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Umbrella for Outdoor Kitchen: Buyer’s Guide & How to Choose the Best Shade for Your Island

By Gabrielle Desmarais

January 5, 2024

An outdoor kitchen is all about enjoying your outdoor space to the absolute fullest!

That means warm, summery, fresh air… And lots of sunshine.

However, there is such a thing as too much sun!

If you plan on spending the entire day grilling in your backyard… Chances are, you’re going to want some shade to retreat under.

Hence, your interest in an umbrella for outdoor kitchen.

It might seem like a simple purchase… But there’s actually quite a bit to consider before you buy one!

small l shaped outdoor kitchen with bar seating and bar table with umbrella on patio

In this article, we’ll share with you a detailed buyer’s guide… And reveal the best umbrella options you should consider for your outdoor kitchen!

Let’s begin.

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Umbrella for Outdoor Kitchen Buyer’s Guide

It’s just an umbrella… How complicated could it really be to shop for one?

Interestingly, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to patio umbrellas.

But first… You’ll have to decide on your style.

What’s Your Style?

rta outdoor kitchen with umbrella

It’s an umbrella for outdoor kitchen… How many options can there really be?

Well, there are actually three distinct styles for you to choose from! Market umbrellas, cantilever umbrellas, and lighted umbrellas.

We’ll start with market umbrellas. And there’s nothing complicated here… It’s just a straight umbrella, with the pole placed right in the center.

So… It’s a regular umbrella?

Well, yes! But that’s important to note, as the following options aren’t exactly traditional.

Cantilever umbrellas don’t have a pole right in the center. Rather, they are actually suspended in the air. These umbrellas will be supported from the top, typically with the supporting pole resting at the side.

Why is this beneficial?

There’s a couple of reasons. If you don’t want a pole getting in the way of your outdoor kitchen… This is a great solution!

Many cantilever umbrellas also allow you to change the angle… Which gives you more control over the area you want to shade. (Some market umbrellas can tilt, as well.)

Finally, there are lighted umbrellas. Again, it’s a straightforward concept! These umbrellas are lit under the shade… Providing some light for your guests as the evening rolls in.

Lighted umbrellas can be found in either the market or cantilever style. So you have plenty of options!

Next, you’ll have to think about where you want your umbrella located.

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Freestanding or Not?

stand alone umbrella by outdoor kitchen

Once again, you’ll be presented with a choice. Do you want a freestanding umbrella… Or do you want it sitting directly in your island?

Ultimately, this only comes into play if you’ve settled on a market umbrella.

Cantilevers will always be freestanding… Relying on an umbrella base for support.

But if you want a true outdoor kitchen umbrella… You’ll want to be able to install it directly into your island.

So for a market umbrella, this simply means you’ll forego the base. (Provided you have an umbrella hole in your island!)

Your preference here is primarily down to aesthetics. Do you like the way an umbrella looks sitting directly inside your BBQ island? Or would you prefer it to sit off to the side?

Play around with the idea! Luckily, umbrellas are quite customizable in this way. Most will have a removable base… So you can swap positions if you don’t like your original idea.

What’s not as adjustable is the size of your umbrella!

How to Pick the Right Umbrella Size

closed umbrella by l shape outdoor kitchen

You don’t want a dinky umbrella that doesn’t actually shade your island… And you don’t want an umbrella that’s comically large for your space.

In this scenario, size matters!

Thankfully, the size guide is fairly easy to parse out. You just need to know the length of your outdoor kitchen.

Typically, the smallest island length you’ll see starts at 5’. Therefore, you’ll want an umbrella that’s 9’ – 9′.5’ wide to fully cover this area.

If you have a 6’ or 7’ island… You’ll want to bump up the umbrella size to be 10’ or 11’ wide.

Got an even larger outdoor kitchen? Or do you have a layout with multiple islands?

Generally speaking, you’ll want to go with an umbrella at least 12’ wide. (This should comfortably accommodate an 8’ island.)

Just keep in mind that for these extra large sizes… You’re generally limited to selecting a cantilever umbrella.

If you go big enough… You might also be able to shade some patio furniture!

Either way, make sure the size you select is adequate for your outdoor living space.

And to take the decisions a step further… How important is adjustability?

Is Adjustability Important?

Most of us are used to umbrellas that are static. They open… And can’t be adjusted.

This is fine if you have your outdoor patio umbrella perfectly placed.

But what if you want to make adjustments?

As the sun shifts across the sky… You may want to tilt your umbrella to ensure your island remains perfectly shaded.

Really, it comes down to this. Is adjustability important to you?

If so, there’s no reason not to invest in an umbrella for outdoor kitchen that can be adjusted!

Once again, you have a couple options here.

You’ll want to look for height adjustability… As well as the ability for your umbrella to tilt. Both features will give you more flexibility in how your space is shaded.

Now, tilting functionality is a bit different between market and cantilever umbrellas.

Most market umbrellas will have a section of the pole that can be directly tilted to your desired angle.

For cantilever umbrellas… The pole itself will generally be rotated to achieve the angle you want.

