The Pros and Cons of Sunbrella Patio Umbrellas

Sunbrella is a fabric produced by the US-Based company Glen Raven. It has long been known as the industry’s best and is the go to fabric for quality patio umbrellas.

According to Glen Raven, Sunbrella has a “Rich History” and “First it was awnings, then it was boating and next outdoor furniture. Today it’s residential interiors. From 1961 to present day Sunbrella fabrics continue to rise to the occasion, providing high quality performance fabrics for every corner of life.” The fabric was first designed as an awning covering, then started to produce marine grade fabrics for protecting boats, in the 1970’s. In the early 80’s Sunbrella entered the casual patio furniture market turning patios into to outdoor rooms, being used for cushions, throw pillows and patio umbrellas. Glen Raven knew it had a hit and moved it’s proven outdoor fabric to the indoors. As of 2011, the company celebrated 50 years in producing quality grade fabric.

Given Sunbrella’s long history in the outdoor industry, it is no coincidence that it is the choice of quality patio umbrella manufacturers. But Sunbrella Patio Umbrellas come at a cost. First we should discuss the alternates to this quality covering. The most commonly used fabric, found normally by mass merchants, is Polyester and Spun Poly. Polyester is similar to cotton in flexibility, but stronger and with better resistance to mold and mildew. It is considered a value-priced fabric, but usually with no warranty. Because the material can be dyed or imprinted after the umbrella covers is made, polyester can offer a wider variety of colors and designs than it’s more expensive counter-parts. Depending on your climate and weather conditions, you may only get a season our of your outdoor umbrella. Stepping up in quality is Olefin fabric, which is a synthetic fiber made from a polyolefin, such as polypropylene or polyethylene. Olefin is dyed at the thread level for patio umbrella covers which offers strength, colorfastness, stain, mildew, abrasion and sunlight resistance. Typical warranty for olefin patio umbrellas is from 6 months to one year, which allows for a season or two of use. In the early 2000’s an overseas version of a solution-dyes acrylic became available to directly compete with Sunbrella. This solution-dyed acrylic, depending on the importer or the manufacturer can be know by many names, including Suncrylic. Suncrylic is made from fibers that are solution dyed prior to making the weave. This allows for a fabric that will hold it’s color much longer, resist mold and mildew and prevent from contaminants from penetrating the yarns. Suncrylic type umbrella covers can have anywhere from a one year to two year warranty, depending on the vendor. Unfortunately, no other textile producer has been able to duplicate the quality of Sunbrella fabric, thus providing the superior quality of a Sunbrella patio umbrella.

Some quick bullet points on Sunbrella for patio umbrellas:

  • 100% 8-oz. solution-dyed acrylic fabric with locked-in colors.
  • Withstands sun, wind, and rain without fading, remaining beautiful for years.
  • The largest color selection.
  • Water-repellent. During the finishing process, a water-repellent finish is applied to the fabric.
  • Mold- and mildew-resistant.
  • Tested and proven to provide up to 98% UV-protection.
  • Three-year to five year warranty against fading directly from Glen raven
  • Excellent for very frequent use.

While Sunbrella is easily the best choice for patio umbrellas and market umbrellas, it comes at a cost. Depending on the size of the patio umbrella, an increase for this type of fabric can cost as much as $50 – $100 more. But in this market, it is “you get what you pay for”.

When looking for an outdoor patio umbrella, consideration has to be made is you umbrella is for temporary shade and will be used very infrequently. If this is the case, a more expensive patio umbrella with Sunbrella fabric may not be necessary. However, if you only want the best and the patio umbrella will be used almost year round and the environment is demanding, then Sunbrella is the only choice.