The ultimate parasol guide – find the right outdoor shade for you

Tired of struggling with difficult parasols? Confused by all the options on the market?

Then read this definitive guide for choosing the best parasol to buy in 2021.

Finding shade for your outdoor living space should be easy, so we’re here to help.

Unless you want to buy a new parasol every year, you need to consider some important points

  • What type would work best in your space

  • How sturdy and stable the base should be

  • Whether the frame is durable, flexible or both

  • What kind of fabric the canopy uses

We’ll cover all of these points in detail so that you can shop quickly and easily for outdoor shade that will serve you well.

Know your parasols - Parasol or Cantilever which is best?

What’s a cantilever? How is it different from an offset? Is a market parasol better than a regular parasol? Which is the best?

In this chapter, we’ll not only define these and more but also give you an easy way to make the right choice. Here’s a hint: SPA!

First, let’s explain the different types of shade you can choose for your garden or terrace.

What’s a market parasol? Answer: Simply a parasol.

A parasol has a central pole, and a good parasol has a mechanism that lets you tilt the shade when the sun is low on the horizon.

In size, it usually ranges from 2.5 to 4 metres and may come without a base. 

Pro tip:

A market parasol is just a parasol with a fancier name. Both are outdoor canopies with central poles, and they have the same functions and size range. You can include “market parasol” in your searches, but it’s much less common, so it’s fine to skip it.

Cantilever or offset?

A cantilever parasol has its pole off to one side and works well to shade garden furniture. This type has to have a counterweight, so it comes with a base you can fill or pin down with weight.


It ranges from 2.7 to 4 metres in size

Pro tip:

Offset parasols and cantilever parasols are the same thing with different names. Both have the pole on one side instead of directly beneath the canopy. You may also see them referred to as “hanging parasols” so look for that as well.

Half parasol or balcony parasol?

A half parasol or balcony parasol is exactly what it sounds like – a canopy cut to fit on small balconies or terraces.

Its shape often makes it possible to position against walls, making it great for tight areas or small door shelters.

It ranges in size from 1.5 to 2.5 metres and often comes without a base or holder. 

How to choose the right parasol

Now that you know which is which, which is best for you?

Let’s dive into the SPA – Size, Placement, and Angle!

Or you can download our complete report so you avoid the 5 biggest mistake everybody is doing!

Size - what size of parasol should I get?

This one is simple – how much shade do you want? Do you have a big pool area and want to escape the sun while hanging out with your mates?

Or do you just want a shady spot on your balcony where you can sit with a drink and a good book?

Well how big should your parasol be? Check out quick guide below!  

Pro tip: How big your parasol should be depends on the size of your outdoor space that needs shade, but we recommend 2.4 metres for a small garden, 3 metres for most terraces, and 3.5 for large areas.

Pool or large terrace

Parasol 2.8-3.5 m

Cantilever 3x3 or 3.5 m 

Terrace with a table

Parasol 2.8-3.2 m

Cantilever 2.8x2.8 or 3 m

Balcony or a cafe table

Parasol max 2.8 m

Half parasol 2.5 m

Sun lounger or a smaller spot

Parasol max 2.5 m

Half parasol 2.5 m

A good rule of thumb: Get a parasol between a half metre and a metre wider than the space you wish to shade. To learn more, you can read our dedicated guide on choosing the right parasol size. 


The biggest factor here is whether you want to move your shade to different areas or set it and forget it.

A cantilever with its offset canopy may limit your options, whereas most standard parasols can relocate freely

Of course, the cantilever makes it easy to project shade over furniture such as reclining chairs or small tables.

Although the parasol is more flexible, you’d need the pole to be close to or directly through a table to shade it fully when the sun is at its peak. 

I just want shade in one area.

I need shade in different areas.

A cantilever or a parasol may be a good choice.

You may prefer a parasol.

Pro tip: Remember to factor in the wind. Cantilevers are sensitive to wind, so make sure you have enough weight if you live in a windy region. 


Do you want to block bright morning sun, hot midday sun or sun in the evening as the shadows grow long? To create the right shade, you need to think about where it will fall throughout the day. 

If you want full shade in the morning or evening, a parasol or cantilever with tilt would suit you best. For midday sun, a regular parasol or half parasol may be your most affordable choice. 

Pro tip: A parasol with height and tilt adjustment increases your ability to block the sun when it’s low on the horizon.  

Morning sun

For full shade, go for a parasol or cantilever with a tilt function. 


If you want a little sun in the morning, a regular parasol would work well.

Midday sun

A sturdy parasol with high-quality fabric is your best choice. 


 A cantilever can also do the job but may cost more.  

Evening sun

A parasol with tilt and height adjustment is the cost-effective choice.


You can always explore cantilever options with height and tilt functions.

Make sure you decide how much shade you want and when you intend to use it most before you start shopping, because the type and size of the product you buy can mean the difference between an enjoyable day out and fussing with the furniture yet again.

Stability is in the base

The bottom of your parasol is just as important as the top!

