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In the warmth of summer, outdoor living is an essential part of life - but sometimes you just need to escape the heat of the sun and find some shade.
An outdoor umbrella or patio umbrella helps you make the most of the outdoors while keeping you and your family protected from the sun’s heat!
As you are considering which umbrella is best for you and your outdoor space, here are a few factors you should consider.
If you are wanting to provide shade for a small outdoor area for perhaps just a couple of chairs and a table, a smaller umbrella around two metres in diameter may be big enough.
If you have a bigger area that you want to provide shade and shelter for, such as a larger outdoor dining area, or shade for a spa pool or swimming pool, you should consider a larger umbrella.
Larger umbrellas are available up to four metres in diameter and some umbrellas such as the shadowspec Unity are available in pairs, providing a large area of shade.
There are a number of different styles of umbrellas available. The traditional cafe style umbrellas have a central pole and are most suited for a table or outdoor seating area. Some of these cafe umbrellas can be tilted, so they can provide some protection from the sun later in the day when it is lower in the sky.
If you want an umbrella for a small table or seating area, a cafe-style umbrella with a central upright support may be a good option.
If you want to provide shade for a pool or spa area, then you should consider a larger umbrella with an offset or cantilever frame. An offset frame umbrella has an upright support which is not central to the canopy and a support arm which enables the shade to overhang a pool or spa.
The ultimate umbrellas can swivel and tilt so that you change the position of the umbrella to suit the position of the sun or the configuration of your outdoor area.
There are a number of different colours available that you could choose from.
Add a touch of colour and personality to your outdoor area with a brighter colour, or if you prefer something more mellow, choose from a range of neutral or traditional classic darker colours like black and navy blue.
The ShadowSpec SU2 range for example has 6 colours available from the mellow neutral tones of black to some brighter more vibrant colours to match the mood of your outdoor area.
A darker colour umbrella is cooler. Darker colours like black, charcoal or navy blue will absorb more heat into the fabric, while a lighter colour will allow more heat and UV light to pass through. The result is that you will feel cooler under a darker colour umbrella as the fabric has absorbed more heat for you, rather than allowing it to pass through.
The fabric is one of the components on your umbrella that will have the most wear and tear on it, so it is worth investing in a good quality fabric that will stand the test of time. The best fabrics are UV stabilised which means they are treated to withstand the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun. Also, ensure that the fabric you choose provides at least 90% UV blockout, to protect you and your family from the sun.
You should also look for solution dyed fabric - this will retain its colour much better and be less likely to fade in the sunshine.
Fabrics should also be tear resistant so they are not easily damaged.
You should pay attention to the quality of the stitching that is used on the fabric - you can get UV treated stitching which will not wear out as quickly as standard thread.
The fabric should also be treated with water resistant properties so it repels water, rather than absorbing it. This will help the fabric last longer.
The next thing you should consider is the quality of the frame construction.
The best umbrellas use either a heavy duty aluminium or stainless steel componentry. This means your umbrella frame will last longer and will be less prone to corrosion - particularly if you live near the coast where there may be salt spray in the air.
Yes, most good quality outdoor umbrellas have a waterproof fabric which is treated to repel water. As well as providing shelter and protection from the sun, a good quality umbrella can keep you dry in the rain, so you can enjoy your outdoor space in all weather conditions!
You might also be wondering: does rain fall through an outdoor umbrella? Most outdoor umbrellas are waterproof, meaning they provide protection from the rain as well as the sun. You should not expect water to fall through an outdoor umbrella!
Good quality outdoor umbrellas use a UV treated fabric which means the fabric will last longer when it is stored outside in the sun. If you do want to get the most out of your outdoor umbrella, you may want to get a protective cover for it when it is not in use. This will protect the fabric’s waterproof properties.
A good quality outdoor umbrella will use aluminium or stainless steel components which will not rust when exposed to water. This is particularly important if you are in a coastal area where there is a high salt content in the air.
A premium umbrella from a reputable manufacturer should have a comprehensive warranty on both the frame and the fabric - this provides you with peace of mind that good quality components have been used in your umbrella and that it will stand the test of time.. The Shadowspec Shadowspec™ SU2™ has a 2 year warranty on the fabric and 3 year warranty on the frame, while the Shadowspec™ SU4™ has a 5 year warranty on the fabric and 3 year warranty on the frame.
Not all umbrellas are created equal and some require you to be over 6 feet tall with superhuman strength to actually put them up! You should look for an umbrella that is easy to put up and down so you’re not struggling with ropes and pulleys up above your head!
Shadowspec™ are one of a select few businesses that design and manufacture elegant and sturdy outdoor umbrellas. Shadowspec™ is New Zealand-owned but their products are available worldwide. They’ve been manufacturing high-quality sun umbrellas for over 25 years.
If you’re looking for a premium umbrella and are willing to invest a little more for quality and durability, then Shadowspec™ is a great choice.
Top selling Shadowspec™ umbrella models are the SU2, SU4, Unity and Serenity. All of these beautiful, versatile umbrellas have been designed to last the distance.
Manufactured from marine grade aluminium and featuring patent pending technology, The Serenity and Unity models both feature exclusive stainless steel components for effortless and secure opening, closing and positioning.
Good quality outdoor umbrellas start at around $600 for a standard 'cafe-style' umbrella and can range up to $7,000 plus for a large cantilever umbrella.
There may be cheaper options available on the market, but remember to look out for the quality of the fabric and frame to ensure you are comparing apples to apples. It's worthwhile spending a bit more to get something that will last the distance. Look out for a comprehensive warranty on the frame and fabric that indicates good quality components are used.
To clean an outdoor umbrella, use a microfibre cloth and a non-abrasive cleaning product that will not damage the fabric.
To clean, put the umbrella up into the raised position, then lightly rinse off to remove any dirt and debris. Then, with a non-abrasive cleaning product and microfibre cloth, rub stubborn spots gently then rise lightly with fresh water.
A good quality outdoor umbrella should be expected to last 3-5 years or even longer if you take care of it and store it carefully when not in use.
If you would like to ensure you get the most out of your umbrella, invest in a higher quality fabric that is UV stabilised to help protect it from the sun’s harsh rays. When you are not using your umbrella, It is also recommended to store it in the lowered position and put a cover over the top and protect it from the sun and also from strong winds.
The other components that can wear out on an umbrella are the opening and closing mechanism. Again, if you want to extend the life of your umbrella, make sure you stow the umbrella in the lowered position when not in use, and especially when there are strong winds.
An outdoor umbrella has the advantage of being portable and versatile. You can move it around your outdoor area and transport it easily.
This means you can relax with a good book, share a meal with family and friends, or provide some shade for your pool or spa so you can still enjoy it in the heat of summer.
If you’re looking to provide shade for a large outdoor area, then a shade sail has the advantage of being larger and casting more shade. The downside of a shade sail is that you cannot move the position or angle of the shade - they are permanently fixed in place.
You can buy an outdoor / patio umbrella online from a number of providers, or from many local hardware stores.
Remember, the age old saying is always true: “you get what you pay for!”
A cantilever umbrella is supported by an offset frame to one side of it, rather than a central support frame up the middle. This design provides more flexibility in the placement of the umbrella and enables the shade to overhang a table, seating area or spa pool without the upright frame getting in the way.
Patio umbrellas are generally between 2.6m to 2.9m in overall height. The head clearance underneath the canopy will generally be between 2.1m to 2.3m - allowing room for most of the tall people in the world including Michael Jordan and Lebron James!
Explore the full range of umbrellas, talk to us on live chat, or email us your umbrella questions and we'll be happy to help!
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