What’s the ultimate must-have for outdoor living when you need a reprieve from the sun? A patio umbrella, of course! The right umbrella brings a big patch of shade to your space—and an equally big splash of style.
Beyond looks, there are various considerations that go into choosing the best patio umbrella for your needs. These include canopy size and material, as well as the design of the umbrella’s base and operating mechanism. Ahead, learn what to look for in a quality umbrella—and don’t miss the roundup of top picks below.
- BEST OVERALL: Best Choice Products 10ft Solar Powered Aluminum
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Sunnyglade 9′ Patio Umbrella
- UPGRADE PICK: PURPLE LEAF 9ft Patio Umbrella Outdoor Square
- BEST CANTILEVER: Grand Patio Deluxe NAPOLI Cantilever Umbrella
- BEST WIND-RESISTANT: MUCHENGHY Patio Market Umbrellas 9ft UV Protection
- BEST UV PROTECTION: Grand Patio 9 FT Enhanced Aluminum Patio Umbrella
- BEST PATTERNED: Blissun 9′ Outdoor Aluminum, Striped Patio Umbrella
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: Abba Patio 7.5ft Patio Umbrella
- BEST EXTRA-LARGE: PHI VILLA 15ft Patio Umbrella Double-Sided
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Patio Umbrella
It’s hard to beat kicking back under the protection of a patio umbrella on a hot day. But before you relax in the shade, there are quite a few things to know about choosing the best patio umbrella. The following sections will outline those considerations and help ensure that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Before you choose a patio umbrella, understand that there are different types, including market umbrellas, cantilever umbrellas, and half umbrellas. Each has its strengths and purposes, so it’s helpful to be familiar with each.
- Market umbrellas are the classic upright patio model. Most have a vented canopy, which allows for a bit of wind to flow through without lifting the umbrella from the ground. Some market umbrellas have a tilt function, which lets you adjust the upper portion of the frame to keep the shade centered right where you want it. Market umbrellas are excellent options for shading a patio table, an outdoor kitchen, or a small seating area.
- Cantilever umbrellas—also called offset umbrellas—feature a canopy that’s set off to the side of the pole rather than centered on top. This means you can shade your lounge chairs or outdoor entertaining area while the umbrella base stays out of the way.
- Half umbrellas are just how they sound: half of a typical umbrella. These umbrellas are ideal for patio sets placed up against a wall or fence. The shape allows the umbrella to tuck right up against the vertical surface without allowing the sun to poke through the gaps.
Shape and Coverage
One of the most important decisions when buying a patio umbrella is the size. Too big, and it will look bulky and out of place; too small, and you won’t get enough shade. Note that umbrella measurements refer to the width of the fully extended canopy, not the height.
While there’s a large range of umbrella widths, its height should be no less than 7 feet and no more than 9 feet when fully raised. The following guidelines will help you pick the best patio umbrella for your needs.
- A 5-foot to 6-foot umbrella does the trick for a bistro set with two chairs.
- If you want to shade a 36-inch table with two to four chairs, you’ll need a 7-foot umbrella.
- Looking to shade a 40-inch table with four to six chairs, or a small conversation area? A 7.5-foot to 8.5-foot umbrella is your best bet.
- For tables up to 48 inches or small-to-medium conversation areas, you’ll need a 9-foot to 10-foot umbrella.
- An 11-foot umbrella is suitable for a 60-inch table with six chairs, or a medium-size conversation area.
- For a large conversation area or a 60-to-72-inch table, choose an umbrella that’s 11.5 to 13-feet across.
Beyond the sheer area an umbrella covers, consider the shape. Extra-large umbrellas are often oblong and offer coverage exactly where you need it over a long table. A half-umbrella might only provide half the coverage, but because it will tuck nicely against a wall, there aren’t any gaps for sunlight to poke through.
Shopping for the best patio umbrella does require learning a bit about the different fabrics used in their construction. While most materials create plenty of shade, they each have their own perks and drawbacks.
- Sunbrella fabric is a popular choice for a wide variety of outdoor applications but it’s especially prevalent in umbrellas. Sunbrella is a brand-name acrylic and polyester blend that comes in a variety of styles and colors. The durable material resists fading, mildew and stains.
- Polyester is typically a less expensive option than some other umbrella fabrics, as it doesn’t block as much of the sun and its UV rays. If treated with a water-repellent finish and a UV inhibitor, polyester will last for quite a few seasons.
- Acrylic fabrics are very popular, as the material is soft and takes dyes very well. These umbrellas come in different patterns and colors, and they’re usually UV resistant.
- Olefin is another popular material for patio umbrellas as it’s incredibly UV resistant and dries very quickly after rain, which helps prevent mildew and mold. Olefin is also strong and easy to clean.
Patio umbrella frames come in several different materials.
- Aluminum umbrella frames are the most popular choice, as they are inexpensive, lightweight, hold up well in a wide range of weather conditions, and flexible enough to tolerate moderate winds.
