How to Choose the Right Outdoor Umbrella: A Patio Umbrella Purchasing Guide

How to Choose the Right Outdoor Umbrella: A Patio Umbrella Purchasing Guide

Choosing the right outdoor umbrella doesn’t have to be a chore! Read through this patio umbrella purchasing guide to find the outdoor umbrella of your dreams!

Choose your Style

Market Umbrellas

There are two main styles of umbrella: Cantilever and market. A market umbrella is the more traditional style between the two. It is simply an umbrella that is supported by a pole in the middle (no cantilever arms). Market umbrellas are best for shading tables, chaise lounges by the pool, or small outdoor gathering areas. They are the more budget friendly style when compared to a cantilever umbrella and often used in situations where having a pole in middle of the shaded area isn’t a huge draw back. While some customers will order market umbrellas with a solid pole, most residential homes prefer a market umbrella that tilts. Tilting allows market umbrellas to angle their canopy to cast shade on new areas or adjust to the angle of the sun. This tilting feature is especially useful if the patio space is being used in the mornings or evenings when the sun is low. If your table has an umbrella hole or you are looking to shade a smaller area at a competitive price point market umbrellas are the choice for you.

Outdoor Pool Market Umbrella Outdoor table Market Umbrella Outdoor Table Market Umbrella

Pro Tip: Not all opening and tilting mechanisms are created equal. Find a style that functions well for you by checking out our blog explaining the various options here.

Cantilever umbrellas

Cantilever umbrellas have their canopy perched on an arm that extends out from the umbrella base. They are widely considered the more luxurious and convenient of the two umbrella styles as it’s extended arm allows the umbrella to be placed on the outskirts of a seating arrangement while still providing full shade coverage. Due to a cantilevers position and extreme adjustability they normally provide much more substantial shade to a particular area than their market counterparts. This difference in adjustability is only increased by the fact that most cantilevers also tilt and swivel to cover a wide range of areas and angles from a single perch. People look to cantilevers when they are shading a large space, need more complete shade coverage or need an area to be shaded from outside the seating arrangement. Outdoor sofa areas, large tables without an umbrella hole or jacuzzies are all areas where cantilevers shine.

Price is by far the biggest limiting factor for this style of umbrella as the added mechanics lead to a much higher price point than its more traditional counterpart. There is some silver lining to this price point however as the high initial cost has led umbrella companies to manufacture this style of umbrella with higher quality parts and materials in order to appease high end customers. Because of this, cantilevers to be known for their durability and quality as long as they are manufactured by a quality brand. If you have a little extra to spend and are looking for a more substantial, higher quality shade for a larger area then a cantilever is the umbrella for you.

Outdoor Cantilever Umbrella Outdoor Cantilever Umbrella Large Outdoor Cantilever Umbrella

Rolling Umbrella Base 4-wheels


Pro Tip – Need more than a tilt or a swivel?

While cantilever’s are extremely adjustable even they have their limitations. If you have a large pool area or a patio you often rearrange consider increasing your umbrella’s mobility using a 4-wheeled Ez-roll umbrella base. These easy to move umbrella bases allow a market or cantilever umbrella to travel with you and your guests around a patio area providing shade at the perfect place/angle it is needed throughout the night.

Sizing things up

After finding a style, one of the first things to consider when purchasing an umbrella is finding the correct size of canopy for the space you are looking to shade. This initial step is actually far easier than you would think. When shading a table you want the umbrella to extend 2 feet past the table you are looking to shade on each side. For example, if you have a 6 foot table, you would want a 10 foot umbrella. When shading seating areas similar rules apply where you want your umbrella to extend beyond the seating arrangement in order to provide full shade to the area. See the charts below for measurements and examples. The shape of your umbrella is obviously up to you but many choose an umbrella shape that matches the shape of their table or seating arrangement.

Quick tip: Cantilever umbrellas make up the majority of umbrella sales when customers purchase an umbrella over 12 feet in diameter. If you find yourself needing an umbrella near or over 12 feet across it is definitely a style you should consider as it’s design will greatly increase the stability and usability of that size of canopy.

Table Size (Diameter)  Umbrella Size (Diameter)                                                
 30 to 36 inches  6 to 8 feet
 38 to 48 inches  9 to 11 feet
 54 to 60 inches  11 feet or larger

Pro Tip – look up!

Umbrellas are quite large so make sure you are double checking your patio surroundings before purchasing. Would an umbrella of your intended size end up right against your home wall? Would it overhang in the smoke of a barbeque of fire pit area? Both of these could cause issues and warrant a change in furniture arrangement.

