The 9 Best Patio Umbrellas, According to Our Testing

We like the Safavieh Athens Inside Out Crank Umbrella because of its double-sided fabric, water resistance, and automatic tilt.

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Patio Umbrellas
Photo: Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Investing in a quality patio umbrella can transform even a small backyard into an outdoor oasis. Patio umbrellas create shade and provide protection from the elements, not to mention elevate the look of your outdoor space.

We tested 28 of the best patio umbrellas in our Lab, evaluating them on design, effectiveness, protection, durability, and overall value. We also received expert tips from Jana Bryan, landscape design expert at Home Outside, an online landscape design service.

"Consider the outdoor elements and find materials that will last," suggests Bryan. "High-quality aluminum frames and fade-proof fabrics with UV protection are the most durable."

Our top pick, the Safavieh Athens Inside Out Crank Outdoor Umbrella has a unique double-sided fabric with a nautical design and provides substantial protection from the sun and other elements. It also features an automatic tilt feature to achieve even more shade with as little effort as possible.

Keeping reading for more of our favorite patio umbrellas, as proven by our testing. Plus, find expert tips on buying and using patio umbrellas based on your space and needs.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Patio Umbrella: Safavieh Athens Inside Out Crank Outdoor Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
amazon.com

Also available at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Who it's for: People who want a water-resistant and stain-resistant umbrella with a nautical design.

Who it isn't for: People who want to fit more than six people under the umbrella.

At first glance, this umbrella stands out for its "inside out" design—it has a double-sided fabric with a solid exterior and a nautical, striped interior. But it proved to be just as functional as it is stylish: Our testers were impressed with how well the UV-resistant fabric blocked the sun, and found they didn't need to adjust the brightness on their devices. In our rain testing, the water slid right off the fabric rather than absorbing into it, and testers were able to stay dry underneath the umbrella. Plus, the stains we applied came right off with a little mild detergent and water.

We assembled the entire umbrella in just over 30 seconds, and found the crank lift easy to use. To open, simply rotate the lever, and once it's fully open, keep rotating to tilt the umbrella at an angle. It makes a great patio umbrella for pool-side use, thanks to its resort-inspired design, and at 9 feet in diameter, it's the ideal size for a family of four to six.

Product Details:

  • Type: Market
  • Diameter: 9 feet
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No

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Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Budget Patio Umbrella: Better Homes & Gardens Outdoor Crank Patio Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
walmart.com

Who it's for: People who want a budget-friendly umbrella that can tilt at different angles.

Who it isn't for: People who want an umbrella with UV-treated fabric.

For a fraction of the price of competitor models, this budget-friendly umbrella received high marks in our testing. It features a crank-lift system and a push-button tilt mechanism—simply push the button to release the umbrella from the locked upright position and then tilt it to one of three angles. Our testers did note that the umbrella can be a little heavy to tilt between different positions, especially for those with limited mobility.

Assembly is as easy as inserting the umbrella into the base (not included) and cranking it to open. We found the fabric to be thick and durable and to stretch tightly against the ribs. The fabric isn't UV-treated though, so we do have some doubts about its long-term durability. It's available in a number of different colors and patterns, and comes with a sheath in the same color for storage.

We found the area under the umbrella to be noticeably cooler, and the tilt helped in achieving as much shade as possible.

Our tester, who lived with this patio umbrella for about a month, says they are "able to enjoy lunch outdoors without feeling direct sunlight." Not only that, but it "works well during light rain to shield you from getting wet."

However, our tester discovered that this umbrella doesn't hold up as well against wind. Our tester told us that the umbrella has been known to unwind when it gets windy. Plus, there were a couple times when cranking the umbrella up that it slowly unwinded on its own. To prevent this, our tester figured out that this umbrella must be opened slowly. Despite these drawbacks, our tester still would recommend this product for its price, functionality, and sun coverage.

Product Details:

  • Type: Market
  • Diameter: 9 feet
  • Fabric: Olefin
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No
  • Patio Umbrellas
    Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Splurge Patio Umbrella: Hampton Bay Cantilever Solar LED Offset Patio Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
homedepot.com

Who it's for: People who like to host large evening gatherings on the patio.

Who it isn't for: People who want a patio umbrella that can be moved.

