Patio Umbrella Buyer's Guide
How do your umbrellas compare to others on the market?
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. The two fabrics we sell are Olefin and Starbric (a solution-dyed Olefin blend). The regular Olefin fabric is at least 8 times more fade-resistant than the polyester fabric that is found on the majority of patio umbrellas, and the Starbric is at least 20 times more fade-resistant than regular polyester. The reason the Starbric is more fade-resistant is because it is solution-dyed - which 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.
- Sewing: The rib pockets on patio umbrellas are often one thin layer of fabric and rip/tear easily. The rib pockets on all our umbrellas have been reinforced with extra fabric and sewing 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, so it can be a good choice with a less expensive pricetag than fiberglass. 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.
- Rib shape: Our ribs 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. You'll find our frames typically have larger and thicker ribs and pole than comparable products.
- Tilt: Tilting function is very prone to breakage so we have not included it on any of our umbrellas.
- Open function: We have chosen a pulley and pin system (fiberglass umbrellas) or push and click system (aluminum umbrellas) over a crank open because it is less prone to breakage and it locks the umbrella in an open position so it can’t accidentally close.
- Warranty: Many patio umbrellas do not come with a warranty or it is very limited. We back up all our umbrellas with a one year frame and fabric warranty.
- Repairable parts: Some of our fiberglass patio umbrellas have a repairable frame, so that even beyond the warranty period, you can repair your umbrella.
Why don't you offer Sunbrella fabric?
We do offer Sunbrella fabric by custom-order for customers that require it (usually to match their other outdoor furniture). But we typically recommend other options because we have found fabrics that are nearly as fade-resistant, but at a fraction of the price.
What patio umbrella should I choose?
- Aluminum promotional patio umbrellas: We typically recommend these for seasonal or short-term promotions. E.g. Beer or beverage company giveaways or for promotional purposes at an outdoor event. Our customers typically get 1-2 seasons out of them, depending on how they are handled by staff and the amount of wind and sun they are exposed to. They are less expensive than the fiberglass patio umbrellas and lightweight for transporting, but don't have as much longevity.
- Fiberglass patio umbrellas: These are what we recommend for restaurants and bars buying for themselves since they have more longevity. The fiberglass frame is durable and wind-resistant and the fabric has excellent fade-resistance. The fabric has a two-year no-fade warranty and we offer an unconditional one year warranty on the frame. They are more expensive and heavier than the aluminum patio umbrellas, but will last years longer.
What size should I choose?
We typically recommend an umbrella that is 3-4 feet larger in diameter than the table. E.g. A 6 foot umbrella works well for a 2.5-3 foot table and an 8 foot umbrella works well for a 4-5 foot table.
Why should I custom print my patio umbrellas?
Patio umbrellas provide an opportunity to create a larger presence, attract attention, communicate a message and/or extend your brand look and feel. Unprinted patio umbrellas are like having empty billboards sitting out front of your restaurant, café or bar! Depending on your brand identity, you can print large and bright, or simple and subtle…the options are endless.