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Outdoor Umbrella Sizing Guide: How to Find the Perfect Fit

11th August 2022

Buying a patio umbrella for your backyard may seem like a simple decision...just buy something big enough to cover your table, right?

Wrong! Several different factors come into play when choosing between outdoor umbrellas.

It could be the difference between enjoying a beautiful day in the backyard with your family to sweltering in the summer heat, wondering why you didn't plan your purchase more carefully.

The good news is we'll tell you everything you need to know about purchasing a large outdoor umbrella for your backyard in this article.  

Assess Your Landscape

First, assess the landscape of your backyard: both hardscape (concrete, bricks, stone) and softscape (garden, trees, flowers).


Includes concrete, brick and stone


Include gardens, grass, trees, flowers, 

If you'll be using the umbrella for your table, measure the table that will be used. You definitely want to make sure the umbrella will cover the table and those who sit at it, but at the same time, you don't want to buy an umbrella that's too big and overpowers the table.

Consider whether the umbrella will touch a roof or overhang or if it will block the view of your kitchen. 

Shapes and Types of Large Outdoor Umbrellas

Depending on the shape of the patio table or area that you want to cover, choosing the right shape of the umbrella will determine what works best.

Most umbrellas are round, some are octagonal (also known as market umbrellas), while other models are rectangular which can shade long, rectangular tables.

There are also several different types of umbrellas. Lets look at them in more detail: 


The market umbrella is one of the more popular options because they're often more affordable than commercial or cantilever umbrellas. You might see this in the patios of cafes or diners. These umbrellas are lightweight and easy to move around.

Made in the Shade Classic Timber Umbrella

These are usually sized from 2.5m square or octagonal up to 3m or 4m octagonal. 


Instead of having a pole that goes directly down into a base at a patio table, a cantilever umbrella has its base and pole that is offset from the shaded area.

This is useful for tables without holes, smaller tables, or lounge chairs by the pool. The great thing about these is the poles don't get in the way. Many models also allow you to easily rotate or tilt them as the sun moves.

These are also sized from 2.5m square or octagonal up to 3m or 4m octagonal. We also provide a Master Shade option which can be as large as 5m octagonal. 

Master Shade Cantilever Umbrella


Commercial umbrellas are heavy-duty umbrellas that you'll usually see at outdoor venues or restaurants that can withstand harsh weather. Although you'll usually see this in commercial environments, many people purchase these for their homes because of their reliability.

FlexShade Tension Membrane umbrellas can be customised to almost any desired size!

Two Flexshade Quartet (Square) Centreposts Flexshade Hexagonal Centrepost Three Flexshade Hexagonal Centreposts Flexshade Quartet (Square) Cantilever Duet Flexshade Quartet (Square) Cantilever

How Canopies are Measured

Outdoor umbrella models are usually referred to by both their size and shape. So, for example, one model could be a 4-metre square umbrella, whilst another could be a 3-metre octagonal umbrella.

When it comes to the measure in metres given, it is equal to the diameter of the umbrella canopy when it is open.

Keep in mind that, though the octagonal and square are the most common shapes outdoor umbrellas come in, other shapes are available. These additional shapes include hexagonal, round, and even rectangular.

Square canopies can be measured from any side, as all lengths are the same. However, when the shape has sides that are not equal to each other, then it is measured along the longer side.

You would do this, for example, with the canopy of an octagon outdoor umbrella. This is shown in the diagram below.

Graphic showing how outdoor umbrella canopies are measured

On rare occasions, some suppliers or manufacturers of outdoor umbrellas will refer to the circumference of the umbrella as well as the diameter. Be aware of this so you don’t accidentally buy the wrong size of your favourite umbrella!

How Do I Know What Size Large Outdoor Umbrella to Get?

As we mentioned earlier, one of the most obvious factors is size. To find this size, measure your area and get a length x width. Order an umbrella that is just a little bit (minimum 100mm) smaller than the total size of your area.

If you need help deciding which size to get for your large outdoor umbrella, contact us 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.