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Guide to Buying Commercial Patio Umbrellas - Best Tips for 2024

Commercial Patio Umbrellas

Commercial umbrellas are a common sight at any venue everywhere where outdoor dining is available. It’s hard to find a venue where high volumes of people frequent and congregate outdoors without an awning or some kind of shelter from the heat of the sun or the rain. Your outdoor space needs shade, especially during the hottest points of the day. Large patio umbrellas are not just crucial for completing your outdoor decor but for keeping your guests comfortable.

Though they function to keep your outdoor location shaded, not all patio umbrellas are the same. They differ in sizes, build, materials, styles, forms, and weight. This guide will detail everything you need to know about commercial outdoor umbrellas and help you select the right one.

Commercial Umbrellas vs Residential Umbrellas

There are important differences between residential and commercial umbrellas. The ones that you find at your local hardware store or super-center are not built for use in a busy commercial environment. They are not built of the same heavy duty materials and are not made to withstand constant use, therefore won’t last as long. Residential umbrellas are used for occasional use so they don’t have to be as durable as commercial ones which are used on a daily basis and have to protect guests and commercial outdoor furniture from the elements. There are also significant differences between the various components of the umbrellas including everything from the canopy to the base:

residential umbrela

Residential Umbrella

  • Small canopy, usually up to 6 ft
  • Less durable canopy, thinner fabrics with lesser UV protection
  • Usually hand crank or push lift held in place by a button
  • 1 1/4" thick pole, shorter height
  • Less durable, thinner ribs
commercial grade umbrella

Commercial Umbrella

  • Large canopy, ranging from 7 to 11 ft
  • Tough canopy material, UV Resistant
  • Push or pulley lift held in place by a large pin
  • Strong, 1 1/2" to 2" thick pole
  • Strong, durable ribs

Umbrella Bases - Commercial vs Residential

residential umbrella base

Residential Umbrella Base

The residential umbrella base is made to hold lighter umbrellas with smaller canopies when compared to those used in commercial settings. This means that they weigh less and quite often. because of howe residential umbrellas are used, they have a lower neck to hold the umbrella in place.
commercial umbrella base

Commercial Umbrella Base

Commercial umbrella bases are heavier than their residential counterparts as they are required to hold larger canopied umbrellas with thicker poles and heavier lift mechanisms. They also come with a taller neck allowing the commercial umbrellas to stand tall and not impede the customers dining experience.


The canopies for commercial umbrellas will be larger and come in different sizes ranging from medium and large to extra-large to accommodate different table sizes and larger seating requirements. Most residential backyard umbrellas are only designed to provide shade for 2-4 people. Commercial canopies are made from a durable, UV resistant material that will resist fading and provide a high level of sun protection for your guests. The fabric used in commercial canopies will have a higher UV Rating, meaning the fabric can be exposed to sunlight longer during peak daytime hours before losing its color due to natural degradation. Commercial canopies will also have a higher UPH rating providing higher, industrial level protection in blocking the sun’s UV rays. Similar to the SPF used in sunscreen, a higher UPH rating will block more UV rays preventing the negative effects of sun exposure such as sunburn and sunlight sensitivity.

The canopy is the most visible part of the umbrella and makes a fashion statement on your outdoor decor. Since it also receives the most exposure to the sun, this means it is generally the first to show signs of degradation. Our canopy materials range from Olefin, which is on the economical end or the spectrum and has a short UV rating to Pacifica which is in the mid-price range and has a higher UV Rating and Sunbrella which is on the high-end of the spectrum and will provide the highest UV Rating. All three fabrics contain synthetic materials making them waterproof, mildew resistant and more UV resistant than natural fibers such as cotton, offering superior protection from the sun’s harmful rays which makes them ideal for outdoor use.


Sunbrella Canopy Material

With a 5 years anti fade warranty this is the king of canopy fabrics providing the ultimate in UV protection. The fabric’s colors and patterns will continue to be vibrant after many years of sun exposure due to their high UV rating. They also provide the highest UPH protection to your guests.

Sunbrella has long been an industry leader providing premium quality canvas and is the top of the line canopy material offering uncompromising protection against damage from the elements and the longest warranty. It is also waterproof and mildew resistant.

Pacifica Canopy Material

Pacifca is a great canvass that provides excellent quality protection and is priced midrange, making it more affordable than Sunbrella and very popular among many commercial businesses. It comes with a 2 years anti fade warranty and has a combination of commercial grade canvas fabric and polyester fibers for a stronger thread.

Pacifica also offers a high UV and UPH rating that is not quite. Pacifica has robust colors that are guaranteed to resist degradation from the sun for many years.

Olefin Canopy Material

The most economical and affordable of the fabrics, Olefin has a 1 year anti fade but will still outperform any fabric made for residential or home use. Made from synthetic fibers, these textiles are world renowned for their quality, versatility and affordability.

Like the other two options,Olefin is water and mildew resistant and offers a high degree of UV protection with a high UPH rating. This is a great choice for customers who want a high quality protection at an affordable price.

Commercial Umbrella - Parts and materials

umbrella ribs

Ribs & Hubs

Also referred to as the ballenas, the ribs are the crucial component that hold up the canopy and are built for much stronger, longer lasting durability than their residential counterparts. It is important for the rib and hubs to be made to withstand winds and provide strong support. This is also important for customer safety because as the proprietor you could be liable for any injuries on your property.

Usually made of aluminum, fiberglass or wood they give the canopy its shape and structure. Each material has its advantages. Fiberglass is lightweight and flexible, while wood is the most natural looking and aluminum is strong and lightweight.
umbrella pole

Umbrella Pole

The pole is just as important as the ribs and hubs that hold up the canopy. The pole is made of the same material for a cohesive look as the ribs and hubs and can come in aluminum, fiberglass or wood. All of these materials will provide solid support, it's a matter of what look you desire and if you need the flexibility of fiberglass or the superior strength of aluminum or hardwood.

The pole should be as close in diameter as the hole in your patio table for maximum stability. Most poles come with a 1 1/2" diameter and will be a perfect fit for our umbrella bases and your patio tables.
pulley lift mechanism

Opening & Retracting Mechanisms

Commercial umbrellas have either a push mechanism or a push pulley lift. They are the only safe options for large commercial parasols which are larger, heavier and require frequent opening and closing on a daily basis

The hand-push is one of the most common types of opening and retracting mechanisms while the pulley mechanism which has a braided rope on two pulleys is used in umbrellas with larger canopies that can be too heavy and tall to be pushed in place manually.

Selecting the Right Umbrella Size

Before you order your umbrella please remember to measure your available space and make sure you can accommodate your new umbrellas. If using an umbrella per table is not feasible you might want to consider ordering a few larger canopies and place them in between tables making sure to cover the required area. Below are the recommended canopy sizes for various tables:

  • 30" to 36" tables - a 7 ft umbrella is sufficient.
  • 48" round or square tables will require a 9 ft umbrella
  • for 60" round or square tables an 11 ft umbrella is the best fit

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