There’s nothing inherently good or bad about either option… It’s just something to keep in mind!

Now, safety is something you’ll want to consider carefully!

Safety Tips for Your Outdoor Umbrella

When it comes to an outdoor kitchen umbrella… There are two safety tips to keep in mind.

For one, all umbrellas can fly away if not secured properly.

And since you’re going to be installing a large (and heavy!) umbrella… This scenario can be quite dangerous if it gets loose and hits someone.

Therefore, you want to make sure that your umbrella is well-secured. The base should weigh enough to hold down your umbrella… Even with strong gusts. (It’s worth packing up if you’re experiencing high winds.)

The next safety risk?

Considering your umbrella will often be right above a BBQ grill… You’re now dealing with a fire hazard.

Of course, outdoor cooking and flammable materials don’t mix!

And it’s not just the heat itself you have to worry about, either. A grease fire could quickly make your umbrella go up in flames.

So to be safe… When cooking at your gas grill, move your umbrella to the side. This will provide some shade, while keeping it away from the line of fire! (Keep it away from your fire pit, outdoor fireplace, or patio heater, too!)

Sound good?

There’s one last category you’ll have to consider.

Umbrella Material Quality

When it comes to your patio umbrella… You’ll have two different materials to decide on.

What fabric do you want? And what should the pole be made of?

There are a great many unique fabric options out there… And to be honest, most of them perform at the same level.

At the same time… Sunbrella fabric is often regarded as the best-overall option.

This is an acrylic fabric that is dyed with a UV-stabilized pigment. This means the color will not fade over time… And Sunbrella guarantees their fabrics for 3 years against fading.

It’s also worth mentioning that these fabrics have been tested to provide up to 98% UV protection.

Aside from Sunbrella… You’ll encounter names such as Suncrylic, SunDura, Olefin, and Coolaroo.

Suncrylic, SunDura, and Olefin are all acrylic-based fabrics. They all advertise colorfastness, as well as UV protection and easy cleaning.

Coolaroo is a type of knitted polyethylene fabric. You’ll get less UV blockage… But this fabric is “breathable”, allowing for cooler temperatures underneath the umbrella.

So if you want the best of the best… Sunbrella is considered the fabric of choice. But ultimately, you can’t really go wrong with any of these options.

Where things can go wrong is with the pole material.

Wood, aluminum, and steel are your top three options.

Wood looks beautiful… But it is prone to rot, warping, swelling, and it’s a flammable material.

Therefore, it’s not the best choice if you plan to leave your umbrella outside 24/7.

For this reason, aluminum and steel are superior options… But only if they are high quality!

These materials are prone to rust and corrosion. To avoid this as much as possible… Stick to marine grade aluminum or 304 stainless steel.

Feeling a little more confident? Let’s browse some umbrellas for your outdoor kitchen!

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Best Umbrellas for Outdoor Kitchen

When it comes to your backyard space, you’ll spare no expense… Within reason, of course!

After reviewing these patio umbrellas… You’re sure to find an excellent option for your space!

Auto Tilt Market Umbrella from Darlee

darlee umbrella
Product Highlights

Features: Auto tilt, crank rise

Frame Material: Powder coated aluminum

Fabric: Polyester

Warranty: 5 years on frame, 3 years on powder coating

Price: $226.09

While Darlee may be primarily known for their outdoor bar sets and other outdoor furniture… They also produce patio umbrellas!

This offering in particular is a market umbrella, with an auto tilt feature. So if you need to get the angle of your umbrella just right… That won’t be a problem here!

The canopy opens through a crank system… Which couldn’t be more convenient to use!

And at 9’ wide, this umbrella will comfortably shade a 5’ outdoor kitchen.

For materials, this umbrella sports a polyester canopy… And an antique bronze coated, heavy duty aluminum pole.

This should stand up fairly well outdoors, as long as the powder coating does not chip. As far as color fastness or UV protection of the polyester fabric goes… We were unable to find any details on this.

Darlee warranties the frame of this umbrella for 5 years, and the powder coating for 3 years.

Currently, you’ll shell out $226.09 for it on Amazon. (The base is not included.)

Lighted Octagonal Umbrella from Galtech

Product Highlights

Features: LED lighting, auto tilt, crank rise

Frame Material: Weather-resistant aluminum

Fabric: Sunbrella

Warranty: 2 years

Price: $639.00

Want to keep the party going… Well into the evening?

Well, you’re going to need some lighting! And why not incorporate it right into your outdoor kitchen umbrella?

That’s exactly what this market umbrella from Galtech does. The ribs underneath the canopy are lined with amber LED lights… Providing a well-lit, but intimate ambiance for your guests.

Galtech claims these lights are rated for 15,000 hours of use… So these won’t burn out for an exceedingly long time!

Now, what about the rest of this umbrella?

This umbrella from Galtech opens with a crank mechanism… And features a push-button auto tilt system to adjust the angle.

The canopy is made from top-notch Sunbrella fabric… And the remaining construction is weather-resistant aluminum.

And although we don’t know the specific grade of aluminum… It should hold up decently well outdoors.

