The ultimate guide to choosing the right base for your garden parasol

Stainless steel parasol base

You’ve bought a parasol. The sun is shining. You’re preparing food to be enjoyed outside. The last thing you need is a little breeze taking down your parasol, snapping an arm, tearing its fabric, and knocking over your drinks in the process. So take heed. Here are the 10 factors you need to give a little consideration to, before settling on the right base for your outdoor space.

 

1. Positioning

 

The surface or location where you’d like to have your garden umbrella, will make quite a difference to your base needs.

 

If your parasol will be sitting in a hole through the middle of a dining table, you will still need a base, but it can afford to be slightly less heavyweight than if your parasol is freestanding. The table, particularly if it is large and sturdy, will provide some support, and the weight of the table will contribute to holding the parasol steady in a gust.

 

By contrast, if your parasol is to be positioned in an exposed, rooftop or windy spot, you should strongly consider getting a bigger and heavier base than standard. The base weight as well as the size of the base’s footprint, both contribute to a more stable stand.

 

In a sheltered spot, you have the luxury of not worrying so much, and can risk a slightly lighter weight option.

 

That said, if your umbrella base is going to be used on grass, consider how flat the surface is. Any amount of wobbling from a bumpy surface, will decrease the efficacy of your base.

 

And lastly, do you have one spot in mind for your parasol, or will it be a workhorse that is moved around the garden regularly? This will impact whether you consider a fixed position base, or one that can move, potentially with the addition of wheels or handles.

 

2. Different types of parasol base

In-ground bases give you the ultimate security, whilst also being the least conspicuous. These are great if you’d like your parasol holder to be nearly invisible, and they almost eliminate any trip hazard, which is very helpful in commercial environments such as hotels and restaurants. They do however require commitment. In-ground bases come in two parts. They require a hole of approx. 80cm3 which is then filled with concrete and a hidden steel section. The upper pole holder attaches to this and sits above ground. So whilst very strong, they’re not easy to move if you change your mind on your garden furniture set up.

 

An alternative to an in-ground base, is a surface mounted, bolted down deck-plate base. These are also a permanent fixing, but are more suitable if you don’t want to dig up your patio or ground covering. Both of these options can offer incredible strength, and are ideal for large, cantilever parasols.

 

If your parasol is to be used on grass, a lawn spike might be the best option. These can be hammered into grass or flower beds, as either a permanent or temporary fixture. These are also popular at events and weddings as they occupy a minimal footprint and inflict only a small amount of temporary damage to the lawn. The damage from a spike that has been inserted and subsequently removed is less noticeable than the grass fading from a large, flat freestanding base that has been left in position for a couple of days.

 

If your parasol will be used on a balcony, ensuring it is securely restrained is more important than ever, and you should explore railing clamps and brackets.

 

For securing a parasol to wooden decking, decking anchors are great. They have metal anchors which can pass between the gaps of decking boards and then be screwed on tight without the need for any specialist tools. They take up minimal room on your deck, and can be removed or moved easily, without leaving any holes. They do however depend on your decking being in good condition, as the weight and pressure of your parasol will be concentrated on a very small area.

 

Lastly, the most common type of parasol bases are freestanding. These are suitable for all ground types, can be moved around your patio or garden (with varying degrees of difficulty or ease) and come in many different designs, styles and colours, to integrate with the style of your outdoor furniture.

 

3. The type of parasol you have

It’s not only the size of your parasol that will dictate the type and weight of base you’ll need. If your parasol is made of heavy materials such as hardwood or steel, you’ll need a heavier, stronger base. Lighter weight parasols, for example bamboo balinese parasols, or aluminium framed parasols can be held steady by a slightly lighter base.

 

Equally, if your parasol has a tilt function, this will unbalance the weight, and the canopy will be much more likely to catch the wind, and so a broader base with a bigger footprint would be smart (if you’re using a freestanding base rather than one permanently attached to the ground).

 

Cantilever parasols are a whole other category and without a doubt need the heaviest class of base.

 

For rectangular parasols, use the dimension of the longer side when calculating minimum base weights.

 

4. Weight

Which weight parasol base do I need? We hear this question a lot. As you can see already, there are quite a few factors at play. Wind or calm, patio or grass, wide base or narrow base, underneath a table or freestanding, tilting or not. Our weight guide is based on the sensible minimum weight requirements for different parasol sizes. You’ll need to consider the other characteristics of your environment and parasol, and add additional weight accordingly.

Centre pole parasol

Minimum weight for freestanding parasol base

Less than 2m 10-15kg +
2-2.5m 15-20kg +
2.6-2.9m 25kg +
3-3.5m 30kg +
4m+ 50kg +
Cantilever parasol
3m 80-100kg +
3.5m+ 100kg +

 

It’s worth remembering, you’re unlikely to regret buying a base that’s too heavy. You’re more likely to regret a base that doesn’t quite cut the mustard, has you worried on a semi-breezy day, and that you end up replacing after just a few years.

 

5. Pole tube size

Are all parasol poles the same size? No. But the majority come in two standard sizes: 38mm and 48mm. Make sure you check the size of your pole before buying a base. Heavy bases are not the easiest to return if you buy the wrong size.

(Plia Parasols have a 38mm pole.)

