What to look out for when buying a parasol

Parasols come in different sizes and models and made of different materials. What to look out for when buying a parasol depends on what you want to use it for. Below, we are going to discuss different parasols, and we will start with the small beach and balcony parasols and will then finish with the large hospitality parasols.

Small parasols and their applications

Small parasols can be roughly divided into beach and balcony parasols. A beach parasol has a diameter of 150 to 250 cm and should meet the following requirements in terms of functionality. Always a sharp tip to firmly set the parasol in the sand. The parasol should preferably also be articulated to block low sun. Beach parasols are mainly round. The latest generation beach parasol has 18 pieces of flexible plastic ribs that bend with you and therefore last longer. The iron ribs are much more fragile and not recommended. A good example is the Shanghai from 4SO. The most suitable parasol cover for a beach parasol is the RUS135 for the smaller models. For the slightly larger models, the RUS160 is the most suitable cover. Slightly larger are often the balcony parasols. These are parasols most often used on balconies where no awning can or may be placed.

What criteria should a good balcony parasol meet

First, it should be rectangular for optimal blocking of the sun. The parasol should be tiltable and adjustable in height. This way, the parasol fits seamlessly with the upstairs neighbours' balcony. Our favourite brand is Doppler and Knirps. They have an extensive collection of balcony parasols ranging from 180 x 130 cm to 300 x 200 cm. You can protect these balcony parasols with parasol covers. At Gardenfurniturecovershop, we have straight parasol covers, as well as curved parasol covers and covers for non-standard parasols. The RUS160 is suitable for the smallest parasols, for the larger models the RUS195 and the RUS225 are most suitable.

A standing or floating parasol

By standing parasol we mean a regular parasol, a parasol with a centre pole. For a garden or terrace, a parasol with a pole in the middle and 8 ribs is often chosen. The size of these parasols starts at 3 metres round. This is the minimum you need to provide shade for a small garden set. If you have a bit more space, I would always go for a diameter of 3.5 or 4 metres. These round parasols can usually buckle, regardless of whether they are made of wood or aluminium. If you have the sun all day or much of the day, then a standing parasol is the best option. Since the sun in the UK is always low and comes from the side, it is best to have a combination of a standing parasol with a mobile base. This way, you can place the parasol next to your garden set and move it with the sun. This way, you will have shade all day long. Since a good parasol costs at least 250 pounds anyway, it is nice if it stays neat and clean. Raffles Covers sells high-quality protective covers for these round parasols. For the 300 cm round parasol the RUS195 is sufficient, for the 350 cm round one the RUS225 and for the 400 cm round one the RUS245. Square and rectangular parasols have also been increasingly sold in recent years. These can usually not bend, but as they often turn out larger, this is also not necessary. The entry-level model is the 300 x 300 cm and is larger in area than the 350 cm round. Other common sizes are 300 x 400 cm and 400 x 400 cm. Of course, these parasols also need protection. For the 3 x 3 metre is the RUS245, for 3 x 4 metre is the RUS265 and the RUS310 fits best over 4 x 4 metre parasol. If you want lots of shade in one specific spot, for example over a lounge set, a floating parasol is a good option. The position of the pole is important though. It is always positioned between the sun and the garden furniture. If you position the parasol at an angle, the entire garden set will be in the shade. Because these parasols have a turning mechanism, it is important that they stay dry. If the rotating mechanism is permanently damp, this will affect its functioning. This is why a good protective cover is essential. Floating parasols come in 3 models: straight floating parasol, curved floating parasol and hanging parasol. For the ordinary standard straight floating parasol, the protection cover RUS265 is the most popular model. From 4 x 3 metres, the RUS280 is a good option. For even larger models of floating parasol, the cover RUS310 is suitable. For the curved models, Raffles Covers has the RUC series of protective covers. For these models, it is important to measure carefully which cover is best for you.

Tip, measure the widest point all around and divide by two. For example, your widest point measured all around is 144 cm. Divided by 2 this is 72 cm, then a cover with 75 cm width in the middle is suitable.

Broadly speaking, you can protect the promotion models from the DIY market of around 100 euros with the RUC200. The top models from EasySun and Hartman of 700 to 800 euros can be protected with the

. Everything in between becomes the RUC255 or the RUC260. A special model is the hanging parasol. This parasol cannot fold, the parasol remains suspended above the set when closed. With some models, however, the closed parasol can be swivelled away. This model is often sold by Borek and Life Outdoor. For protection of these hanging parasols, Raffles Covers has designed RHUS series. The smallest protection cover RHUS200 fits over a hanging parasol with a diameter of up to 3.5 metres. The RHUS230 protection cover fits over a square suspended parasol of up to 280 x 280 cm and a round one with a diameter of 400 cm. The largest cover in this series the RHUS280 is suitable for a square hanging parasol of 3.5 x 3.5 metres and a rectangular hanging parasol of up to 3 x 4 metres. If you have limited space and the parasol base is always in the way, a wall parasol is the best option. To protect the wall parasol, we have the perfect cover from EuroTrail; ETGF5019.

