Best Outdoor Umbrellas

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
5 Models Tested
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
142 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best outdoor umbrellas

Last Updated June 2019

When the weather’s warm, spending time outdoors on your patio or deck is the perfect way to unwind. But if your yard doesn’t have much shade, the sun can get pretty hot when it beats down on you all day. With an outdoor umbrella, you can have cool, comfortable shade wherever you want it, so you’re able to eat, sit, and lounge outside as much as you like.

An outdoor umbrella is a large, sturdy umbrella that provides shade for a patio, deck, backyard, or other outdoor location. It’s made of materials that are durable enough to withstand the elements, so you don’t have to put it away when it rains. Many outdoor umbrellas are designed to fit through a hole in an outdoor dining table, but some models are freestanding and can be set up over lounge chairs, an outdoor sofa, or other patio furniture.

There are plenty of outdoor umbrellas to choose from, though, so it’s important to select the right one for your yard. That means figuring out the best size, style, materials, and other features to make sure that the umbrella can effectively shade your outdoor setting.

Fortunately, our buying guide has all the information you need to find the perfect outdoor umbrella for your yard. We’ve also included some specific umbrella recommendations to help get you started.

Most outdoor umbrellas have a round shape, but some are square or rectangular.

Key considerations

Size

Outdoor umbrellas are available in a range of sizes, which determine how much shade they provide. Because they’re usually set up over an outdoor table, you can usually figure out how large an umbrella you need based on the size of your table. In general, though, an outdoor umbrella should extend past your table or the area you wish it to cover by at least two feet on all sides.

Here are some general guidelines to help you decide how large an outdoor umbrella you need:

  • A five- to seven-foot umbrella can accommodate a 30- to 36-inch table as well as four to five people standing.

  • A seven- to nine-foot umbrella can accommodate a 36- to 48-inch table as well as six to seven people standing.

  • A nine- to 11-foot umbrella can accommodate a 48- to 60-inch table as well as seven to eight people standing.

  • An 11- to 13-foot umbrella can accommodate a 60- to 72-inch table as well as nine to 10 people standing.

Style

Outdoor umbrellas are available in several different styles, so you can choose an option that best fits your setup needs and the rest of your outdoor décor.

  • Table or freestanding outdoor umbrellas feature a straight pole and a sturdy weighted base that allows the umbrella to stand. The pole can fit through the standard-size hole in most outdoor tables or be set up anywhere you need extra shade.

  • Cantilever outdoor umbrellas have an arched design that allows you to position the umbrella’s base off to the side or behind your table or seating area while the umbrella’s canopy still covers the area.

  • Wall-mounted outdoor umbrellas are attached to a pole that’s mounted on a wall. They’re an effective space-saving option, so they’re ideal for small patios, decks, and yards.

  • Tilting outdoor umbrellas have a standard straight pole and sturdy base but the area where the umbrella mounts to the pole can tilt. That allows you to adjust the umbrella’s positioning based on where the sun moves over the course of a day.

Materials

The materials that an outdoor umbrella’s canopy and frame are made of are extremely important in determining how well it will hold up to the elements. For an outdoor umbrella’s canopy, several materials can work well:

  • Sunbrella is an extremely common fabric for outdoor umbrella canopies because of its high durability. It’s weather- and water-resistant, and its colors won’t fade in the sun either. It’s available in a large range of colors and patterns, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from for your umbrella, too.

  • Acrylic is another highly durable fabric, but it doesn’t shrink or wrinkle as easily as other materials. It has a soft, lightweight feel and is available in a wide array of bold, bright colors. The one issue with acrylic umbrella canopies, though, is that they can be vulnerable to damage in high temperatures.

  • Polyester is a synthetic material that’s durable, chemical-resistant, and dries quickly when wet. It takes dye extremely well, too, so polyester umbrellas are available in a wide array of colors and patterns.

  • Canvas is a natural material, but it is an extremely durable, strong fabric that holds up well for outdoor use. It’s not naturally stain-, water-, or mildew-resistant, though, so it’s usually treated with a protective coating.

  • Olefin is a synthetic material that’s durable, strong, and affordable. It doesn’t stain, tear, or fade easily and is also mildew-resistant.
     

Outdoor umbrella frames are typically made of three materials:

  • Wooden umbrella frames are usually made of eucalyptus, teak, or treated hardwoods. They’re usually valued for appearance, though they are also naturally resistant to moisture, rot, and insect damage. They aren’t as durable as other options, though, and can wear down over time. However, a wooden frame is also extremely dense, so it holds up well to strong winds.

  • Aluminum umbrella frames are more durable and affordable than wooden options, though they aren’t quite as attractive. They are lightweight but won’t break or snap even in strong winds. However, because they aren’t as dense as wooden frames, they can move around in heavy winds. Many aluminum frames are powder-coated, so they are resistant to corrosion and other damage.

