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Cafe Umbrella vs. Market Umbrella – The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Umbrellas

The terms cafe umbrella and market umbrella are oftenused interchangeably.Whether searching online or admiring outdoor umbrellasat your local vendor outlets, you will likelyfind this to be the case. The result?You end up flustered and confused when seeking your own outdoor umbrella product.

We know this because several times customers have come to us to buy a market umbrella when in reality, they need a cafe umbrella. The vice-versa is also true. The term market umbrella is an industry term. It is often used without referring to what a market umbrella truly is. We decided to create a succinct guide to hopefully clear the confusion.

Cafe vs. market umbrella – Understanding the difference

A cafe umbrella is any umbrella that is made for recreational use while a market umbrella is a STYLE of umbrella that is used for commercial shade purposes.

Traditionally, a market umbrella usually refers to a commercial outdoor umbrella that is placed in outdoor dining settings such as cafés, bistros, hotel pools and resorts. A cafe umbrella, on the other hand, is any umbrella that is made for recreational use. It can fit through a hole within a table and shelter occupants sitting underneath.

Let’s delve deeper.

What is a market umbrella?

As the name suggests, a market umbrella is typically used by vendors, sellers and event participants. It serves the dual purpose of providing shade and respite to customers from elements as well as covering a booth. You must have seen these umbrellas at farmers’ markets, exhibition ground kiosks, craft fairs, roadside vendors and the like. Market umbrellas typically cover standing structures, vendor tables, market stalls and other similar commercial spaces.

The market umbrella that we love and cherish today originates from the streets of France and Italy, with a slight variation along the wayleading to the present-day octagonal shape and more cross support. However, when it comes to the industry jargon among the manufacturers and suppliers, a market umbrella generally refers to an outdoor wood umbrella.

The design of a market umbrella

Market umbrellas usually have a straight pole attached to a base at the bottom. The pole is available in a variety of materials including fibreglass, wood and aluminium. The canopy of the umbrella is most often in an octagonal shape, but you can occasionally find square and rectangular shapes too. These umbrellas do not rely on a table or other erect structures for stability, since they have their own weighted base.

Market umbrellas are more durable in withstanding wind and other harsh elements in open spaces like event grounds, parks and roads. They are generally used along with temporary outdoor structureslike canopies and pop-up gazebos. Merchants and vendors also attach them to their carts and food stalls sometimes.

What is a cafe umbrella?

Cafe umbrellas are often used in backyards, home patios or cafes, ergo the name. Generally speaking, all outdoor umbrellas made for leisure and recreational uses can be grouped under the cafe umbrella range. Depending on the recreational requirements, you can buy beach umbrellas, bistro umbrellas, poolside umbrellas and so on.

Keep in mind that although positioned as an ideal recreational accessory, the use of a cafe umbrella at commercial outdoor spaces is not uncommon. You will often spot them on the tables of your favourite rooftop restaurant, at summer resorts near the pool and other similar spaces where lounging and dining take place together.

The design of a cafe umbrella

Cafe umbrellas can have any style, although the bell-shaped garden umbrella and the wood cafe umbrellas are wildly popular. Cafe umbrellas are typically used in conjunction with a table for stabilisation. Anadditional weight is sometimesadded to keep the umbrella straight; however, it is not essential, as the table brace offers significant stability and balance.

Just like the market umbrellas, the cafe umbrellas have an octagonal fabric that you can also buy in rectangular or square shapes.

With respect to their construction and design, both cafe and market umbrellas seem indistinguishable – the biggest reason why these terms are used interchangeably. Since the umbrella design is standardised, and most umbrellas are sold separately from the weight bases, the terms cafe umbrella and market umbrella have merged over time.

So, the next time you see a beautiful outdoor umbrella on a cafe or at a crafts market, observe and determine which umbrella it is. In the same way that a home kitchen has become indistinguishable from the commercial kitchen, the cafe and market umbrellas have merged over time.

How to buy a good outdoor umbrella?

Whetherit’s a cafe umbrella or a market umbrella, outdoor umbrellas are the perfect shade solutions in spaces without overhead roofs and awnings. Not just shade, they also add flair to the landscape. But how do you choose a good cafe umbrella?

  • Keep the landscape in mind – Before going shopping for an umbrella, assess the landscape. Don’t forget to measure your table if you are looking for an umbrella to cover it. Most outdoor tables come in standard sizes but your umbrella should cover the table without overpowering it. The same goes for your cart, kiosk or booth.
  • Mechanics – The conventional models use a simple pulley to open and close the umbrella and then secure it with a set of pin locks. Other elaborate models feature a crank or a push-button. Look at all options and then choosethe one that you’re most comfortable with.
  • Pick out a durable fabric –The fabric plays a vital role in making or breaking an umbrella. Your umbrella should be durable, lightweight, stain-proof and easily foldable. Choose one that offers high-quality, durable fabric that is weatherproof and low-maintenance.
  • Consider weather conditions –If you live in a windy area, go for a design that is made with more flexible materials, although we still recommend removing and folding up the umbrella if there’s going to be a storm.

Types of outdoor umbrellas

We’ve said that a cafe umbrella and a market umbrella are indistinguishable. But this doesn’t mean that you can buy a beach umbrella for your food cart and expect it to do the job. Below are some of the most popular styles:

  • Sunshades – These umbrellas are styled like round discs on a pole and usually provide shade to one person. You will find these at high-end hotels and poolsides.

  • Commercial – You must have seen them in your favourite diner’s patio area. These are generally octagonal and have vented tops.



  • Cantilever – These umbrellas do not get inserted within the table hole. Rather, their bases and poles are offset away from the shaded area. The best part? They can be adjusted as the sun moves.

  • Pagoda – These umbrellas are inspired by the Asian parasol-style umbrellas and feature a traditional pagoda-like shape.
  • Printed umbrellas – These are often used by marketers and advertisers at events, conferences and exhibitions. The fabric allows customised printing and logo emblazoning – a perfect way to offer shade at events while simultaneously promoting a business.

‘FLARE’ up your events with premium shade solutions

If you’re looking for a cafe umbrella for your home or a printed market umbrella for your roadside event, browse an extensive assortment of premium outdoor shade solutions at Flare Shade. Our range of outdoor umbrellas is engineered for high performance and designed for prolonged outdoor use. Our contemporary European design, robust engineering and high-quality printing ensure that a Flare Umbrella accentuates your outdoor setup. Get in touch with our customer success experts at 1300 970 400 or place your order online.