A strong foundation

The weight of your umbrella base will be determined by the size of your umbrella, wind speeds at your location, and whether or not your umbrella is supported within a table. In general, your umbrella should follow the minimum base weight chart below. Obviously, if your area has strong winds or your umbrella is abnormally tall (over 8.5 feet) your umbrella base weight should increase.

Ornate Treasure Garden Umbrella BaseTreasure Garden Umbrella Base  Treasure Garden Umbrella Base 4 wheels, 4 wheeled

Umbrella Size Minimum Weights for

Umbrellas in a Table

Minimum Weights for

Freestanding Umbrellas

Minimum Weights for

Cantilever Umbrellas

Up to 6ft umbrellas 20-29 lbs 50-69 lbs n/a
Up to 7.5ft umbrellas. 30-39 lbs 70-89 lbs n/a
8-10 ft umbrellas 40+ lbs 90+ lbs 155 lbs – 170 lbs
11 – 13 ft umbrellas 50+ lbs 120+ lbs 220 lbs


Double Flap Outdoor Umbrella CanopyPro Tip – Beat the wind

In addition to upping the weight of your base, there are a couple ways to overcome winding environments through the style of your umbrella canopy. Almost all umbrellas come with the top-most part of their canopy separated off as a ventilation flap on top. The gap these ventilation flaps create allow heat to escape AND allow winds to blow through the canopy rather than flipping the umbrella over. If you are in an especially hot or windy area (looking at you palm springs) then it can be helpful to go with an outdoor umbrella canopy with multiple ventilation flaps. See picture to the left.


Quality you can trust

Purchasing and setting up the right umbrella for your patio space can be a time consuming and expensive process. Because of this, one of your goals when purchasing an umbrella should be to find something that will last. Name brand umbrellas like Treasure Garden might cost a bit more upfront, but the quality they provide more than justifies this expense when considering their long-term durability. Name brands use high quality materials and designs for their umbrellas making their mechanical parts such as cranks and pullies easy to use and long lasting. They also use UV protected canopies from companies like Sunbrella which last for years even in harsh conditions. It is these elements combined with a competitive price point that got Treasure Garden’s 9 foot Tilt umbrella named Forbes best pick for outdoor umbrellas in 2023.

Blue Spine treasure Garden Umbrella White Canilever Umbrella Tilt Outdoor Patio Umbrella

Final Specs

Your almost there! Here are two final measurements to check before making your umbrella purchase. Standard outdoor umbrella poles are 1.5” in diameter. If your umbrella is medium to large, you don’t want a pole much smaller than this to ensure strength and durability. On the other end of the spectrum, larger umbrellas can have poles up to 3” in diameter. This is a positive for strength but be aware that standard umbrella holes in outdoor tables are 2” wide. If you are purchasing a larger umbrella for the center of a table be sure to double check that the pole will fit. Standard umbrella height is around 8 feet depending on where you purchase an umbrella. You normally don’t want an umbrella much lower than 7 feet to ensure people’s heads don’t hit it. If you want more over head space you can order models up to 12 feet tall; simply remember to increase the base width and weight to maintain stability.

7 foot patio table umrbella Outdoor Patio Umbrellas Market Striped Outdoor Umbrella

Add some flair!

Patio umbrellas do more than simply produce shade. They add a key decorative piece to your outdoor patio space. Be sure to find a color you LOVE, and don’t be afraid to be unique with the shape and style of the patio umbrella you choose. Ordering shanghai style or an LED Starluxe Collar can be simple ways to make your umbrella stand out from the rest and contribute to the overall look and feel of your outdoor oasis.

Shanghai Umbrella outdoor StarLux Collar LED umbrella cantilever Colorful Striped Umbrella

Protect Your Investment

Congratulations! You just picked a style, measured out a size, found a proper base and brand, finalized your umbrellas specs and added some flair to purchase the patio umbrella of your dreams! Now don’t let mother nature turn this dream into a nightmare by neglecting upkeep. Get a quality cover and close down your umbrella when it’s not in use. Periodically use a hose and some outdoor fabric cleaner/protectant to keep back the bird poop and UV rays seeking to ruin your perfect shade. These simple steps will make your umbrella last exponentially longer and keep that new fabric vibrancy for many years to come.

Umbrella Covers Umbrella Fabric Cleaner Protectant Outdoor Umbrella Cleaner

We love hearing from our readers! Comment below your favorite umbrella style. Is adding an umbrella making you rethink your patio layout? Check out our 8 Tips on How to Best Arrange your Patio Furniture.

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