Here are some tips to consider when buying a patio umbrella for promotional purposes or for your restaurant, bar, cafe or hotel.
A worn and/or faded patio umbrella out front of your restaurant does not leave a great impression with customers. Here are some things to consider when you are choosing your patio umbrella fabric:
- Fade-resistance: Most patio umbrellas on the market use a dip-dyed polyester fabric, which fades so quickly that you can even notice a difference within 30 days. It might not be as noticeable if you have chosen a light colour like beige, but vibrant or dark colours (like red, green or black) will look faded very quickly. Look for solution dyed fabrics like Olefin, Spuncrylic, Starbric or Sunbrella. Solution-dyed means the fibers were pigmented before the fabric was woven together, giving it longer colourfastness than if the fibers were dipped/painted after the fabric was woven together. Beware of the cost of Sunbrella though...you pay a premium for the brand name and there are very comparable alternatives for a fraction of the cost. If you need to match your other patio furniture that has Sunbrella fabric then go for it, but if not, consider other options.
- Sewing: The rib pockets on patio umbrellas are often one thin layer of fabric and rip/tear easily. Check to see if the ribs pockets have been reinforced with extra fabric and check that the sewing looks solid so that there is little chance of ripping.
In a commercial environment (restaurant, bar, café or hotel), patio umbrellas are put through the wringer…they are put up and taken down many times over, they are left outside for long periods of time in a wide variety of weather conditions, and they are handled by employees that may or may not treat them gently. So, what we’re saying is…durability is really important! Here are some features/items to consider when choosing your patio umbrella frame:
- Frame material (pole and ribs): We do not recommend wood nor steel - wood tends to warp and crack, and steel is heavy and rusts. The options we recommend are aluminum or fiberglass. Aluminum is rust-resistant and weathers well, is lightweight, and has a less expensive pricetag than fiberglass. We typically recommend aluminum umbrellas for short-term/seasonal promotions or outdoor events. Fiberglass is the strongest, most weather-resistant and most wind-resistant due to its flexbility (it can bend and flex in the wind), but is a bit more expensive. We recommend fiberglass frames for customers buying for permanent installations in their own restaurant or bar.
- Rib shape: Look for ribs that are a hollow oval or square shape, making them lightweight but stronger than solid ribs with the same mass. The reason can be explained scientifically - the same reason bones of humans and birds are hollow!
- Rib and pole size: The dimensions and thickness of the material that make up the ribs and pole affect its durability. If you are comparing products, check the thickness of the materials.
- Tilt: Tilting function is very prone to breakage so we do not recommend it for commercial use.
- Open function: Look for manual open systems that lock in place such as pulley and pin or push and click system. Crank open is convenient but it is more prone to breakage and doesn't lock the umbrella in an open position so it can sometimes close on customers!
- Warranty: Check out the warranty policy to see what types of breakage would be covered and whether any of the parts are repairable/replaceable.