For size, this umbrella is 11’ wide… Making it an excellent choice for a 6’ or 7’ BBQ island section.

Galtech warranties this umbrella for a period of two years. Prices are currently listed at $639.00 on BBQGuys. (The base is not included.)

Massive Cantilever Umbrella from Grand Patio

Product Highlights

Features: Hand crank rise, large canopy

Frame Material: Aluminum (grade unspecified)

Fabric: Sunbrella

Warranty: 1 year

Price: $599.99

If you’ve got a large outdoor kitchen, and you’re in the market for a cantilever umbrella… You’ve got everything you need right here!

Grand Patio’s cantilever umbrella boasts a 12’ width… Making it a great option for 8’ grill islands.

Not to mention, it would simply look impressive in your backyard!

Like the others, this umbrella is opened with a hand crank mechanism.

Moving to materials… This umbrella is made with Sunbrella fabric, and sports an aluminum frame. (We’re unable to confirm the quality of the aluminum.)

Grand Patio’s cantilever umbrella is warrantied for a period of 1 year… And it does include a weighted base.

Currently, this umbrella is listed at $599.99 on Amazon.

Scalloped Market Umbrella from Tempera

tempera umbrella
Product Highlights

Features: Hand crank rise, auto tilt

Frame Material: Aluminum (grade unspecified)

Fabric: Polyester

Warranty: 1 year

Price: $139.00

Want to add more of a beachy vibe for your backyard?

This scalloped patio umbrella is calling your name!

At 9’ wide, a 5’ outdoor kitchen section can rest comfortably shaded underneath.

As with all of the previous listings… This umbrella features a hand-crank rise. It also includes an auto tilt feature.

The fabric is made from polyester… Which Tempera claims is certified not to fade in 2 years, and provides UPF50+ UV protection.

The remainder of the construction is made from aluminum. Again, the grade is not specified.

This umbrella will come backed with a 1 year warranty… And is currently $139.00 on Amazon. (The base is not included.)

Turquoise Tilting Cantilever Umbrella from Lausaint

lausaint umbrella
Product Highlights

Features: Hand crank rise, tilting feature

Frame Material: Powder coated aluminum pole, powder coated steel ribs

Fabric: Polyester

Warranty: Unspecified

Price: $389.99

To add an enticing pop of color in your backyard… This turquoise cantilever umbrella will do just the trick!

The curvature of the pole also creates a striking aesthetic in your outdoor living space.

Unlike the other cantilever umbrella featured… This one can tilt! You can achieve a 0° – 45° angle with this model.

And like all of the other umbrellas… You’ll get a hand crank rise here.

The fabric is made from polyester, without further detail given. The pole is constructed from powder coated aluminum, and the ribs from powder coated steel.

The included base is made from HDPE.

Overall… This umbrella should fare quite well outdoors, as long as the powder coating doesn’t chip.

This 11’ canopy will serve you well if you have a 6’ or 7’ long BBQ island section.

Warranty information is not specified for this product… So you’ll have to check in with Lausaint for details!

You’ll find this umbrella listed for $389.99 on Amazon.

Got Your Outdoor Kitchen with Umbrella Yet?

bar island with seating under an umbrella on deck

At this stage, we’ve talked a whole lot about umbrellas… But what about the outdoor kitchen?

If you don’t have yours yet… You have a mountain of planning ahead!

And one of the first things you’ll have to decide is… What outdoor kitchen brand do you want to work with?

There are a myriad of options out there.

But if you want the simplest, most convenient, most tailored-to-you solution… There’s no better solution than RTA Outdoor Living.

You will be guided through the process by our team of experts, every step of the way.

Not only will you have personalized support… You’ll have a personalized island, as well.

Our free online design tool will get you started… And your Design Expert will help you tweak it to perfection!

You can deck out your island with a gas stainless steel grill, charcoal grill, flat top griddle, pizza oven, side burner… You name it!

That also means room for your umbrella! If you need an umbrella hole in the countertop, that’s no problem at all.

However you dream up your design… It’s our mission to make that dream even more impressive in reality.

So, curious about getting started?

The best place to begin is to create your DIY kitchen design!

From there, we’ll work closely with you to determine if RTA is a good fit for your project… And if so, we’ll bring your vision to life!

Sound good?

We’ll be in touch.

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.

FAQ

In truth, there isn’t a single best type of umbrella for an outdoor kitchen! It comes down to personal preference and what works best for your needs. A market umbrella is a classic option, especially if you want it to be installed directly into your island. A cantilever umbrella is a better option if you prefer to have your shade off to the side… Without a pole disrupting your movement around the island.

While you can put an umbrella over a gas or propane grill… It’s not recommended to keep it there while you are grilling. If you are actively grilling, it’s best to remove the umbrella until you are done. (This also applies to other outdoor living features, such as a gas fireplace or patio heater.) Canopies are made from a flammable material that could catch fire when exposed to excessive heat or a grease fire. Your umbrella will also absorb grease coming off your grill, which is difficult to clean out of the fabric.

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