Types of Patio Umbrellas

A patio umbrella adds not only shade and comfort to a backyard, but also protection from the harsh UV rays. The shade of a patio umbrella is often essential to making the patio an enjoyable space when the summer sun is beating down. Below are the types of patio umbrellas that are most commonly found in yards around North America. 

Table Umbrella

This type of umbrella is designed to go through a hole in the center of a patio table. The table provides support for the umbrella to help prevent it from spinning or falling over. Since the umbrella is located directly in the middle of the table, it is able to efficiently cover the full table surface assuming the right sized umbrella is used. The umbrella typically is secured by a weight base that sits on the ground.  

Tilt Umbrella

A tilt umbrella, as you probably guessed, allows the umbrella to tilt. The ability to tilt allows the umbrella to block out the sun at almost any angle it is coming from. This is an extremely beneficial feature since the sun does not shine directly over the umbrella at all times. A tilt umbrella is most useful for people who spend a lot of time outdoors at various hours of the day.

Before you buy a tilt umbrella, test the ease of tilting this type of umbrella. Some umbrellas can be difficult to tilt making them more of a hassle than they’re worth. Additionally, not all patios need a tilt umbrella. For example, trees may block out the sun in a backyard when tilting the umbrella would be necessary.   

Cantilever Umbrella

An offset or cantilever umbrella is made with a long vertical beam support that allows the umbrella to suspend over the patio. This allows for an unobstructed view since the pole and base of the umbrella are set to the side of the seating area.

Since the umbrella stands on its own, you have limitless options for what you place under it. One day you might want your zero gravity chairs under the umbrella and the next day, maybe, your outdoor couches. You have a significant amount of flexibility which is why this type of umbrella has become extremely popular item for the backyard. 

Most cantilever umbrellas have the ability to rotate and tilt to block out the sun from multiple angles. Additionally, the rotation allows the umbrella to shade multiple areas without moving the base. For example, if the umbrella is located between a patio table and a chaise lounge, for example, the umbrella can be used to shade the table then rotated to later shade the chaise lounge. 

Lighted Umbrella

This type of umbrella has lights under the canopy. The lights not only illuminate the immediate area when light is scarce but they also create an amazing ambience. This allows the patio to be used late into the night without the excessive brightness of a traditional patio light attached to the house. 

The lights are commonly small LED or bar LED lights located along the ribs of the umbrella. Some umbrellas have one large light at the center of the canopy. The lights are most often powered by a small solar panel on the top of the canopy. 

Lights can be found on all the umbrellas previously featured. They have become extremely popular in recent years as people look for ways to spend more time in the yard. 

Rectangular Umbrella

If you need extra coverage, a large rectangular umbrella may be an option for you. These umbrellas are an excellent choice to shade a long rectangle table or an outdoor couch. They often can be used in both commercial and residential settings for situation where a little extra length is needed to cover an area. 

Half Umbrella

When space is limited on a patio, a half umbrella can be useful when a full sized one just won’t fit or is not needed. This type of umbrella can be pushed up against a wall to save on space. They commonly function similar to a full sized umbrella with the ability to tilt and crank down when not in use. 

Tiki Umbrella

Nothing signals a backyard party more than a tiki umbrella. The classic thatch roof and wood or wood-like pole will make you feel like you are on a Hawaiian beach right in your backyard. You are able to purchase these with the ability to tilt and also fold down. An example of a high-quality backyard tiki umbrella is this Bayside Tiki Umbrella found on Amazon.


While not technically an umbrella, an awning serves a similar purpose. It is typically made from vinyl, polyester, canvas, wood, or metal that is supported by a frame. It is best for blocking the sun and even the rain when the material is durable. An awning can be retractable, which allows it to be drawn back against the house. This is best for people who do not always prefer their patio to be covered. An example of a retractable awning is pictured above.  

Shade Sail

A shade sail is a type of heavy-duty fabric that is raised over the patio. Each corner of the sail has a d-ring or similar piece of hardware attached to it to allow it to be secured to anchor points above the area that needs shade.

It is typically efficient at blocking out UV light but not rain. Rain will commonly pass through the sail, but there are some higher-end ones that are waterproof. Additionally, it can be left up during the summer but will not be able to withstand the load of heavy snow or ice of winter. 

A benefit of a shade sale is that it does not have a stand like a traditional patio umbrella. This means that the view under the sail is not obstructed. Furthermore, the lack of a stand allows the sail to be placed over a pool assuming anchor points can be established nearby. This allows areas of a pool to be shaded that may not have been possible with other shading methods.