A patio umbrella is a necessity in your outdoor living area. They help protect your skin from harmful UV rays, allow you to sit out even in the rain, and the plethora of pretty fabrics that are available will add color and personality to your yard.
They also come in a surprisingly useful range of sizes, shapes, and configurations – you’re not just limited to sticking a canopy on a pole in a hole in a table.
The best patio umbrellas are made from tough, durable, weather-resistant fabrics. All open and close, and some tilt as well, so you can adjust your shade as the sun moves across the sky.
If you have arm or hand strength issues, crank-style openers and crank tilts will be easiest to use, but also add a bit to the price.
And don’t forget that a heavy base is a must in all but the rarest of circumstances. It not only securely holds your canopy in place, it also keeps it from turning into a dangerous projectile.
We recommend a couple of sturdy bases in our section on patio umbrella features.
Regardless of your needs, we found the top choices for any space or budget, including a portable option you’ll appreciate if your weekends are spent watching your kids sporting events.
Let’s take a look at our 7 favorites!
To help you pick the right canopy for your outdoor living area, we’ve also included a handy guide explaining the features you want to look for when you go shopping. This includes:
Our 7 Favorite Patio Umbrellas
Down below are the seven best examples that we’ve found to provide shade and respite in your back yard or patio. Let’s get started!
1. Plow & Hearth Classic Market Umbrella: Best Overall
Plow & Hearth is a well-respected name in the world of home and garden decor, and the Classic Market Umbrella has all the features you need for your outdoor living area.
Both are 8-feet tall with a 1.5-inch diameter pole. The ribs and pole are made of aluminum. It’s topped with an attractive finial that holds the canopy in place.
These coordinate with other decorative patio accessories sold by Plow & Hearth, such as the Classic Throw Pillows as shown below.
Made from 100 percent polyester, the fabric is designed to resist fading, something owners say it does well, with a few reviewers saying the colors are still vivid after a couple of years. The Classic Market Cover can keep the colors true even longer.
Plow & Hearth recommends off-season storage, and you should secure it with the Velcro strap if the wind is really blowing.
The canopy is vented not only to keep air circulating to keep things cool, but also to increase stability when it’s windy.
The hand crank is easy to turn, users say, and the tilt function allows you to adjust the shading as the sun moves. It’s a crank-style, not a push-button tilt, which makes it simpler to use.
Plow & Hearth offers a 90-day, 100 percent satisfaction, along with a one-year warranty for defective items. And if your canopy ever does wear out, you can buy just the canopy and replace it.
2. Abba Patio 9-Foot Market Umbrella: Best Value
With a push button tilt mechanism, this is not quite as easy to use as our best overall choice from Plow & Hearth, but it’s still a good choice in its own right, especially at this price point.
Its diameter is 9-feet, good for about a 48-inch table, and it comes in eight attractive colors, with both solid and striped options.
The waterproof fabric is made from recycled polyester and treated for maximum UV protection. The pole is aluminum and the ribs are steel. It’s 8-feet tall with a 1.5 inch pole.
As with most market style shades, a top vent allows the air to circulate. A Velcro strap holds the folds of the canopy in place when it’s closed.
Owners say this is a sturdy, attractive choice that holds up very well. We saw a number of comments from those who say they bought more than one for a larger patio or pool area.
This product comes with a 30-day return policy.
3. Bradford Patio 6.5-Foot Square Market Umbrella: Best Small Model
If you need a smaller unit to shade a single chair, a bistro set, or even a child’s sitting area, this 6.5 foot canopy will be just perfect. Some users even say it’s large enough for an outdoor table that seats four.
Unlike most shades, this one is square, not round, giving it a clean, modern look. It comes in four colors include aqua, lime green, red, and tan.
The polyester fabric is resistant to water and UV rays. The pole is made of steel. This product comes with a 180-day warranty.
There is a crank lift and a manual, push button tilt that owners say are very easy to use. The pole is 7 feet, 10 inches tall.
4. Sheehan Market Umbrella: Best For Decks/Balconies
This cleverly designed shade is actually a half umbrella. It’s made to fit in spaces where a full-sized canopy simply won’t work. The flat side fits up against a wall or railing, and the half-canopy provides the shade.
It comes in five colors including green (shown), navy, canary yellow, red, and khaki.
Other than its unique shape, this is just like any other model: made from weather and UV resistant polyester with a steel pole. It is not designed to tilt, but does have a crank lift.
When open it measures 7 feet, 2 inches by 3 feet, 10 inches. The pole height is 7 feet, 7 inches.
5. Iwicker 15-Foot Patio Umbrella: Best Large Model
If you have a bigger patio set, or just want to shade a larger area, this model by Iwicker will be a good choice. At 15 by 8.8 feet, it’s generous enough to cover a 60 to 72-foot table or just a larger sized conversation area.
While it can be used set in a table, the pole diameter is 1.88 inches, larger than the standard 1.5 inches, so you’ll want to be sure it fits. The pole is 8-feet tall.
As a bonus, unlike most similar products, this one includes a base, however, you need to add sand for weight. At least 100 pounds (which is two bags of play sand) is recommended. Owners say that, in spite of its size, once the sand is in place it holds up to wind quite well. The pole and ribs are made of steel.
There is also a crank lift, but it’s not made to tilt, although you can rotate it in the stand to control the shade a bit.
