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What's the difference between an offset umbrella and a cantilever umbrella?

Outdoor umbrellas provide shade, so you can comfortably spend more time in your yard, even when the sun's blazing down. You might have heard of offset umbrellas and cantilever umbrellas, and maybe you’re wondering what the difference is between the two.

While there's a small difference between these varieties, there are points at which the two types converge. Both are designed to bypass the need for a central pole, which gives you more room underneath. 

In this article: Purple Leaf Cantilever Patio Umbrella, Bluu Banyon Offset Umbrella and Grand Patio Napoli Curvy Offset Umbrella

Offset umbrellas vs. cantilever umbrellas

There's a lot of crossover between offset umbrellas and cantilever umbrellas. An offset umbrella is a type of cantilever umbrella, but a cantilever umbrella isn't necessarily an offset umbrella. 

  • Cantilever umbrellas: In order to understand what a cantilever umbrella is, you must first know what a cantilever is. A cantilever is a horizontal structural element that's supported at one end and bears a load on the other. So, one end of a cantilever umbrella's beam holds the umbrella, while it's supported at the other end. The vast majority of cantilever umbrellas have offset poles and bases, but they can also be wall-mounted. 
  • Offset umbrellas: Offset umbrellas are patio umbrellas with an offset pole, providing more room underneath since the pole isn't in the way. To offset the pole, these umbrellas must feature a cantilever. This means that offset umbrellas are all types of cantilever umbrellas. 

What to look for in offset and cantilever umbrellas


Think about what size of outdoor umbrella you require. You can find options from around 9 feet across to as large as 15 feet across. Consider what you want to fit underneath the umbrella when choosing its size. For instance, you'll need a larger umbrella for a full patio dining set than for a simple sun lounger. 


Patio umbrellas are available in almost any color you can think of, from basics, such as beige and tan, to bright hues, such as orange or hot pink. You'll also come across some prints. Common options include stripes, polka dots and geometric prints. 


Ideally, you should be able to adjust the angle of the umbrella to fit your needs. If you can adjust it, you can change the angle as the sun moves to keep the shade where you want it. Otherwise, it will end up throwing shade in different spots when the sun is lower in the sky. You'll need to move whatever's underneath if you want it to stay shaded. 


All offset umbrellas and the majority of cantilever umbrellas need a weighted base to keep them standing upright. Most umbrellas come with the base but some don't. If your chosen umbrella doesn't come with a base, you'll need to factor in the cost of buying one separately. 

Water resistance

Outdoor umbrellas are primarily designed to provide shade, not shelter from the rain, so most aren't fully waterproof. However, most are water-resistant to offer some protection in light showers. This water resistance also helps them stay in good condition if you leave them outdoors while it's raining. 


Some patio umbrellas have offset vents in the canopy to provide ventilation without letting in rain. These vents also reduce wind resistance, so umbrellas are less likely to get damaged by strong gusts. 

Best offset and cantilever umbrellas

Purple Leaf Cantilever Patio Umbrella

This high-end, super durable umbrella is a great choice for anyone happy to invest in something that will stand the test of time. It comes in eight canopy sizes between 9 feet by 9 feet and 12 feet by 12 feet. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Bluu Banyon Offset Umbrella

Thanks to its 10-foot canopy, this umbrella throws plenty of shade at a reasonable price. You can choose from seven colors: beige, burgundy, wood, navy blue, royal blue, olive green and sea salt. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Grand Patio Napoli Curvy Offset Umbrella

You can choose from a wide range of solid colors and printed fabrics with this umbrella, including red, beige, circle print and black and white stripes. The curved offset design looks sleek and stylish. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sunnyglade Adjustable Offset Cantilever Patio Umbrella 

This affordable offset umbrella comes in blue, navy, dark green, orange, red and tan. It's UV- and water-resistant to help protect it from the elements. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Project One Square Cantilever Patio Umbrella

This umbrella is solidly-made with a strong yet durable aluminum frame and a 10-foot square canopy. It’s big enough to provide ample shade but not overly large. It comes in red, green or khaki.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Purple Leaf Heavy Duty Cantilever Sun Umbrella

You can pick from four sizes ranging from 10 feet to 13 feet, so you're sure to find an option that works for your yard. It has a ventilated double canopy for airflow and to avoid damage on windy days. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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