Elevate your outdoor entertaining space with this cantilever patio umbrella equipped with solar-powered LED lights that charge throughout the day and illuminate your gatherings at night. The 11-foot canopy provides ample shade and protection from the sun—in fact, our testers said they didn't feel the need to wear sunglasses, much less adjust the brightness on their devices, when sitting under the shade of this umbrella. During our rain testing, the water rolled right off the umbrella and the UV-resistant fabric dried almost instantly, while the artificial bird poop stain we added lifted with ease.

The canopy itself is vented to help hot air escape and to help it from catching the wind. Our testers did note that this umbrella takes a little longer to put together, and although the base is included, it requires 220 pounds of sand to fill it—so once you set it up it's not going anywhere. But the manufacturer does provide a 3-D, interactive instructional download for your reference.

Product Details:

  • Type: Cantilever
  • Diameter: 11 feet
  • Fabric: Olefin
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: Yes
  • Patio Umbrellas
    Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Market Patio Umbrella: EliteShade Sunbrella 3-Tier Market Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
amazon.com

Also available at Walmart.

Who it's for: People who want a fade-resistant umbrella for patios that receive a lot of sunlight.

Who it isn't for: People who do not want to spend a lot on a patio umbrella.

The canopy on this umbrella is made from a durable acrylic performance fabric that's ideal for heavy outdoor use thanks to its water- and UV-resistant properties. In fact, the manufacturer of this umbrella claims it's fade-resistant for at least 5 years. While we can't speak to the long-term durability of this specific umbrella, it did prove itself resistant to all the elements we threw at it, including UV rays, water, and artificial bird poop.

The umbrella itself features an easy-to-use crank system that one of our testers described as "very smooth to rotate." It's easy to assemble and comes with a push-button tilt so you can angle it in different directions. The three-tier design is meant to vent hot air and wind so it stays cool and remains stable even in windy conditions. It's available in both 9-foot and 11-foot versions and over a dozen colors to fit any patio.

Product Details:

  • Type: Market
  • Diameter: 9 or 11 feet
  • Fabric: Acrylic
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No

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Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Cantilever Patio Umbrella: Best Choice Products Offset Hanging Patio Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
amazon.com

Also available at Walmart.

Who it's for: People with large outdoor furniture arrangements.

Who it isn't for: People who live in places that experience a lot of strong winds.

This budget-friendly cantilever umbrella provides 79-square feet of shade, perfect for large families or sprawling furniture arrangements. In our testing, it provided ample shade and our testers didn't feel the need to adjust the brightness on their devices. It also easily repelled water and was easy to clean with minimal scrubbing.

The UV- and weather-resistant polyester canopy has a durable feel, as does the steel pole and hanging mechanisms. However, our testers noted that it does shake in windy conditions, so it might not be suited for extra-windy environments and may require extra reinforcements around the base, such as sand bags.

The umbrella comes with a crank lift and a 35-degree tilt for easy adjustments. Plus, it's available in 10 different colors to go with any existing patio furniture. In short, this is a durable umbrella that provides a large shade area without the high price tag that comes with most cantilever umbrellas.

Product Details:

  • Type: Cantilever
  • Diameter: 10 feet
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No
  • Patio Umbrellas
    Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Large Patio Umbrella: Le Papillon Double-Sided Outdoor Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
amazon.com

Who it's for: People or businesses who want coverage for up to 10 people.

Who it isn't for: People who get intense direct sunlight or people who want to look at screens under their umbrella.

You'll be hard pressed to find an umbrella that provides a larger shade area than this one, which measures 15 feet in diameter. Our testers say this umbrella could easily accommodate up to 10 people, making it perfect for both residential and commercial use. It features a crank-lift system that's easy to open and close. This umbrella does not feature a tilt mechanism, but considering the size of the canopy it's not necessary anyway. We also found it to be very water-repellent and stain-resistant—the artificial bird poop stain lifted with ease with the help of a little cleaning solution.

Our biggest concern when it comes to this umbrella is the thinness of the fabric—it did let some sunlight through and our testers had to adjust the brightness on their screens in order to see without straining. If you plan to use screens under your umbrella often or live somewhere that receives very intense sunlight, this may not be the best option. But for more general use, such as the occasional barbecue or dinner party, this umbrella is the perfect choice for large groups.

