Patio Umbrella Buying Guide – Types, Materials, Sizes and Shapes

Patio Umbrella Buying Guide – Types, Materials, Sizes and Shapes

2 patio umbrellas - grey and red

If you are in the market for a patio umbrella, then you may find that you are inundated with choices and are not sure which type of umbrella is best for you. Below are various options to consider when choosing a patio umbrella:


Shopping for a patio umbrella can sometimes be a bit confusing because there are a number of different names associated with different types of umbrellas. These are a few of the more popular types:

Offset patio umbrella

Offset patio umbrellas have the support pole on the side of the umbrella rather than in the middle. This is beneficial because the pole does not have to be put through the middle of the table (and you do not have to make sure that your table has a hole to fit the umbrella pole). An offset patio umbrella can usually be tilted and can rotate 360 degrees, allowing for maximum shade coverage, no matter what the angle of the sun. These umbrellas are sometimes also referred to as sidepost umbrellas. These are the perfect umbrellas to use if you do not want your umbrella to sit above a table but prefer for it to be located on the side of your patio slab, near some other furniture arrangements or anywhere else on your patio.

Cantilever patio umbrella

A cantilever patio umbrella is similar to an offset umbrella in that the pole is off to the side of the umbrella shade, rather than in the middle. Cantilever umbrellas can be tilted from side to side, rather than front to back like most other offset or side post umbrellas. There are also some patio umbrellas that have a center pole that offer cantilever options to tilt the umbrella shade from side to side.

Market patio umbrella

Market patio umbrellas have a center pole that supports the umbrella shade. Most market umbrellas are made of wood with a canvas canopy, although there are some that are offered in the same style with an aluminum base.


Patio umbrellas can be made of various types of material. The two most popular material choices are aluminum or wood. This is the material that makes up the pole and mechanisms that operate the umbrella. Some umbrellas are also made of metal and fiberglass. The patio umbrella canopy is usually made of canvas, vinyl or another pliable material. Patio umbrellas made with Sunbrella® fabrics are some of the highest quality and most durable on the market and come in a wide selection of colors and styles.

Sizes & Shapes:

Patio umbrellas come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. You can usually find a patio umbrella that is made to fit your table or other outdoor space. Patio umbrellas can be round, square, oval or rectangle. Sizes can also range from very small to extremely large, depending on your needs. Most outdoor patio umbrellas are available in stock sizes, but you can also custom order an umbrella if you have a unique set of requirements.

When purchasing an umbrella, a good rule of thumb to consider is that the larger the patio umbrella you require, the more you should pay attention to the quality of the umbrella, especially the base and mechanisms that operate the unit.

In most cases, patio umbrella canopies can be replaced if they wear out, tear or fade but the main part of the umbrella should be made to withstand years of outdoor use.


In addition to selecting an umbrella to best meet your shade needs, there are also a number of patio umbrella accessories that you can consider to go along with your umbrella. A patio umbrella makes a big impression in your backyard or other outdoor living space, so it is worth putting some consideration into the look of your umbrella, as well as some of the added accessories that can go along with it. Here are some of the accessories you may find available at most patio umbrella retailers:

Patio Umbrella Stand

Some patio umbrellas do not come with their own stand to hold the umbrella pole in place. This is usually the case for umbrellas that are made to fit through the hole in a patio table. Patio umbrella stands can be basic or decorative, depending on your tastes. The only requirement is that they be heavy enough to hold the umbrella in place and that they securely hold the pole.

Patio Umbrella Cover

Patio umbrellaIf you plan to leave your patio umbrella outdoors year round or would like to preserve the life of the fabric, then a patio umbrella cover is a good accessory to have. Most patio umbrella covers are made to fit specific styles or sizes of umbrellas so be sure to check that you order the right size and style. Keeping your umbrella closed up and covered will keep your umbrella in good shape for years.

Patio Umbrella Lights

There are now many options of patio umbrella lights available. Some patio umbrella lights attach directly to the pole of the umbrella to provide ambient light when the sun goes down. Other types of lights can be affixed to the edges of the umbrella canopy for a festive look. Adding patio umbrella lights can really add interest and set the mood when you use your patio after dark!

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