Tips For Choosing An Umbrella To Use By The Swimming Pool

Swimming pools and umbrellas go hand in hand. A poolside umbrella can provide shade precisely where and when you want it, while adding a touch of color and a certain flair to your poolscape. Most outdoor umbrellas measure anywhere from 5 to 11 feet in diameter. Umbrellas are often found attached to dining tables, anchored by a weighted umbrella base or, in our case, sitting pretty mounted in the swimming pool’s thermal ledge. Wherever your umbrella sits, here are a few tips for making sure you stay covered in style.

This poolscape by Pool Builders, Inc. – Davie, FL

Consider the Location

Before you begin shopping for an umbrella, take a good look at the lay of your swimming pool area. If the umbrella is to provide shade for a table, measure the table. Most outdoor tables come in standard sizes, but you want to make sure that the canopy will cover your table, especially if it is a larger table (seating eight or more). Likewise, you don’t want to purchase an umbrella that will overshadow your table if it is smaller.

Also Consider:

  • The location of your umbrella in relationship to the roof of your home. Ideally, some space should exist between the roof or overhang and the umbrella.
  • Where will the umbrella be located in relation to your grill, fire features or outdoor kitchen? Make sure to keep the umbrella far from open flames.


As mentioned, when it comes to umbrellas for table cover, table size matters.

  • Table size (diameter): 30 to 36 inches — Umbrella size (diameter): 6 to 8 feet
  • Table size: 38 to 48 inches — Umbrella size: 9 to 11 feet
  • Table size: 54 to 60 inches — Umbrella size: 11 feet or larger


The types of umbrellas available online or at stores include:

  • Sunshades: This style resembles a round disc on a pole, and is intended to shade one person. We often see a group of sunshades at a high-end hotels, poolside, near individual chaise lounges.
  • Market: Very popular, usually higher quality and larger. Often used for residential umbrellas (these are the kind you would see shading diners on the patio of restaurant). Market umbrellas are octagonal and have vented tops.
  • Pagoda: Asian-inspired parasol-style umbrellas that have more of an architectural, or Japanese pagoda-like shape.
  • Cantilever: This is the umbrella you’ve seen that is connected to a sturdy base and aluminum pole, and is adjustable. Think of it as a larger sunshade, capable of keeping more people and a larger area, out of the sun’s rays. The canopy often swings wide of the base.
  • Commercial-Grade Umbrellas: These are the heavy-duty types you see at restaurants or other outdoor venues, and are built to withstand the elements.


Many of today’s umbrellas use UV resistant materials which offer added protection from the sun rays. Sunbrella is probably the most well-known name in outdoor fabrics. The company began making awnings in the early 1960s and currently makes popular fabric for outdoor umbrellas, along with other upholstered furniture. Sunbrella has a very loyal customer base, many who have purchased umbrellas with Sunbrella shades swear by their quality and durability.


Umbrella frames are traditionally constructed from wood, aluminum or fiberglass. The most common material is aluminum, which is also the material you will see most often on umbrella poles. If made correctly with the right finish, it resists all kinds of weather conditions. Wood frames, especially an outdoor-tolerant wood like teak, or eucalyptus, is also a popular material for umbrellas, but is more costly. PLEASE remember that wood expands when wet and wooden poles placed in umbrella sleeves – holders that are permanently mounted in swimming pool ledges (often referred to as sun shelves, or Baja steps) may be difficult or impossible to remove. Powder coated aluminum is lightweight, non-corrosive and holds up in various weather conditions. Check with your swimming pool’s builder for recommendations on cleaning and proper care of these umbrella sleeves/holders as they may have valuable information to share specific to your swimming pool’s equipment and maintenance.

We hope you find the above useful as you shop for shade! Here’s to a season of Living Poolside!