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How to Choose the Right Umbrellas for My Restaurant or Cafe

11th January 2022

There were at least 16,221 new cases of melanoma diagnosed this year in Australia alone. Every outdoor restaurant space needs to protect its customers and workers from this dangerous disease.

The best way to reduce harmful sun and UV exposure is to add an outdoor umbrella. They're an important safety measure that can also draw in customers and create extra dining space.

Read our guide to learn the benefits of outdoor restaurant umbrellas and how to choose the best one.

How to Choose the Best Outdoor Restaurant Umbrella

An outdoor umbrella provides shade and UV protection to your restaurant's staff, customers, and furniture.

There are several factors to keep in mind when choosing an outdoor umbrella. Consider the type, material, design, branding, and quality.

Pick the Right Type

You have many types of outdoor umbrellas to choose from, including market and cantilever.

Market umbrellas are lightweight and easy to move. They're the best choice if you need to set them up and take them down often.

Cantilever umbrellas, also known as side post or pool umbrellas, are a popular option. They're large, modern, and can be placed away from the area you need to provide shade for.

Cantilever umbrellas use a swivel arm rather than a centre post. They're more stable and easier to move and adjust than other types. 

Cantilever umbrellas are also customisable. They come in square, hexagonal, octagonal, and rectangular shapes. You can also choose from a range of fabrics to ensure the outdoor umbrellas matches your decor.

There are also different types of mounting methods, including freestanding, wall mount, bolt down, and in-ground.

Freestanding umbrellas are held in place by a heavy base but can be moved. Wall-mounted umbrellas help shade the side of your restaurant.

A bolt-down umbrella stays in cement to provide shade from a distance. An in-ground umbrella stays in the ground as a sturdy, effective addition to any outdoor dining area.

Choose the Right Material

Most outdoor umbrellas have frames made of wood, aluminium, or fibreglass. Be sure to choose the right one for your needs.

Aluminium is the most common material for umbrella frames and poles. It's also the most weather-resistant.

The most common types of wood used in outdoor umbrella frames are teak, ipe, and eucalyptus. They're more expensive but are outdoor-resistant.

Canopy material options include polyester, acrylic, and PVC. Polyester isn't as durable as other options and tends to fade. Choose a solution-dyed canopy to reduce these issues. Acrylic and PVC canopies are more durable, weather-resistant, and waterproof. They're also less likely to fade.

Choose the Right Design

Deciding how your outdoor restaurant umbrellas should look is one of the most important decisions you can make. Creating an effective design helps attract customers with a consistent, aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.

The first design consideration you should make is choosing the right colours. They're important because they draw your customers' eyes and affect their mood.

Use a colour wheel to choose a colour scheme first. There are several options, including analogous, contrasting, black and white, and natural.

An analogous colour scheme uses 3 adjacent colours. Options include:

Contrasting colour schemes use complementary colours that sit across from each other on the wheel. Options include:

Black and white work best when paired with other colours. Black compliments lighter colours such as yellow and sky blue. White works with darker colours like dark red, royal purple, and black.

A natural colour scheme replicates the natural features around your restaurant. Choose colours like green and sky-blue to get this effect.

Solid colours aren't your only option for outdoor umbrellas. You can also try a fun pattern like stripes or polka-dots.

The right colour for your outdoor dining area also depends on what time of the year it is. Black is best in the summer because it absorbs heat. Red and green are closely associated with the holidays, and you should avoid them for the rest of the year.

Many brands have standard colours and designs, such as the red of Coca-Cola©. If your restaurant has a branded design, add it to your outdoor umbrellas.

Add Branding

Branded umbrellas use the marketing principle of repetition.  This builds brand familiarity and trust while keeping your products in the mind of your current and potential customers.


The biggest mistake most brands make when adding is going overboard. They show their message so often that potential customers get tired of seeing it.

An outdoor umbrella is a great way to get around this issue. Add your logo, signature colours, or anything else that customers associate with your brand. 

Customers will see your branded umbrella each time they walk by your restaurant. It draws their eye and creates appropriately repetitive branding.

Find Commercial Quality Options

Benefits of commercial quality umbrellas include durability, safety, increased protection, and easy compliance with local laws.

Start by looking at the wind rating. It will tell you how strong of a gust the umbrella can withstand.

Commercial-grade umbrella frames can be made of structural aluminium, quality powder coating, or marine-grade stainless steel. They can also be fixed or retractable.

Structural aluminium is lighter than steel but still very durable. It's resistant to rust and other forms of damage. Powder coating provides strength and a more appealing look. 

A fixed commercial grade umbrella stays open, tends to be stronger, and requires less maintenance. A retractable umbrella can be open or closed to suit your needs.

Find the Best Outdoor Restaurant Umbrellas

Outdoor dining is a trendy way to draw in customers and create extra space. One of the most important components is sun protection.

An outdoor umbrella can keep your workers and customers safe, but only if you choose the right one. Find the right type, choose quality materials, create the right design, add branding, and look for commercial quality options.

Browse our outdoor restaurant umbrellas and other shading solutions today.

Please note the contents of this post is information only and general in nature.
If you require advice it is best to contact one of our shade specialists who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.

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