Product Details:

  • Type: Market
  • Diameter: 15 feet
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Tilt: No
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No
  • Patio Umbrellas
    Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Patio Umbrella for Wind: Sol 72 Outdoor Kellie Market Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
wayfair.com

Who it's for: People who want a heavy-duty umbrella that will remain stable even in strong winds.

Who it isn't for: People with limited mobility may find this too heavy to tilt by themselves.

This umbrella was designed with durability in mind, thanks to the heavy metal construction and high-quality Sunbrella fabric. "It's heavy to tilt, but the weight makes it feel like it will last several seasons and won't blow or tip away," says one tester. To operate the tilt function simply push the button and tilt to your desired angle.

The UV-resistant canopy features thick velcro straps to keep the umbrella secure when not in use. Our testers found this umbrella easy to assemble in just 45 seconds. During our rain test, the Sunbrella fabric proved itself to be very water-repellent, and the artificial bird poop lifted with the help of a cleaning solution. However, it did leave a faint residue on the dark navy fabric, so going with a lighter color might be best.

This umbrella provided sufficient sun protection, although testers did have to adjust the brightness on their screens just slightly. Overall, this umbrella is designed to give you many seasons of use, even in windy places.

Product Details:

  • Type: Market
  • Diameter: 9 feet
  • Fabric: Sunbrella
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No


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Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Patio Umbrella With Lights: Best Choice Products Solar LED Lighted Patio Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
amazon.com

Also available at Walmart.

Who it's for: People who want an affordable market umbrella for both daytime and nighttime use.

Who it isn't for: People who want a cantilever patio umbrella.

Our testers were pleasantly surprised when they learned the price of this patio umbrella, especially considering its performance in our testing. It's easy to open and close using the crank, provides substantial shade, and proved to be both water- and stain-resistant. It also comes equipped with solar-powered LED lights that charge during the day and light up at night for evening gatherings. The best part? It's priced below the median of all the patio umbrellas we tested.

We found it able to provide ample shade, and our testers remained comfortable underneath it the whole time. For even more protection, you can use the push-button to tilt to the umbrella at a 45-degree angle in your desired direction. However, our testers note that it can be a bit heavy to push from one side to the other.

After about a month living with this umbrella, our tester was pretty pleased with its performance and told us how it has become "a good addition to our landscaping." They also reported that while it generally holds up well during wind and storms, it has been blown over a few times. However, it hasn't broken one bit. Our tester also said they wished the light bulbs on this patio umbrella were brighter.

This umbrella comes in a dozen different colors, so you're sure to find one that will go with your existing patio furniture. And at 10 feet in diameter, it's the perfect size for the family or group who likes to have regular dinners on the patio.

Product Details:

  • Type: Market
  • Diameter: 10 feet
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No


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Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Best Stylish Patio Umbrella: Safavieh Milan Fringe Crank Outdoor Auto Tilt Umbrella

Patio Umbrellas
walmart.com

Also available at Target.

Who it's for: People who want a more decorative umbrella for a coastal home or pool.

Who it isn't for: People who want a canopy with a heavy-duty fabric.

The fringed edges of this patio umbrella give it a stylish look that will make your patio feel like a vacation destination. It comes with a sturdy metal frame and polyester fabric—although our testers did say the canopy fabric felt a little cheap, and may fade with time. The good news is, the whole thing breaks down into a small, easy to store piece that you can keep out of the sun when not in use or during the off-season.

We found the crank-lift system to be smooth and easy to use. This umbrella also has an auto-tilt function, meaning you simply keep rotating the lever past the fully open position to tilt it to one side. It provided complete shade from direct sunlight, and testers said that there was no need to wear sunglasses or adjust the brightness on devices. In our rain testing, the water beaded up and rolled right off the canopy without absorbing into the fabric. Plus, its included vent prevents the umbrella from catching wind and tipping over.

After a month of using this umbrella, our tester said its coverage has proved adequate for the many hours they spend outside in their backyard. They loved how the color of the umbrella has "brightened up their yard" and found the tilt feature to be quite useful against the moving sun. The only complaint they had was that since the color is so light, they can see debris and bugs that fall from their tree sit atop the umbrella. Those things also tend to slide down the umbrella and hit them in the back of the neck, which didn't happen with their last umbrella of the same size.