Catering parasols for large terraces

If you have a large terrace with a large garden set, a catering parasol is ideal. These are often sold second-hand. Make sure the cloth is still good. A new cloth is pricey, but easy to obtain. Attachment is also often an important point. It is best to anchor the parasol in the ground. Because these parasols are too big to store, a parasol cover is no superfluous luxury. Raffles Covers has designed a series of protective covers especially for hospitality parasols; the RUS3 series. These parasol covers have 2 sturdy aluminium sticks that can be integrated into the protection cover. An ingenious winch system allows the zip to be opened and closed from below. The RUS310 is suitable for the smaller hospitality parasols of up to 4 x 4 metres and 3.5 x 4.5 metres. The RUS385 goes over a 5 x 5 metre or 6 x 4 metre parasol. If you have a really heavy version with a large round lid on top, then the RUS390 is the best option. Another model widely used in the hospitality industry is the Duo and the Quattro. This is a floating parasol with 2 or 4 cloths on one pole. This model also needs a base of at least 200 kg. Therefore, it is easier and nicer to have these professionally anchored in the ground. These models are supplied by Prostor, Scolaro and Solero. There are two models, the parasol with 2.5 x 2.5 metre cloth and the one with 3 x 3 metre cloth. For offering models, Raffles Covers has a cheap but good quality alternative protection cover. For the smaller model it is the RUSQuattroP6 and for the larger model the RUSQuattroP6XL.

The shape: will you go for a square or round parasol?

Which shape you choose is often a matter of taste, but sometimes a certain shape is better in certain circumstances. Let's go through the parasols one by one from small to large. Beach umbrellas are actually always round because it looks much cosier. Bali parasols are a good example. Balcony parasols are better off square or rectangular. If you bend the parasol, it will fit the balcony above you better and no sunlight will pass by. Ordinary parasols are available in both shapes. The round parasols often look more cheerful, cosy and summary. The square parasols again fit better in today's sleek gardens with large square tiles. If you want to block the late evening sun, a round parasol is better because these models can often buckle. Floating parasols are often square because they are more often used in modern gardens with clean shapes and lines. But if you have a more classic home and garden, then round is a better option. Catering parasols also come in both shapes, although the vast majority are square or rectangular. As terraces are usually rectangular, a round parasol is often less useful. The same actually for the Duo and Quattro hospitality parasols, are available in both shapes, but the square one is actually much more practical.

What size parasol do you need?

The size of your parasol mainly depends on the application it will be used for. We'll go through all parasols one by one in order of size. Beach umbrellas shouldn't be too big. There's always a breeze at sea, and the bigger the parasol, the more wind it catches. Also, the parasol should fit in the car and not be too heavy. So a parasol with a maximum diameter of 250 cm still meets all requirements. Balcony parasols can also always catch a lot of wind, which is why you often see 2 small ones instead of 1 large one. The most ideal size is 250 x 150 cm, but sizes in the market range from 180 x 130 cm to 300 x 200 cm. If you have chosen a round garden parasol, I would go for 350 cm round as a minimum. The price difference with a 3-metre round parasol is often marginal, and I have never experienced a 350-cm diameter parasol being too big for a garden. If you have opted for a square or rectangular parasol, take into account the length of the ribs. If they are too long, they will hit the table or chairs when opening. Always ask in-store for a demonstration so you can see that the ribs of a 4 x 4 parasol are almost 3 metres long. When these go up, you really need some free space. You'll have this problem to a minor extent with a floating parasol because it can be rotated to all sides. To make the most of the benefits of a floating parasol, I would always take a parasol of at least 3 x 3 metres. If you want smaller, it is more practical and cheaper to take a regular parasol. Catering parasol you can take as big as you want. These models are so well-thought-out that they can be opened and closed anywhere and never cause problems.

What material to choose

Wooden parasols

Wooden parasols are really only an option for regular garden parasols with 8 ribs. The dimensions start with a diameter of 300 cm and end at the largest rectangular parasol of 400 x 300 cm. Make sure the parasol is made of good hardwood. Bamboo and eucalyptus are also good materials for parasols. These materials have a luxurious look and go well with the dark colours of garden furniture. Moreover, the materials are more environmentally friendly than metal parasols. Still, these materials are strong and durable. Bamboo, for example, has the tensile strength of steel and a natural impenetrable protective layer and does not need to be treated. To also keep the cloth at its best, it is definitely advisable to purchase a protective cover.

Aluminium parasols

Most parasols today are made of aluminium. The advantage of an aluminium parasol is that they are lightweight, the material does not rust, they are practical and durable, and the material can withstand harsh weather conditions. Aluminium parasols are easy to handle and store due to their weight. Aluminium is actually always used as the material for floating parasols. The more expensive models always use a bit thicker material, allowing them to stay outside permanently. Of course, it is important to protect the cloth and the turning mechanism with a cover.

Steel parasols

The cheaper and smaller parasols are often made of steel. The pole is often divisible, and the ribs are made of flexible material. These parasols are often called beach umbrellas. These parasols are somewhat cheaper because of the material used. If the paint layer of the parasol would be tarnished, rust spots may appear. It is therefore important to protect this beach parasol properly. Raffles Covers has 3 models of protective covers for beach parasols.

Which accessories are really needed?

The most important thing of all is a good parasol base. Depending on the model of parasol you choose, regular parasol or floating parasol, there are different sizes and materials. A granite, concrete or plastic base filled with water or sand, there are plenty of options to choose from. The first question to ask yourself before making a decision is whether the parasol will be permanent or non-permanent.

Permanent parasol mount

Permanent parasol mount. This model type of parasol base is the strongest of all but, will need to be buried, about 60 cm. This parasol base does reduce the footprint of the parasol, prevents tripping and saves space. Platinum sells a good base that can be buried.

Non-permanent parasol base

This is the standard parasol base that everyone is familiar with. Nowadays often made of granite and increasingly equipped with castors. The weight can vary from 35 kg to 250 kg. There are also cheaper concrete and refillable plastic parasol bases. But besides a good parasol base, a good protective cover is of course essential. Gardenfurniturecovershop has the largest collection of parasol covers in Europe.

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