- Stainless steel patio umbrellas are very rare and may cost a fortune. Heavy, strong and corrosion-resistant, they might work best in coastal areas with a lot of wind-driven salt in the air.
- Teak and other hardwoods make attractive frames that look particularly nice on a wooden deck. Although special treatments help prevent rot and weather damage in outdoor wood, it does tend to fade or change color over time and could still snap in high winds.
- Fiberglass carries the highest price tag but may also last the longest. This lightweight, strong material won’t weather or rust and performs well even in fairly high winds.
UV resistance isn’t the whole story. Often, that value refers to how well the umbrella fabric holds up to sun exposure, not how well it protects the folks taking shelter underneath.
The entire purpose of a patio umbrella is to provide refuge from the sun on a hot day. An umbrella forms a barrier between the sun and skin. That barrier creates what’s known as UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor.
In general, fabrics like Sunbrella and other acrylics offer the best UPF ratings, with values of UPF 50+. These umbrellas block out not only the light but the ultraviolet rays that accompany it, which helps protect the skin of the folks underneath.
Lift, Tilt, and Rotation
Even lightweight umbrellas can be a bit unwieldy based on their awkward sizes and shapes. But the best patio umbrellas incorporate special mechanisms that help open and close the umbrella with ease as well as adjust it to an ideal angle for blocking out the sun.
- The lift mechanism opens and closes the umbrella in one of three ways: Push-ups require the user to lift and secure the canopy with their own strength. A pulley uses a wheel and a rope to lift the umbrella into place. Crank lifts include a small handle that cranks the umbrella canopy open and shut, which is the best option for large patio umbrellas.
- The tilting mechanism usually takes one of three forms: A push-button mechanism releases the umbrella so the user can tilt it to the desired angle. A crank gradually tilts the umbrella into place. A rotating collar lets users manually tilt the umbrella into place.
- The rotating mechanism turns the umbrella to track with the position of the sun. This allows the user to block the sun from sunup to sundown.
Weight and Stability
Regardless of its weight, the best patio umbrella should be both stable and easy to maneuver.
Umbrellas themselves are generally pretty light, weighing between 10 and 20 pounds for a typical market umbrella or 20 to 25 pounds for an extra-large model. Materials like stainless steel may double the weight, while teak wood might add just a pound or two. Cantilevered designs might be much heavier, as their framework needs to be considerably stronger.
Every patio umbrella requires a heavy base to keep it upright and strong against the wind, even if the umbrella is centered through a patio table. Failing to secure an umbrella raises the risk of damage to the umbrella and injury to everyone around it.
Stone, iron, and concrete are common umbrella bases. Less expensive options include hollow plastic filled with sand or water. Some umbrella bases have small wheels, a handy feature for moving the umbrella from place to place.
As a general rule, the larger the umbrella, the heavier the base. Cantilever models, in particular, need more weight than market versions. While some umbrellas include the base, others require a separate purchase. Here are guidelines for market umbrella base weights:
- 40 pounds for 5 to 6-foot umbrellas
- 50 pounds for 7.5 to 8.5-foot umbrellas
- 60 pounds for 9-foot umbrellas
- 70 pounds for 10-foot umbrellas
- 100 pounds for 11 to 13-foot umbrellas
Patios are all about relaxing, and getting the decor just right is a great way to boost those good vibes. Luckily, many of the best patio umbrellas feature bright, attractive colors and patterns, so matching them with patio furniture is rarely an issue. Those who struggle to find the perfect hue can instead have fun with contrasting colors.
Some umbrellas bring added built-in features, too. While you’ll have to supply your own outdoor speakers, many patio umbrellas feature built-in lights fed from solar power, so the party doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down. For umbrellas that don’t come with built-in lights, a set of string lights will do the trick.
Our Top Picks
To help streamline the shopping process, the following list includes some of the best patio umbrellas on the market. Be sure to keep the top considerations in mind when comparing these products.
For a soothing shade on hot days, check out Best Choice Products 10-foot umbrella. Durable fade- and water-resistant polyester fabric with an airflow vent stands up to the wind. A crank handle makes for an easy open and close.
An aluminum and steel frame delivers strength and a bit of flexibility for windy days. The push-button tilt mechanism allows users to reposition the canopy to stay ahead of the sun. A set of 24 solar-powered LEDs underneath the canopy run for up to 7 hours after sundown. The entire unit weighs just under 17 pounds—light enough to maneuver but sturdy enough for rougher weather. Available in 12 colors, this sun shade should match most patio aesthetics.
Those searching for shade at an affordable price should check out Sunnyglade’s Patio Umbrella. This market umbrella creates 9 feet of shade under its polyester canopy in a choice of seven different colors.
All aluminum construction with a powder-coated finish means superior durability. The crank lift allows for a smooth open and close. A push-button tilt mechanism keeps loungers in the shade throughout the day. A wind vent underneath the umbrella allows air to flow while this sun shade stays upright.
This square cantilevered umbrella features a 9-foot by 9-foot canopy covered in durable, water-resistant, UV-protective polyester. The all-aluminum frame with a silver powder coat finish will stand the test of time and the elements. Weighing in at a hefty 60-plus pounds, it’s stable and secure.
