Umbrella Facts

Check out this page to get the answers to everything that you ever wanted to know about umbrellas (and more). Then check out our different umbrella categories to see which is the right umbrella for you.Info Logo

Click on the questions listed below to go straight to the answer

UV Protection & Umbrellas

Umbrellas can protect you from more than just the rain. They can also protect you from the damaging rays of the sun. Today's, sun umbrellas offer far more protection than yesterday's parasols. They now provide a virtually impenetrable barrier to the sun. If you have sun sensitivity, rosacea or are just concerned about skin damage, using a sun umbrella can make all the difference.

The best type of umbrella for sun protection:

  1. Exterior surface color is reflective like silver
  2. Interior surface color is dark and non-reflective (for reducing UV reflections)
  3. Has two tier structure built in so the wind blows thru it (for wind proofing)
  4. Is lightweight and water resistant
  5. Has air Ventilation built into the umbrella
  6. Has the widest diameter (minimum 3 feet for handheld)

Tips & Warnings

  1. Clear PVC type umbrella will not offer any protection against the sun
  2. For severe cases of sun sensitivity or allergy, look for UV clothing that can protect every inch of your body from UV rays.
  3. Use sunblock in conjunction with sun umbrellas. UV rays can bounce up from the pavement, sand, water or snow (virtually any surface). You may be protected from above by an umbrella, but not from below.
  4. Buy a travel-sized folding sun umbrella to take with you on the go. Usually around 40 inches in diameter, these umbrellas do not provide maximum protection, but they are sufficient to cover your upper body and face, and they are certainly better than no coverage.
  5. Unfortunately, textiles usually do not provide enough protection as of yet to prevent melanomas from developing. If you have a history of malignant melanomas, don't rely on sun umbrellas to protect you fully. Avoid extended time in the sun altogether.

It is well documented that using any form of umbrella will reduce your exposure to harmful UV radiation, see this Reuters report.

To find out more about being Sun Smart and the risks of UV radiation in New Zealand click on the this link to the NZ SunSmart website.

Parts of an Umbrella

Parts of an umbrellaCanopy

(also: cover) This is the fabric with which the umbrella is covered, and is usually polyester. This is because polyester doesn’t change when stretched out in both wet and dry states. Used as well, however, are both nylon and cotton. In addition, plasticised fabrics and clear PVC are employed.


(also: gilt cap) The cap rests above the notch on top of the umbrella canopy, and serves to divert water from the ferrule onto the canopy. In this way it prevents water from running down along the shaft. For further improving the impermeabilty in this area, a rosette made of the same fabric as the canopy is often situated between the canopy and the cap.


Almost all umbrella fabrics today are coated with Teflon. This renders the umbrella rainproof, and the fabrics are for the most part protected against soiling. The coating itself is not visible. The colours of the materials are maintained and the fabric retains its soft touch.


This is a push-button release system used on auto opening/closing models for opening the umbrella, and then closing it in the same fashion. After closing, the umbrella must be further pressed in by hand to create the required tension for the opening operation. Check our our amazing range of Galleria folding umbrellas.


If a long umbrella is used for walking support it can be made slip-proof on flat surfaces by slipping on a ferrule made of rubber onto the end of the shaft. Wooden shafted umbrellas have a ferrule made of tough plastic, and very high-end umbrellas have a ferrule made of horn. All good long umbrellas have a ferrule made of slip-preventing nylon, which also prevents the umbrella from clattering when it’s set on the floor.

Flat umbrellas

On these pocket umbrellas the notch is formed such that when it is retracted the ribs pack flatly together. The umbrella doesn’t become smaller in this manner, but in some situations it is easier to put away (into a coat pocket, for example).


This includes all parts of the umbrella except the canopy and the handle. The 10-piece (more stable) or 8-piece variations refer to the number of ribs. Generally 8-piece frames are used for long and pocket-sized umbrellas. For mini-maxi pocket products 6-piece frames are also used.

