Creating an outdoor space that feels like an extension of the home is no small feat, but thoroughly worth it. Once you’ve picked out the major components like a charcoal grill or BBQ kitchen island, the decorating can begin. You’ve done the hard work, so now it’s time for the finishing touches! Shade and shelter are essential for outdoor enjoyment, and patio umbrellas are a great option. Read ahead for tips on how to choose a patio umbrella and our top picks of 2021!
Made in the Shade
Patio umbrellas look great and lend a summery feel to a backyard setup, but they’re not the only shade option. Using a patio umbrella for outdoor shading offers quite a few benefits, however. Unlike pergolas or gazebos, patio umbrellas use a base rather than needing to be built as a structure. They can be set up just about anywhere with level ground, unlike a shade sail, which requires anchoring of some sort. The usual patio umbrella that comes to mind provides coverage over a table or patio set, but these days, umbrellas can offer much larger shady areas. Patio umbrellas usually last for a few years if taken care of properly. Since they’re a less permanent option, they’re a great choice to tie together your color scheme or revamp your outdoor design without much fuss.
Patio Umbrellas vs. Market Umbrellas
When shopping for an umbrella, you’ll see a few different names come up. So what’s the difference between a market umbrella, a patio umbrella, and a beach umbrella? And more importantly, which one will be best for your outdoor space? The biggest difference between patio and market umbrellas is their general use. Market umbrellas were originally created for vendors to keep their outdoor shops shielded from sun and rain. On the other hand, patio umbrellas are made for residential use. As time has gone by, these distinctions have lessened. When deciding on your perfect umbrella, don’t let a label discourage you, and instead focus on the specifications of the product.
Beach Umbrellas vs. Patio Umbrellas
Note that beach umbrellas are quite a bit different. The key difference is that beach umbrellas have a pointy end meant to dig into sand or soil to anchor the umbrella into place. Alternatively, a patio umbrella fits into a base that provides balance. The blunted end is safer for patio use and the two are not interchangeable without some work.
What to consider
When picking out a patio umbrella, there are a few things to keep in mind. Budget is always one of the first considerations. A decent patio umbrella can cost well under $50 and larger umbrellas that come with added features can cost several hundred and more. A good-quality patio umbrella can last for years with basic care, so it makes sense to invest in one that meets your needs. Size is another key point. Many patio umbrellas are made specifically to cover a table or patio set, but they can get much bigger than that. Price tends to go up with size, and very large umbrellas can get unwieldy. Pick the umbrella that’s right for your space without going too big.
The last deciding factor is usage. If you live in a climate with regular summer storms, for example, you will want an umbrella that is easy to close and possibly takedown. This is also true if you live in a climate that has snow and rain. Most patio umbrellas are made to be easily stored. If you know you won’t keep your umbrella up year-round, look into storage bags and easy-to-move bases.
Why you should trust Ideaing?
We pride ourselves on providing truly objective insight into our reviews and recommendations. Since 2013, our product experts spend hours researching, analyzing, and testing products for outdoor spaces. After our extensive research on the best patio umbrellas on the market, here are our best picks of the year.
The Best Outdoor Patio Umbrellas of 2021
Classic Design Patio Umbrella
Basic isn’t always a bad thing. This umbrella’s streamlined design has everything you need to enjoy a day outdoors. Easily adjustable and big enough to give coverage to several seats, this no-frills model is perfect for minimalists.
- Affordable price
- Integrates well with any style of furniture
- Easy to put up and fold down
Portable Patio Umbrella
If you have a larger yard with multiple seating areas, or like the idea of taking your umbrella on the go, this is the model for you! This patio umbrella provides shade for 1-2 people and even offers drink holders to keep your beverage of choice handy. Additionally, the included carry bag and sturdy, yet easy-to-fold design make it easy to pack up.
- Comes with a carrying bag
- Comes with optional stakes to convert to beach use
Triple-Tiered Design Patio Umbrella
The ABBLE patio umbrella features a pagoda-like three tiered top. Not only does it look cool, but it helps with air circulation to literally keep you cool. This stylish model provides shade for 2-4 seats and comes in several different colors.
- Designed to help with air circulation
- Weather resistant fabric
- Fits into most tables and freestanding bases
Push-Button Tilt Patio Umbrella
The JAIDA Market Umbrella by Breakwater Bay showcases iconic stripes and a convenient tilt feature that allows for quick adjustment. Perfect for free-standing use, this umbrella boasts excellent UV protection.
- Push button tilt feature
- UV protection
- Water resistant
Eco-Friendly Materials Patio Umbrella
This umbrella’s canopy is created from Olefin, which has a smaller carbon footprint than other textiles. The canopy is stain-resistant and even comes with a 3 year warranty.
