How to pick the right tilt patio umbrella.

You may often wonder why and how a patio umbrella tilts.  Tilting functions "define" the tilting patio umbrella, but often times, it’s the last thing you look at. Here are the differences and benefits of push button tilts, collar tilts, and auto tilts.

Featured Tilt Patio Umbrellas

The one downside to outdoor lounging is this; that pesky sun doesn’t stay in one place. It’s always the same; you find a nice shady spot under your favorite patio umbrella, and what happens? A few minutes later that pesky hot, bright sun comes peaking under the umbrella canopy right into your face and eyes. There goes your perfect little shady spot! However, one of the coolest things that a quality patio umbrella can do is... drum roll please… TILT. You reach up, tilt your umbrella, and viola, your perfect little shady spot is back.But HOW your umbrella tilts can be the determining factor in how much you enjoy your patio and your favorite shady spot.

Usually, a patio umbrella shopper will first choose an umbrella based on the pole color or the umbrella canopy cover. For the most part, it’s the canopy that draws your attention, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s only when you’re locked into a style that you feel best fits your patio design that you notice that the patio umbrella you’ve chosen has a particular tilt function. Sometimes, this means that you have to make sacrifices in the design of your umbrella, because the tilt function you would like to have doesn’t come in the outdoor fabric color you want, or the pole frame finish that best fits your patio design.

I've seen this question in Yahoo! Answers that read: How to tilt or adjust the angle of patio umbrella?

And the best answer was:  Just press the button and tilt the top to whichever direction you want.

Now, this answer was..mezzo mezzo, IF the umbrella was a push-button tilt. But there are three different kinds of tilt currently available for aluminum patio umbrellas, so it drove me a little crazy when I saw the answer. What if was an auto tilt umbrella? Or what if was a collar tilt umbrella? Very different tilt functions that not everybody knows.

The principal of umbrella tilting is pretty basic: You do something at the crank or under the canopy, and the umbrella tilts. However, to arm you with the right knowledge of the definitive feature of any patio umbrella, let’s break down the different tilting functions into their pro’s and con’s so you can make an informed and satisfying choice.

There are basically two categories of tilting features, Manual and Mechanical. Manual tilting umbrellas, as the name implies, tilt based on you having to tilt the canopy manually. Mechanical tilting is when a mechanism function allows you to tilt the umbrella without touching the canopy.



The Push-Button Tilt patio umbrella is the granddaddy of tilting umbrellas. Built on a simple but very sound engineering principle, push-button tilts have been around almost as long as the modern patio umbrella. Evolving from an original hole-and-peg system, the push-button tilt quickly became a standard umbrella feature. The basic function is this; at the top of the umbrella pole, just below the umbrella ribs, you’ll find a button. The button is usually a simple, inward curved button made of metal. Push the button inwards, and you release a lock on the lever that allows the umbrella to tilt. Typically with a push button tilt, you have to manually hold the umbrella canopy to in order to get it into the right position. Most quality push-button tilt umbrellas have three positions, however, some are known to have two, or even just one default tilt position. Once you find the tilt position you want, you release the spring loaded button, and it locks the umbrella tilting lever to the position you’ve chosen.

Pro’s: The push-button tilt is simple and strong, set it and forget it. The tilting lever is set to three optimum positions that you will find satisfactory most of the time. And you’re getting a great value; you get a nice tilting umbrella for very little upfront expense.

Cons: With a push-button tilt, you have to manually hold the umbrella canopy to get it in your preferred position. Also, you have to stand and manually DO the tilt. On less than standard umbrellas, there is a small danger of pinching your finger in the button or the tilt lever. Push-Button Tilts are top of the line, expertly crafted umbrellas. This is not a real danger with our umbrellas.

Summary: If you need a simple, standard umbrella with no bells and whistles, this is the tilt for you. Also, if you have a large patio area that you’d like to put more umbrellas in for different shade areas or your house guests, but don’t want to run the expense of buying upper-end umbrellas for all of your shading areas, this is the perfect umbrella. It’s also a great umbrella for commercial applications such as restaurants, pools and hotels.



The Automatic Tilt umbrella, also called auto tilt umbrellas,  are a great innovation that literally changed the face our outdoor patio. This is simply a great feature that has quickly grown into the most popular feature in any outdoor umbrella, ever, and it’s quite simple in its application.

All aluminum umbrellas usually open by turning the crank, found at an optimum placement just above most table levels. Most aluminum umbrellas open by using the crank. But the automatic tilt umbrella has an added feature that’s, well, just great. Once the umbrella is completely open, you keep turning the umbrella crank, and the umbrella tilts. It works by a series of mechanical levers and joints inside the umbrella pole. And because the tilting feature in automatic’s don’t rely on joint settings (it uses the tension and position of the interior cord for position,) the tilting positions run the full spectrum of positions. In an automatic tilt umbrella, there is no preset or default tilt positions, so you can tilt your umbrella just a little, or a little more, or a full tilt. That’s what makes the automatic tilt umbrella the most popular tilting feature in the US.

In fact, the umbrella is so popular, that it’s hard-pressed not to call it outdoor furniture because it’s just not limited to the outdoor table anymore. You can find auto-tilt umbrellas anywhere, like poolside, or smaller shading areas in your patio.

Pros: No manual lifting or changing, because you don’t have to get up to tilt the umbrella. The umbrella opens and tilts from the same position, so it’s easy to use, and no strain on the back. Just sit and...Lounge. Same goes for closing the umbrella. Just crank the opposite way, and your umbrella tilts back into position, and closes, no getting up and manually tilting umbrella.

Cons: There are hardly any cons to owning an auto-tilt umbrella, other than placement, and changing the direction of the umbrella for different positions of the Sun. Some sub-standard auto-tilts break after extended use, but automatic tilt umbrellas are engineered for extended use and use above-standard material in its construction.

Summary: The most popular tilt function in the US for a reason, the automatic tilt is just a joy to have and easy to use. Usually automatic tilt umbrellas come in a plethora of sizes, frame colors and cover choices, and it’s also considered a “best bet” choice among patio experts across the nation.


The collar tilt umbrella is a neat little innovation in tilting that sprouted up in the early nineties. Also considered an auto tilt, it’s a great example of user-friendly engineering that can really add to your table use umbrellas.


A collar tilt umbrella works basically the same way as other aluminum market umbrellas. You turn the crank at the housing, and the umbrella opens. However, what makes the collar tilt different is that at the top of the crank housing, there is a ring or “collar” that tilts the umbrella. By turning the collar, you can tilt the umbrella. Similar to an auto-tilt, the collar tilt umbrella has infinite tilting positions. Many people prefer the collar-tilt to the auto-tilt for its smooth operation and differentiated tilting mechanism.

Pros: The collar tilt is a great table umbrella. When an umbrella sits in a table, the collar tilt is nicely situated so you just have to stretch out your hand, and twist the collar to tilt. Also, since the tilting mechanism is different from the opening mechanism, you can “combine” different stages of open and tilted for your own pleasure.

Cons: Two different mechanisms are two different manual things you have to do to open and tilt your umbrella. A collar turning motion may not be a comfortable or easy for most people as a crank motion. If the umbrella is not secured to a base, when you’re turning the collar, you might turn the whole umbrella. collar tilts are specifically designed to be easy to use and engineered not to turn the umbrella when turning the collar.

Summary: A great feature that brings a new twist (pun intended) to umbrella tilting, the collar tilt is an enjoyable function for those looking for something just a little bit different, with the same ease of use as an auto-tilt. A perfect table umbrella for long lazy days of entertaining your house guests in your patio.

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