A patio-umbrella can be one of the best additions to your patio or garden space. It’ll help to bring a great deal of color to your patio and shape the personality of your space according to your unique choices.
The way a patio umbrella will look and also the quality and longevity of it is mostly determined by the canopy of it. The color of the fabric, the longevity of the color, the protection it provides against the UV rays are major concerns while choosing a patio umbrella.
There are many fabrics that’ll look so attractive at the first glance but will not hold up against harsh UV rays, water, salt, and other natural elements. The shine will be gone within a blink of an eye and rather make your patio look dull and gloomy instead of making it look colorful and classy.
Choosing the right fabric for your umbrella is one of the key choices you have to make while you buy one. You better know in-depth about the patio umbrella canopy material to make the best choice according to your needs and budget.
In this article, we’re looking to shade more light on patio umbrella fabrics.
Acrylic: The Best Umbrella Canopy Material
Acrylic is considered to be the best raw material for making patio umbrella fabric. In fact, Acrylic-made fabrics are not only good for making patio umbrella canopies but also for various other purposes as well where shading from the sun is required.
And who makes the best acrylic-made fabric for outdoor purposes?
Sunbrella, and you might have heard of them.
Sunbrella is a famous name in the fabric industry and they make a range of different fabrics for different purposes, including outdoor fabrics, upholstery, marine, etc.
Their most famous product has to be these acrylic-made fabrics meant to shade, as you can say from their name (Umbrella – Sunbrella).
The color of their fabrics is the most long-lasting because they’re solution-dyed, thus goes to the core. It means the color becomes a part of the fabric itself, not just a coat above the fibers.
Thus, you can even bleach them to clean thoroughly and the fabric will not lose its color for doing that.
The UV pigments are also a part of the core of the fibers so they’re one of the best to protect against harmful UV rays coming from the sun. They’ll resist mold and mildew to their best, and even if they show up, you can always bleach them out.
All these conveniences of Sunbrella outdoor fabrics are mostly earned by choosing acrylic as the core materials, while gratitude for a few added benefits goes to the Sunbrella’s engineering team.
That said, there are few other brands that make great acrylic fibers as well, like Outdura and Spuncrylic. You can surely get an umbrella made from their produced Acrylic as well.
Since they’re Acrylic fabrics, they do offer all the good things as well. But the best bet would be getting an umbrella that features umbrellas acrylic fibers since they ensure the best quality of that raw material.
Olefin is one kind of synthetic fabric that is quite durable and great at water resistance. You’ll commonly find olefin fabrics in carpeting, be that house carpeting or carpeting of your vehicle.
Olefin fabric deals with water-related issues particularly well. They handle mud, snow, and likewise things well. In terms of durability, they go through abuse in houses and cars yet still holds up so you could expect them to last long enough.
As olefin is good with water, they tend to be quite mildew-resistant as well, which will interest you particularly if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain.
In terms of color longevity, they’re not as good as Acrylic fibers but not bad at all. But they’re up to the level in terms of UV-resistance since most of the good quality fabrics are good enough for resisting the UV rays, it doesn’t have to be acrylics.
Olefin is a good quality fabric for patio umbrellas which is not going to disappoint you from any aspect. They offer good value for what they cost. Usually, olefin made umbrellas are quite cheaper than the ones made of Sunbrella acrylics.
And for Olefin fabrics, there’s no signature brand that makes it significantly better than all others. So in the product advertising, you’ll see the manufacturers brag about having olefin fabrics but not from any particular brand.
As far as the quality of the fabric is good which you can figure out from other users’ reviews, you don’t have to bother about the brand it’s coming from.
Polyester fabrics are cheaper among the bunch but that doesn’t make it the trash or significantly poorer in quality straight away. Polyester could be quite decent of a material when the right type is chosen.
Unlike the other two, Polyester fabric has many variations. Spun polyester is the best variation of it that is mostly found in good-quality patio umbrellas. The manufacturing process of Polyester is a strong determinant of its quality so you want to ensure that it’s coming from a reputed manufacturer of this fabric.
Spun polyester looks and feels quite like cotton having the durability of polyester since the fabric bits are spun together. These are the most expensive variation of Polyester fabrics yet not as much as the other two. They’re average in colorfastness.
In terms of UV protection, they have to be particularly treated for UV protection since the core material doesn’t do a great job at that. You want to ensure that the one you’re buying is particularly treated for UV protection so it’ll protect you and colors won’t fade fast at the same time.
If not, you might have to buy UV spray by yourself.
Determining Factors of Umbrella Fabric Durability
How can you tell that a particular umbrella you’re digging on will hold up or not? Will the fabric last against the brightest sunshine or windiest weather?
Yes, you could get a broader idea by the material it’s made from but there are more small classifying factors (GSM, color-fastness level, etc.) that manufacturers often mention in the product description.
Those factors in brief:
Usually, material thickness is graded by its weight. The heavier it is for a particular volume, the thicker it is. It’s expressed in the unit called GSM.
GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter. So when a fabric says it’s 180 GSM, you could derive that one square meter of this fabric will weigh roughly around 180 grams.
If another one says 250 GSM, that means it weighs 250 grams per square meter of that fabric.
Since it weighs more for the same amount of fabric, it had to be bulkier or thicker from inside, right?
Now, thicker fabrics hold up better, take that as a rule of thumb. It provides better protection against UV rays as well as better at resisting water.
So picking a fabric made of good material is not enough, you also need to check on the GSM count. Common weights for umbrella fabrics are 180g and 250g.
However, keep in mind that to hold a fabric that weighs more, the umbrella frame has to be equally sturdy so it can keep up.
Reading that – “This fabric will protect you from UV rays”, is not enough. You want to ask, to what extent?
No canopy fabric is 100 percent UV-resistant. The best will go close to a hundred, but not there yet. For example, Sunbrella Acrylic fabrics will block 98% of the UV rays.
If the number goes a lot below that, there’s something to worry about. You want to ensure it resists more than 90 percent of the UV rays at least.
However, to further increase that number, you can use a UV resistant spray. The TriNova UV-resistant spray is one of the top choices to make any surface protected from harmful UV-rays.
Color-fastness indicates the resistance rating of a given fabric against fading. It’s often ranked in certification, for example, SGS certified fabric; or with a Fade Resistance Level, for example, ESL (European Standard Level) Grade 4.
This number indicates the amount of time a fabric is rated for outdoor color-fastness.
Water Resistance and Waterproof Umbrellas
Waterproofing for a handheld umbrella might be a must since that’s what it is mainly meant for, to protect you from rain. However, patio umbrellas are meant to keep you under the shade while you relax in the backyard, not really to protect you from rain.
Thus, it’s not absolutely necessary for a patio umbrella to be waterproof.
When many people hear the word ‘umbrella’, they already think that it must be waterproof, which is not really true for patio umbrellas. Patio umbrella canopies are made from such fabrics that are mostly water-resistant.
While waterproofing is a good thing to have, it shouldn’t be considered as a deal-breaker for most cases.
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