Purple Leaf’s unique crank system allows patio sitters to choose from six height and angle settings for optimal sun-blocking. The canopy comes in beige, red, and turquoise, and features a built-in air vent for wind resistance and airflow.
Backyard lounging underneath the Grand Patio Deluxe NAPOLI patio umbrella means plenty of room and flexibility. This cantilevered umbrella features an ample 11-foot canopy and a stylish curved design that takes both form and function to the next level.
A crank lift and auto-lock facilitate opening, closing and tilt adjustments. The heavy-duty all-aluminum frame and double-coated, waterproof, UV-protective polyester offers years of enjoyment. With the base full, this umbrella weighs more than 265 pounds. Built-in wheels ease movement around outdoor spaces.
In the backyard or beachfront, Michenghy’s Patio Market Umbrella stands up to strong winds. A durable aluminum frame and 9-foot vented canopy help keep this outdoor companion in place under windy conditions.
Sunbrella polyester fabric offers UV protection, water- and fade-resistance, and easy cleaning, while the powder coated aluminum resists rust. A built-in crank lift makes for easy open and close. The tilt button facilitates precise angle adjustments. With a weight of just over 15 pounds, it moves with ease across patios and decks.
While patio umbrellas are incredibly relaxing, their primary purpose is to protect against UV rays. Grand Patio’s Enhanced Aluminum Patio Umbrella does just that, with its UV-protective 9-foot polyester canopy and push button tilt mechanism to keep the sun from damaging the skin of anyone underneath.
This market umbrella features an all-aluminum frame for weather resistance and durability. A crank mounted on the pole allows users to open and close the umbrella canopy with ease. A built-in wind vent promotes airflow and improves wind resistance. Available in six colors, the umbrella coordinates well with most patio furniture.
Backyard decorators don’t have to choose between protection and style with Blissun’s Outdoor Aluminum Patio Umbrella. This 9-foot model comes in three patterns and nine colors to suit most any backyard space.
A durable all-aluminum frame can withstand use after use. The easy-to-clean polyester canopy resists water and UV rays, while an air vent adds a bit of wind resistance. A crank lift opens and closes the canopy, and a tilt button positions it just right against the sun. At just 11 pounds, the Blissun moves easily around the patio.
Oversized umbrellas may be cumbersome and awkward on compact patios. For smaller outdoor spaces, take a look at Abba Patio’s market umbrella. The 7.5-foot canopy fits nicely in tight outdoor spaces, such as small decks or garden patios.
A crank lift mechanism opens and closes the canopy over the rust-resistant, powder-coated metal frame. A push-button tilt mechanism helps position the canopy perfectly against the sun. Available in 17 colors, the durable polyester canopy resists fading, water and UV rays. A vented top adds airflow and wind resistance.
For larger spaces that need more shade, like long patio tables or bench seats, Phi Villa’s Patio Umbrella delivers. The double-sided design creates a wingspan of a whopping 15 feet to provide plenty of shade from one central pole.
A tough steel frame and the breathable polyester canopy are built to last. The crank lift facilitates opening and spreading this oversized umbrella without wrestling with the long ribs. While it does feature triple vents, the increased wingspan doesn’t do much in the way of wind resistance, so it’s best to close it after every use.
FAQs About Your New Patio Umbrella
This guide sheds a lot of light on the best patio umbrellas, but some questions might remain. The following are answers to the most frequently asked questions about patio umbrellas, so be sure to check for the answer to yours below.
Q. What should I look for when buying a patio umbrella?
You’ll want to ensure that the umbrella you choose fits your budget, style, and size requirements, but also that it’s built from durable materials like aluminum and synthetic fabrics.
Q. What is the most durable patio umbrella?
Umbrellas made from aluminum framework and Sunbrella or other synthetic fabrics will last the longest.
Q. What color patio umbrella is best for protection?
While it might seem that lighter colors are better, it’s darker colors that do a better job of keeping sunlight out. Black is best, but rarely fits the aesthetic. Look for a darker color such as blue or green that works with your patio design and also absorbs UV rays.
Q. Is steel or aluminum better for a patio umbrella?
Aluminum is usually best. Though they’re not always as strong as steel umbrellas, aluminum frames offer the best resistance against corrosion and balance of strength to weight.
Q. What is the best way to clean a patio umbrella?
Many patio umbrellas are machine washable. Simply remove the fabric from the frame and toss it in the wash by itself with a mild detergent. If it’s not machine washable, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Q. How do you get mildew out of an outdoor umbrella?
If your umbrella is growing mold or mildew, it might not be time to throw it out just yet. A liquid mold remover may do the trick. Simply follow the instructions on the container and allow the product to work its magic.
If you’re looking to make the most of your outdoor space, garden, patio, or deck, with the best umbrella, you’ll have it made in the shade. You’ll be able to enjoy a cooler outdoor space and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. On a truly hot day, you’ll be glad you took the time to research and choose the best patio umbrella for your needs.