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The Best Heavy Duty Outdoor Umbrellas in Australia

7th July 2021

In the latest global analysis of the outdoor umbrella industry, Australian brands (including ones that we offer!) lead the way when it comes to sales.

That's because heavy-duty umbrellas that suit tough Australian conditions far exceed universal standards.

These types of durable outdoor umbrellas can withstand UV rays and inclement weather. They usually consist of a structural aluminium or steel frame with a PVC or acrylic tension membrane canopy. 

Since these umbrellas often occur in business environments, they're also known as commercial umbrellas. Keep reading to find out more about the best commercial umbrella in Australia. 

Characteristics of a Great Heavy Duty Umbrella

Heavy-duty umbrella brands all feature superior materials and design when compared to standard market umbrellas. However they aren't all created equal. It's important to compare the following factors while shopping for the best heavy duty or commercial outdoor umbrellas:

  • Canopy material
  • Frame material
  • Warranties
  • Ease of use
  • Price* vs Value

The installation method is another major factor that affects your choice of umbrellas. This affects how quickly and easily you can install your umbrellas as well as the costs involved.  

To provide the most accurate comparison, we've used the price of the 4m octagonal umbrella for each model. 

Ease of Installation Guide

Since they need to withstand all kinds of weather, most commercial umbrellas require permanent installation. This usually involves one of two methods:

Pacficshades Mastershade Bolt Down-Base

Above-ground base

A base that is bolted onto tiles or pavers. Also referred to as a surface plate. 

Pacficshades MastershadeInground Anchor

In-ground anchor

A base with an anchor that is secured with concrete in the ground. 

Some heavy-duty umbrellas also offer free-standing, portable bases although this is less common. 

To give an idea of how difficult the installation of each product is we have used the following rating system: 


These complex setups require the services of an experienced and / or qualified contractor or installer. You may also need specialised machinery to install these umbrellas. 


A builder handyman or landscaper can complete these installations or if you're pretty handy yourself then you would be able to do it.


This level of difficulty applies to free-standing umbrellas with minimal parts. You can easily set these umbrellas up yourself and don't need any special tools or machinery to complete the installation. 

The Best Heavy Duty Outdoor Umbrellas on the Market

Bearing the above factors in mind, we went searching for the best umbrella options in Australia, and this is what we discovered. 

Some of the best heavy-duty umbrella brands in the country are:

  • UltraShade
  • Shadowspec
  • Instant Shade
  • SkySpan
  • Flexshade
  • MakMax

Find out more about the best outdoor umbrellas offered by these manufacturers, so you can decide on the best one for your space. Remember you can always contact us to discuss what the best solution is for your individual situation. 

UltraShade Heavy Duty Umbrellas

Ultrashade's been manufacturing its range of umbrellas from its Brisbane factory since 1987. Thanks to their many years of experience they're able to build some of the best heavy-duty umbrellas in the country.

UltraShade - Heavy Duty Outdoor Umbrella at Mount Coot-Tha Summit
UltraShade - Heavy Duty Outdoor Umbrellas with Yellow Canopies by a commercial swimming pool
UltraShade - Heavy Duty Outdoor Umbrella by a residential swimming pool

UltraShade Canopies and Frames

Each UltraShade Heavy Duty frame is made from powder-coated aluminium with a choice of colours to suit your needs.

The canopies comprise pure acrylic canvas or PVC-coated polyester fabric. These materials boast 100% UV blockout, perfect for withstanding Australia's extreme UV levels. The canopies boast protection to repel mould and mildew. 

Customisation Options

These great looking umbrellas are custom-made to order. You even have the option to modify specific components of the umbrella including the frame height. You can choose from either square or octagonal shaped canopies as well as scalloped or straight valances.

Moderate Installation Difficulty

UltraShade Heavy Duty umbrellas require a medium level installation. You should get a contractor to assist you unless you have experience in DIY projects. Here at Project Shade we offer installation services in select areas and work with of contractors across Australia that we can recommend. 

Price and Warranties

A 4.0m octagonal UltraShade Heavy Duty umbrella costs $5,095. It comes with a five-year warranty on the frame and the canopy has a two-year warranty.

Now Available at Project Shade!

While not currently listed on our online store, we are very excited to announce that you can now purchase UltraShade umbrellas through Project Shade. Contact our team to learn more. 

Shadowspec Commercial Centre Pole (SU10)

Shadowspec's a New Zealand based outdoor umbrella manufacturer been in business for over 25 years. In that time they've mastered the art of designing umbrellas that offer weather resistance and ease of use all while wrapped up in a sleek design. 

The Shadowspec Commercial Centre Pole (SU10), precisely matches these ideals. 

This great looking umbrella has several convenient features like a telescopic mast that keeps it out of the way of your furniture and allows you to close it over a table. It also features a really easy wind-up mechanism. It's a popular fit for restaurants, cafés, bars, and other businesses looking for a good all-round umbrella. 

Shadowspec Canopies and Frames

This Commercial Centre Pole umbrella has a commercial grade aluminium frame, stainless steel hardware, and a galvanized internal mast system. 

The canopy consists of 100% solution-dyed acrylic canvas fabric with a UPF rating of 50+. You can choose from a range of standard colours, premium colours or you can add a logo or custom branding (for an additional cost). 

Ease of Installation - Easy/Medium

The SU10 is one of the few heavy duty umbrellas that offer a free-standing portable base. It's very easy to install without any special skills or tools. This base does come at an additional cost. You will also need to purchase pavers from your local hardware store. These pavers are placed inside the portable base to stop it from falling over. 

