Patio umbrellas help one enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis without overexposure to the elements. They shield from all the rigors of sun, wind, thunderstorm, pesky insects and even bird intrusions. They offer the perfect combination of sunlight and shade, fresh air and uncluttered space.

Known as patio, garden or market umbrellas, they are used by amusement parks, hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, cafés, rental outlets, outdoor kitchens and domestic consumers. Patio umbrellas come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Round, square, octagonal, rectangular or even side-post, market umbrella sizes vary from 6 feet to 13 feet with or without tilt facilities. They can accommodate 4 people or a larger group, depending on the patio space dimensions.

Patio umbrellas can be simple roof protection, or like a tent (for greater privacy), or more up-market in design, with the entire patio enclosed in glass. They can be operated with a simple lever, a basic push-up system, a crank handle, dual pulley rope assembly or an electric auto lift. Retractable awnings are a great alternative for selective usage according to wayward weather patterns.

The poles and framework can be of stained hardwood, pure ash, mahogany and teak, heavy-duty powder-coated steel or anodized rustproof aluminum with an antique bronze finish. Thick polycanvas canopies work best but other choices are mildew-resistant polyester, synthetic that or dyed and lacquered acrylic fabric for fade resistance and easy cleaning. Scotchguard-coated canopies resist stains, rain, sleet or snow, and can be easy to maintain. Wind vents are provided for stability and cool air circulation.

Installation can be simple or complex, usually against a solid wall or building's façade. Costs vary for a simple, do-it-yourself, stand-alone cover or a permanent enclosure that calls for a larger investment. Some patio umbrella models come with intricate light features where the wiring is built into the umbrella framework. Some embedded light systems come with continuous, chase, alternating and random settings. Low-voltage electric adapters are also provided.

Before installing a patio umbrella it is good to get estimates from local dealers and match them against your patio requirements. Warrants range from one year to the 5-year life span of an average patio umbrella. Extras that are thrown in include matching carry bags, and / or replaceable canvas or frames, lights, torches, mosquito netting or fabric cleaners. Some canopies require bases for additional stability, which come in granite, cast iron or even bases with wheels.

To extend its life, close the umbrella canopy when not required, ensure it is regularly cleaned and spray it with UV umbrella protectant. Shade out all the extremities, snuggle up with a book, and laze under your cozy canopy for life.

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