What Size Patio Umbrella Do I Need?

What Size Patio Umbrella Do I Need?

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If you’re asking “what size patio umbrella do I need?” you come to the right place! We’ve got all the details on how to choose the perfect size to cover your outdoor table or entertaining space.

Your patio needs shade; this, we know. You could opt for a pergola, a gazebo, a canopy—but, aside from expensive, these may require more space than you’re willing to give.

An umbrella, on the other hand, can cover just the space you need (like a couple lounging chairs by the pool), at a fraction of the cost. By now, your most pressing question must be, ‘what size do I need?’ That’s what we’re here to find out.

How to Measure a Patio Umbrella Size

We will, before long, delve deeper into the appropriate sizes depending on the type and dimensions of the area you want to cover, but before we get into that, we might as well discuss how to tell the size of a given umbrella; if only in case you want to measure that one resting in storage, so you know what use you can give it. It is fairly easy, too:

  1. Open the umbrella until the canopy is fully extended.
  2. With a tape measure, check the length of one of the ribs, from the pole to the canopy’s rim.
  3. Multiply the resulting number by two; this is your umbrella’s size.
  4. If you wish to determine its crank height, use your tape and measure the pole from the very base to the bottom of the crank mechanism. This can be useful when the umbrella is intended for covering a table or a bar.

This method works on conventional umbrellas of hexagonal shape; square and rectangular umbrellas are measured by side.

Patio umbrella on a small table being secured by a base

Notes on Securing Your Patio Umbrella

Almost universally, your umbrella will require a base to stay upright (and endure the wind without being blown away), especially if you intend to tilt it, as is the case when you want to keep up with the sun’s changing position.

Bases such as this are usually intended for filling with sand or water (though some are made naturally heavy, like this one), and come with a given weight. The larger the umbrella, the heavier the base should be: for a 4.5 feet umbrella, your base should weigh about 40lbs, whereas an umbrella measuring 11 feet will need about 75lbs to stay in place.

A base should be procured even if your umbrella will be running through a table. For a proper fitting, you should be aware of the pole’s diameter, which we will cover more in depth below.

What Is the Diameter of a Patio Umbrella Pole?

While this is bound to vary, you can expect an average of 1.5 inches in diameter for most umbrellas’ poles. Some of them, depending on size and height, can go as wide as 2.5 inches. For your base to work right, its opening should be as close to the pole’s diameter without being too small for it to fit in.

For general reference, your base’s diameter should not be more than ¼ inch larger than that of the pole. This means that, if your pole is the average 1.5, the hole at the base should be no wider than 1.75 inches.

Backyard patio lounging area with umbrella for shade

What Size Patio Umbrella Do I Need for a Table or Lounge Space?

Now we get to our core topic. Let’s begin by saying, if all you’re covering is a table, then your umbrella should go 2 feet beyond the table’s rim. This means that, if you’re pairing a round umbrella with a round table, then the diameter of the former should be 4 feet more than that of the latter—10 feet umbrella for a 6 feet table, for example.

Time to talk spaces.

For this section, we’ll be grouping our measurements together depending on the shape of the table—which your umbrella should match, for best results; for a round table, the best umbrella would be a round one. Moreover, if you can’t find a recommended size, move up rather than down; too large an umbrella is better than one that is too small.

1. Round Table

Round patio table with umbrella by the ocean

For those who like King Arthur’s democratic format, here’s the breakdown.

36 to 42″ diameter: This covers from bistro 2-seater sets, to tables capable of seating 4. Here, your umbrella should be between 7 and 8.5 feet in diameter.

48 to 54″ diameter: From this point forward, we’re usually talking dining tables. An arrangement in the aforementioned dimensions will typically seat between 4 and 6 people; which means, an appropriate umbrella will range from 8 to 9.5 feet in diameter.

60 to 72″ diameter: 6 to 10 is the average occupancy for dining tables this size.  Here, you should try for an umbrella whose diameter goes between 9 and 11 feet.

84″ and up: If you have a table this large, your occupancy is of about 10, or more. Your umbrella should be, at a minimum, 11 feet in diameter.

2. Square Table

Outdoor square tables without umbrellas

Here it gets a little simpler. We begin with a table with a hypothetical length of 36 inches (3 feet) per side, which requires an umbrella whose side measures 7 feet. As you can see, the 2-extra-feet rule we mentioned earlier is met here: 3 feet plus 2 per side (a total of 4 extra) equals 7.

This same scale continues foot by foot: 8′ umbrella for a 4′ table, 9′ umbrella for a 5′ table, and so on. That said, square umbrellas 10′ and larger can provide cover to your outdoor living room; here are a few examples.

  • 10′ umbrella: love seat and lounge chaise with small coffee table in between.
  • 11′ umbrella: 3-seater couch and love seat facing one another, with small coffee table in between.
  • 13′ umbrella: Two love seats, one armchair, and a medium coffee table in between.

3. Rectangular Table

Patio with rectangular table

Here, the 2-extra-per-side trend continues. As mentioned before, it is better to move up than down, and you might need to do it often if your table is rectangular, as many of these tables do not finish their measurements at an entire foot—they can be, for example, 2 ½ feet by 3 ½ feet.

Rounding up, you get 3 by 4; adding 2 feet per side—a total of 4—, you get that your umbrella should be 7 feet by 8. If your table is 4 ½ feet by 10, you round up to 5; your umbrella, then would be 9 x 14 feet.

Worth noting: with an umbrella measuring 8 x 10 feet, you can comfortably cover 2 lounge chairs side by side; if it measures 10 x 13, you can give coverage to a full living room consisting of a 3-seater couch, a love seat in front, two armchairs on the remaining sides, and a decently sized coffee table in the middle.

Closing Thoughts

Editorial picture for What Size Patio Umbrella Do I Need? of a backyard patio that includes a table and umbrella

When trying to find the appropriate size for your umbrella, consider the actual space you want to cover. Sometimes, two smaller umbrellas might be better than a larger one, if you want to spread out your tables a bit.

As you may have noticed, the 2-extra-feet rule applies pretty much everywhere; measure your space, add 2 feet to each side, and that will be the umbrella size you need to go for.

Don’t forget to shop for a base, either, lest a particularly forceful wind sends your nice umbrella flying into the neighbor’s backyard.

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there: depending on the space you’re trying to cover, you might have to settle for a specific umbrella type, such as a cantilever—but that’s a story for another time.

Hopefully we’ve answered all your “what size patio umbrella do I need?” questions now. If you’re still not sure, make sure you know the store’s return policy before shopping. That way you can try out some different options and see what works best in the space!

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