbrella will sit? What about what it’s meant to cover (table, seating area, lounge chairs, etc.)? For tables, these general measurements typically apply:

Table Size (Diameter, inches) Umbrella Size (Diameter, feet)
30” – 36” 6’ – 8’
38” – 48” 9’ – 11’
54” – 60” 11’+

As mentioned above, you’ll also want to measure from floor to roof, gutter, or overhang to ensure your umbrella doesn’t interfere with any of these elements.

As it can be hard to accurately visualize the right umbrella in a space, even with measurements in front of you, Leader’s Casual Furniture offers customers our handy Room Planner that lets you see your space to scale on screen. Among its many features, this tool allows you to recreate your patio space using your measurements and virtually “try-out” different umbrellas. Click here to give it a try!

3.  Pick your style

Now that you have a good grasp of your overall outdoor space, think about your preferred style – the fun part!:

Shape

Most, but not all, outdoor umbrellas are round. Some are octagonal (known as market umbrellas, which we mention below), while there are newer, rectangular models available to shade longer outdoor tables.

Style

  • Market: Widely popular, larger and usually of higher quality, like those you see on café patios. These are typically octagonal with vented tops.
  • Pagoda: Asian-inspired parasol-style umbrellas that have an architectural, pagoda-like shape.
  • Cantilever: This type of umbrella is of the weighted base-and-pole variety and is offset away from the intended shade area (rather than inserted through a patio table). These are a good option for working around parameters such as small tables or ones without holes, lounge chairs near a pool, or a deep-seating set. An added benefit to these: They can be moved and adjusted easily as the sun moves, or as your patio layout changes.

Material

Choosing umbrella material is two-fold; you must consider both the frame, and the umbrella canopy – the fabric part that actually does the shading.

Umbrella frames are traditionally constructed from wood, fiberglass, or aluminum – the latter of which is the most commonly used umbrella frame and pole material. With the right finish, aluminum resists all kinds of weather conditions, and is easy to clean and keep looking new (see how in our previous blog post on caring for aluminum!). Wood frames, especially an outdoor-tolerant wood like teak, ipe or eucalyptus, are also popular, albeit more expensive. Fiberglass is an excellent alternative to aluminum, as it is lightweight, flexible, non-corrosive and withstands various weather conditions.

The umbrella canopy material comes in a variety of options, including:

  • Acrylic: A durable and colorfast fabric, suitable for outdoor umbrellas, cushions, pillows, and draperies, it is wrinkle-resistant and holds it shape well but note: it can be sensitive to high temperatures.
  • Sunbrella: A popular line of outdoor-graded fabrics used to create durable, top-quality canopies that are fade and wear resistant.
  • Polyester: Naturally hydrophobic (it dries faster than other materials) and ideal for rainy environments, polyester is durable, strong, and chemical-resistant, and can be solution-dyed almost any color.
  • Olefin: Made from a polyolefin, a synthetic material that offers strength and durability at a lower price and resists fading, tears, stains, and mildew.
  • Thatch: Refers to a traditional style of roof construction where straw and other natural materials are matted down to create an overhead covering, this is primarily used for its tropical appearance, but the material is also rot and fade resistant. Thatch’s unique ventilation properties also helps to create a cooler shaded space.

As for general look of your umbrella, you’ll feel spoiled for choice with options ranging from solids, striped, patterned or even logo umbrellas that can showcase your favorite beverage or sports team. This part ultimately comes down to personal preference, and what you feel would work well with the scheme and overall vibe of your current patio set-up. What complements the lounge look you’ve already got going?

So, while adding an umbrella into your patio mix can feel like a daunting task, if you follow our tips and guidelines above, you’re sure to find yourself made in the shade in no time. Stop by one of our 19 Florida showrooms today for your perfect new patio umbrella!

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