A patio or deck umbrella can let you dine, entertain, and for those who can, work outdoors without sweltering in what may be a harsh, glaring summer sun. The canopy construction of an outdoor umbrella is arguably the most important part of, so be sure to look for a canopy constructed from durable, outdoor fabrics.
"The most common and best outdoor fabrics are Sunbrella and Ottertex," says Deborah Young, a textile expert, author, and instructor of textile science. Sunbrella is a hydrophobic (does not absorb water) acrylic fabric, while Ottertex is a polyester, and both are colorfast and UV protected, as they are densely woven, she adds.
To help you decide on the right one, we purchased 28 patio umbrellas, of different styles, shapes, colors, and features, and tested them in The Lab on a bright, sunshiny, 90-plus-degree day. After we evaluated how quickly and easily each umbrella assembled out of the box, we assessed how well they provided cooling shade that made viewing a laptop screen outdoors possible, and how easy it was to adjust the umbrella for maximum coverage. Finally, we wetted them down to check their rainwater resistance and even applied artificial bird droppings to note how well each patio umbrella could be cleaned. Each tester then rated their umbrella on value, as to whether the stated price was reasonable. To further test the durability and performance of these umbrellas, we sent 12 umbrellas home with volunteer testers, who shared their evaluations with us after one month of home use.
The sturdy, durable EliteShade Sunumbrella 9-foot 3-Tier Market Umbrella was our overall winner, for its effectiveness in keeping the sun off a large area, as well as a multitude of other factors.
Here are our top choices for the best patio umbrellas, as tested by The Spruce in The Lab and at home.
EliteShade Sunumbrella 3 Tiers Patio Umbrella
Base not included
We gave this product, with its aluminum frame and dyed acrylic canopy, top marks for a multitude of reasons: its ease of assembly; sturdiness and durability; one-hand crank, and one-button tilt mechanism; and water resistance. We were enthusiastic about how well it effectively kept the sun off a fairly large area—it shaded the area so completely, our tester didn’t need to increase the brightness on his laptop.
We also found that the EliteShade’s thick, acrylic fabric repelled rainwater well, and we could completely and quickly clean up the artificial "bird doo" we introduced. (The manufacturer claims the acrylic-material canopy doesn’t fade for at least 5 years.) The ample 13-color assortment—from black to natural, and "sunflower yellow"—was far greater than most products we tested, and should easily complement any deck or patio decor.
The only downside is the package lacks a base, which, depending on the materials, can cost $50 or more. (In fact, it was rare to find a standard-style-type product that did.) Despite this, we find the EliteShade an excellent value.
Price at time of publish: $200
Style: Standard | Size: 9 feet | Weight: 17 pounds | Coverage Area: 6-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Aluminum frame, acrylic canopy
Better Homes and Gardens 9 Foot Round Patio Umbrella
Goes well with many decor styles
7 color choices
Easy to clean
Provides ample, deep shade
Somewhat heavy to tilt
Lacks UV protection
For its low price, we appreciated the Better Homes and Gardens 9-foot Round Patio Umbrella's ability to provide ample, deep shade that significantly reduced heat and glare. We liked that it comes in seven colors (the black at a $10 higher price point), including solids and stripes, which could effortlessly blend with exterior decor. An additional plus is the stopped-position three-way tilt mechanism, which adjusts by pinching a latch and letting the umbrella tilt to either side. However, our tester noted, “It can be heavy to push one way or the other.”
While perhaps not as large as some products we tested, the Better Homes umbrella still effectively shaded a couple seated at a round table and, based on our testing, could likely accommodate a table that seats up to four people. The fabric cleaned easily and didn’t permit rainwater to leak through. On the downside, this product lacks an included base and doesn’t provide UV protection, as some higher-priced products we tested, and the frame seemed heavier than others.
