We've all been there...you've been caught without an umbrella and rush into the nearest drugstore to purchase one. Just one or two uses later, it breaks and you're kicking ourselves for spending your hard-earned dollars on something so poor! Fast forward to today and you are considering purchasing some customized umbrellas with your company's logo for a corporate gift, but this drugstore umbrella experience is in the back of your mind. You don't want to give your customers or employees something that breaks after only a couple of uses! How do you tell the difference between a good quality and poor quality umbrella? Here are our tips:
- Ribs: These are the 8 "spokes" that the fabric canopy is attached to, and the best material for ribs is fiberglass. It is strong but also provides flexibility in the wind so that it can bend without snapping. Some of the compact umbrellas cannot be made with full fiberglass ribs due to the folding parts, so for those, it is best to choose ones that have a combination of non-rusting powder-coated steel and fiberglass. Uncoated steel (bare metal) will rust, and aluminum is light but not strong enough.
- Shaft: The shaft is the center pole of the umbrella. We recommend either a fiberglass or powder-coated steel shaft to provide strength you need. As much as we try to take care of our umbrellas, often they are stored in our cars, thrown in the bottom of bags, etc. so a strong shaft that won't bend too easily is important.
- Handles: Take a close look at the handle of the umbrella...many of them are thin plastic that will easily crack/break and the shiny quality makes them look cheap. Look for handles instead that will be stronger and look/feel more premium such as wood, leather or thick plastic with a matte finish.
- Fabric: We recommend at minimum a 190T nylon or pongee fabric for both durability and soft/premium feel. That being said, not all 190T fabrics have the same feel...some fabric manufacturers are better than others. It is best to view a sample and feel it in person (if you can) before you make your decision.
- Open Function: Manual open is always better than automatic open or auto-open-auto-close, since there are less moving parts susceptible to breakage. But of course manual open is not as convenient as being able to push a button and it opens. If you purchase an auto open or auto-open-auto-close umbrella, check it by opening and closing it a number of times to see if you feel any weakness, and check the button to make sure it feels sturdy.
- Hardware: All the metal or plastic accessory parts contribute to the premium feel of your umbrella - buttons, snaps, tips on the ends of the ribs, caps on the top of the umbrella, etc. Choose hardware that matches with the umbrella and is sewn on or attached well.
- Warranty: Choose umbrellas that are backed with a warranty. And make sure to read the fine print...many companies do not offer a warranty at all, or if they do, it is only on manufacturer's defects which means you'd have to prove it was a defect that broke it and not your use.
- Folding vs. Non-Folding: Long (non-folding) umbrellas will always be more durable since they have less folding parts than a Compact (folding) umbrella. But of course Long umbrellas are not as convenient and portable as a Compact that will fit in your bag or purse. We typically recommend Long umbrellas, unless portability for travel is required.
- Samples: If you can get a sample to review, definitely do so! The decision is usually simple once you feel it in your hands and examine the details in person.
We hope you'll use these tips next time you're buying an umbrella for yourself or for your business!
At Cheeky Umbrella, we are the umbrella experts. We manufacture our own products so we can ensure the highest quality, and we sell them direct to you at manufacturer-direct prices. Browse our premium quality rain umbrellas and patio umbrellas!