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SHOPPING GUIDE

Enjoy long, leisurely days outdoors in the comforting shade of a high quality umbrella. Our selection of shade systems is comprised of top international brands that perform at the highest standards of strength and longevity, so you can stay sheltered from the elements with a quality parasol that is built to last. 

While an outdoor umbrella is an essential purchase for any area that experiences prolonged sun exposure, choosing the right one requires the careful consideration of a variety of factors. While we recommend working with our skilled customer service team to configure the perfect shade system for you, we've created this guide to familiarize you with some basics.

What style umbrella is right for me?

We carry several styles of umbrellas and shade systems that each come with their own unique advantages and use cases. 

Center Pole & Market Umbrellas:  The classic center pole umbrella is a tried-and-true design classic of form and function, offering ample shade under a stylish awning that collapses for easy storage when not in use. 

A ubiquitous site on European boulevards cafes and private backyards, this style is defined by a single straight pole that extends from a fixed or weighted base to a joined fabric awning. The most popular style center pole is the market umbrella, which sports a round or octagonal shaped awning. Barlow Tyrie's Napoli Parasol is about as classic of an example of this style as you can get, with a gorgeous eucalyptus wood telescopic pole and an ivory Sunbrella fabric canopy.

While the basic structure of a center pole umbrella is straightforward, our collection includes models with a number of special features. Some customizations include vented awnings for improved airflow, a tilted axis to protect against the sun as it shifts, additional struts for bolstered wind protection, and more. 

Market umbrellas also have a variety of bases and lift mechanisms to meet your desired performance, whether it is an umbrella that can be wheeled around the deck or planted firmly in the ground. Additional accessories like reducer rings may also be required for a secure fit in dining tables.

Cantilever & Offset Umbrellas: Offset umbrellas offer expansive shade without taking up much space, all while bringing an upscale architectural look to your outdoor area. As the name suggests, this variant places the base of the umbrella to the side of the canopy, rather than attached to a center pole. This design allows you to arrange a lounge area where conversation can flow freely without having to peak around a pole to see who you are talking to. They typically come at a higher price point and premium features, like Garpa's Roma Swivel Umbrella, which rotates on its own axis and can be adjusted up to 90° to block the sun.

Some cantilever umbrellas can be mounted directly to a wall, without the need of a heavy weighted base. The European Wall Mounted Sunshade attaches to any solid surface and moves with flexible arms to provide all-day shade.

Cabana: A staple of sandy beaches, sprawling poolside patios, and rooftop clubs, outdoor cabanas are spacious accommodations found in exclusive hospitality settings where vacationers travel in search of la dolce vita.  

Traditional poolside cabanas, like the Corsica, drape weather resistant fabric over a sturdy aluminum frame with a fixed roof and adjustable curtains. More modern interpretations, such as the minimalist Woodline Sky, remove excess fabric in favor of a floating canopy that still provides shade for a large group.

What else should I keep in mind when purchasing a patio umbrella?

Selecting the right umbrella style is only the first in a long line of considerations to determine what shade system is best for you. Here are a few of the main ones to keep in mind.

Weather: A good umbrella exists to protect you from the elements, but that doesn't mean it doesn't need protection from mother nature as well. While some basic upkeep applies no matter where you live (close the canopy when it is extremely windy, use an umbrella cover or put your umbrella indoors during a storm), more extreme environments call for more exacting performance. A market umbrella that may suffice for a garden that never sees more than a gentle breeze or spring shower might not meet the standards for a patio on a seaside bluff where strong gusts of wind and salty ocean spray are part of daily life. 

If you live at a high altitude or under relentless sun, high UV protection is a must. South African manufacturer Woodline knows this, which is why their state-of-the art Picollo Cantilever Sunshade equipped with non-corrosive stainless steel fittings to up UV protection. 

Windy and humid environments benefit from wind vents, which allow hot air to escape and bolster canopy stability. A heavier base also reinforces the umbrella in windy environments. 

Size: Before making any outdoor purchases, we recommend drafting a detailed floor plan of your space, complete with furniture dimensions and layout. Knowing what you need shaded and the direction of sun exposure will keep you blanketed in shade and enjoying your outdoor oasis. 

As a general rule, market umbrellas with a canopy diameter under 10 feet are ideal for a smaller dining set or a pair of casual chairs. Larger cantilever umbrellas can have diameters of 14 feet or more, providing ample cover for a modular deep seating set or generously sized dining tables. Gloster's elegant Halo Parasol collection offers a variety of sizes to suit your needs.

Shape: The canopy's shape also determines the shade diameter and must be taken into account for the best coverage. For symmetrical areas, like a square patio, a round or octagonal market umbrella will provide even shade and a classic look. Octagonal umbrellas with a valance, like the Catalina Patio Umbrella, also foster a sense of intimacy and privacy. 

Square patio umbrellas provide maximum shade in symmetrical areas. They're a more common choice with cantilever parasols and often have larger diameters, making them a contemporary design choice in spaces that need plenty of sun protection. 

Rectangular umbrellas are more situational. Use them to provide shade on narrow porches or lengthy dining tables, making sure to leave a couple feet of canopy length on each side of the table to assure consistent sun protection.

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