The double-sided fabric is polyester, and resists water and mildew. It comes in two colors, beige and red. The fabric canopy features three air vents.
This product includes a 30-day return guarantee.
6. Bellana Cantilever Umbrella: Best Cantilever Model
Also called offset umbrellas, cantilevers are supported by two poles: a horizontal pole supports the canopy and is attached to an upright pole.
These are versatile choices because they’re very adjustable and can be placed behind chairs, leaving one larger, open space, or at the edges or patios or pools.
The Bellana Cantilever is a good option in this category because it’s attractive and sturdy. It comes in five colors including beige, blue lavender, taupe, black, and gray.
The canopy is made of weatherproof polyester and has an air vent to control circulation. The pole is aluminum.
Owners say its octagonal, scalloped shape is very attractive in their outdoor living area.
It rotates 360 degrees, and has a manual tilt for even more shade options. A crank mechanism makes it easy to open and close. A base is included; you fill it with water to add weight.
This cantilever shade comes with a 90-day guarantee.
7. JoeShade Portable Sunshade: Best Easy-to-Transport Solution
For a handy little shade that you can take and set up at a ball game, outdoor concert, or just move quickly and easily around on your patio, look no further than the JoeShade Portable Sunshade.
It is 60-inches wide and includes a tripod stand and carry bag. Included stakes help keep it more secure in the wind and it’s very fast and easy to set up. It comes in three colors.
The JoeShade adjusts from 3 to 8 feet tall. It also tilts so you can move it with the movement of the sun.
The shade is made of polyester with a 99 percent UV protection factor. The pole and ribs are aluminum.
This product comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Buying Guide and Feature
Canopies come in a vast array of colors and patterns, but there are just two basic types: market and cantilever.
Market umbrellas are the most common, they are the canopies you see attached to an upright pole. The pole may have a tilt function to make it more flexible to use.
Cantilever examples are also known as offset models. They are “offset” from the main pole, with the canopy attached to a horizontal pole. They tend to be highly adjustable, with 360 degree swivels in addition to tilt functions.
Regardless of which you choose, all types have air vents in the top to encourage air circulation under the canopy.
While patio shades come in a wide variety of sizes, there are a few guidelines as to what size might work best for your needs. First, measure your space and remember – these are just guidelines, you won’t always be trying to shade a table, sometimes these are used to provide shade to other types of spaces.
- 5 to 6 feet will cover a small bistro set or single, reclining chair.
- 7.5 to 8.5 feet will shade a 36 to 40-inch table.
- 9 to 10 feet shade about a 48-inch table.
- 11-to 15 feet will shield a 60 to 72 inch table.
Lift and Tilt
All patio umbrellas open and close; some tilt as well.
Crank openers are just that: a crank you turn to open and close the canopy. These are the easiest to use, especially for larger canopies.
Manual openers usually require you to push a button or lever and push the canopy up. They then secure open with a removable or integrated pin.
Crank-style tilt mechanisms use the same crank as the opener; when it’s fully opened the crank then starts the tilt process.
Push button tilts are activated by manually pushing a button or lever and then pushing the canopy into a preset location.
Even the least expensive examples are made with durable, waterproof polyester fabric blends to shield you from both sun and rain.
These materials don’t just block the sun, they are also specially treated to protect you from its harmful UV rays. They tend to resist mold and mildew very well.
There are many proprietary blends made by various manufacturers; if you purchase a well-known brand, you can be sure you’re getting the right type of fabric.
You don’t HAVE to buy a base for your umbrella, but years of experience in windy places – which seems to pretty much be everywhere we have ever lived – leads us to suggest that you consider it a necessity.
Bases provide not only stability so that the pole doesn’t rock back and forth in the wind, but also safety so it doesn’t turn into a projectile if the wind really whips up.
A base should weigh at least 50 pounds for a 9-foot-diameter canopy (which is the most common size). Some bases can be bought as solid blocks, others are hollow and you add weight, in the form of play sand, water, or literal weights.
Plow & Hearth makes an attractive, sturdy option, the 50-Pound Cast Iron Stand.
If you need something sturdier, we recommend the Shademobile Rolling Base.
It can hold up to 125 pounds of sand or bricks and has two sturdy wheels to make your shade portable. It comes in three colors.
Have It Made In The Shade
Sun is wonderful, in moderation. Adding a patio umbrella to your outdoor living space will enhance your enjoyment without exposing you to too much direct sunlight. They can also add color and whimsy to your garden.
A good quality model that’s properly cared for (close it when it’s not in use and store it during the winter) should give you years of use without shredding or fading.
What type of patio umbrella do you like? Are there any special types you know about that we didn’t cover here? Leave us a comment and let us know!
And if you want more outdoor furniture guides, be sure to check out:
- 15 of the Best Porch Swings for Your Outdoor Space
- Brighten Up Your Yard Decor with 7 of Our Favorite Outdoor Rugs
- 11 Best Benches for Enjoying a Fresh Garden View
Product photos via Plow & Hearth, Wayfair, Iwicker, Bellana, JoeShade, and Shademobile. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Kelly Burgess
Kelly Burgess is a product review specialist who loves food, kitchen gadgets, gardening, and writing. She was born and raised in Southern California, raised her kids in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband and three cats. When she’s not cooking, eating or writing, Kelly likes to read, hang out with friends, hike, and explore the great Northwest.