If preferred, you can opt for an in-ground or above-ground (surface plate) installation. You may want a builder or handyman to assist with these methods although they are designed to be DIY. 

Price and Warranties

When you buy one of these umbrellas, you get a three-year warranty on the frame and a five-year warranty on the canopy. The RRP* for a 4.0m Octagonal umbrella is $4,780, making it the cheapest pick in our selection. 

Shadowspec Su10 Commercial Centre Pole

*Be aware that their are some retailers selling these above the recommend retail price set by Shadowspec. To ensure you are getting the best price possible make sure to contact us before purchasing one of these umbrellas. 

Instant Shade Nova HD

Instant Shade manufactures their Australian-designed umbrellas in Asia under strict quality-controlled conditions. They back all their products with Australian warranties as well as local service and support.

The Nova HD umbrella offers many of the conveniences of the Shadowspec SU10 including ease of operation, aesthetically pleasing design and a telescopic mast. They also come with a 100km/h wind rating, except for the in the five-metre size. 

Instant Shade Canopies and Frames

Nova umbrellas have rust-free anodised aluminium frames and reinforced aluminium extrusion arms. The canopies comprise a high-end 100% solution-dyed acrylic canvas. The canopies also have have a UPF80+ UV resistance rating. 

Ease of Installation - Easy/Medium

For easy installation, you can choose a Nova umbrella with a freestanding portable base. If you opt for an in-ground installation, the Nova has a hinged spigot which makes it easier to set up the umbrella.

Price and Warranties

The 4.0m Octagonal Instant Shade Nova umbrella costs $4,795. There is also a cheaper 3-metre size available if you're on a tight budget. The frames have a warranty of three years, while the canopy carries a guarantee of five years.


Like so many great outdoor umbrella manufacturers, Skyspan is based in Queensland. They manufacture state-of-the-art tension membrane shade structures for commercial use. These designs are best suited to high-end venues with a big budget.

You can keep Skyspan shade structures open all year round in almost all conditions but they do have a few models that open and close. Skyspan's designs offer extensive customisation options and you can choose from a side or centre column configuration too. 

With Skyspan, you can also add extras like concealed pre-wiring for LED lighting, radiant heating, and power points.  

Skyspan Canopies and Frames

The premium high tensile PVC canopy is among the strongest and most durable in the industry despite its low weight. These canopies are heat reflective, UV treated, and waterproof as well as fade and fungi-resistant. 

The frame consists of galvanised c350 structural steel, powder-coated in your choice of colours, with marine-grade 316 stainless steel fittings and components. 

Skyspan umbrellas can withstand winds of 148 km/h or more.

Ease of Installation - Hard

Skyspan installations are complex. You'll likely need to hire experienced installers or qualified builders to help you set up your umbrellas, depending on the size you choose. 

Price and Warranties

The Panorama and Typhoon ranges of Skyspan umbrellas cost between $7,000 and $10,000.

The manufacturer offers to a 10-year structural and five-year canopy warranties on some product lines.

Flexshade Tension Membrane Umbrellas

Flexshade manufactures architecturally stunning designs from its Queensland factory. They don't offer any retractable designs, but you can choose either centre column or cantilever (side-post) configurations as well as a number of other contemporary designs.

These commercial grade shade umbrellas are extremely popular with architects and commercial builders because of their unique look and feel as well as the lifetime of low maintenance they provide. 

This manufacturer makes all their umbrellas to order according to your exact specifications. 

Flexshade Canopies and Frames

Flexshade canopies consist of fire-rated PVC with a PVDF top finish. The frame comprises zinc and powder coasted steelwork with stainless steel fittings and cables. 

Flexshade umbrellas have wind ratings of up to 160 km/h according to ASCE7 and AS1170 Codes.

Ease of Installation - Hard

These unique structures involve a complicated installation process. You should only work with an experienced installer or qualified bulder when setting them up. 

Price and Warranties

The 4.3-metre Flexshade umbrella's priced at about $7,000. These umbrellas have a ten-year warranty on both the frame and the canopy. 

Flexshade Centre Column
Flexshade Cantilever
Flexshade Cantilever Duet


MakMax shade structures are another popular choice for architects across Australia. As with the majority of products on this list they are designed and built in Queensland. MakMax umbrellas are ideally suited to remain open year-round as it can be complicated and time-consuming to retract them. 

These commercial quality structures are another high-budget option suited for busy commercial venues such as sporting or aquatic complexes, resorts and schools.

MakMax Canopies and Frames

MakMax frames are available in stainless steel or powder-coated steel in any colour you choose. All fittings, wires, and mechanisms are stainless steel.

The tension canopies comprise long-life architectural-grade PVC coated polyester fabric. The canopy is 100% UV stabilised and waterproof, as well as resistant to fungal and microbial attack.

Ease of Installation - Hard

You'll want an experienced installer or qualified builder to complete the complex installation process for these heavy duty shade structures. 

Your installer can also add LED lighting, blinds, and gutters to your umbrellas while setting them up.  

Price and Warranties

A 4-metre MakMax shade structure costs around $8,000 but you get a 10-year warranty on the membrane and the frame. 

Warranties are subject to ongoing engineering inspections after every severe weather event or at least every 3 years.

Choosing the Best Commercial Umbrella For Your Needs

Apart from the attributes of each brand, there are a few more things to consider when picking the best commercial umbrella for your needs.

These include the weather in your area and the space you have available. Think about how important branding and colours are to you. Will a shade structure, a cantilever umbrella, or a centre pole umbrella suit your business best?

Do you need some more ideas about what's available in the line of umbrellas? Browse our online store for inspiration. 

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.