We sent this umbrella home with a volunteer tester, who set it up on her outdoor patio for long-term testing. After one month of using this umbrella consistently, she said her family is very pleased with the shade it provides and they frequently use it for outdoor lunches at a four-person table. Our tester did find that the crank for this umbrella can unwind on its own, if not clicked into a locked position, especially when it's very windy outside. Despite this minor design issue, we enthusiastically recommend this umbrella for small decks or patios. Plus, its versatile, minimalistic color scheme makes it easy to add to any patio or design style.
Price at time of publish: $60
Style: Standard | Size: 9 feet | Weight: 11 pounds | Coverage Area: 4-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Steel frame, polyester canopy
Hampton Bay 11 ft. Aluminum Cantilever Solar LED Offset Outdoor Patio Umbrella
Rotates 360 degrees
Sand for base sold separately
For a premium price, you get solar LED lights and 360-degree adjustment in this cantilever patio umbrella by Hampton Bay. You also get a steel-and-aluminum frame, which should help this product last several seasons. We also appreciated its providing complete shade in which our tester comfortably could view his laptop screen, and how easily it cleaned up. Additionally, although the octagonal 11-foot canopy is large enough to cover six people at a table, it stows compactly. The manufacturer says the canopy also resists UV rays.
However, setting up the umbrella challenged our tester, who noted that though the assembly instructions were clear, the product took 40 minutes to put together. Fortunately, he said, the package included a helpful video. What wasn't included was the recommended 220 pounds of sand for the included base, so we used sandbags inside the base as a temporary solution. Despite these downsides, we recommend this for larger decks or patios.
After one month of testing this umbrella on her completely exposed back deck, our tester said she loves the large amount of shade that this umbrella provides, especially since it protects her puppy's paws from the summer heat. She added the solar lights don't last "hours and hours," but they do provide a decent amount of light in the evening. She also loved that it can withstand a decent amount of wind, even as a cantilever-style umbrella.
Price at time of publish: $578
Style: Cantilever | Size: 11 feet | Weight: 68 pounds | Coverage Area: 6-chair table | Tilt: No | Materials: Aluminum and steel frame, olefin canopy
Best Shade Provider
Pure Garden 10 ft Patio Umbrella
Ample, complete shade
Base not included
Tilt button too high on frame
This 10-foot patio umbrella from Pure Garden lacks many features of higher-priced products we tested—the materials aren't the highest quality. But for the price, it would be a good option for a few outdoor seasons. We appreciated its ample shade and water resistance. We liked its generous shade area for the size—you could definitely fit a bistro set under it, and potentially a table and four chairs—but also how easily it disassembled for simple off-season storage. You can also buy it in nine solid colors.
In less than 1 minute, our tester inserted the lightweight alloy-steel pole into the base (not included) and opened the acrylic canopy with the plastic hand crank. The product tilted with the press of a button, but we believe some people might find it hard to reach. We sent this umbrella home with a volunteer, long-term tester, who said she loved using it to shade her children's toys on their patio. This umbrella provided ample shade for them to comfortably play outside in the peak, midday heat.
Price at time of publish: $52
Style: Standard | Size: 10 feet | Weight: 13.5 pounds | Coverage Area: 4-to-6-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Alloy steel frame, olefin canopy
Safavieh Milan Fringe 9’ Tilt Umbrella
Keeps still in wind
Provides ample shade
Easy to set up
A flurry of a fringe on top of the navy blue canopy brings a bit of whimsy to this 9-foot patio umbrella. In addition to its fun detailing, we especially appreciated the ease of setup, as well as how easy it was to open and close the canopy. Our tester also noted the ample shade—which seemed more than what you might think for the canopy size—that negated the need for sunglasses and made it easy to view the details on a laptop screen. On a moderately breezy day, an air vent kept the canopy from moving too much.
Initially, the canopy material appeared to be on the cheaper side, but our tests confirmed its durability. It provided enough shade to comfortably view a laptop screen; water beaded up and rolled right off, and the fabric cleaned up completely. The price struck us as somewhat high. But if you’re looking for a chic-appearing patio umbrella, this might be the pick for you.