A good parasol base will keep your parasol from falling over or flying off – but which base to choose?

A great base will ease your fear of your parasol crashing a nice picnic or fleeing across the garden. So let’s talk about how to keep it where it belongs.

Size and wind

The most important factor for finding the right base is to match its weight with the size of your parasol. The second most important factor is to consider the wind in your region.


Freestanding or with a table?

A parasol fitted to your table requires a lighter base than a standalone parasol, but you can move a standalone base more easily.

For parasol bases used with tables, we recommend 15-30 kg. 

For standalone parasols, we recommend between 30 and 50 kg

Pro tip: The type of parasol you have can influence the base you need. A cantilever parasol often comes with a base that you can fill with sand for stability or a cross that you can weigh down with sandbags. A parasol may need you to buy a base separately, so you should make sure the base fits your parasol pole and has enough weight to hold it. You can read our parasol base guide for more information. 

How much wind can a parasol take?

The weight of your parasol base determines how much wind your parasol can take.

Summer winds can average around 8.1 mph, and parasols with heavy bases can withstand 20-mph gusts.

Of course, that number drops if your parasol is tilted because then it catches the wind like a sail

Pro tip: Parasols in windy places need 1) durable materials, 2) sturdy yet flexible construction and 3) secure bases to keep them anchored. Make sure you pay attention to these three points before you start looking at fabric colours and patterns. 


Parasol stand how heavy?

To find the right amount to weigh down your parasol properly, take a look at the table:

2 M

2,8 M

3,2 M

3,5 M

4 M

20 kg

30 kg

40 kg 

50-60 kg

70-100 kg

3 M

3.5 M



70-80 kg

100-150 kg

65-80 kg

100-150 kg

If you need more information, you can read our guide on how heavy your parasol base should be and how to keep parasols from flying away or spinning. 

Make sure to find the right weight for your base, as this is key to keeping your parasol upright in your own yard. If you want to tilt your parasol, always add a little extra weight (such as Baser’s sandbags) to be on the safe side.

What materials should you choose - Strength vs. flexibility

Are the materials important? Definitely! You need to think about what the pole and mechanisms are made of as well as what colour you want the parasol to be. This part is pretty easy, though.

Aluminium? Steel? Fibreglass? What’s the best material for your parasol frame?

Let’s discuss how to spot good and bad quality.

The key is to find a sturdy and durable frame material that will last for a long time outdoors.

Fibreglass vs. aluminium

A fibreglass parasol frame is made from molded plastics reinforced with fibreglass. This combination creates a strong yet flexible material, making it ideal for parasols. Like aluminium, it’ll never rust. Unlike aluminium, it has a good weight-to-strength ratio
















Both aluminium and fibreglass frames are rust-free and lightweight compared to steel, making both materials a good choice for your next parasol.  

Want a flexible frame? 

What’s the best material for a parasol frame?

The best frame for your parasol should be flexible, durable, rust-free and low maintenance. Fibreglass and aluminium are ideal candidates, especially fibreglass because it flexes in the wind. Wood frames are beautiful and offer fine strength but are expensive. Steel is heavy and can rust. 

Pro tip: Check to see whether you can get spare parts for your frame. A more expensive parasol pays off in the long run if you can replace its parts instead of buying a cheap new parasol every two years

What features to look for when buying a parasol

Some features are a must.

Others are simply nice to have (Spoiler alert tilt and height adjustment are key).

Which is which? Let’s dive in

Tilt and height adjustment – must have

A tilt mechanism and height adjustment are the most important functions your parasol should have.

Adjusting the height and tilt helps you get the shade when and where you want it, even when the sun is low. 

Pro tip: Which is better, push to tilt or turn to tilt? We suggest avoiding unnecessary mechanisms that can break. Also keep in mind that turn-to-tilt parasols are often limited in their height adjustment, so we recommend the push-to-tilt type.

Crank, push or pull?

Most parasols open in one of three ways – by cranking into place, by pushing like a handheld parasol, or by pulling a cord and setting a pin. This table outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each.


How to open:

Open: Turn clockwise until fully extended. 

Close: Turn anti-clockwise until fully folded.



Straightforward to use and known to many



No height adjustment

Mechanism is difficult to repair


How to open:

Open: Push up until it clicks into place. 

Close: Click the release and lower. 



Simple, durable, and allows for height adjustment



Requires more strength than crank


How to open:

Open: Pull the cord and set the locking pin. 

Close: Remove the pin and lower. 



Traditional, familiar to most consumers



Requires strength, cord curls up.


The newest trend in patio furniture eases the transition from indoors to outdoors, allowing you to bring the comfort of your home to your garden. 

Buying a parasol with lights means deciding on solar power or external power. Solar power is the most sustainable, but external will give you more powerful and longer-lasting light. 

You may also want to consider the warmth of the light and its structure.  For a cozy feel, we recommend warm light, between 40-300 lumens, but you can always go higher if you prefer safety to ambiance. And while you can get parasols with built-in lights, having them as an attachment could make them easier to fix if they break.

