Umbrella Frames

There are 4 major categories of umbrella frames: Commercial, Residential, Patio, and Market.

Of these 4 categories, there are 2 divisions pertaining to design and style. Commercial/Residential are a design category, while Patio/Market are stylistic. Each of these categories is vastly different from the other and can have an effect on how your umbrella will perform.

As we mentioned, umbrellas come in 2 main styles. Market style umbrellas have a very modern looking triangular pitch to them, while patio style umbrellas have a classical curved or bell shape to them. Market style umbrellas have a triangular shape to them because they typically use tubular aluminum ribs to support the canopy, making for a straighter edge, while patio style umbrellas employ curved metal wire ribs, usually steel, to create the classical bell shape.

After style, is design and function. This is where umbrellas will differ the most in terms of pricing, warranty, and use. The market and patio styles that were just covered, are most commonly put on umbrella frames that are residential grade. This means they will typically have ergonomic features like hand cranks and 2-3 position tilts or other moving parts. The inclusion of moving parts means that there are more chances for wear and tear to affect the umbrella. Residential grade frames typically have 1-2 year warranties depending on the manufacturer. Commercial grade umbrella frames are made without extra moving parts and are typically operated by a manual push-open locking mechanism, or with a pulley and adjustable stopping pin. Commercial grade items typically have heavier duty construction, such as thicker ribs, nuts, and bolts. These models typically have a 1-3 year warranty depending on the material and the manufacturer. The vast majority of commercially rated umbrellas are market style.

If you have questions, need clarification on an item, or want a quote for a commercial or contract order for your home or business, please feel free to email us and we will respond promptly.




Canopy Fabrics

There are several major types of fabric being utilized by the outdoor furnishings industry. They all vary in quality, come in various gradients, and have differing resistances to wear, fade, and environmental factors. Below are some of the most common fabrics being used today and valuable information regarding their various qualities.

Polyester: Polyester is the most basic of the fabrics commonly used in this industry today. Many cash and carry or lower price-point items will use a simple 6oz polyester fabric. Polyester resists decay very well, but is prone to fading since the fabric is thin and the dyes used to color it are relatively low grade. An average warranty time for a simple polyester cover is roughly 6 months, depending on the manufacturer.

Olefin: Olefin is a more durable fabric than regular polyester. It has a more organic feel and appearance. It feels somewhat like a painter's canvas. Olefin will usually hold coloring and dye better than polyester since it is thicker. The down side to olefin is in it's tendency to decay slightly if kept in too much direct sun or in damp conditions. This is easily dealt with by properly storing the umbrella or using a protective cover. An average warranty time for an olefin cover is 6 months to 1 year.

Spun/Solution Dyed Polyester: This fabric is a great improvement over regular polyester fabrics. It has a heavier weight, usually around 7oz, and it is chemically treated in dye solution so the material takes to the coloring significantly better. This type of material is usually of much higher quality than olefin and regular polyester. An average warranty time for a spun polyester cover would be 1-2 years, some are even higher, as is the case with California Umbrella's Pacifica line, which is 4 years.

Acrylic: The highest quality fabrics commonly used in the industry today are acrylic fabrics. Examples would include Sunbrella furniture grade fabrics, or Outdora. These are typically 8oz fabrics and are very heavily treated with dye and solution so as to provide a finished fabric that will barely fade, if at all, over a period of 5 years or more. These are the most expensive of the commonly used fabrics, and have by far the best manufacturer warranties, averaging 4-5 years.

Fabric grades: acrylic fabrics are available in a number of grades. These grades are typically named A, AA, AAA, or A, B, C, etc. A Grade covers the cheapest of the colors to produce (black, blue, green, beige, natural) because they require the least amount of dye and are the most popular. AA Grade or it's equivalent covers the colors that are more expensive to make (red, orange, some greens, and some yellows) since these colors need more dye to resist fading. This is due to the natural tendency for such colors to fade quickly due to UV exposure. AAA Grade or it's equivalent usually uses a similar amount of dye as the other grades, but will usually have 2 colors or a special weave built into the fabric. Sunbrella Dupione fabrics are a good example of this.

We at Western Sierra Trading Company hope to provide you with a more informative buying experience by providing you with all the information you need in order to make a buying decision that fits all of your unique criteria. If you need more information or would like information on custom fabrics not seen on our site, please write us so that we can provide that information to you promptly. We have access, with certain vendors, to make custom items.




Umbrella Tilts

Most residential grade umbrellas, whether they are market or patio styles, come with some form of tilting mechanism. The purpose of them is obviously the same, but how they operate is very different, as are the costs of each. Currently, there are 3 common types of umbrella tilting mechanisms being used in this industry: push tilts, auto tilts, and collar tilts.

The most simple of these is the push tilt. Push tilts typically cost slightly less than most auto tilts or collar tilts due to their relative simplicity. They are operated by pressing the push button on the upper section of the frame. This piece typically has an anodized finish to it. Once the umbrella has been cranked open and the lower hub is above the push-tilt mechanism, then the mechanism can be engaged, and the umbrella will tilt.

The second major type of tilt is the auto-tilt. These models are moderately priced and very user friendly. As the name suggests, they are operate automatically. This is done by use of the crank. Once the umbrella is cranked completely open, with the lower hub above the tilt joint, continue gently cranking the umbrella open and it will engage the tilt mechanism. Simply crank the umbrella in reverse as if it were to be lowered to right the umbrella back to center, and then close it.

The most popular of the commonly used tilting mechanisms is the collar tilt. Collar tilts are cranked open so the lower hub is above the tilt joint just like the other tilt styles. The tilting mechanism itself is actually located by the crank house itself. Just above the crank house is a plastic or resin assembly that will twist, usually clockwise, effectively engaging the tilt. The umbrella is closed by twisting the tilt in the opposite direction to right i
The umbrella back to center and then cranking it back down. These units are slightly more complex than other types and are quite reliable. Often times they are their respective manufacturer's best selling items.