Even once you’ve bought the correct size pole tube, and have installed your parasol, it’s very important to tighten the screw at the base, to grip your parasol and ensure it can’t be lifted by wind.

 

6. Handles or no handles

Should your parasol stand have integrated handles? For sure handles make moving a heavy base easier. Ask yourself how often you’ll be moving your base, and how far. If it’s just a meter here or there, depending on the sun’s position, you may not think handles are necessary. On the other hand, if you plan on moving a very heavy base between different seating areas, why not make your life easier?

 

7. Wheels or no wheels

Wheels on a heavy parasol base may seem like a no brainer, although I’ve got to say that aesthetically, I rarely like the look of them. Do consider the surface you’ll be moving your parasol on before opting for a parasol base with wheels. Oftentimes, the wheels on bases are very small, and thereby only useable on very smooth surfaces. If you have a cobbled or stone patio, small wheels might struggle. If you opt for a cheaper base, be mindful of wheels which might not be particularly durable under the weight of a very heavy base, with the addition of a 15-25kg weight parasol.

 

Our preference is to have tiny feet or risers under the base. Just 1-2cm high is plenty sufficient. This retains the minimalist look of your freestanding base, but allows air to flow underneath, and reduces the likelihood of scratching, rust and rust stains on your patio.

 

8. Materials

The choice of material for your parasol base largely comes down to budget and taste.

 

Starting at the budget end, a plastic parasol base is cheaper to buy and cheaper to ship. Once in position, you can fill it with sand or water to create the weight you need. (Sand is the better filling option if you have this available. It is heavier for the same volume, and more stable if the base starts to rock.) Plastic bases are not the prettiest, nor the longest lasting, however if you’re going to use a base cover, there’s less reason to be fussy about what is underneath.

           

There are a wide variety of concrete and granite bases on the market. They come in lots of shapes and sizes, although all are quite chunky in order to meet the weight requirements of parasols. On the plus size, they can be blasted with a pressure washer once per year to clean them up with minimal effort.

 

There are some lovely carved wood and teak root ball parasol bases available. These are most suitable for smaller, lighter parasols, and perfect for a boho style garden.

 

Stainless steel (either galvanised or powder coated) is the luxury option as the heavy weight requirements can be met with a very slimline base plate. A galvanised finish allows the raw grey metal to be visible, but with a clear zinc coating that prevents rusting. Powder coating adds a further layer that not only protects the metal from rusting, but enables a wide range of colours to be used. Be mindful of cheap powder coating that is applied to non-galvanised metal. It can chip very easily, and the steel beneath will rust very quickly when exposed to rain.

 

9. Alternative parasol stands

If you simply don’t love the look of any parasol bases, and are not able to opt for a base which is sunken in the ground, how about using a plant pot? You can either use a lawn spike, or try pushing a parasol tube directly into the earth as long as your parasol is relatively small. The wider and deeper the plant pot, the better. For a more permanent solution, you could install a ground spike into a plant pot filled with concrete or cement. (Concrete is heavier and stronger.)

 

10. Accessories

You’re nearly there. You’ve nearly worked out the right option for your outdoor space. But wait. What about accessories. These might change your choices after all.

 

Would you love to have a parasol stand that has an integrated table? Somewhere to rest your phone or drink? They exist.

What about a base cover? These are usually made of wood and act as a coffee table that doubles up to hide your potentially ugly base. Could be handy.

 

Once you’ve finally made your selection and landed your perfect parasol base, make sure you take care of it.

 

A few parasol base dos and don’ts

 

The temptation is huge. I’m guilty myself. But if you want your parasol base to last, don’t drag it across a hard surface. Whether it’s made from plastic, metal or wood, you’re likely to damage the surface and any protective coating. Little plastic feet underneath will help to protect the underside from damage if you have to pick it up and put it down many times.

 

The temptation to roll the base is even greater if your parasol base is round. Not only will you damage the edge surface, you’re likely to loosen the screws or bolts that connect the pole tube to the base. Once those screws are loosened, if they can’t be tightened due to being bent out of shape, you’ll be left with a wobbly and less effective stand. Don’t roll.

 

If possible, avoid your base standing in puddled water. This could cause damage (rusting or rotting) to your base, and discoloration or mould growth on your patio.

 

If you get a spot of rust on your metal parasol, it’s advisable to remove it and touch up the paint to avoid the rust spreading.

 

And the most important, even with a super strong, sturdy and heavy base, close your parasol if the wind picks up. Leaving a parasol up in strong winds risks breaking arms of the frame and tearing the canopy, even if it doesn’t fly out of the base and cause greater damage.

 

There you have it, you’ve got all the pointers you need. It’s time to make your selection. A stylish parasol can transform your outdoor area and set the tone and style in one fell swoop, so don’t settle for a stand that lets you down.

 

You can see our bases here. They’re made specially for us in Italy from the strongest materials, with the highest quality finishes.

Luxury fabric from Italy
Sewn in England
3+ years fade-resistant
FREE SHIPPING NO MINIMUM ORDER
Luxury fabric from Italy
Sewn in England
Fade-resistant
High performace fabric from France
Sewn in England
5+ years fade-resistant
Designer fabric made in England
Sewn in England
3+ years fade-resistant
Stainless steel
Made in England
To fit 38mm pole
High performace fabric from Spain
Sewn in England
5+ years fade-resistant
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