After using this umbrella for a month in her partially shaded backyard, our long-term tester said she could easily work on her laptop while sitting under the umbrella without any glare issues. She said the light fabric did not leak any sunlight, but she did notice that any debris or buds could be easily seen through the canopy. While this is not necessarily a drawback of the umbrella's performance, it may be a concern for anyone especially worried about aesthetics.
Price at time of publish: $199
Style: Standard | Size: 9 feet | Weight: 12 pounds | Coverage Area: 4-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Hardwood frame, polyester canopy
Best for Large Spaces
Safavieh Athens 11-foot Round Crank Umbrella
Tilt mechanism unclear
Size matters, at least when shading an extra-large seating area. The classic French-style cantilever Athens 11-Foot Round Crank Umbrella by Safavieh comfortably covers a table and six chairs, enough for a 12 x 12-foot deck. The manufacturer says the product was inspired by similar umbrellas seen throughout Monaco’s sun-drenched Mediterranean hotels.
We found that the umbrella assembled effortlessly out of the box during lab testing, and the crank took no extraordinary effort to open and close the canopy. (We noted that the design includes tilt capability, but our tester said he could not figure out how to accomplish this, despite the instructions.) Nevertheless, we recommend the Athens umbrella for its laptop-readable shade, water repellency, and effortless cleanup of natural and artificial gunk.
Our at-home tester said she had never used a patio umbrella before testing this one and that it was a complete game changer for her second-story deck experience. She said she had no issues using a standard umbrella stand, and she loved that this umbrella was large enough to shade her entire outdoor dining table. It even stood up well against a recent wind storm (Our tester collapsed it closed during the storm).
Price at time of publish: $207
Style: Cantilever | Size: 11 feet | Weight: 15 pounds | Coverage Area: 6-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Not listed
Sol 72 Outdoor Kellie 108'' Market Sunbrella Umbrella
Durable canopy fabric
The Sunbrella canopy fabric easily repelled whatever we threw at it—water and faux bird droppings, among them—and no water came through. Weather resistance also includes wind resistance. “It's heavy to tilt,” our lab tester reported, “but the weight makes it feel like it will last several seasons and won't blow or tip away.” The manufacturer says the product resists UV rays and mildew.
The Kellie umbrella also was easy for one person to set up alone. The metal pole and ribs added to the perceived durability. However, we found that navy blue is not the best color when trying to clean off "bird doo," as it left a noticeable stain after easily scrubbing away. (The product is also available in a light beige.)
Our at-home tester said this umbrella is very easy to open and close, and it has not faded in the month that she's had it. She did point out that a recent wind storm completely lifted the umbrella (which was closed) out of its stand and tossed it across her patio. She wished there was a better way to secure it within the stand. Despite this experience, she said they'll continue to use this umbrella on their back deck or patio for shade and will most likely store it during any future storms.
Price at time of publish: $196
Style: Standard | Size: 9 feet | Weight: 14 pounds | Coverage Area: 4-to-6-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Aluminum frame, Sunbrella fabric canopy
Best Choice Products 10’ Offset Hanging Market Patio Umbrella
Included instruction video
Easy-to-clean, sun-blocking canopy
Sways in the wind
Challenging to set up
Cantilever umbrellas require a little more effort to install than standard umbrellas, and this product is no exception, taking 10 minutes from box to set up. But we recommend this one for its combination of polyester canopy and steel pole, and budget price—under $70. We felt completely comfortable and cool under the 10-foot canopy, which could easily cover a table and four to six chairs. Water rolled right off the canopy, which dried almost instantly, and our “bird doo” cleaned right off.
However, this product has some downsides. As a cantilever, its setup takes more effort than a standard patio umbrella. Also, the durable pole and mechanisms, rigid in calm air, tend to shake in a moderate breeze. That also could cause the canopy to move, annoyingly shifting the shade coverage. But this is still a solid choice for patio shade if your outdoor table doesn’t include an umbrella hole.
