The Best Patio Umbrellas for Any Size Outdoor Space

Ahead, get our top tips and recommendations on choosing the best patio umbrella for your needs, your budget, and your personal style, as well as the details on our top-favorite picks.

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The Best Patio Umbrella Options for Your Outdoor Space

Photo: istockphoto.com

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 our roundup of top-favorite picks, below!

  1. BEST SMALL PATIO UMBRELLA: Abba Patio 7.5ft Patio Umbrella
  2. BEST MID-SIZE PATIO UMBRELLA: Abba Patio 9ft Striped Patio Umbrella
  3. BEST LARGE PATIO UMBRELLA: Grand patio Napoli 11 FT Offset Umbrella

Choosing the Right Patio Umbrella

What’s your style?

Outdoor umbrellas come in a dizzying array of colors, patterns, and fabrics but only two basic design styles—market and cantilever.

  • Market models are the classic, upright patio umbrella. 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, outdoor kitchen, or small seating area.
  • Cantilever umbrellas—also called offset umbrellas—have an arching frame that offsets the canopy from the base. This means you can shade your lounge chairs or outdoor entertaining area without the umbrella base getting in the way.

Size matters.

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 don’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 seven feet and no more than nine feet when fully raised. The following guidelines will help you pick the perfect umbrella for your needs.

  • A 5-foot to 6-foot umbrella provides perfect cover 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-sized 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.

The three most common material options for umbrella frames are aluminum, wood, and fiberglass.

  • Aluminum umbrella frames are the most popular choice, as they are the least expensive option, hold up well in a wide range of weather conditions, flex enough to tolerate moderate winds, and are lightweight.
  • Teak and other hardwoods make attractive frames that look particularly nice on a wooden deck. Although outdoor wood is normally treated to prevent rot and weather damage, it does tend to fade or change color over time and is likelier than metal to snap in high winds.
  • Fiberglass is the most expensive choice, but also the most durable. This lightweight, strong material won’t weather or rust and performs well even in fairly high winds.

Think about how you’ll weigh it down.

Every patio umbrella requires a heavy base to keep it from falling over or blowing away, even if the umbrella is centered through your patio table. Failing to secure your umbrella not only makes it likelier to be damaged, it also creates a risk of injury.

Stone, iron, and concrete are common umbrella base, although some less-expensive bases are hollow plastic, requiring you to fill them with sand or water. Some umbrella bases have small wheels, a handy feature if you’ll want to move your umbrella from place to place.

As a general rule, the larger the umbrella, the heavier the base, and cantilever models need even more weight than market versions. While some umbrellas include the base, others require you to purchase the base separately. 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-to13-foot umbrellas

 

The Best Patio Umbrella Options for Your Outdoor Space

Find fabric that will survive the elements.

The fabric of the umbrella needs to be durable enough to tolerate sun, rain, wind, and cold. One particularly popular fabric is Sunbrella, which is used by many manufacturers. This durable acrylic fabric comes in a huge range of colors and patterns and stands up to just about any weather condition without fading. Polyester, canvas, unbranded acrylic, and Olefin are also sturdy fabrics that perform well outdoors.

Consider two additional features worth a look.

There are two other features to weigh when choosing a top-notch patio umbrella.

  • The lift mechanism is what opens and closes your umbrella. The three common options are push-up, which requires you to use your own strength to lift and secure the canopy; pulley, which uses a wheel and rope mechanism to lift the umbrella into place; and crank, which has a small handle that cranks the umbrella canopy open and shut—the best option for large patio umbrellas.
  • The tilting mechanism on umbrellas usually takes one of three forms: a button you push to release the umbrella so you can tilt it to the desired angle, a crank that tilts the umbrella, or a rotating collar that lets you tilt the umbrella into place.

Our Top Picks

Best for Small Patios

The Best Patio Umbrella Option: Abba 7.5-Foot Patio Umbrella
Photo: amazon.com

Large enough to shade your bistro set or small table, this 7.5-foot umbrella from Abba Patio has an aluminum and steel frame that cranks open and closed, along with a push-button tilt mechanism. The durable polyester canopy comes in several colors and is particularly budget-friendly if you already have a patio umbrella base. The base for this one is sold separately.

Best for Mid-Size Patios

The Best Patio Umbrella Option: Abba 9-Foot Market Umbrella
Photo: amazon.com

The perfect size for round or rectangular tables up to 48 inches, this fairly priced, aluminum-framed, polyester-canopied market umbrella operates in a familiar way—it cranks open and closed, and a push-button tilt mechanism makes it easy to angle the shade. Most of all, we love the umbrella’s sturdy quality. We also love the wealth of colors and patterns it’s available in. Only note that you’ll have to buy the base separately if you don’t already have one.

Best for Large Patios

The Best Patio Umbrella Option: Grand Patio NAPOLI 12-foot Offset Umbrella
Photo: amazon.com

If your outdoor leisure spot seats multiple reclining beach chairs or a large dining area, the Napoli patio umbrella may fit the bill for you, thanks to its generously sized canopy made from water- and fade-resistant polyester. The frame tilts easily to provide plenty of shade, no matter the direction of the sun. Color options are limited though, and you’ll need to fill the base (sold separately) with 220 pounds of water or sand for stabilization.