Patio Umbrella Technical Guide

Patio Umbrellas

Buying a patio umbrella for your outdoor seating is a wise investment. They will become a vital part of your outdoor decor and are essential accessories to complete your patio look. When buying a commercial umbrella you need to take into account a number of factors which will affect your decision. This includes the size of your patio space, how your seating is arranged, how often you plan on using the umbrellas (do you need them year-round or just for seasonal use), your budget and price considerations.

Commercial vs Residential Umbrellas

There are several differences between commercial umbrellas and those made for residential use. The main difference between a commercial one and one that you can buy in your local store is that commercial umbrellas a generally larger and made for heavy use. Unlike outdoor umbrellas for the average home which are made to be used occasionally during the summer, commercial umbrellas are built for style and functionality. Also the quality of the parts such as the push lift mechanism, the ribs that hold up the canopy, the base and the canopy itself has to be of high quality built for rugged commercial use.

It’s important to first consider the size and placement of your outdoor patio umbrella so you can see if it is suitable for your business or not. By selecting the right-sized umbrella you can ensure you are providing adequate shade for your guests and maximizing usage of your patio space. It is best to measure your patio floor space and your outdoor tables and chairs. Knowing these measurements and the size of the umbrella will help you calculate how many you will need. This will also save you the time and hassle of having to return your umbrella if it is the wrong size.

Determine Your Patio Umbrella Size

The most common question we get from our customers is "How do I choose the right patio umbrella?”
Umbrellas are chosen primarily based on the area they need to shade so when talking about umbrella size we are talking about the canopy diameter. The ideal canopy should be about 3 ft bigger than the area you want to shade. However, if you have a large patio with several tables you might want an umbrella per table. This allows you to control which tables need the umbrella opened and which don’t depending on the weather and the placement of the seating. Below are the recommended canopy sizes based on the tables you have:

Table Size Umbrella Size Popular Table Sizes
Up to 30" with 2 chairs 7' Canopy 24" x 24", 30" x 30", 24" x 30", 24" Round, 30" Round
Up to 36" with 4 Chairs 9' Canopy 36" x 36", 30" x 48", 36" Round
Up to 48"-60" with 6 Chairs 11' Canopy 42" Round, 42" x 42", 30" x 60", 30" x 72", 48" Round, 48" x 48", 60" Round
Commercial Umbrellas

Types of Commercial Umbrellas

There are various types of commercial umbrellas that may be better suited for your venue’s particular needs. A very popular type is the center-post umbrella. These umbrellas are sturdy, resistant and extremely versatile and have a design that allows plenty of room for patio furniture below. This is typically used at restaurants which have outdoor seating arrangements and the umbrella is in the center of the table. These typically feature a push lift or a push pulley to open and close the umbrella and the canopy has a vent and a finial.

The center-post umbrellas are used to shade individual seating sets rather than an entire area making them a cheaper alternative to shading an entire patio using a pergola for example. Unlike a pergola, which requires time and at least 2 people to put up and take down the center-post patio umbrellas are also easier to move around and store away when not in use making them ideal for venues that want to provide flexible shade.

What Makes for a Good Commercial Patio Umbrella?

When shopping for your large patio umbrella it is important to be familiar with the various parts and components as seen in the diagram below:

Commercial Umbrella Components
Umbrella Base

Umbrella Base

The base is responsible for stabilizing the umbrella and keeping it sturdy in all kinds of weather making it important to choose the right one to go with your umbrella. One that is too light or too small could raise safety concerns and affect its stability. At the same time, if you are planning on moving your tables frequently for storage, you don’t want a base that is too heavy or difficult to move. Our umbrella bases are made out of cast iron, steel covered concrete, and zinc coated. If you are going to be moving your umbrella frequently, it’s advisable to get one with casters.
Umbrella Pole

Umbrella Pole

Umbrella poles come in different materials including hardwood, aluminum, steel and wrought iron. It is important to check the diameter and height of your patio umbrella pole before purchasing. For maximum stability your umbrella pole diameter should be as close as possible while still fitting the umbrella hole for your outdoor table. Most poles have a diameter ranging from 1.5” to 2.5”. If you choose a pole diameter of 1.5” the base diameter should be at least 1.5” and at most 0.25” larger. As a rule of thumb, your base diameter should not be more than 0.25” larger than your pole’s diameter.
Push Lift

Push Lift Mechanism

Our umbrellas are available with either a push or a push and pull lift combination for the larger canopies. The push lift is a mechanism which allows you to quickly push up the canopy by hand to open and retract it. Once opened the canopy is then held safely in place with a strong metal pin.
Push Pulley Lift

Push Pulley Lift Mechanism

The larger and heavier umbrella canopies also come with a taller pole making it more difficult to manually open and close them . The push and pull mechanism includes a pulley lift which has a braided rope on dual pulleys that bears the weight of the canopy allowing you to easily open it by hand. It also aids with reaching the top of the larger umbrellas which can be taller than the average height.
Ribs & Hubs

Ribs & Hubs

These are the components that support and hold up the canopy. They are typically made from the same materials as the pole, with hardwood, aluminum or fiberglass, but they can be made from other strong, durable materials such as steel. The material should be strong, waterproof and rustproof. The ribs are what holds up the canopy and must be strong enough to hold it up and withstand the wind and are kept in place using hubs (also known as crowns). Like the ribs, hubs they can be made of powder-coated aluminum, wood, resin, fiberglass or steel.
Canopy

Canopy

The canopy is the most important and visible part of your outdoor umbrella and can make a big impact on the look and style of your patio. This needs to be made of a sturdy UV resistant fabric that will shield your customers from the harsh sun, rain and other elements. UV resistant material will also be less prone to fading. This requires a thick fabric that will keep your umbrella looking like new for many years. Some canopies are made with marine-grade acrylic fabric that is especially tough and UV resistant. The fabric should also be waterproof and resistant to mold and mildew.

Commercial Patio Umbrella Fabrics

Olefin

Olefin is a synthetic fiber made from polypropylene material. Olefin's advantages are its strength, color fastness and comfort. Its resistance to staining, mold, mildew, abrasion, and sunlight make it a high quality all-weather material. Olefin textiles are versatile and are renowned for their quality and affordability.

Their synthetic fibers are more robust and durable than natural fibers so Olefin is a smart choice for sustained outdoor use. This material is waterproof and has full UV protection to protect your guests and resist fading. Olefin fabrics are a great affordable option for those who are looking for a durable yet inexpensive canopy.

Pacifica

Pacifica is a premium grade fabric made with solution dyed canvas made using polyester fibers that hold color 4 times longer than traditional polyesters using a unique thread combination. Due to this unique combination, Pacifica fabric is soft to the touch and the colors appear more vibrant. The material has been tested under the most stringent conditions to ensure you get a long lasting, colorfast, robust material at an affordable price. The end result is a durable fabric that will last for many years in the sun with a premium look that has a high UV rating for superior protection from the sun. Pacifica offers exceptional quality canvas with excellent protection for a mid-range price point.

Sunbrella

Sunbrella is a top of the line fabric that has proven performance for decades. Made with acrylic yarn, this is the most resilient material for outdoor use with the ability to withstand prolonged sun exposure without fading. Sunbrella brand acrylic dyed fabric offers longer lasting color retention than other competing materials and has a wider variety of colors and patterns to choose from. Offering 5 to 10 years guarantee of color retention and corrosion resistance, this material offers full UV protection for your guests with a high UPF level to negate the effects of sun exposure. Sunbrella is a premium quality canvas that offers the longest protection against fading and degradation. Sunbrella is the top of the line canopy material.
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