What Is The Best Colour For A Sun Umbrella?

31 May 2022
If you are uncertain about what colour to choose for your new outdoor sun umbrella, and why some colours might be better than others, this article will shed some light on the best colours for shade

Choosing the canopy colour for an outdoor sun umbrella seems simple. For many people, colour preference is instinctive and strong, and will only change if the location could impact the colour choice. For example, imagine a white canopy under bird-populated, pollen-producing trees. But for some, deciding on the best colour for a quality sun umbrella that will last for many years can be stressful and confusing. While there is no ‘wrong’ answer, this article will explore what to consider when choosing the best colour for your new outdoor sun umbrella.

One question the Shade7 team is often asked, is “are dark colours hotter than light colours?”. The answer is both yes and no. Dark colours do conduct more heat, but umbrella canopies are usually over 2m above the ground. Seated people will almost never feel warmth from the canopy above, and dark colours cast a denser shade than light colours. On baking hot summer days, the relief in the shade of a dark-coloured umbrella is significant, and anywhere outside of the shade can be unbearable.


Light colours have a lovely resort kind of ambience, and whites and creams are especially popular in glamourous poolside locations. Light is reflected by light colours, and accordingly, a lot of the sun’s heat is deflected. But light colours are less opaque than dark colours and let more light through the fabric, which might be a strain on light-sensitive eyes, particularly if the outdoor area has white tile or concrete, for example. In tropical climates, it can feel hotter beneath a very pale canopy than beneath a dark canopy.

Venice 3.1 Oct Royal Blue on Beach

The UV protection variation between light and dark colours in Shade7’s premium Recasens acrylic canvas umbrella canopies is negligible. Across all colours, Recasens acrylic canvas is rated UPF 80, the highest possible rating according to European standards.


Charcoal R770 is the most forgiving colour for dust and dirt, and therefore also requires the least maintenance. The canvas is made of light and dark threads woven together, making dust and dirt virtually invisible, and casting a dense shade. Black, Navy, and other dark colours also cast a dense shade, but can accentuate pale dust and bird droppings. Dirt of any kind is visible on very pale colours. Closing umbrellas when they are not in use, and covering them with a cover bag, goes a long way towards keeping umbrellas looking like new, and greatly reduces the need to clean the canopy, as well as protecting the umbrella. If low maintenance and longevity are important, choose a colour that won’t readily show the dirt, and use a cover bag.

With black, white, and other neutral and timber tones being the prevalent exterior colour palette, neutral colours such as Charcoal and Ecru are the most popular canopy choices. But for some, also having outdoor living accessories in neutral colours feels like too much ‘sameness’. Outdoor sun umbrellas are the perfect vehicle to add a splash of vibrant colour to outdoor living spaces. Pairing or contrasting the umbrella canopy with soft furnishings and other outdoor décor creates wonderful ambience, especially for entertaining. In the same way that bright cushions and dinnerware can enhance neutral-toned lounge suites and dining tables, bright umbrellas can bring a lively, uplifting energy to cool or sombre-toned outdoor entertaining areas. An increasingly popular option is the dramatic effect of striped canopies. Stripes particularly lend themselves to the outdoor spaces of character homes such as villas, or boutique cafés. And if tastes change at a future time, in comparison to re-painting a house or replacing an entire lounge suite, changing the canopy of a sun umbrella can be a relatively inexpensive way to freshen up or transform an outdoor space.

When considering the durability of umbrella canopy colours, it is important to know that not all exterior fabric is made to withstand the harsh New Zealand sun. With fabric that is vulnerable to UV radiation, the fabric itself can break down, becoming brittle and tearing or fraying, or even prematurely sagging or rotting. But the most noticeable problem caused by our atmosphere is colour fade. Blacks can become a bland licoricey-brown, brilliant orange can fade to insipid apricot, with the most exposed areas so washed out that the open umbrella looks unevenly striped.

Shade7’s premium Recasens marine grade acrylic canvas, and O’Bravia polyester canopies, are solution-dyed. Solution-dyed means colour is in the liquid solution that will become thread and woven to create the canopy. Colour is part of the thread itself, not added to white thread later. This makes solution-dyed fabric exceptionally colour-fast and fade-resistant. Shade7’s premium solution-dyed Recasens acrylic canvas is rated 7-8 out of 8 for fading.

Orange Milan umbrella

Even in premium solution-dyed fabrics, it is worth noting that not all pigments have the same resistance to UV rays. The pigments of yellow, orange and red are more prone to fading. In this scenario, a yellow, orange or red Recasens acrylic canvas canopy would be rated 7 out of 8 for fading, with all other colours being the 8 out of 8. Closing sun umbrellas when not in use and covering them with a cover bag is the best way to ensure the canopy looks fantastic for many years, as well as avoiding wind-damage, and eliminating the kind of maintenance that canopies left open require. Umbrellas are all about relaxation and enjoying life. To keep an outdoor umbrella in the relaxation category, and not another item on the list of things to clean or repair, using a cover bag is simple solution, significantly reducing maintenance and extending the umbrella’s life.

Shade7’s range of strong, beautiful sun and cantilever umbrellas are on display in Shade7’s St John showroom. The Shade7 friendly and knowledgeable team will be delighted to help you to decide what colour canopy will best suit your unique outdoor space.

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