How Does a Cantilever Umbrella Work

What items do you rely upon on a daily basis without understanding how they work? There is value in understanding the mechanisms which drive our world, whether it is to repair, to apply in other situations, or even use in making a purchasing decision. One of the most useful methods of construction is the cantilever.

This innovation occurs in buildings, bridges, and other structures. Upgrade your own home by incorporating interesting pieces in your home like a cantilever umbrella. It is a useful conversation piece and also functions better than your standard patio umbrella.

Before we can answer how a cantilever umbrella works, let’s take the time to understand the cantilever itself. Once you add a cantilever umbrella to your patio, you won’t ever want a regular one! (You may see the cantilever umbrella called an offset umbrella).

Section II: The Cantilever Umbrella

The above photo features two types of patio or outdoor umbrellas. The larger umbrella is the cantilever style, and the smaller white umbrellas are the standard style seen in outdoor spaces. Making use of this mechanism lends greater strength, stability, and safety to an outdoor feature for a home or outdoor space.

cantilever umbrella 01 - How Does a Cantilever Umbrella Work

What is a Cantilever?

Before we can learn how a cantilever umbrella works, it is necessary to understand the basic idea of the structural element. A cantilever is a type of construction which allows for overhanging structures without any external bracing. This is the most basic definition. It is used in bridges, towers, buildings, and other systems.

cantilever umbrella 02 - How Does a Cantilever Umbrella Work

Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you have seen a bridge like the one depicted above, you have at least encountered a cantilever in your lifetime! This structural option is useful, secure, and easy to apply. It does not apply to every bridge, tower, or building. This contrasts with a typical overhanging structure which uses two supports which distribute the load evenly.

cantilever umbrella 03 - How Does a Cantilever Umbrella Work

Source: Wikimedia Commons

There are furniture pieces made from cantilevers as well. Just like a bridge, an external support holds up the weight of the chair. Through these photos, we see a cantilever is strong. The base of this chair holds the weight of the seat as well as the person sitting in it. The cantilever umbrella is an additional application of this useful construction method.

cantilever umbrella 04 - How Does a Cantilever Umbrella Work

Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is a Cantilever Umbrella?

The parts of a cantilever umbrella are the same as a patio umbrella. These include the pole, the ribs, the material, the hub, and mechanisms to help it operate smoothly. The cantilever also has a base.

Cantilever Umbrella Sizes

Standard sizes of the cantilever umbrella are the five to six foot, the seven foot, the seven and a half to eight and a half, nine to ten foot, and 11 to 13-foot. Larger canopies give you coverage for more seating and a larger table. For example, a seven-foot umbrella accommodates a 36-inch table and up to four chairs compared to the 13 foot which houses a 48-inch table with up to 10 chairs.

Parts of a Cantilever Umbrella

In a cantilever umbrella, the base is anchored at only one end, a vertical support protrudes from the base, and a perpendicular connection to support a load. In a few simple steps, here is how a cantilever umbrella works:

1. A base supports the weight of the umbrella. The weight of the base must correlate with the weight of the overhang. If the base isn’t strong enough, the umbrella will fall.

2. Protruding from the base is a support pole or rod. In some systems, this is a straight pole, or like in the above picture, and it is curved. The curve is for style and function but still strengthens the umbrella.

3. The central section of the umbrella hangs off of the pole or rod. Rather than the rod going up the middle of the umbrella, a cantilever connects at the top. It is as if the umbrella hangs loosely. This gives a complete line of sight for all people under the umbrella, increases the shade coverage area, and adds a stylish element to an outdoor space.

4. The ribs of the umbrella are just like you see in a standard option, they fold inward and downward when the umbrella closes. Rather than folding against the pole of the umbrella as a traditional patio piece does, a cantilever folds on itself.

5. Stretchers support the ribs and push the entire umbrella outward, holding it in place when it is fully open.

6. The hub of the umbrella is responsible for the opening and closing of the umbrella. The top part of the hub which you see on the top of the umbrella stays in place. This hub holds the main ribs in place. The inner hub physically bends as the umbrella opens and closes.

7. The final aspect of the umbrella is the canopy. It is made of a material to provide shade. Whether you use the umbrella for a patio or rain, the canopy is essential.

It is important to note the construction of cantilever umbrellas allows for non-traditional shapes. The photo below depicts a square umbrella, but other options include stars, rectangles, and other polygons. Of course, circular umbrellas are still the most popular shape for cantilevers.

cantilever umbrella 05 - How Does a Cantilever Umbrella Work


Cantilever Umbrella Canopy Materials

After understanding the construction of the umbrella, it is essential to understand the canopy options. The materials used in the canopy of a cantilever umbrella vary drastically. Materials dictate the price point as well. Some of the most popular umbrella materials include:

  • Sunbrella Fabric: Made from an acrylic fabric which is dyed to have locked in colors, this fabric stands up to the elements. It retains its original beauty, so you don’t need to buy a new umbrella every single year. It is unlikely mildew ever grows on this material. After testing, it has been proven to give 98% UV protection.
  • Olefin: An affordable fabric, this woven option resists fading for at least one year. It is high density but also lightweight. Often cantilever umbrellas are cheapest when the canopy is made from an olefin.
  • Acrylic: This durable fabric is a standard option in outdoor use. You get superior UV protection from it, and often patterns are available as well.
  • Polyester: This strong fabric resists fading, rotting, and mildew. Often umbrellas with colors and patterns are made from polyester because of the colors and patterns. You won’t be disappointed with polyester as a material choice. Manufacturers regularly extend a four-year warranty with this material.

Cantilever Pole Materials

The cantilever umbrella can be made from a few pole materials as well. The most common options are wood, aluminum, steel, or fiberglass. If made of wood, there are metal junctions added for functionality and bending. Each option has its benefits, whether you prefer a more natural look or a more durable style. The most common materials include:

  • Wood: Whether teak, ash, or other hardwoods, this type of pole comes in one or two pieces. Cantilever umbrellas made of wood are rarer, because of the tilt required.
  • Fiberglass: Known for being lightweight and sturdy, fiberglass is available in solid styles. It is known to last up to five times longer than aluminum or wood. Even if a pole isn’t made from fiberglass, ribs get made from fiberglass because of its strength during windy conditions. Cantilever umbrellas designed to take a beating are made from fiberglass.
  • Aluminum: This lightweight and sturdy metal is perfect for exposure to the outdoor elements. A big advantage of aluminum is its ability some finishes depending on personal taste.

Benefits of Cantilever Umbrellas

After learning how the cantilever umbrella works, it is clear there are benefits to purchasing. Some of the primary benefits are:

  • Protecting from harmful ultra violet rays
  • Adding a classy look to an outdoor space
  • Enhancing the design of your backyard, garden, or pool
  • Setting up and installing easily
  • Withstanding years of weather and wear

Section III: Go Get Your Cantilever Umbrella!

How does a cantilever umbrella work? Well, by now you should thoroughly know the answer!

A cantilever umbrella adds a nice conversation piece to any outdoor space. Understanding the way this umbrella works is a unique aspect of its ownership. From experiencing the benefits of outdoor shade to purchasing a lasting umbrella you won’t need to replace every year, add a cantilever umbrella to your space.

Purchase a cantilever umbrella at most outdoor stores and even online. Some of the best retail locations for a cantilever umbrella are Wayfair, Overstock, and even Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

By applying a few principles of construction and a bit of style, designers built the cantilever umbrella! Now you know the parts of this product, the sizes, the construction elements, and materials used in design. A cantilever umbrella works better than you’d expect.

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