Top tips for choosing the best umbrella for your outdoor area

 Protect your family from the harsh Australian sun, reduce the damage to your eyes from the afternoon glare and get relief from the scorching Summer heat!

Read this guide to help you find the best umbrella to suit your outdoor area.

 cantilever shelta umbrellas

Image:  Savannah Umbrella & Led Light

Size & Shape

Determining the best size and shape of umbrella that is right for you is actually pretty easy.  Grab your tape measure and work out exactly what size you need to stay cool this Summer. 

Remember that when choosing to shade your lounge or play area, choose an umbrella that covers as much area as possible.  A larger umbrella will give more shade for the kids to play and protect them from the sun. 

For a dining table, follow the rule of 60cm buffer all around the table to ensure shade for everyone, though more buffer is even better!   You and your guests can enjoy glare-free dining and entertaining, depending on where the sun is in the sky.

 shelta umbrellas brisbane

Umbrella Style – Cantilever or centre post

Deciding on whether you choose a cantilever (side post) or centre post umbrella will depend on your outdoor living space.

Cantilever umbrellas (or side post), are umbrellas that have the main frame to the side, hence the name.  This provides an entire useable space underneath the canopy, as there is no pole in the centre. 

It also allows great flexibility as cantilever umbrellas can rotate 360° to allow you to follow the sun as it moves throughout the day.  Cantilever umbrellas can also be tilted (back towards the pole, and sometimes even sideways as well), which allows even more shade coverage as the sun starts to set.

wind rated umbrellas

Image:  Solarmax Umbrella & Sunloungers

Centre post umbrellas, sometimes called market or garden umbrellas, have a centre pole and may obstruct your view, but they do come in many different sizes and shapes, to suit smaller areas too, which many cantilever umbrellas don’t. 

Centre post umbrellas come in timber or aluminium frames, giving you a wider variety of styles than cantilevers.  Most centre post umbrellas will fit through the umbrella hole in your outdoor table if you have one.

 fairlight umbrella

Image:  Fairlight 330cm / Fairlight 270cm

Find the umbrella that will last

Shade umbrellas come in a variety of frames and canopy materials, ranging from timber and aluminium posts, and polyester to Sunbrella canopies.  UV protection is a major factor for Australians.

You want to look at, at the least, UPF 15+ which equates to 93-95% UV Protection.  The best fabrics are Sunbrella and O’bravia, both of which achieve a rating of UPF 50.

upf ratings shelta

Polyester, Olefin, O’bravia & Sunbrella are all fantastic choices for shade umbrellas.  Polyester, Sunbrella & O’bravia are all waterproof also, just in case the rain hits your party!  With many colours to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice.

For an umbrella that won’t ever fade, stick with O’bravia or Sunbrella acrylics. For a cost-effective option, polyester and olefin are great options.  Using the protective cover will ensure that your canopy remains dry and clean when not in use, and ensures your umbrella will last for many years.

Our range of centre post umbrellas come in a range of frame materials from timber to aluminium.  Timber frames look very traditional and stylish, and the no rust aluminium frames ensure no rust or corrosion, meaning they are mostly maintenance free and contemporary looking.

 samarkand timber frame umbrella

Image:  Seville Umbrella 

Frames built to withstand the weather

If you live in a particularly windy area, there are umbrellas that will handle a lot more wind than others, and you should consider these to ensure that you get a lot of use out of your outdoor living areas.  These umbrellas have very strong aluminium frames, and are wind tested up to 100kms/hour (depending on the umbrella and size). 

For an umbrella that has a higher wind rating, it is necessary to secure them down to the ground.  Bolting the base down or concreting the in-ground base into the ground is what is required for a wind rated umbrella.

solarmax cantilever

Image: Asta Umbrella

For most cantilever umbrellas, there are different base options.  Bolting them down is still an option, this ensures the umbrella has a small footprint (but doesn’t provide any wind rating). 

Concrete 25kgs weights are the most popular option, one on each corner of the cross frame at the bottom of the pole is usually all that is required (although some of the larger umbrellas recommend having 2 on each corner).  There are also resin (plastic) bases that can be filled with sand or blue metal.  Some even have wheels on them.

For centre post umbrellas, the bases available are designed with a heavy base and a metal stem where the umbrella slots into.  The most popular of these bases are concrete or granite.

market umbrella bases

Bases:  Concrete & Granite

Market & garden umbrellas are designed for shade, not wind, and whilst you should always put your umbrella down when you are finished using it, most umbrellas will withstand breezes.


Brighten the night with an umbrella light

There is no need to close your umbrella the moment the sun sets anymore, with a range of umbrella lights on the market, you can now easily transition an afternoon bbq to a relaxing evening of dessert. 

Take advantage of our sunny Queensland weather with a Windemere umbrella that charges via the sun’s rays during the day and lights up your place at night. 

  aura 3.3m light umbrella

Alternatively, choose a battery operated light that clips onto the frame of your umbrella to give you ambient lighting for night time dining.

We also have an led light that has Bluetooth speakers to allow you to play your music.

 led lights

Image:  Bluetooth Speaker/Light & LED Light

We have over 13 umbrellas on display in our showroom, bring your measurements in and get some specialist advice on the best shade solution for your family.

Nicole Arrowsmith