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Outdoor Umbrella Buying Guide

Umbrellas complete the look of your outdoor living space while providing extra protection from sun and rain. At Pottery Barn, you'll find a wide range of patio umbrellas to suit various outdoor entertaining needs. Here are a few important considerations to keep in mind as you browse the different options that are available.

Types of Outdoor Umbrellas

The most popular types of outdoor umbrellas are free-standing umbrellas, table umbrellas and cantilever umbrellas. The right style for your patio will depend on how you plan to use the umbrella. Free-standing patio umbrellas are ideal for poolside use or to provide shade over lounge chairs, while table umbrellas are designed to be placed in the center of a patio table. Cantilever patio umbrellas boast commercial-grade construction and are often used at cafes, restaurants and five-star hotels.

Outdoor Umbrella Base

One of the most important considerations when purchasing a patio umbrella is the base. Umbrella bases come in different weights, ranging from 20 to 70 pounds. The right weight base for your umbrella will depend on the umbrella size. The larger the umbrella, the heavier the base will need to be. As a general rule of thumb, bases weighing 20 pounds are suitable for table umbrellas up to 6 feet in diameter, while a large umbrella measuring 10 feet or more in diameter will require a 70-pound base.

Umbrella Frames

Umbrella frames are constructed from a variety of materials, including aluminum, fiberglass and wood. Aluminum is generally considered to be the most weather-resistant option. Fiberglass is a flexible and lightweight alternative to aluminum that is also able to withstand various weather conditions. Wooden outdoor umbrella frames, while more costly than aluminum or fiberglass, are the ideal choice for anyone who wants to ensure a seamless transition between their interior and exterior decor.

Pole Height

The next consideration when buying an outdoor umbrella is pole height. You'll want to ensure enough clearance so you won't need to hunch down when under the umbrella, but you'll also want to make sure it's low enough to provide adequate shade and protection from the elements. An umbrella that is at least 7 feet tall is suitable for most purposes. Alternatively, consider a patio umbrella with a tilting or cantilever function that allows you to adjust the position of the shade.

Umbrella Shape

The shape of your outdoor umbrella canopy will determine how the umbrella can be used. Round, hexagonal and octagonal umbrellas are ideal for use over round patio tables and other lounging areas where you want to provide uniform shade, while square canopies bring a sense of harmony to outdoor spaces with angular architectural features. Rectangular canopies are perfect for shading oblong tables and outdoor living room sets.

Whether you're just looking for a little extra shade on your patio or want to recreate the look of a trattoria, you'll find the perfect outdoor umbrella for your needs in our collection. Shop our selection of patio umbrella bases and canopies to discover the ideal addition to your outdoor living space.