What is the best colour for a garden parasol?

3 coloured outdoor fabrics

For my whole life, 99% of parasols in the UK have only been available to buy in three colours. Dark green, dark blue or ecru cream. Now, with our collection of colourful and varied parasols, plus our bespoke parasol canopy service allowing you to choose any fabric, the world is your oyster. And sometimes that gives rise to questions and new decision-making dilemmas.


If you’re weighing up which parasol canopy colour might be the smarter choice, or deciding between a lighter or darker fabric, you need to ask yourself why you’re getting a parasol in the first place, and which factors matter most to you.


Shade & UV sun protection

If you love the ease of stepping outside to eat, play, work or relax outside, without the worry of sunscreen, a parasol is the perfect addition to your garden. In principle, a darker, heavier canopy fabric, will offer greater UV sun protection. A thin, pale canopy will allow some UV rays to pass through, as well as reflecting light around your environment. That said, the solution-dyed acrylic fabric we use in our standard parasols offers in excess of SPF 50 protection, across all the colours. That makes parasols ideal to shade young babies outdoors, when they are still too young for the use of sunscreen.


If you’re hoping to ditch the sunglasses outdoors or over the lunch table, a darker fabric will create a more comfortable shaded environment. If you like to take your laptop outside to the garden table too, a darker fabric will create a better working environment and make it easier to see your screen.


Two dark parasol fabrics we love, that also provide SPF 50 protection:

Kvadrat Tero green outdoor fabric

Kvadrat Tero outdoor fabric

Navy and green geometric outdoor fabric

Gaston Y Daniela Caleb outdoor fabric

Heat reduction

If it’s the temperature you’re hoping to cool, and you’d like to knock a few degrees off the thermometer under your parasol, a lighter colour is your best choice as it will be more effective at reflecting the sun. That said, whilst dark colours do indeed absorb more heat, if you’re seated underneath a parasol, more than a meter away from the canopy, you’re unlikely to feel the heat radiation from the fabric. The shade that any colour parasol creates will make the biggest difference in how comfortable you feel, rather than the colour itself.


Three light parasol fabrics we love:

 Cream and black outdoor fabric

C&C Milano Ginko outdoor fabric

Peach and white ikat outdoor fabric

Christopher Farr Lost and Found outdoor fabric

William Morris oak leaf outdoor fabric

William Morris Oak outdoor fabric


This is the big one we’re here for. Any parasol can do the above, but you are probably on our blog because you also care about getting a parasol that makes you smile when you look out at your garden. If that is the case, you will be interested in knowing which colour parasols will fade the least, and stay looking fabulous the longest.


Which colour fabrics fade the fastest?

Red fabrics and pigments fade the fastest when exposed to sunlight, however if you choose the right materials, that needn’t be a worry. Look for fabrics made from solution-dyed acrylic. This ultra hard-wearing performance material is made by introducing the dye colour at the earliest stage of production. The process starts by mixing a liquid acrylic with dye, which is then formed into a fibre, and then spun into yarn. This results in a soft-to-the-touch, linen-like fabric which has the colour infused right to the core and is highly resistant to fading. You can find red solution-dyed acrylic fabrics that come with a 5-year guarantee against fading. That guarantee covers all-year-round sunny climates, pools and even yachts, so if your parasol is in an English garden, and covered in winter, you have nothing to worry about. Go ahead and choose a red parasol if that’s the colour you’re drawn to.


Two red parasol fabrics that are highly resistant to fading:

Jim Thompson red and black outdoor fabric

Jim Thompson Islander outdoor fabric 

Red and pink striped outdoor fabric

Dedar Strange Loves outdoor fabric

Which colour fabrics fade the least?

Neutral and pale colours like beige, shades of white, yellow and lilac fade the least over time. If you’re choosing a natural fabric like cotton or linen for your bespoke parasol, even if you plan on adding a weather protection spray, you’d be well advised to choose a lighter colour.

Two neutral coloured performance fabrics that are highly resistant to fading:

Animal print outdoor fabric

Thibault Kenzo outdoor fabric

Naked bodies parasol fabric

Mariaflora Balletto outdoor fabric

Which parasol fabric will stay looking clean and new for the longest?

Aha, how low maintenance do you want to be? A lighter fabric will show dirt and debris more quickly. A dark or patterned fabric will do a better job at hiding stains and will need cleaning less often. If your parasol is going to be under a pollen-producing tree, or an area where you regularly see bird droppings, you might thank yourself for choosing a busy pattern for your canopy.


All that said, parasol canopies can be removed and cleaned relatively easily. In fact with a step ladder you can give your parasol a brush down or a sponge clean without removing the fabric at all. In addition, if you close your parasol when it’s not in use, and use a protective cover, most worries about dirt and fading can be forgotten. And should you need to down the line, you can buy a replacement parasol canopy, for your existing frame.


If you still can’t decide which colour parasol canopy you’d like, here's what I do when narrowing down fabric colours for future Plia Parasols collections: I stand in my garden, facing my house, and hold up fabric samples to see which I think suits the house, the bricks, the patio or the plants the best. In the absence of fabric samples, holding up a phone or laptop with images of your shortlist will also work.


Luxury fabric from Italy
Sewn in England
3+ years fade-resistant
Luxury fabric from Italy
Sewn in England
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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