Patio Umbrellas: How to Choose the Right Features

Patio Umbrellas: How to Choose the Right Features

Patio umbrellas are popular in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado because of our intense sun in the summer and the tendency for quick rain showers to appear and disappear in the afternoon and evening. When you’re shopping for a patio umbrella, here are some features you might want to consider.

Umbrella Fabric

Patio umbrella fabrics such as Sunbrella® are made from acrylic fibers that are dyed before the fabric is made. The result is a fabric that looks like cotton, but doesn’t fade or break down in the sun and the elements like cotton canvas. This gives these patio umbrellas a lifespan of up to 10 times greater than products you may have purchased in the past. Manufacturers are consistently introducing new colors and patterns as well, making your patio umbrella not only functional for keeping the sun and elements at bay, but beautiful as a focal point in your outdoor room as well.


Tilting is a great feature for a patio umbrella because it allows you to create shade in the morning or afternoon when the sun is hot but not directly overhead. There are three styles of umbrella tilts:

Push-button tilt – A simple mechanism that releases the upright lock on the umbrella and allows you to tilt it into one or more positions before it locks in place. To change the tilt, push the button again and select a different tilt angle.

Automatic tilt – An added feature to hand-crank patio umbrellas that creates a tilt when you continue to turn the crank once the umbrella is fully open. One of the nice aspects of this feature is you can continually adjust the tilt into any position as the sun moves without having to get out of your chair.

Collar tilt – A mechanism that tilts the umbrella by turning a ring or collar that’s located just above the crank housing. The advantage of this umbrella tilt is with different mechanisms for opening and tilting, you can enjoy your patio umbrella and its resulting shade in various degree combinations of open and tilt.

Umbrella Poles

Patio umbrella poles fall into two main categories: center and offset.

Center – The traditional market umbrella style has a center pole, which fits nicely in the center of most patio tables. Because the pole is in the center of the action, so is the raise/lowering and tilt mechanism, making adjustments easy as your shade needs change.

Offset – This type of umbrella pole is situated off to the side. The support pole rises up from the base, then the top bends or angles sharply. The umbrella canopy hangs from the angled part. With a cantilever umbrella, a separate wooden or metal piece connects to the main support pole at an angle, and the canopy hangs from this piece. This type of umbrella is ideal when you want to protect a patio table or conversation area, but you don’t want to have to work around the pole. To support the weight of the umbrella, the stands are typically fairly large and heavy, and the umbrella canopies are often more difficult to maneuver into the correct position. If you don’t want to have an umbrella pole in the middle of your outdoor room, this type of umbrella might make sense for you.

Stop into Surroundings to see the patio umbrellas we have in stock. We have plenty more that we can order for you as well, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Image: Umbrillas by Sunbrella

May 14th 2016 Surroundings Store

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