Is Steel Or Aluminum Better For Patio Umbrella?

Is steel or aluminum better for patio umbrella

Patio Umbrellas are an essential part of any patio setup. They provide the users with shade from the sun’s UV rays, shelter from excessive heat in the summer, and sudden rain splash in a patio session. The are several types of patio umbrellas when it comes to their build material. Steel, Aluminum, Wooden, and some other types of materials are widely used in patio umbrellas. Even if the pole is made of wood, the canopy ribs should have to be made of aluminum or steel. That leaves us in the position of if, steel or aluminum- which one is better for patio umbrellas?

Apart from personal preferences, steel and aluminum umbrellas have different pros- and cons and, overall characteristic advantages of their own. To identify which one is better we have to go through some of the criteria, based on which we will measure them in some perimeters. Read thoroughly to know which one is better, why it is better than the other one, and how to clean the steel or aluminum patio umbrella in your possession.

Key Takeaways

  • An aluminum patio umbrella is better than a steel patio umbrella.
  • Steel frames hold more strength than aluminum frames, but take up weight at the same time.
  • Aluminum frames are less expensive than steel frames if measured pound to pound.
  • Cleaning steel or aluminum is super easy, using water, detergent, and a soft brush.
  • Aluminum alloy outruns steel in every criterion but strength.

Steel Frame Vs Aluminum Frame For Patio Umbrella

To identify if steel or aluminum patio umbrellas are better, we have to judge them via their durability, strength, price, weather adaptability, and some other important characteristics. The individual results can go either way in a mixed ratio. But by comparing them in standard base, we will be able to identify which one is better.

1. Strength

The first vital judgment criterion is the strength of the bear. Steel and cast iron umbrellas are much stronger than aluminum-made patio umbrellas. As patio umbrellas have to face extreme weather phenomena such as heat, snow, and water, they have to be strong. Due to the molecular blondness of steel, it doesn’t bend or tilt under excessive heat or weight. But aluminum lags behind in this area as they are made prone to bend under pressure. Lab tests have shown similar results of steels having more strength than aluminum. In the Ultimate Tensile Strength test, a 0.4C graded steel got 640MPa against aluminum’s 312MPa.


2. Weight

A steel umbrella should weigh almost twice that of an aluminum-made umbrella. Because steel is 250% denser than aluminum. Now you may think that’s another win for the steel. But it is not in this case. Patio umbrellas should be lightweight in the sense that they need to be replaced quite often. Also, you may want to bring your own patio umbrella setup while lying on a beach or enjoying camping. Also, you may need to relocate the patio umbrella to other sections of your house. A steel-made patio umbrella with a hefty weight makes all of this less possible for their weight. But in some cases, the heavy steel patio umbrella comes in handy such as if you are facing a constant heavy breeze. The weight of the steel patio helps the umbrella to hold itself against heavy air. But you can get a similar feature on an aluminum umbrella by using a heavier base.


3. Price

The price of steel and aluminum-made patio umbrellas won’t have much effect on the question of which one is better. Because you will not buy a patio umbrella every day. But talking about their price, it is variable periodically depending on the supply and demand. Naturally, aluminum is more expensive than steel. But as aluminum is lighter, by considering the size and weight, steel is more expensive than aluminum.


4. Temperature

Temperature can become a bigger issue if your geological location is more sunlight-friendly. Steels and aluminum both are prone to getting heated under high temperatures. But aluminum alloys release back the temperature much quicker than steel frames. It can be a key factor when temperature is causing a headache and the patio umbrella also becomes hot, instead of cooling you down.


5. Design shape

Along with every other utensil we use, patio umbrellas go through modifications to their design frequently. Aluminum is a more malleable and elastic metal than steel. Meaning, they are easier to have a more complex design shape than steel. Because steel’s internal structure is more rigid than aluminum, it prevents flexing. Though this feature may not impact your overall user experience, it can be an added advantage when you are looking for a uniquely designed patio umbrella.

