Wilma, a mother of twin toddlers, asks: “What exactly is the best material for a patio umbrella? The one that is most durable and long-lasting, as well as one that requires the least maintenance. I’ve been looking online and have found that they come in an assortment of materials. What are the specific and unique characteristics of these materials? Which one should I choose?”
Patio umbrellas come in a wide assortment of sizes, styles and colors. Whether attached to patio tables or affixed to stands, patio umbrellas shade people from the sun and sometimes from other elements. Buying a patio umbrella is an investment that should last for several years. To ensure that the patio umbrella retains its usefulness as well as remains aesthetically pleasing, choose material that is waterproof and durable enough to stand up to wind and harsh weather. Many patio fabrics are available with mildew resistant additives that can also help prolong the lifespan of your umbrella. Here are three of the most popular outdoor umbrella materials.
Many man-made fabrics are well suited for outdoor usage. Polyester is a lightweight fabric that retains its vibrant dyes over time. Polyurethane is a chemical used in many products to create a protective coating or finish. When polyester is treated with polyurethane, it makes the fabric waterproof. Waterproof, lightweight fabric is highly suited for patio umbrellas, making this one of today’s best choices. Polyurethane-coated patio umbrellas are flammable and should not be used near heaters, fireplaces and candles, like citronella candles.
Acrylic is another synthetic fabric with waterproof properties. Outdoor acrylic is dyed with chemical dyes to retain color when exposed to outside elements. Lightweight and long-wearing, acrylic is usually treated with UV-resistant chemicals to eliminate fading. An example is the 9' Wood Market Umbrella Red by Jordan Manufacturing Company. Treat your acrylic fabric with both mildew-resisting additives and high UV ratings for use in outdoor patio umbrellas. Acrylic is available in fabric widths of 46 and 60 inches wide and is sold from the bolt for sewing your own patio umbrella instead of purchasing a ready-made choice. Acrylic patio umbrellas maintain their usefulness for about 10 years with proper maintenance, like washing the umbrella with liquid dish detergent and off-season indoor storage.
Sometimes referred to as cotton duck or painted duck fabric, canvas sometimes make use of waterproofing additives to prolong the durability of canvas fabric. Examples are Teak Furniture Umbrella by All Things Cedar and Half Umbrella by Jordan Manufacturing Company. Know that the best type of canvas for patio umbrellas is painted duck. Painted duck is canvas treated with an acrylic paint solution which fares even better than a canvas umbrella with waterproofing applied. Painted duck will typically last for about eight years when properly maintained. Uncoated canvas will mildew if not properly cared for but is strong enough to withstand cleaning. Store canvas patio umbrellas in a covered area during the off-season, or use patio umbrella covers and tarps to give shelter from the elements.