When shopping for a patio umbrella, there are many variables to consider. Do you want a traditional patio umbrella or cantilever umbrella? What shape umbrella do you want? Octagonal, rectangular, or square? Does it need to tilt? And finally, what sorts of materials and colors are right for your needs and design directions? But perhaps the most important property of an umbrella to consider prior to purchase is the size! You want to make sure your umbrella will fit with your furniture in terms of scale, and in terms of shade capabilities. We have put together this Patio Umbrella Size Guide to cover all the basics for umbrella size questions.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your patio umbrella, or your furniture, this guide will show the appropriate sizes for different furniture scales and scopes.
Patio Umbrella Size Guide
In this section we will look at the optimal umbrella size for different patio table configurations. See our infographic for the basics, but we will cover each section in detail here.
For smaller traditional Octagonal or Round Umbrellas, it’s best to stick to bistro sets. As a general rule, if your patio umbrella is 6-8 feet in diameter, stick with a 2-4 person bistro set, with table diameter of 3-4′.
For larger umbrellas, you can start to expand to rectangular or oval dining sets, and these can more comfortably fit significantly more people under shade.
For 11′ through 13′ diameter umbrellas, consider table lengths that max out at 8′-9′, and have seating for up to 8 people.
Rectangular Umbrellas have several advantages over standard octagonal/round umbrellas. They certainly look more adventurous, and often have a large span. They also frequently fit better into many patio spaces, as their shade is a bit more targeted, and more ideally shaped to pair with rectangular patio tables.
For rectangular umbrellas under 8’x10′ in size, it’s best to pair with a table 6′ long or under. For larger 10’x13′ patio tables, you can really go for it and aim for a patio table that maxes out at 9′ long, and which can fit 10 people!
Square Patio Umbrellas
Square Patio Umbrellas are not uncommon, but they are a little less useful than rectangular patio umbrellas in our eyes. The square format doesn’t pair as well with a patio table, especially as the size grows, so these may be a better choice for use with outdoor living sets. Large square tables impede conversation, so they aren’t ideal. In general, if your square market umbrella is less than 10′ in length, pair it with a bistro table with up to four chairs. If your umbrella gets larger than that, you can combine it with a square or rectangular table seating 8-10 people.
Pairing a Patio Umbrella with a Patio Living Set
When considering patio umbrella sizes, it’s a good idea to think about the type of furniture that will be shaded.
Typically patio umbrellas are paired with patio dining sets, though obviously this is not always the case. The natural pairing between a patio table and a patio umbrella makes this fit very workable, while combining outdoor living furniture sets with patio umbrellas isn’t as natural.
As this image shows, the patio umbrella has to be placed off to the side of the living set, which doesn’t provide much shade, and essentially wastes half of the umbrella canopy.
It’s easy enough to find a free-standing patio umbrella base, so there’s no need for a patio table for support. But the location of the patio umbrella can conflict with the location of the coffee table in the outdoor living set, or make the circulation around the chairs very awkward.
In general, if a patio umbrella is sized for a table and four chairs, that umbrella will work with a four seat living room set. But obviously, this all depends on how you choose to set up the outdoor living space.
Consider An Offset Umbrella
While you certainly can pair a patio umbrella and an outdoor living set, you should definitely consider a cantilever umbrella, also known as an offset umbrella, in these circumstances. They simply work better, since the pole can be out of the way, and the base can frequently sit underneath the outdoor sectional furniture.
Cantilever umbrellas don’t interrupt the flow of the outdoor space with an obstructive pole, and if you’re still shopping, definitely take a look at this path. Plus, they look really great, so you should definitely keep an open mind!
In general, the canopy size estimates shown here will work equally well for cantilever umbrellas as they will for patio umbrellas.
The larger a patio umbrella canvas diameter, the more useful a tilt function is. The ability to tilt a patio umbrella can make it much more effective at shading larger areas, and “aiming” the shade where you want it to go.