When it comes to securing your umbrella there are many different options to choose from. The most important thing is that the umbrella is adequately stabilised and cannot fall over or blow away in the wind. Freestanding bases offer the flexibility of being able to move the umbrella, while fixed installation provides greater wind resistance.
This article discusses the different types of outdoor umbrella base options and helps you make the right choice for your home or business.
Freestanding base vs fixed installation
A freestanding base allows you to move the umbrella around your patio or café outdoor seating area. This can be good if there are several furniture settings that you want to shade with the one umbrella (eg. two different areas) or if you want to move the umbrella as the sun moves throughout the day.
Movable bases are also a great option if you’re living in a rental property and can’t get permission to do a fixed installation. Installations can also be problematic on balconies or rooftop terraces due to waterproofing issues, so freestanding bases are usually the best option for those settings.
When it comes to cafés, freestanding bases are the quickest and cheapest option as they don’t require organising council permission for umbrella installation, dial before you dig, etc. However for safety, your bases will require lots of weight (eg. additional sandbags) that your staff may have to bring in and out each day.
Fixed installations are the preferred option for maximum stability and safety of your umbrella. They are definitely the best option for larger umbrellas and cantilever umbrellas (which are inherently more vulnerable to wind due to their design). Fixed installation removes the risk of the umbrella toppling over from a gust of wind.
Some councils now require fixed umbrella installation in public spaces like footpaths.
Installing an umbrella is not difficult and a number of fittings are available to make the installation easier depending on what sort of ground surface you are fixing to (eg. concrete slab, timber decking, garden bed, etc).
Keep in mind however that even if an umbrella is installed, it is still not a permanent structure. The umbrella should still be closed and securely strapped when not in use, or in anticipation of strong winds.
How much weight is needed for a freestanding base?
Two things impact on the stability of a freestanding outdoor umbrella base:
- The footprint (ie. the size of the base)
- The weight
In simple terms, a base with a bigger footprint will provide more stability than a smaller one of the same weight. And the more weight the better to prevent your umbrella from toppling over in the wind. Another thing that can aid stability is a table – if the umbrella is positioned through the hole of a table, the table provides additional stability.
If you don’t plan to move your umbrella around, then select the biggest and heaviest base you can find. Our concrete bases are very heavy and are a great option for this scenario – for example our 45kg concrete base has a footprint of 650mm diameter and can safely support a large market umbrella like our 3m Square Monaco market umbrella.
If you need to move your umbrella and base regularly – for example a café that brings umbrellas in and out each day – it is better to select a less heavy base and add weight through additional sandbags. Our Café Series flat base plates weigh less than 20kg so can be carried by one person safely. A set of two sandbags adds an additional 30kg but can also be easily carried. These are the most popular option for Commercial Umbrellas.
Should I use a freestanding base with wheels?
Wheels are a popular addition to umbrellas bases and can make the umbrella easier to move. However keep in mind that a heavy base with wheels still requires considerable strength to move it, especially if the ground surface is not perfectly smooth. It also makes the umbrella a little bit taller and a little bit more vulnerable to the wind.
Types of fixed installation
Umbrellas can be installed on pretty much any surface, but the installation method will vary and different installation fittings will be required. For example:
- concrete patio/slab – fix a base plate to the concrete
- timber decking – fix a base plate to the decking and reinforce the decking with additional timber underneath (known as a “nog” or a “noggin”)
- garden bed or lawn – dig a hole and pour a concrete footing with an inground fitting in it for the umbrella to attach to
- public area or footpath – install our specially designed inground socket & sleeve kits that feature a self-closing lid that closes over the hole when the umbrella is removed
Who should install my umbrella?
We always recommend hiring the services of a professional to install any of our umbrellas. This way, you can rest assured that the job is done properly. However, if you have the right tools and experience then DIY installations are relatively easy to carry out and we provide comprehensive instructions in our owner manuals.
We also have handy videos on our website where you can see the step-by-step process of carrying out the installation.
To find out more about the best Outdoor Umbrella Base Option for your home, contact our stockists today! For commercial projects, contact us with your requirements.