Product Details:

  • Type: Market
  • Diameter: 9 feet
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Tilt: Yes
  • Lift: Crank
  • Stand Included: No

RELATED: The 9 Best Beach Towels, According to Our Tests

Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Safavieh Athens Inside Out Crank Outdoor Umbrella because it has a unique double-sided design and provides substantial protection from the sun and other elements. Plus, it features an easy-to-use auto tilt to achieve as much shade as possible. For a more budget-friendly option, the Better Homes & Gardens Outdoor Crank Patio Umbrella is both weather- and stain-resistant and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Our Testing Process

To compile our list, we tested 28 patio umbrellas in our Lab. Although we did place the umbrellas in a stand or a patio table for our testing, our testing was only for the umbrellas themselves (stands are usually sold separately).

First, testers evaluated the design of each umbrella by using a stopwatch to time three separate tasks: assembling the umbrella, opening the umbrella, and closing the umbrella. We took note of how straightforward the mechanisms are and whether each task can easily be completed by one person. Testers also evaluated the appearance of the material, including our first impression of the quality of the fabric as well as the color and print selection.

To assess the effectiveness of each umbrella, testers set them up over a set of tables and chairs and worked on a laptop or phone for a few minutes, taking note of whether they could easily see their screen without adjusting the brightness settings. We also evaluated whether the umbrella provides enough shade area in relation to the size of the canopy.

Next, we conducted a rain test to assess the protection that each patio umbrella provides. This involved one person sitting beneath the canopy while another stood on a step ladder and wrung out a wet dish towel over the canopy three times. The person who wrung out the towel observed how the water interacted with the fabric (i.e. did it form beads or did it absorb into the fabric), while the person sitting beneath took of note of whether they felt any water droplets or whether the underside of the canopy developed wet spots. If the umbrella had a tilt or rotating mechanism, testers considered how easy it was to operate and whether it actually provided better shade over a different area. Plus, we took note of whether each umbrella was treated with a Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) and/or waterproof coating.

For our final test, we evaluated the durability of each umbrella. To do so, we smeared a blob of artificial bird poop on the canopy and let it dry for at least an hour. Then, we attempted to clean the stain using a solution of a quarter cup laundry detergent per one gallon of water. We put machine-washable canopies in the washing machine after spot-cleaning the stain, taking note of whether the stain was completely removed and whether the canopy faded, shrunk, or frayed after washing. We also considered the material and sturdiness of the poles and ribs.

Finally, testers received the price of each umbrella, and were asked to score its overall value based on its performance in our testing, including whether they would consider purchasing it at full price or wait until it's on sale.

Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

How to Shop for Patio Umbrellas Like a Pro

Market vs. Cantilever Umbrellas

There are two major styles of patio umbrellas: market umbrellas and cantilever umbrellas (also known as offset umbrellas): "A market umbrella has a classic form with a simple, straight post in the center of the shade," says Bryan. "A cantilevered umbrella has the post and support structure to the side of the shade."

Market umbrellas—named for the center-pole umbrellas commonly found at markets or cafes—are the most common, and are designed to fit into tables and provide shade for smaller furniture arrangements, such as a simple table and chair set. They are also the most versatile type, as they can be used anywhere from a small apartment patio to a large backyard.

Cantilever umbrellas, on the other hand, are designed for larger furniture arrangements or lounge chairs, because they can shade a large area without the obstruction of a center pole.

Size

How do you know what size patio umbrella to buy? As a general rule of thumb, your patio umbrella should extend over your seating area by about two feet on each side. Keep in mind that the shade area of your umbrella can differ slightly depending on the tilt options and varying degrees of sunlight. "Knowing what time of day the umbrella will most likely be used will tell you how much shade you need," says Bryan. "Mid-day sun casts the smallest shade, so you'll want a very large umbrella. In the late afternoon sun, an umbrella will cast a greater shadow, meaning that you may be able to get away with a smaller umbrella."