Our long-term tester praised this umbrella for its expansive shade, which covered her large deck area completely. She said she also loved the offset, cantilever style because her seating arrangement does not allow for a centered umbrella. This umbrella also held up well during a few thunderstorms with no tipping or breakage. Our tester's only complaint was the listed "cream" color is more of "sun-washed yellow" in person and easily shows debris and dirt.
Price at time of publish: $80
Style: Cantilever | Size: 10 feet | Weight: 29 pounds | Coverage Area: 4 to 6-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Steel pole, polyester canopy
Best with Lights
Blisson 9’ Lighted Patio Umbrella
Lightweight but sturdy
LED lights with eight-hour run time
Not completely opaque
Balmy summer nights invite outings on the deck. The Blisson 9-foot Lighted Patio Umbrella, with four solar-powered LED lights on each of its eight ribs, adds a twinkle to the festivities. “The solar power lights are a nice touch if you were to use the patio at night,” our lab tester reported. “They were very easy to turn on, too.” She said she also mastered the tilt mechanism and its hand crank. We found the alloy-steel pole and tilting mechanism to be all good quality, as well as surprisingly light.
Our lab wasn’t as enthusiastic about the canopy, noting that even though it cleaned up easily, and while the manufacturer claims it’s UV-resistant, it didn’t block out all the sun, and she needed to “squint a bit” to read her laptop. Still, she praised the product, available in 12 colors, for its overall value.
Our at-home tester said this umbrella was a great addition to her front porch, which is exposed to the sun during the morning and afternoon. She also said she loved being able to read, work, or eat meals outside without worrying about becoming too hot or sunburnt.
Price at time of publish: $75
Style: Standard | Size: 9 feet | Weight: 16 pounds | Coverage Area: 4-chair table | Tilt: Yes | Materials: Alloy-steel frame, polyester canopy
After spending hours in a bright, sun-drenched day testing 28 patio umbrellas in The Lab, our overall top choice is the EliteShade Sunumbrella 9-foot 3-Tier Market Umbrella, which our product tester gave top marks for its ease of assembly; sturdiness and durability; one-hand crank and one-button tilt mechanism; and water resistance. For a budget-friendly alternative, we recommend the Better Homes and Gardens 9 Foot Round Patio Umbrella. We liked its easy-clean material and its seven color choices, which would blend well with virtually any outdoor decor.
How We Tested the Patio Umbrellas
On a scorching-hot sunshiny day in mid-May, we tested 28 patio umbrellas in The Spruce’s outdoor Lab in Des Moines, Iowa.
First, our testers assembled the umbrellas on tables we hauled outdoors, checking for ease of following the manufacturer’s directions and how quickly the umbrella went from uncrating to deployment. Next, we opened the umbrellas, judging how easy it was for an average person to accomplish, based on the product’s design. That gave us a good opportunity to assess each product on how easy it was to adjust, rotate or tilt, and whether that improved better shade or cover. Since many work-from-home folks elect to use their decks or patios as an “outdoor office,” we set up laptops and reported how well the umbrella shaded the area, so the screen could be seen.
Each tester then stepped away to consider their umbrella’s sturdiness of materials, including the covering and frame, as well as its attractiveness. Finally, testers intentionally stained their umbrellas with artificial "bird doo" and reported how easy the goo cleaned up, and whether it could be machine-washed, if necessary.
After each tester closed the umbrella, reporting the ease in doing so, they gave it a value-based score, determining whether the price was justified. We also sent 12 umbrellas to our volunteer testers' houses to note how they performed in real-world situations. We asked our home testers to not only consider each umbrella's long-term durability but also consider how it has enhanced, if at all, their day-to-day lives.
