With summer in full force, chances are you’ve been spending more time outside on your patio, relaxing, eating or enjoying some refreshing cocktails. One staple that every outdoor living space should have is an umbrella. It’s not as simple as running to the store and grabbing one, however. Beyond their practical use, umbrellas come in many different shapes, sizes and styles. Here are a few important things to consider when choosing which type of patio umbrella would be the best fit for your space and needs. Choose your placement and purpose. This first step will help you determine which type of umbrella makes the most sense for your specific needs, as well as what size. Are you looking for an umbrella to shade your patio or picnic table, or something larger to offer some relief from the hot sun near your pool? Pick a type of umbrella. The two main options to choose from are standalone and table. Standalone umbrellas (also known as off-set or cantilever) feature heavy duty side stands and can be placed just about anywhere. They can be tilted or rotated to accommodate the changing position of the sun and provide optimum protection. Table or patio umbrellas feature a center pole that can be put through the hole of a patio or picnic table, or placed in a separate umbrella stand. Choose shape and size. Umbrellas come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from round, square and rectangular to hexagonal and octagonal. They also range greatly in size, with smaller umbrellas measuring around 8-9’ in diameter to larger ones covering a diameter of 12-13’. The placement and purpose of your umbrella can help you determine which style and size would make the most sense. Pick your features. Many people don’t realize the wealth of features patio umbrellas can have. For instance, there are crank lifts versus manual and pulley lifts, vented tops and valances and various tilt options. The features available will ultimately depend on the type of umbrella you select, but there are plenty to choose from so weigh your options carefully. Select your material and color. Once you know what style and type of umbrella you’d like, the final step is choosing what type of material and color or design you’d like. Different umbrellas feature different fabrics, such as polyester, while available designs include just about every color and print you could imagine. Like many folks, you may find the process of choosing an umbrella a bit overwhelming now that you know all of the things you’ll need to consider. If you need some help or guidance, don’t worry! We know everything there is to know about patio umbrellas and can help you make the best choice to meet your specific needs. Give us a call at 800-504-6478. And, as always…stay cool, my friends.