LEARNING CENTRE

Frequently Asked Questions

1What is the best material for a garden parasol frame?

Firstly, there are three popular materials used to make parasol frames.  Wood, aluminium, and stainless steel.  Each one has its advantages so let’s discuss each one in some detail.

Wooden Parasols

A wooden parasol patio umbrella is a great choice. Wood as a material has remained a symbol of elegance and solid construction for years. The kind of feel and look that a wooden parasol umbrella gives is unmistakable. It evokes a primitive aesthetic that is desired by many homeowners and enthusiasts who like classic and natural things around them. A wooden patio umbrella isn’t just a shading option but also a stylistic choice that depicts something about the homeowner’s taste and preferences. Therefore, despite so many metal options for umbrellas, wooden parasol umbrellas are still preferred not just for patios and pool sides generally, but also for gatherings and outdoor weddings, mainly because of the timeless look they give and the beauty they add.  Always make sure that the wood used to make the frame of your parasol is sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) timber. This ensures that the wood was sourced responsibly and not from deforestation.

Aluminium Parasols 

Some people prefer aluminum parasols and the sleek modern vibe that complements minimalist decor and wide-open spaces and feel that it adds a more sophisticated touch to their home environment, hotel or restaurant. With a lightweight profile, this material does not rust, it’s durable, practical, and efficient, and it can resist harsh weather conditions. It's a great choice to have in your garden. Most aluminum frames are powder-coated or anodized to resist corrosion and other signs of wear. Most aluminum parasol frames are 100% recyclable.

Stainless Steel Parasols 

Stainless steel parasols also offer the same sleek modern vibe that the aluminium parasols offer but stainless steel is much stronger and would be the choice of material used for wind rated parasols. Sometimes stainless steel would be used in structural beams and or brackets on parasols, or the uprights on the bases that support the parasols. The most popular grades of stainless steel that are used are 304 grade and 316 marine grade stainless steel. While it is almost impossible for the human eye to see any difference in these grades the difference is in their composition.  The 304 contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel while the 316 contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum. The molybdenum is added to help resist corrosion to chlorides (like sea water and de-icing salts). Stainless steel products still need to be cleaned from time to time with a mild detergent or a diluted ammonia solution. We would recommend that this is done every six months.

2Can you use a patio garden parasol in the wind?

This is THE burning question we get asked by so many of our customers. Well, truthfully, there is no such thing as a windproof parasol, even though many manufactures claim this.

Our best advice to you is this: if the wind is strong enough that you can no longer sit outside comfortably, then it’s time to close your parasol.

There are many variables regarding wind and your parasol. Have you positioned it in a spot that is acting like a wind tunnel, where gusts of wind are likely?  Is it in a secluded courtyard?  Do you have a strong, heavy enough base to prevent it from falling over?

Various factors can protect your parasol from being damaged in the wind, such as the vent cap. This is the open flap on top of the canopy, which allows air to pass through, and prevents the parasol from taking off with a big gust of wind. 

Choosing a suitable fabric can also impact your parasol’s ability to withstand wind damage. A strong acrylic canvas will be better suited than a thin polyester fabric, which can tear easily in the wind.

A bit of wind won’t harm a good quality parasol, it’s the gusts which could pose a problem.  Never leave your parasol up overnight.  It may be lovely and calm outside when you go to bed, but the wind can whip up at any time.

If you’re outside enjoying the shade and the wind picks up, then use your common sense and judge for yourself.  If in doubt, it’s best to close your parasol until the wind has died down a little.

3What’s the best colour for a garden parasol?

Your new parasol will have three very different components – the canopy, the frame, and the base.  Each component needs careful consideration but, as we’re discussing the overall look, let’s discuss the colour of the canopy as this will be the element that most affects the visual impact your parasol creates.