  • Fiberglass umbrella frames are an ideal option if you live in a windy area. That’s because fiberglass is pliable and can bend slightly, so it flexes in strong winds without snapping. It’s lighter and more durable than wooden and aluminum frames, too — but you will pay more for one.
CAUTION

If you experience any resistance when you’re opening an outdoor umbrella, don’t try to force it. Check the lift to see if any twigs or other debris are blocking the mechanism.

Features

Lift style

An outdoor umbrella can be opened and closed depending on your needs. There are several different lift styles or mechanisms for opening an umbrella, though, with some being easier to use than others.

  • A push-up system requires you to push a section of the umbrella pole upward to open it or pull it down to close. This type of lift requires the most strength and effort to operate, so it’s not a good option for seniors or individuals with hand, arm, or shoulder issues. Umbrellas with a push-up lift are usually more affordable, though.

  • A pulley system features a wheel with a rope threaded through it to open and close the umbrella — you pull the rope to open and release the rope to close it. A pulley system doesn’t require as much physical effort as a push-up lift, though you’ll usually pay more for a lift-style umbrella.

  • A crank system requires you to turn a crank in one direction to open the umbrella and the other direction to close it. It requires the least effort of all lift types, but umbrellas with a crank lift are usually the most expensive.

Lighting

Some outdoor umbrellas have lights built in beneath the canopy, so you can be sure that your table or sitting area is always properly illuminated. Most lighted umbrellas are battery-operated or solar-powered, which allows you to set up the umbrella anywhere without requiring an outlet to power the lights.

Vents

If you live in a windy area, opt for an outdoor umbrella with vents in its canopy. The vents allow air to flow through the umbrella, so it’s less likely to topple over in a strong gust.

Outdoor umbrella prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable outdoor umbrellas are typically five to nine feet in size. Models that feature a polyester or acrylic canopy and aluminum frame usually range from $35 to $75. Those that have a Sunbrella, Olefin, or canvas canopy and feature fiberglass or wooden frames typically cost between $75 and $199.

Mid-range: Mid-range outdoor umbrellas are usually nine to 11 feet in size. Models that feature a polyester or acrylic canopy and aluminum frame typically range from $145 to $330. Those that have a Sunbrella, Olefin, or canvas canopy and feature a fiberglass or wooden frame usually range from $330 to $680.

Expensive: The most expensive outdoor umbrellas are typically 11 feet in size or larger. Models that feature a polyester or acrylic canopy and aluminum frame usually cost between $300 and $825. Those that have a Sunbrella, Olefin, or canvas canopy and feature a fiberglass or wooden frame typically range from $825 to $1,499.

EXPERT TIP

Many outdoor umbrellas feature bases that must be weighed down to keep the umbrella in place. Sand or pea gravel is usually used.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

When you’re putting your umbrella away in storage, cover the ends of the pole with cardboard to keep them from getting damaged.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • To help your outdoor umbrella last as long as possible, close it when it’s not in use. Strong winds can damage the frame, breaking the ribs that give the canopy its shape.

  • While most outdoor umbrellas are made of water-resistant materials, it’s best to keep it dry. Purchase a cover for your umbrella so you can protect it when it’s not in use.

  • At the end of the season, make sure to store your outdoor umbrella in a dry location. A covered space like a garage, shed, or basement works best.

  • When you’re storing your outdoor umbrella, keep it in an upright position. Placing it on its side may put too much weight on the frame and cause damage.

Other products we considered

With so many high-quality outdoor umbrellas to choose from, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the perfect option for your patio or yard. The MOVTOTOP Nine-Foot Patio Umbrella is an ideal choice if you want a tilting outdoor umbrella. It has a crank handle to open and close the umbrella for easy operation, and the polyester canopy is treated with a PA coating to protect against harmful UV rays. We also love the FRUITEAM 10-Foot Patio Umbrella if you prefer a cantilever model. It features a 360-degree tilt rotation, and its vented canopy provides effective airflow.

Lighted outdoor umbrellas typically use LED lighting, which can have an extremely long lifespan.

FAQ

Q. Are outdoor umbrellas portable?
A.
Some outdoor umbrellas have foldable bases, so they’re easy to carry with you to the beach or park. Choose an aluminum or fiberglass frame, though, so the umbrella is as lightweight as possible. If you want an umbrella that’s easy to move around your yard or patio, you can also find models with wheels on the base so you can easily transport the umbrella from spot to spot.

Q. How should I clean an outdoor umbrella?
A.
Always check the manufacturer's instructions to determine the best way to clean your umbrella because the methods may vary based on the materials. In general, though, most outdoor umbrella canopies can be washed with water and gentle soap. Be sure to rinse the canopy thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before closing it to prevent mildew.

To clean an outdoor umbrella frame, use a damp cloth to wipe off any dirt or debris that might prevent it from opening and closing easily.

Q. Do outdoor umbrellas usually include a warranty?
A.
Most outdoor umbrellas offer some type of warranty protection. For some models, that means a one-year warranty, while other manufacturers provide a lifetime guarantee for their product. However, most warranties don’t cover all damage, such as issues that result from exposure to strong winds, so be sure to read the terms carefully to fully understand what type of protection you have.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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