When shopping for a parasol, you need to look for strong, rust-free and durable materials such as aluminium or fibreglass for the frame. The most important features of your frame are tilt and height adjustment. To open your parasol, we recommend the push style

Fabric is more important than you think

What’s a good fabric for a parasol? You need to know how to avoid thin material that rips and fades before you’re ready to buy again.

Manufacturers pile on numbers and industry terms to tell you about their products, but you need to know what they mean to make the right choice.  What’s the best material for your canopy? 

The best fabric for your parasol is substantial, with a minimum of 190 g/m2. It should also be weather- and stain-resistant. The fabric should have a minimum colourfast rating of 6, be certified nontoxic and have a UV protection standard such as UV-801.


You know right away when you touch a fabric if it will lastheavy, rough denim can exist for decades, while light, delicate silk may expire in a season. But how can you get the same certainty online

The answer lies in the numbers. Fabric weights are measured in grams per square metre (g/m2). Low-quality parasol materials generally fall in the 100-150 g/m2 range, medium quality covers 150-180, and high quality goes from 180 to 250.

Pro tip: If you can’t find the g/m² number anywhere on the site you’re shopping, then you’re probably looking at low quality. A substantial material weighing in at more than 180 g/m² will reduce your need to buy a new parasol every few seasons.


Parasol fabric comes in three types – acrylic, polyester and olefin. These vary in durability as well as price

What makes the best parasol fabric? A material that is thick and solution dyed. Olefin and acrylic are the top performing fabrics, with high fade resistance and UV protection. They’re also stain- and mildew-resistant. Polyester is lower quality, often only coloured on the surface, so it fades quicker and is less durable.

This table lays out the differences.



Stiff like plastic





Fade resistance:



Dyeing process:

Piece dyeing (surface)



Heavy yet smooth



Medium to high


Fade resistance:

Medium to high


Dyeing process:

Solution dyed (full colored)



Rough and sturdy



Medium to high


Fade resistance:

Medium to high


Dyeing process

Solution dyed (full colored)

Looking for a great parasol with a long-lasting material?

Fade resistance

When you read about parasols, you’ll often see “certified UV protection” or “guaranteed colour fastness” showing up. But what do they mean

A fade-resistant parasol has a rating of more than 6 on the blue wool scale, which ranges from 1 to 8.

A grade of 7 or 8 can be guaranteed for 18 months of sunlight exposure before any fading becomes visible.

A grade of 4 or 5 can see fading within 35 days, check the video.

Here’s a quick guide on how the scale works




1 to 5

Within 35 days 

In just a few weeks, you’ll see fading and lines, even if you use a cover.


Within 56 days

Usually you’ll be near the end of the season before you notice colour loss. 


More than 122 days

Usually you’ll be near the start of the 2nd season before you notice colour loss. 


More than 548 days 

It’ll take at least a year and a half of direct sunlight before you see any fading.

"The above is Polyester fabric grade 5 with faded lines after 45 days. Make sure to get a quality fabric for less fading and higher protection from UV rays."

Pro tip: Although light colours stay true a little longer than dark colours, the difference is small, so you can choose whatever colour you like best. Neutrals such as brown, beige and grey are popular, along with a variety of blues.

Looking for a parasol that lasts a long time? 

Dyeing process

How the fabric for your parasol is produced has a direct effect on how well the colour will hold.

The two most common ways to colour parasols are solution dyeing and piece dyeing.

Fortunately, the difference between the results of these two processes is really obvious

A piece-dyed fabric is coloured only on the surface, like a radish.

A solution-dyed fabric is coloured all the way to the core, like a carrot.

Only dyeing the surface means that piece-dyed materials lose their colour much faster than solution-dyed.

Pro tip: If the site doesn’t state how the fabric is dyed, it’s probably piece-dyed and will lose its colour fast. Solution-dyed materials keep their colour stronger for far longer than piece-dyed.

UV protection

It takes more than blocking the light to block the sun’s UV rays, and some parasols block no UV at all. Fortunately, many vendors offer UV ratings for their products, but what’s a good rating? 


The best parasol for UV protection has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) higher than 50 and is backed with a UV standard. A UPF of 50 blocks 97% of all UV rays, and UV 801 offers the maximum UV protection. 

Pro tip: If you’re unsure about how much UV the parasol blocks, then choose black. Darker colours absorb more UV light to protect you better. You can choose any colour you wish when your parasol fabric has the UV 801 standard.

Pick a solution-dyed fabric with a minimum thickness of  190 g/m2. We recommend olefin or acrylic for your new parasol. 


Whew! That was a lot! So we collected 5 quick tips to help you find the perfect parasol without reading the whole guide again.


We know finding the best parasol can be a struggle, so here’s an easy rundown of the most important points to consider.

You found the best parasol if it:

Casts the proper amount of shade where you need it

Has height adjustment and tilt functions

Is easy to open and close

Has a strong, flexible frame

Pro tip: Help improve our world by investing in sustainability as well. Buy locally when you can, and make sure the materials are durable, repairable, and recyclable whenever possible.

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