Top tips for choosing Best Patio Umbrellas for your restaurant or cafe

Top tips for choosing Best Patio Umbrellas for your restaurant or cafe

This article will hopefully help you determine the best patio umbrella for your bar, restaurant or cafe. We’ll explain which patio umbrellas are best in the wind.

What size should my outdoor umbrella be?

The right size umbrella depends on your intended usage. Restaurants often choose our largest patio umbrellas so that they can seat six or more patrons underneath, whereas Cafe’s tend to go with our smaller sizes as they often only need to protect 2-4 customers from the elements.

8ft Patio Umbrellas are popular for home use, but for commercial environments larger sizes are better suited. In our Cantilever Umbrella range we have sizes ranging from 11.5ft x 11.5ft to 13ft x 13ft.

The best patio umbrella for windy conditions is one with a heavy base or a permanent ground mount that the umbrellas can be bolted down to. If using a movable base then having at least 300lbs of weight in the base is recommended to ensure stability in wind.

Square umbrellas are measured by the actual cover size (the external measurements of the fabric cover) and round Umbrellas are measured by the diameter of the fabric cover. The size of the steel base frame and the gao between the frame and the start of the Umbrella are not included in these measurements.

Ultimately the best umbrella size is determined by your business activity and the area, or number of customers, you’re wanting to provide protection from the elements.

Choosing the right shape Umbrella

A lot of commercial customers ask “what shape Umbrella should I choose for my cafe?” and the answer really depends on the individual application. Restaurant umbrellas are available in square, rectangular and round shapes and both square and round tend to be the most popular.

If you’re looking for an umbrella that fits in the middle of a cafe table then a round 6ft or 8ft umbrella might be best, however if you have larger tables and enough space around them for an Umbrella base then a cantilever umbrella may be the best option.

Cantilever cafe patio umbrellas are usually larger than regular umbrellas, and they can also rotate fully so you can change the direction of your shade and possibly cover more than one table at a time with the same Umbrella.

Adding branding to your restaurant patio umbrella is a great way to promote your brand and make your Umbrella stand put in a crowd. Business logos can be screen printed or sublimation printed on to each side of the Umbrella, and the cover fabric can be printed to match your brand colors. Printing is a great way to advertise your cafe or restaurant to new customers walking past - extra street side advertising has been proven to pull in more passing traffic.

Umbrella Fabrics

What’s the best commercial umbrella fabric? You’ll want to consider durability, fade resistance, ease of cleaning and protection from the elements. A commercial umbrella needs to protect your customers while also providing a long term return on investment for your business.

A high quality commercial umbrella should last 5 years or more in a cafe, restaurant or bar environment. A premium quality acrylic fabric will resist fading for a minimum of five years, while also remaining water resistant throughout its lifespan.

The best patio umbrella for a bar or restaurant needing commercial umbrellas is one that’s strong enough to withstand wind, rain and sun exposure for extended periods of time - a high quality anodized aluminum frame won’t rust in the rain and won;t fade in the sun.

Acrylic fabrics are extremely durable and are often available in a wide range of colors - the most popular colors for cafes and bars are white, grey, tan and navy blue. Common colors are usually available immediately but a wider range of colors are available with an extended lead time - and sometimes it’s also possible to have umbrella fabric produced in the exact same Pantone color as your brand guidelines require.

A key consideration for businesses is how easy is the umbrella to clean? A higher quality fabric will be easier to clean than a lower quality fabric - the latter often don’t have the protective coatings that you will find in premium fabrics like acrylic umbrella covers.

The best way to clean your umbrella fabric depends on how dirty it has become. Small marks or small areas of dirt can be spot cleaned with a mild detergent and a white cloth, whereas larger marks and stains are better when cleaned with either a power washer or by putting the umbrella cover in a washing machine. Before cleaning the fabric in a washing machine it’s important to check and make sure the material is machine washable.

Durability is a key consideration when choosing the right cantilever patio umbrella and the quality of the fabric is just as important as the quality of the frame and base. An outdoor heavy duty umbrella needs a quality fabric paired with a high quality frame.

Umbrella Frames

When choosing a large patio umbrella the quality of the frame is crucial if you’re looking for a heavy duty wind resistant design. The cheapest umbrella frame material tends to be steel, but they are unlikely to last as long or be as strong as a high quality anodized aluminum design. The problem with steel frames is they are heavier and they are usually powder coated which over time can deteriorate - the coating a chip with repeated use and then the exposed steel will usually begin to rust shortly after.

A great alternative to steel is aluminum, and when finished with a premium anodized coating you can rest assured the frame will last for many years, regardless of exposure to the elements. Heavy duty designs usually feature large sturdy frames with a strong vertical pole as well as large reinforced cross bracing bars that support the canopy in adverse weather conditions.