What to Look For in an Outdoor Patio Umbrella
When you need shade to make your outdoor entertainment space more comfortable, a deck or patio umbrella acts like an anti-spotlight, keeping your table and chairs cool and glare-free. Here are imperatives to consider when shopping for a patio umbrella:
A standard patio umbrella consists of a canopy, often made of an outdoor UV-resistant fabric (Sunbrella is the most common brand); and a frame, which can be wood, fiberglass, or, most commonly, aluminum. Most canopies are round, but we have been seeing rectangular ones as well, which are a better choice for rectangular tables. Wood is the most attractive (and the costliest) frame material, but if you regularly experience severe thunderstorms, fiberglass or aluminum are better choices. Compared with aluminum, fiberglass is lightweight, flexible, non-corrosive, and holds up to weather. Testers rated all our recommended products a 4 or 5, which means the frames are sturdy and the canopy material is fade-resistant, resists stains and cleans up well.
Patio umbrellas come in different types, for different uses. The most common type is inserted into a hole in your table and held in place by a stand (generally not included with the umbrella). While the most common canopy shape is round, you also can find market umbrellas, which are octagonal and cantilever umbrellas, which arch over the table and get their support from a stand placed a short distance away.
Most patio umbrellas measure anywhere from 5 to 11 feet in diameter; generally, an 11-foot umbrella comfortably shades a table seating four to six adults.
To open and close their canopies, most patio umbrellas operate with cranks, which require a human to turn. Locking mechanisms, such as a pin, keep it open. (Higher-priced models may accomplish this with pushbuttons.) Other models employ pulley systems, which can be harder to handle. If you intend to keep your umbrella open all season, a pulley type may suffice. But if you need to close your umbrella—in case of high wind, for example, which can send an umbrella soaring—opt for the crank. Our testers rated each patio umbrella on ease and practicality of assembly and setup, as well as opening and closing the canopy. With one exception, our recommended products received a rating of 4 or 5.
Open patio umbrellas are sitting ducks for flying ducks—and other birds to remind you of their presence. Consider how easy it is to clean the canopy, whether by simply spraying with a garden hose, or by needing more extensive cleaning, perhaps with a sponge and soapy water. Don't use a power washer or any harsh chemicals, as the fibers holding the canopy together may give way, Young warns. Frames can gunk up as well; you can clean most with a damp cloth. "If you're looking for durability and longevity, give it [your umbrella] a rest," says Deborah Young, a textile expert, author, and instructor of textile science. "Close it up and even put it away when not in use—it will simply last longer." Each recommended product was rated 4 or 5 based on how easily our testers removed fake bird droppings from the canopy and cleaned the frame.
Which style of patio umbrella is best?
This depends on your outdoor area and how you intend to use the umbrella. If you have a table that can accept a patio umbrella through an included hole, your choices can include any type that installs in this manner. If your table doesn’t have an access hole, or if you’re wanting to shade an area apart from a table, opt for a cantilever umbrella, which you can position nearby.
What do I need to set up a patio umbrella?
All you need is an outdoor area to be shaded! Many outdoor tables include holes to insert umbrella poles. Some standard patio umbrellas include a base to anchor the pole, but not all do; bases sold separately can cost from $45 to $100. If your outdoor seating area doesn’t include a table, opt for a cantilever umbrella, which you can place anywhere but requires a flat surface to prevent it from falling over.
What kind of fabric should a patio umbrella canopy be made of?
Canopy fabric should be lightweight enough to transport easily yet sturdy to resist heavy rain and wind. It should be easy to clean and opaque to mask out most of the sun. You also can purchase a patio umbrella made with UV-resistant material. "Anything made of polyester, acrylic, or olefin are good outdoor choices," Young says. "Nylon, although it has superior strength and is known for its light weight, does not do well left out in the sun."
Why Trust The Spruce?
Ira Lacher is the Senior Editor for Garden, Outdoor and Home Improvement at The Spruce, and has written and edited articles about outdoor products for a number of publications over a number of years. For this article, he was on hand at The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, where over 28 products underwent thorough testing. Emma Phelps, an Updates Writer for The Spruce, added one-month, long-term testing insights to this roundup, and reached out to Deborah Young, a textile expert, author, and instructor of textile science, for additional insight into the best umbrella canopy fabrics.