Design shape
Design shape

6. Rust resisting capacity

Rusting on metal frames is a very common thing. But they are a point of concern too for the patio umbrellas. Because patio umbrella is more prone to rust attack as they are mostly exposed to the environment. The moisture in the air can easily create oxidization to the metal steel umbrella bar, creating iron oxide or rust in the process. Aluminum frames also oxidize by oxygen and moisture but it creates Aluminum oxides that stick to the metal protecting it from decay. Meaning, that an aluminum frame without any color-protecting layer will be less likely to have corrosion or rust than a color-protected steel umbrella.

Rust resisting capacity
Rust resisting capacity

7. Flexibility

A patio umbrella requires flexibility as much as it requires strength. The canopy structure requires the bending of certain movable metal parts for the canopy to bloom. As mentioned earlier, aluminum is more malleable than steel, meaning it can bend itself to a certain angle, without breaking or being angled permanently. That’s why composite aluminum alloys are used in modern airplane wing surfaces. Allowing them to bend without getting broken or angled permanently.


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So Which One Is Better?

Both steel and aluminum patio umbrellas are equally popular among users. They have their own beneficial sides. Steel holds more strength than aluminum. The price of steel is also less expensive than aluminum if measured pound to pound ratio. But aluminum edges out over the steel frame in weight, net price, less temperature holding, design shape flexibility, etc.

A patio umbrella user will want their umbrella to be light enough to carry easily. Though aluminum is more expensive than steel, you are getting more aluminum in return as it is lighter. Next, aluminum frames become cooler than steel because of the material’s nature. Last but not least, aluminum is well flexible to allow them to design more freestyle than the steel one.

Simply put, for all of the reasons considered above, aluminum-made patio umbrellas are better than steel-made patio umbrellas.

How to Clean And Maintain An Umbrella Frame?

Even if the aluminum umbrellas are well durable, they need regular cleaning and maintenance to function for an extended period. This regular cleaning will remove the dust and moisture residue instantly. Unlike the wooden frame patio umbrella, you can clean an aluminum umbrella using water, a brush, and ordinary detergents.

Cleaning Steps:

  1. Close the umbrella and carefully remove the canopy.
  2. Rinse the frame through a high-speed water hose to remove the dust preliminarily.
  3. Create detergent water foams by shaking detergents on buckets of water.
  4. Apply the detergent thoroughly over the frame. Rub the foam with a brush gently.
  5. Don’t use any metal object to remove any stains. It can damage the patio structure.
  6. You can use ethanol or chlorine to remove any stubborn stains.
  7. Rinse again the whole umbrella frame through high-speed hose water.
  8. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any soapy residue left over, it can create rust buildup.
  9. Wipe the frame water with a fresh cloth and allow the frame to dry properly.
  10. Reassemble the umbrella and attach the canopy for use.


1. What is the best fabric for a patio umbrella?

Sunbrella is the most popular fabric for outdoor umbrellas. They are durable, as well as stain- and weather-resistant. These acrylic-dyed fabrics are 98% UV-resisting as well.

2. What to look for when buying a patio umbrella?

Patio umbrellas are for long hours, all-weather patio utensils. They need to be durable to withstand all the harsh weather. For buying such an umbrella consider rib strength, canopy material, and opening mechanisms.

3. Is it OK to leave the patio umbrella open all the time?

No, it is not fair to leave the patio umbrella open all the time. If left, then it means the patio is exposed to harsh weather for too long. It can cause the fabric color to fade quickly, metal to become rusty, and reduce the overall lifespan very quickly.

Final Thoughts

From all of the determining factors explained above, one can easily say that an aluminum frame is better than a steel frame for a patio umbrella. They are lighter than steel frames to allow you to relocate them easily. Aluminum is better heat resistant to help your patio umbrella cool off quicker. It is more rust-preventive than steel frames, allowing your umbrella to function longer. Aluminum frames are more malleable to design them more rigorously. A steel frame may not react well if bent too angled. It can endure the pressure but isn’t good at reclaiming the design it was supposed to hold. So by all means, an aluminum patio umbrella is better than the steel patio umbrella.

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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.

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