KFC commercial umbrella by Versatile Structures

Fixed and moveable commercial umbrellas: what’s the difference?

 Jamie Howard      In

This article will focus on fixed commercial umbrellas as apposed to moveable umbrellas and shade structures.

As is the case with most shade structures, commercial umbrellas come in all shapes, sizes and colours as well as can be made to withstand super high winds of over 100km/h and, provide not only protection from the sun but also the rain.

Before listing all the different materials, styles and features it is important to first have a clear understanding of what your needs are.


Questions to ask yourself about commercial umbrellas

  • How large of an area do you need shade?
  • Would you like the structure to provide rain shelter?
  • Does the canopy of the shade structure need to be collapsed and expanded?
  • What wind rating would you like the commercial umbrella to withstand?


Different types of umbrellas

The term “Umbrella” comes from the Latin word “umbra” meaning shaded or shadow. There are many options of umbrella like a cantilever or sidepost umbrella or a designer umbrella like the Vypar which can give a really nice artistic flair to an area.


A Vypar umbrella providing sun protection

Café series umbrella

The Café series umbrella is also sometimes referred to as the market umbrella. Instead of getting a moveable umbrella that is either thrown over by a gust of wind or constantly being moved by patrons, consider getting a fixed umbrella. It can create the same intimate look for your venue with less of the hassle.

You or your team don’t have to constantly worry that a gust of wind is going to topple over tables and hit someone in the head. The umbrellas are high off the ground so no need to duck as you squeeze in under the umbrella.

We can also ensure there won’t be awkward umbrella bases that your patrons need to avoid tripping over.


Beer garden commercial umbrella by Versatile Structures

Cantilever Umbrellas

Cantilever umbrellas are also known as Side Post Umbrellas

Cantilever umbrellas have the main post mounted to one side of the canopy. This allows you to utilise the maximum amount of shade from the canopy without having to navigate your way around a centre post which can either block a view or block eye contact when sitting at a table. Cantilever umbrellas have the option to rotate and, in some cases, tilted to block out a harsh afternoon sun.


Areas that are well suited to commercial umbrellas

Commercial umbrellas are very versatile and can be installed as a single option as well as a phalanx of umbrellas in an array of patterns. Below are some suggested areas

  • Cafes, restaurants and pubs
  • Beer gardens
  • Resorts
  • Footpath and street frontage areas
  • Schools and child care centres
  • Aged care facilities
  • Apartment rooftops and common areas


Commercial umbrellas fabrics

There is a vast array of colours to choose from however colour options are dependent on variables such as size, the ability to provide rain protection as well as the quantity of shade you want to provide. By using thinner and thicker shade fabric weaves we can determine how much or how little sun you want to allow through.

For instant 100% Acrylic fabric colours are some of the most advanced providing 99% sun block, offer water resistance, fade resistance, UV ray reflective, mould and mildew resistant. If you are after some more designer colours Serge Ferrari offers the 502 architectural PVC colours. For heavy duty commercial umbrellas


Serge Ferrari colour range



Certain shade structure fabrics lend themselves to be digitally printed on, making them perfect for corporate branding. A great way to reduce the cost of the installation could be to offer a supplier the option of branding the umbrellas. For example, if you have a beer garden one of the beer suppliers could pay for or towards the umbrellas in the beer garden for the opportunity to have their logo printed on the commercial umbrellas.


Permanent / Structural Umbrellas

This article is dedicated to permanent structural umbrellas even though there are some good sturdy umbrellas with a heavy base to hold them in place. Structural umbrellas however are next level, nothing beats a custom-made umbrella that has been specifically engineered to meet your needs as well as your clients. Providing benefits like:

  • Huge range of colour options
  • 100% UV protection
  • Waterproof
  • Able to withstand wind gusts of 150km/h
  • Huge range of sizes
  • Various styles like square, octagonal, scalloped or straight valances



From the list of various shade structure options, the number of umbrellas you are looking for as well as sizes pricing will vary significantly however for a single umbrella budget around $5,000 this price will come down as the volume increases.

If you require advice it is best to contact one of our shade specialists who can review your particular circumstances and then provide tailored advice according to your needs.



  • Versatile Structures Headshots

    Jamie Howard - Director

    Co-founder and Director Jamie has been hands-on in the shade and steel industry since leaving school. With over 15 years’ experience in shade, membrane and steel projects, Jamie is excited about the design opportunities shade structures offer in the commercial and industrial sectors. Jamie’s extensive design skills give him a competitive edge in situations with technical design complexity. He has won two personal industry awards for his designs, alongside many company-won awards.