Aluminum or Wood?

One of the big questions we're getting this season is about the differences in materials.   It usually goes like this:

What's better?  Aluminum or Wood?

To which we almost always answer:

Yes

At this point the customer asks for an answer with a few more details.

The differences between aluminum patio umbrellas and wood market umbrellas are as diverse as the differences between the actual materials of aluminum and wood.  So let's go over those briefly to get a better understanding of each.

Industry just loves aluminum.  Once it's properties and especially it's uses in construction and fabrication where finally hammered out by using aluminum alloy, it became one of the most popular metals for fabricating everything from toys to parts of the Washington Monument.  Aluminum is actually the most abundant metal in the earth's crust, and is popular because of it's resistance to corrosion and it's flexibility in temperature changes.  Aluminum can be combined with a plethora of minerals, and can be colored, shaped, or textured to almost anything you can think of.  With the right combination of metals, aluminum alloys can be lighter and stronger than steel and iron.  No wonder it makes such a cool patio umbrella!  You can twist it, turn it and powder coat it to make any kind of umbrella you want.

Wood is probably second only to stone in it's history with us humans.  Wood has been used by us from our earliest history for everything from tools to artwork, architecture, food production and storage.  We can burn it to warm ourselves, or burn it to heat things like water, or burn it to run engines.  We can use pure wood to make almost anything we want, and what's left over, can still be used.  We paint it, cut it, shape it and make instruments from it.  It appears naturally in our environment, and comes in a myriad of qualities from soft and white to hard and dark.  Some older trees contain wood that is so dense and dark that diamond saws are needed to cut it.  We love wood for it's look, it's depth and it's history with us.  Wood makes awesome market umbrellas.

So it's easy to understand why there's so much to think about when you're picking out your patio umbrella.  Geez, if both of these materials are so great, what do I choose?

So here are some guides you can go by to really help you get through the decision process.  Guides?  Well, really you can take them, take the advice, and throw them away.  I've always been a big proponent of the "it's your home, you do what you think is right" attitude, but if your having a problem deciding, the following can help you in a pinch.

  1. If you're trying to match wood furniture, a wood umbrella would probably be a good choice.   Keep in mind most wood market umbrellas are made with either a darker, redder hardwood or the beautifully pale teak.  Teak wood changes color over time also, so keep that in mind.  Also keep in mind that many aluminum patio umbrella manufacturers provide faux wood finishes.  These can be a great match as well.
  2. If it's wrought iron, cast aluminum or aluminum furniture that your getting an umbrella for, definitely look at aluminum patio umbrellas.  Aluminum patio umbrellas come in a lot of different color and finishes to match almost any metal furniture.  You can match bronze, black, white or green furniture easily, and if not, there are a plethora of neutral frame colors like champagne and sand finishes.
  3. Consider your patio environment.  Aluminum is somewhat better for high wind areas, but wood can most definitely stand the test of windy environments as well.  Although we always recommend putting down your umbrellas before storms, aluminum can bend or warp under prolonged high speed winds, where wood will not.  Wood will simple split or break when it reaches it's limit, however, sustained winds and water have shown to bow wood.
  4. Wood will not rust, but will rot if not maintained.  Stained or sealed wood will give years and years of service before showing signs of decay.  Aluminum will not rust, or resist rust much longer than wood resists rot, but it's working parts are prone to damage.
  5. Consider the general decor of your outdoor area.  Lush and thick foliage tends to work best with a wood umbrella, while more sleek, modern looking outdoor areas, with less plants, tend to work well with an aluminum umbrella.

After going through your needs and this list, it's absolutely fine if you decide to chuck it and decide based on your own aesthetic preferences.  Aluminum furniture can look wonderful with a wood umbrella, while heavy foliage would look great with an aluminum umbrella.  Both are great choices.

The best advice we can give is to go over the reasons you need an umbrella, and mix those with your personal preference.

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