You may be wondering how strong your Umbrella needs to be, and again it really depends on your specific application for the Umbrella, how often it’s going to be used, how exposed it is to the elements, and how long you need the Umbrella to last for. Usually businesses will be looking to invest in an Umbrella that’s going to last for many years - especially restaurants and bars who want to provide patio cover to protect their patrons year round. In the summer they will provide protection from the sun, and in the winter lights and heaters can be added to extend the period of time where you can serve customers outside your cafe or country club.

The best commercial patio umbrella frame is therefore a heavy duty anodized aluminum design with a large sturdy central pole and aluminum ribs that support the weight of the canopy when the wind picks up.

Cantilever Umbrella Features

These umbrellas have many key features but the most notable are the full three hundred and sixty degree rotation as well as tilt angle adjustment that can provide shade from all angles.

Fixed position Umbrellas only really have two options - open or closed. Whereas heavy duty cantilever Umbrellas can fully rotate and tilt which provides a much wider range of coverage for your patio or event space.

Do you need a cafe umbrella that can tilt and rotate? The answer is no, but the additional features provide much greater flexibility and you may find in the future that additional features are useful for your business - rotating and tilting umbrellas can move throughout the day as the sun rises and sets, without having to move the cafe table or outdoor furniture that you have underneath.

Cantilever Umbrellas are also great because they provide clear unobstructed coverage which is different to a regular center pole design. Customers sitting underneath a cantilever design will be fully protected from the elements without having a base and pole in the middle of their table or seating area.

One thing to consider with these Umbrella designs is the weight needed at the base to support the outstretched Umbrella - you will typically want at least 300lbs of weight to support a large 10x10, 11x11 or 13x13 cantilever umbrella. The reason for this is that the majority of the Umbrella structure is sitting out in front of the base with no central support, so the support has to come from a very heavy base.

The crank design on a patio umbrella is also very important - you’ll want the crank to be smooth and easy so that one person can open and close the umbrella with ease. A simple removable handle is usually all it takes to crank open the Umbrella and it should take just a matter of seconds!

Commercial Umbrella Branding

Restaurants and bars often want to add their branding to their Umbrellas for obvious reasons. Printed designs can help people find the business from a distance, as well as increasing brand recognition and retention because the patio umbrellas can often be the first thing customers see when they approach your establishment.

Restaurants, bars and country clubs often use multiple umbrellas to cover their patio or dining area, and once branding has been added the row or group of Umbrellas will provide a professional, cohesive and consistent look that can reinforce the quality of your brand. The return on investment from this curbside branding usually doesn’t take long at all!

Umbrellas are available with plain color fabrics, so you may be asking yourself the question - should I buy custom-branded umbrellas for my cafe or restaurant? The answer is yes! If you have the budget to add printing then we’re confident you’ll reap the rewards. Adding branding may cost 20-30% more than a standard color, but you should see a return on investment from new customers who are more likely to stop once they see your branding at the outer edge of your restaurant space.

The best branded Umbrella is one where the logo is printed and will last for many years - you’ll want to ensure the logo is printed on to a fade resistant fabric, and the most common print method will be screen printing. You can add branding with a screen printed logo in multiple colors, and the quality is very good.

If you need a really bright and busy umbrella design then consider sublimation print branding for your patio umbrellas! This type of print won’t last as long in the strong sunshine, but it can be a great optin for shorter term branding where you need to add multiple logos or maybe a full edge to edge print pattern in the background.

Personalized cantilever umbrellas offer the very highest quality combination of umbrella style and premium branding - these designs look exceptional and are incredibly functional. This is often the option that upmarket restaurants and bars choose to cover their patio areas.

Your logo can be added on all four sides of the canopy cover, usually for no additional charge - to maximize your return on investment and to increase the chances of your branding being recognized we recommend taking advantage of this option.

Interested in custom umbrellas? Click here to find out more

Is a Patio Umbrella Warranty important?

Yes! When investing in a high quality umbrella you will want to make sure the vendor backs the product with a long warranty. Giant patio umbrellas should be backed by a minimum two year warranty, and ideally you’ll find a brand that provides five years warranty or more - that can give buyers the confidence to invest in a large umbrella knowing that the manufacturer will help with any issues that may arise during its first few years use.

With cantilever umbrellas it’s important that the crank and tilt mechanisms are strong and reliable and usually the best quality brands will provide a warranty that backs this up. If the crank design is sturdy and reliable you’ll usually find it has a warranty to match, whereas cheaper lower quality umbrellas may only come with a 6 months warranty which often reflects the strength and quality of the components used in the mechanism design.

Is there anything else I should consider when choosing a commercial umbrella for my business?

It’s really important to choose a reputable company with high quality umbrella designs, backed by a long warranty. It’s also important to consider whether the manufacturer ships nationwide, and whether they keep an inventory of spare parts and replacement covers in case the unimaginable happens.

InstaShade is a great choice for your next large patio umbrella because we have years of experience, unique commercial strength umbrella designs, and a market leading warranty with a friendly after sales service to match. We have over 550 5 star reviews for our products and services, and have been in business for almost 20 years. Check out some of our recent Umbrella designs as well as feedback from our valued customers: