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A parasol resembles an umbrella, but it is much larger. Imagine an umbrella with a really long handle, so that it can stand on the ground, and a much wider diameter, so that it shades a larger area. They also tend to be more durable and harder wearing. They are designed to be used on the beach or in the garden - to provide shelter from a strong sun on a summer day, but tough enough to endure being tousled by the wind.


Whether it is for shelter from the sun or the occasional shower of rain, they're one of our favourite garden accessories. Many people will use patio umbrellas to protect the little ones from the sun while they play in the out in the sun. But don't forget the sun factor cream!

How to choose the best parasols.

First, when you are thinking of buying a parasol, remember that it will not stand up by itself. It will require a base to hold it upright. Take note because some may be sold with a base or a garden spike and some are sold separately. A parasol is a great accessory to have on the patio or decking to provide shade when dining or even just relaxing.

What can you use a parasol for?

These umbrellas will help shield you and your family form the summer sun while you enjoy food and drinks on the decking or patio. On a hot afternoon, they help to prevent your guests becoming uncomfortably hot in the sun. They provide a safe shaded area for small children to enjoy playing outside and reduce the risk of sunburn. Good quality parasols offer protection from harmful rays of the sun - but check the manufacturer's details just to make sure the one you choose provides this protection.

In Britain, our weather is unpredictable. If you are having a barbecue and there is a risk that the weather could change, a parasol will provide some shelter for the person doing the cooking at the bbq grill.

What type of base do you need for your parasol?

It needs to be fixed in a base to keep it stable. Some of these come in the form of a large plastic weight (which are sold empty, but must be filled with sand - this is more dense than water so provides greater stability). These  weights are not fixed down and in our opinion are the best because they allow you to relocate your shade quickly and easily.

Other models include the metal type. A flat steel plate with fixing holes. They are often 'X' shaped, with the holes at the corners. These bases are designed to be screwed to a decking or concrete on a patio. Once fixed, they can not be moved. The last type is a spike. the spike is hammered into the garden soil and the umbrellas handle or shaft is dropped into the centre of the spike.

A good base will provide a secure means of fixing the handle into it - to prevent a "gone with the wind" situation. This normally comes in the form of a screw that can be tightened by hand against the handle. Regardless of the type you choose, the parasols are of little use without one. Consider them one of you necessary accessories.

What type of parasols are available?

They can be divided in to two main categories. The free standing type and the wall mounted type. As the category name suggests, the difference is in how they are to be supported.

Free standing parasols

This is the most popular choice and one of the must have accessories if you are buying outdoor furniture. Ideally, it should be supported by a base that will allow it to be moved and repositioned where ever you need it on the deck or patio. Most outdoor furniture manufacturers make provision for one. You will often find that your new patio table has a hole in the centre. This is to allow a free standing parasol to be inserted - so that the shade is provided directly over the whole table. Choose a beautiful parasol or garden umbrella to shelter from the sun.  

There is also a version of the free standing type called a cantilever. This version has the stand positioned off to one side, rather than in the centre. The centre versions tend to be stronger and sturdier and are better suited for use n windy locations than the cantilevered.

Wall mounted parasols.

As the name suggests, it is not free standing. Using a special bracket, they can be fixed to a wall or fence adjacent to your patio. They can not be moved around, as the fixing bracket must be bolted securely to the wall.

What materials are used in a parasol?

Let us look at the parasol as two separate parts - the canopy and the supporting structure. The canopy is often a canvas type or a synthetic material. The better quality models are UV resistant - to prevent the sun from penetrating them and also to resist fading. Good quality materials will last for years. When choosing yours, select one that is waterrepellent and stain resistant. Lighter coloured fabrics will tend to allow more UV light to pass through - so be aware of this. Darker fabrics can provide you with similar levels of sun protection as a high factor sun cream. Consider how easy the material is to keep clean and you will probably want to check that it is resistant to mildew, and also check that the sun will not fade its colour.

The supporting structure may be made from several materials. Wood brings a traditional style and a quality look and feel. It offers a natural elegance and blends smoothly into the decking or patio. Teak is one such wood that has a warm beauty and is also very strong and durable. Bamboo is also used and brings a more exotic look.

Metals such as aluminium are also used. The aluminium provides strength and resistance against corrosion, yet it is very light in weight.


Key features to consider when buying parasols

It is one of the accessories are you really should have available. In addition to outdoor lighting, a parasol is one of the accessories that are a necessity given our weather in Britain. Most people will buy one at the time of purchasing their patio tables and chairs so that they can match it to the style and maybe even the colour of the furniture. At Alice's, we have a wide range of products to choose from, and you are sure to find a parasol or an umbrella you love from our collection. Get a parasol that matches your garden table and chairs. See our garden furniture collection for our complete range of furniture and accessories.


Did you know that we offer free delivery on all our outdoor products and accessories? Choose a delivery day to suit your busy schedule.


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