Golf umbrellas

These are oversized umbrellas with rib lengths of 67 cm to 75 cm. They have a straight handle in order to fit cleanly among golf clubs in a golf bag. The handles can also fit into an adaptor which fastens them to a golf caddy. Check our our range of windproof Golf umbrellas.



This is the name for the individual fabric segments used in the canopy. Usually these are printed separately and carefully stitched together. A good example of this style would be our Rainbow design umbrellas

Long umbrellas

(also: regular) These are all umbrellas which are not telescoping or folding. The term is most often used for women’s umbrellas. The canopies of long umbrellas are slightly larger than those of the pocket-sized products. The majority of the umbrellas on this website are in this category.

Mini-Maxi umbrellas

Small pocket umbrellas whose shafts are telescoping in a number of stages, and whose ribs can be folded likewise in a number of stages. Check out our Mini-Maxi range of Folding umbrellas.


This is the middle of the umbrella canopy at which point the ribs are attached with the connecting wire, and as such is the nexus point of the umbrella. The notch itself is attached directly to the shaft. Today notches are almost exclusively made of plastic, while extremely high-quality handcrafted umbrellas have notches made of metal.


The ribs are the parts of the umbrella which support the canopy. They are connected to the shaft through the runner and the notch. Materials used include steel, fibreglass, aluminium, and even bamboo. The stability of the umbrella is determined to a large extent by the strength, material, and form of the ribs.


Rivets are used to hold together and keep mobile the individual parts of the rib. The rivet functions in this regard like a wheel axle. The rivets absorb a tremendous amount of pressure and must be very precisely made. This is achieved best with rivets which are solid, non-rusting, and made of brass. Simple umbrellas have hollow rivets whose rims are merely crimped.


Both automatic umbrellas as well as the manual-lift umbrellas are opened and closed by moving the runner along the shaft.


(also: stick) The shaft is the piece on which the handle sits and to which the frame is attached. Shafts can be made of steel or fibreglass, aluminium, carbon fibre, cane, and of course wood.


Automatic umbrellas have an extremely strong spring which opens the umbrella by pressing the shaft and ribs out from each other. The unusual aspect of automatic springs is that the spring and its pressure point move together in the same direction. In duomatic umbrellas a combination of rubber drawstrings embedded in the shaft and spiral springs is employed.

Top pin

This pin is located on the upper part of the umbrella shaft and prevents the umbrella from being raised too high and turning inside-out.


In some golf umbrellas the ventilation principle is applied in order to better protect the large canopy against strong winds. In the face of strong wind gusts, part of the canopy rises and allows built-up pressure to be relieved via a series of vents. This type of umbrella is virtually impervious to being blown inside-out.


(also: wind-resistant) "Windproof" and similar terms means that an umbrella can be restored to its normal position after being blown inside-out by a strong gust of wind. "Windproof" does not, however, mean that the particular umbrella will continuously withstand this process. Many of the umbrellas on this website are classified as "windproof".

How to Care for an Umbrella


Always allow your umbrella to fully dry before storing. If you fold it while it is still wet, mildew can form causing staining and odor. Whilst umbrella frames are plated to make them rust resistant, they are susceptible to rust if left closed while wet for more than 24 hours. Rusting frames will also mark the fabric of the canopy. Store the umbrella in a garage or basement over night for proper drying. Otherwise, leave it open and propped on one side. Inadequate drying is the main cause of defective umbrellas.


Clean your umbrella according to the care instructions provided on the label or packaging. Otherwise, simply spot clean with a washcloth and warm water. Do not use detergents to clean the fabric they can damage the waterproofing coating within the fabric. Cleaners can also cause discoloring.

Fit For Purpose

Remember that a rain umbrella is not a beach umbrella. Umbrellas designed for use in the rain are likely to sustain damage after prolonged use in the sun. Also a Sun Parasol is not waterproof and getting it wet is likely to stain the cotton fabric. Also take care when opening automatic umbrellas as they can pop open with a sudden movement catching you (and perhaps others around you) off-guard.

