Comparing patio umbrellas to beach umbrellas

A patio umbrella provides the perfect amount of shade to relax outside on your own or with friends and family. Their shady canopies make any patio more inviting by providing cover from the sun from morning to dusk.

If you’re planning for a day at the beach, you may be tempted to bring along your patio umbrella for some much-needed shade. However, patio umbrellas have unique features that aren’t ideal for a trip to the shore, making a beach umbrella the best choice for the occasion. 

Patio umbrellas vs. beach umbrellas

Patio and beach umbrellas are built differently for many reasons. While patio umbrellas do provide sun protection for your deck or backyard, they are made specifically to stay in one spot, hold steady against changing weather and adjust based on the sun’s position.

Beach umbrellas, on the other hand, need to be light enough to carry, be able to sink into the sand, provide reliable UV protection and be easy to spot from a distance. With these contrasting features in mind, consider which umbrella is the best for your needs.

What makes a quality patio umbrella?

Sturdy anchors

Patio umbrellas rely on the weight of an anchor to hold them in place on the patio. Concrete, metal, wood or heavy-duty plastic are common materials. These anchors can be connected to the table for even more stability. The bulk and weight of these anchors make them ideal for staying put on a patio and cumbersome for lugging to the beach.

Heavy-duty materials

Patio umbrellas feature materials like steel and wood. They can withstand sun, snow, rain and wind with their sturdy construction and heavy anchors. Because of their weight, they are dangerous to use freestanding on the beach.

Wind-resistant flaps

Reinforced parts hold the patio umbrella steady while sitting at an outdoor table. There is not much give or flexibility in patio umbrellas. That’s great for providing shade and stability around an outdoor table. However, the lack of flexibility means a gust of wind could knock it over if not properly anchored, or if used at the beach.

Adjustable components

The best patio umbrellas come with the ability to adjust the shaded area by tilting the umbrella or by raising and lowering the pole. These features are more common in patio umbrellas as beach umbrellas tend to have one setting for easy portability.

What makes a quality beach umbrella?

Sharp anchors

Beach umbrellas need pointed, sharp anchors at the ends of their poles to nestle deep into the sand and hold the umbrella in place. The sand acts as the anchor for the umbrella so it can stay put and provide shade. If the pole sits too close to the surface of the sand, it can easily fall over.

Some beach umbrellas feature a corkscrew-like tip that makes it easier to manually twist into the sand and drive the pole deeper to stabilize it. The deeper you drill the umbrella’s pole, the more wind it can withstand without toppling over.

Lightweight materials

Materials like aluminum, fiberglass and plastic help keep beach umbrellas lightweight and easy to carry. They also make it easier to maneuver if you need to adjust the placement of your umbrella.

Beach umbrellas also tend to feature lightweight or stretchy materials that add flexibility so the umbrella can bend in the wind without being uprooted from the sand. If a beach umbrella does topple over, it isn’t likely to hurt anyone or cause damage.

UV protection

The canopy of a beach umbrella generally provides a wider shaded area than a patio umbrella. Its larger area is designed specifically for sun protection. High-quality umbrellas also feature material treated with UV protection so UV rays cannot penetrate the fabric.

Portability

One major difference between patio umbrellas and beach umbrellas is that beach umbrellas are meant to take on the go, while patio umbrellas stay in one spot. The portability of a beach umbrella is key to being able to carry it to the beach. Beach umbrellas are lightweight and often collapsible, so they are easy to carry and load into cars.

Visibility

As you meander along the beach, it’s important to be able to spot your party’s umbrella from a distance so you can always navigate back to find your belongings. Beach umbrellas come in a wide array of colors and patterns, so you can find yours easily. Patio umbrellas, on the other hand, tend to blend into their surroundings with more neutral colors.

Best umbrellas for the patio

Beachcrest Home Delossantos Market Umbrella

Beachcrest Home Delossantos Market Umbrella

This delightful umbrella spans 9 feet wide and comes in 10 colors. The double scallop edges offer a cheery finish to the canopy fabric. It tilts and has a crank lift for easy setup.

Sold by Wayfair

EliteShade Sunbrella 9-Foot Market Umbrella

EliteShade Sunbrella 9-Foot Market Umbrella

The solution-dyed acrylic fabric on this umbrella resists fading from the sun. The aluminum pole features a tilt and crank system. It’s available in more than a dozen colors.

Sold by Amazon

Blissun Patio Umbrella

Blissun Patio Umbrella

This patio umbrella features lightweight materials for affordable yet effective protection from the sun. It’s available in 15 colors to complement any patio decor. 

Sold by Amazon

Hampton Bay LED Offset Patio Umbrella

Hampton Bay LED Offset Patio Umbrella

For a splurge, this 11-foot umbrella offers ample sun protection. LED solar-powered lights illuminate your backyard at night. The cantilever mount keeps the umbrella anchored out of the way of your festivities.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best umbrellas for the beach

Beachbub All-In-One Beach Umbrella System

Beachbub All-In-One Beach Umbrella System

This package includes all the components for a lightweight beach umbrella. It foregoes the need to dig a hole and instead uses sand to anchor the base of the umbrella to the ground like a weight. The whole package weighs less than 9 pounds, making it easy to pack up and carry when you’re done in the sun. 

Sold by Amazon

Sport-Brella Super-Brella

Sport-Brella Super-Brella

This shaded shelter turns the idea of an umbrella on its side, literally. The canopy acts as a visor, rising up from the sand, covering 180 degrees behind you. Steel poles and ground stakes keep it in place, whether you stand it upright or tilt it against the sand.

Sold by Amazon

Frankford Umbrellas Commercial-Grade Beach Umbrella

Frankford Umbrellas Commercial-Grade Beach Umbrella

A luxury beach trip deserves a luxurious beach umbrella. This commercial-grade umbrella spans 7 1/2 feet wide and features an ash wood pole with steel fixings. Though it weighs a bit more than its lighter counterparts, it can easily withstand wind gusts. Rich colors and stripes are reminiscent of destination vacations with the whole family.

Sold by Amazon

Ammsun Rainbow Beach Umbrella

Ammsun Rainbow Beach Umbrella

If you’re looking for a classic rainbow beach umbrella, this is a great option. A polyester 7 1/2-foot canopy with scalloped edges hangs over the fiberglass frame of the umbrella. The rainbow pattern is easy to spot from afar.

Sold by Amazon

 

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Katy Palmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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