Choosing a colour that’s just right for your parasol can make all the difference to the overall look and feel that you’re trying to create in your garden.  We’d advise you not to take this decision lightly.  A good fit for your garden will depend on whether you want your parasol to blend in and complement its surroundings or really stand out as a bold statement.  There are a good few colours to choose from, but you needn’t feel overwhelmed with the choice.  Try to visualize your parasol in its new setting and see what feels right.

When choosing a parasol colour most buyers choose ecru (off-white).  This is a very neutral choice and is surprisingly good at masking dirt, especially bird droppings!  In recent times we’ve noticed that buyers seem to be growing more comfortable with experimenting with more of the colour range.  Well, as we know, colour can make a big difference in creating a mood.  Tones like orange or red can have a warmer, cosier feel.  Yellow can bring energy to a space.  Blue is known to be calming and green can really tie-in with nature.  Light and bright colours can make us feel optimistic and happy and we all love to feel like that!

Maybe you want your parasol to match your patio furniture, your fence, your house, or your vegetation.  These are all worth considering.  Realistically, there is no right or wrong answer.  Your final choice will depend on your preferences, the overall vision of your outside space, and let’s face it – your personal taste.

4What is the best fabric for a patio umbrella?

So, you’re planning for summer, looking at patio umbrellas and wondering how important the quality of the canopy is.

In short, it’s extremely important for longevity, health and aesthetic reasons. The three main fabrics used for patio umbrella canopies are acrylic, polyester, and olefin. Your choice will depend on budget as well as the points I’m going to outline.

Acrylic is a great fabric used by many manufacturers. The acrylic material is solution dyed, so the colour goes right through the material before yarning giving you a fade-proof product and it won't show wear from exposure to the elements. A fabric that is 100% solution dyed is like a beetroot, when you slice it, it is the same colour all the way through. A fabric that is not solution dyed is like a radish, when you slice it only the outer edge is coloured, the rest is white. The great thing about acrylic is that the weave is tightly woven. The denser a fabric is, the more UV protection it offers. The strongest UV protection is a UPF50 fabric that blocks 98% of the sun’s rays. The best UV protective umbrellas are also water-and mildew- resistant. An additional Teflon coating means that the canopy is waterproof and can be easily cleaned by jet-washing or hosing or machine washed up to 40 degrees.

Polyester is another fabric used by umbrella manufacturers. Usually cheaper in cost, polyester isn’t as lightfast or UV resistant as acrylic fabric. Polyester must be treated with a water repellent finish and UV inhibitor for it to last longer than a year in the outdoors. But it is a great option for cheap umbrellas not needing to stand the test of time.

And then there’s Olefin, this is an environmentally friendly product, made from recycled Propylene with a low carbon footprint. Also solution-dyed, water- and mildew- resistant, and very durable, but it can be sensitive to heat, it’s not UV protected, therefore needing UV inhibitors. The coating used on this fabric can attract excess dirt from the environment and there will be some colour fading over time.

5How do I choose the right size parasol?

How big should a parasol be?  We get these questions a lot.  Remember, your parasol size depends on what you want to put in its shade.  You definitely want it large enough to cover the area you need it for. Remember to factor in the height of the parasol (the pole and the umbrella canopy) for enclosed areas, with height limitations.

The size of the parasol is determined by the canopy width, and not the pole height.

Ideally the edges should be 50cm wider on all sides if you are placing the parasol over a dining or patio table.  Choose wisely if you want your parasol to go through the hole in the centre of your table.  You want it to sit comfortably in there without wobbling around too much.  Bigger parasol poles are too thick and won’t fit through the hole in the table.  In that case you can get a freestanding parasol.

How to measure the size of a hexagonal or octagonal canopy: start from the tip of the rib up to the centre hub (on the exterior side, when the umbrella is closed) and multiply by two. This is the arch diameter of your parasol.

How to Measure Patio Umbrellas:

The size is determined in width not height. Measure the distance between the top of the rib arm and the bottom the rib arm and multiply by two.

As you can see, it’s a very important process to take into consideration when deciding which parasol will be your perfect fit.

MY ACCOUNT