WindWind Damage

Use care during particularly windy weather conditions. A strong gust of wind can be damaging to an umbrella if it catches the umbrella and forces it to bend in the opposite direction. To reduce this risk, carry your umbrella facing into the wind. If it does blow inside out, turn into the wind and release the catch in the normal way. If it is a “windproof” umbrella follow the instructions provided with the umbrella to reset it.


Follow the natural creases of the umbrella when folding it. While your temptation may be to crumple the umbrella into a storable manner as quickly as possible, it is best to return the umbrella to it's original position. Proper storing will prevent any bending of the spokes or awkward creasing in the fabric.

Interesting Umbrella Facts

UmbrellaSome you may not know!

  • The word umbrella comes from the Latin word "umbros" which means shade or shadow.
  • The first use of simple sun protecting umbrellas (parasols) comes from 3-4 thousand year old Egypt and Assyria. The exact time when parasols from natural materials (palm leaves) were made is not known, although scientists speculate they were used since the dawn of human civilization.
  • During its first thousand years of life, parasols were viewed as a symbol of wealth and power. Many civilizations practiced the tradition of showcasing exotic and complex made parasols for their rulers.
  • The first waterproofed umbrellas were created in ancient China, over 3 thousand years ago. Many Asian rulers showcased their might with multi-tiered parasols that sometimes had up to 20 levels of protection.
  • From around 1000 BC to 400 AD, small and foldable parasols (in their design almost identical to modern umbrellas) represented one of the fashion accessories of females in Greece and Rome.
  • Modern day widespread acceptance of umbrellas started to spread across Europe in middle of 18th century. Up until that point, umbrellas were viewed as a female fashion accessory.
  • The first man who publicly carried an umbrella was Englishman Jonas Hanway. His influence finally introduced the umbrella to the male population of England, and soon after entire world.
  • Modern day umbrellas are strikingly similar in their design to the models that were used in ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Technological advancements of 20th century enabled the creation of mechanisms and materials that are integral part of modern umbrellas.
  • Currently there are many types of umbrellas on the market - traditional, automatic, compact, bubble, storm and crutch umbrellas (they can serve as a walking stick or cane).
  • Umbrellas represent an important part of modern fashion.
    Umbrella Model Umbrella
  • Umbrellas have featured in many Grand Masters works of art. They can also be seen in many modern day works of art and are even used in some memorable product promotions.
  • Umbrellas have found their way into many new areas of modern life, for example as a decoration for exotic cocktails and drinks.
  • Umbrellas have found a use in modern photography as a light reflector. Not to mention an important prop for many a nude model.
  • Modern day umbrellas are coated with Teflon, which makes their canopy waterproof.
  • The majority of modern umbrellas are made in China.
  • One city in China (Shangyu) has over a thousand umbrella factories.
  • Umbrellas can be used as offensive and defensive weapons. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to start using a Kevlar coated umbrella as a part of his security measures.
  • Umbrellas can be used offensively as a weapon, or its shaft can effectively hide a secret blade. Modern security agencies are known to modify umbrellas for their secret purposes. For example, Bulgarian president Georgi Markov was assassinated in 1978 by KGB agent who carried deadly poison in his modified umbrella.
  • Many religions adopted umbrellas and parasols as a part of their ceremonies and processions.
    Umbrellas Umbrellas
  • During the 19th century, European fashion demanded that umbrellas must be held in the middle of their shaft, with the handle pointing toward the ground. English nobility preferred umbrellas made from blue or green silk.
  • Steel ribbed umbrellas were invented in 1852 by Samuel Fox.
  • The first working "folding umbrella" was introduced in 1969 by Bradford Philips.
  • Over 33 million umbrellas are sold in the United States each year.

© 2016 Dollys Brollys. All Rights Reserved.
All prices unless otherwise indicated are inclusive of GST