- Durable, eco-friendly canopy
- Easily adjustable
- Simple to clean
Double-Sided Patio Umbrella
This beautiful umbrella comes equipped with 36 separate solar-powered LED lights, making this model perfect for night or day. The stand is included, so one purchase is all it takes to have a great addition to your backyard décor. At a whopping 15 feet in length, this is one of the largest umbrellas available but is balanced to still be user-friendly.
- Stand included
- LED lights are long-lasting and great for use near your pool
- Large size can provide coverage for multiple lounge chairs
Solar-powered Spotlight Patio Umbrella
While there are plenty of lighted umbrellas on the market, the Purple Leaf patio umbrella boasts a bright yet ambient single spotlight that can take your dinner party from daylight to dusk and beyond. This model is large enough to shade an entire patio set, and the powder sprayed metal parts are particularly rust resistant.
- Bright enough light for outdoor dining
- Double top allows for air flow
- Large enough for a dining set or multiple pieces of furniture
Best Value Patio Umbrella
The Grinstead umbrella by Arlmont & Co. has it all: budget-friendly, sun and water resistant, with features that functions day and night. The innovative solar lights are exceptionally long-lasting with patented technology.
- Budget friendly
- Lights last 9-12 hours on average
- Blocks 99% of UV rays
Keyhole-Edged Canopy Patio Umbrella
Outdoor spaces can have a lot going on: plants, fire pits, colorful cushions and outdoor kitchen islands made from multiple types of materials. The keyhole trim of the Three Posts Crediton umbrella adds just enough flourish without competing for attention. Of course, this umbrella comes equipped with UV protection and an adjustable frame.
- Elegant design is a subtle statement piece
- Easy to open and close
- Manual tilt
Italian Bistro Style Patio Umbrella
This umbrella hosts unique features, such as a wood frame, pulley system and squared design. These little touches will make it a joy for you to dine under. It is water-resistant and protects against harmful rays to boot. The charming yet simple design will bring a little bit of the waterfront to your backyard.
- Pulley system to open and close
- Large diameter will shade most sizes of patio dining furniture
- Chic design standout design
Commonly Asked Questions
Question: What’s the difference between a patio and market umbrella?
While market umbrellas were designed for commercial use, mainly to protect vendors from harsh sun and rain, patio umbrellas are meant for residential use. However, these terms aren’t regulated, so many market umbrellas will do well in a backyard, and a patio umbrella could work great for a vendor. When searching for your perfect patio umbrella, it’s best to look at specifications rather than the name to make your decision.
Question: Can you use a patio umbrella at the beach?
Technically, a patio umbrella could be customized to work as a beach umbrella, and vice versa. However, beach umbrellas are made with a pointed end to bury into soil or sand, while patio umbrellas have an end that is meant to go into a base. Patio umbrellas with their bases are meant to be on solid, flat surfaces such as a wooden deck or concrete patio. A level grassy area can work as well. With this said, patio and beach umbrellas really aren’t usually interchangeable without some DIY. Moreover, the spiky end of a beach umbrella can be dangerous, so the blunt end of a patio umbrella is safer.
Question: Can you leave a patio umbrella out in the rain?
Some patio umbrellas are designed only to block out the sun, while others are made to be more weather resistant. Even if an umbrella is waterproof, heavy winds can create a dangerous situation and the umbrella should be stored away. Any fabric product, even those rated for outdoors, will benefit from limiting sun and rain exposure to look nice for longer. If you live in a climate with four seasons, it’s a good idea to invest in an umbrella that comes with a storage bag or purchase one separately. Additionally, take special care with umbrellas that have LED lights included. They are meant to brave the elements as an outdoor product, but shouldn’t be left out in heavy storms.
Question: How long will a patio umbrella last?
Patio umbrellas can last for years with proper care, such as regular mild cleaning, storing away in inclement weather, and closing the umbrella on windy days. Always take a look at the care guide included with your umbrella. Some finishes or fabrics may require additional care, though most umbrellas are relatively low maintenance.
Question: How do I choose a patio umbrella?
When you go to purchase your patio umbrella, there are several different factors to keep in mind. How much you want to spend, how much coverage you need, as well as design features such as auto-closure and built-in lighting. Patio umbrellas are a great way to add a splash of color or tie in cushions, house siding, or other parts of your decor.
Patio umbrellas lend function and creativity to your backyard space. This addition will keep your outdoor style current while protecting you from the weather. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find a perfect match for your outdoor seating.
Have you bought a patio umbrella? Share your experience with us in the comments!