Follow these guidelines when determining the right size for your patio umbrella:

Umbrella Size Table Size Number of Chairs
6-foot diameter 30-inch round table 2
7-foot diameter 36-inch round table 2-4
9-foot diameter 48-inch round table 4-6
11-foot diameter 60-inch round table or 72-inch oval/rectangular table 6-8

Fabric

According to Bryan, the canopy fabric is the most important factor when choosing a patio umbrella: "Having fade-resistant and UV-treated fabric will keep the umbrella looking its best and provide adequate protection from strong sun exposure."

Sunbrella acrylic fabric is generally considered the gold standard in umbrella canopy material. Sunbrella is a solution-dyed fabric, meaning the fibers are dyed before they are processed, so they won't fade in the sun. Plus it's weather- stain- and fade-resistant. Less expensive alternatives to Sunbrella include polyester and olefin.

Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Tilt

Many patio umbrellas feature a tilting function that allows you to angle the canopy to more effectively block the sun without needing to reposition the umbrella. There are a number of mechanisms for doing this, including push-button tilts, in which you release the upright lock by pushing a button and tilt your umbrella to your desired position. Auto-tilt or crank-tilt umbrellas are only available in umbrellas with crank lifts. Once you've fully opened your umbrella, simply keep cranking until the umbrella begins to tilt to one side.

Lift

There are three types of opening and closing mechanisms for patio umbrellas: manual, pulley, and crank. A manual-lift patio umbrella is best for smaller, lightweight umbrellas, as it requires you to lift the umbrella with one hand and use the other to insert a pin to keep it in place (which can be difficult for short people).

Other umbrellas use a pulley-lift mechanism, in which you pull a line to raise or lower the canopy. Unfortunately, these lines are known to become frayed or finicky with use.

The easiest mechanism for opening an umbrella is going to be a crank-lift system, which works by turning a lever to open and close the umbrella. All of the umbrellas on our list feature an easy-to-use, crank-lift mechanism.

Stand

Most outdoor patio umbrellas don't come with a stand, so you'll need to purchase that separately. "A weighted umbrella base is necessary if your umbrella will be freestanding (if it's positioned in a table, the table will provide the structure)" says Bryan. "Some stands have wheels which are helpful if you want to move its location. If the stand is made of a concrete base, be sure to keep it from freezing in the winter if you live in a cold climate."

For a freestanding umbrella, multiply the width of your umbrella canopy by 10 to determine the weight of your umbrella stand. For example, a 9-foot umbrella will require a stand that weighs at least 90 pounds when filled with water or sand. For an umbrella positioned under a table, look for something around 50 pounds to secure a 9-to-10-foot umbrella.

More Patio Umbrellas to Consider

Frontgate Marseille Designer Umbrella: If you're looking for a statement umbrella, look no further than this luxe umbrella made from high-quality Sunbrella with stunning patterned edges. It's the most expensive of all those we tested, but it will certainly bring a hint of luxury to any patio space.

Mainstays Market Umbrella: The cheapest of all those we tested, this no-frills patio umbrella makes a great budget-friendly option for occasional use. However, the manufacturer does not state that it is UV-treated.

Patio Umbrellas
Real Simple / Dera Burreson

Questions You Might Ask

How should you secure a patio umbrella?

Safety can be a real concern when using a patio umbrella. In windy conditions, an umbrella that is not properly secured can go tumbling across the yard (or your neighbor's yard). Aside from making sure you have a heavy-duty umbrella stand, Bryan says it's important to keep your umbrella closed when not in use. Many patio umbrellas will come with a strap or hook-and-loop fastener to keep it closed during windy weather. You can also add more weight to your base by using sand bags.

How do you clean a patio umbrella?

Most outdoor fabrics, such as Sunbrella, are easy to clean by spraying them down with water. You can also use a mild detergent to remove any grime. "We recommend using marine-grade cleaners to rinse off your umbrella," says Bryan. "Keep it open and allow it to dry completely before putting it away."

Some umbrellas even have machine-washable canopies. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer's instructions prior to cleaning.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To compile this list, we tested 28 patio umbrellas in our Lab, evaluating them based on their design, effectiveness, protection, durability, and overall value. We also received expert tips for buying and using patio umbrellas from Jana Bryan, landscape design expert at Home Outside, an online landscape design service.

What is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible. Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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