Our top deck has a wall of windows to our living room and doors that go into both our master bedroom and our breakfast area. There is no roof over it and in the summer the sun shines in at various times of the day and heats up the house. There is also a second deck under the first one and we wanted to keep that one dry when it rained. We looked at different sunshades and canopies but none of those would have fit well on the deck. We have a patio table and chairs out there so we thought if we found a large umbrella to go over it, we could use that as a canopy for the deck to block the sun as well as protecting the table and the bottom deck from the rain. When we saw this 8.5 foot Southern Patio offset umbrella on sale at Ace Hardware we thought it would be perfect for the job.
The full name of the umbrella is the Southern Butterfly Freedom Umbrella. Like I said it is an offset umbrella which means the pole goes to the side and not down the middle so it is free standing and can be used as shelter and protection from sun and rain anywhere not just with a patio table since the pole can't be put down through the hole. Unlike a traditional gazebo or sun shelter the advantage to this umbrella is that it tilts to various angles and rotates 360 degrees so you can adjust it to block the sun through out the day from any angle which makes it great for a pool area to use over lounge chairs. My kids are older now but this would have been perfect to put over their kiddie pools or sandboxes to keep them cool and protect them from the sun too.
The umbrella is well made with a powder coated steel and aluminum frame which has been exposed to a very rainy year and shows only a few small spots of rust. The base has cross legs and a decent weight with a good balance but for best results in the wind, you really need to add some sand bags or weights to hold it down. We used a few inexpensive patio pavers and it works just fine. The base even has little groves in it so the pavers fit in there nicely. It has an 8 rib canopy so it spreads well and is taught with no sagging in between. The top is a beige canvas which I knew would get dirty over time but I would rather have a few dirt spots that I can try to clean off than having a bright colored one that fades over time in the sun. The top has an extra flap on it which allows wind to go through it and heat to escape. It has a hand crank on the side and it locks into the position you want with a pin. When it is not in use, simply crank it down and wrap it up with the attached Velcro strap.
We have had the umbrella up for a full year now and we love how it looks and it work perfectly for what we needed. Like I said there are a few small rust spots and the beige canvas is a little dirty but from being outside all year we think it's holding up really well.