Types and Craftsmanship of Umbrella Cloth
Umbrellas are a practical accessory that most of us use on a regular basis. While the umbrella’s collapsible canopy is its most visible component, the fabric that makes up the canopy is arguably the most important part. The cloth plays a critical role in an umbrella’s ability to repel water and withstand wind. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of fabrics used in umbrella canopies and the craftsmanship that goes into making them.
Types of Umbrella Cloth
Most umbrella canopies today are made from synthetic fabrics that are water-repellent and quick-drying. The most common types are:
- Polyester: This is the most widely used umbrella fabric. It’s durable, waterproof, affordable and easy to care for. Polyester does not absorb water so umbrellas dry quickly after use.
- Nylon: Known for its strength, nylon is often blended with polyester to make umbrella fabric. The resulting cloth is extremely tear-resistant. Nylon also dries fast.
- Acrylic: Acrylic is a budget-friendly alternative to polyester. It resists water but is not as durable over the long term. Acrylic umbrella fabric tends to wear out faster compared to polyester or nylon.
- Micro-weave fabrics: These tightly woven fabrics made of nylon or polyester are more expensive but provide superior wind resistance. Umbrellas made with micro-weave fabric are best suited for stormy, windy weather.
- Vinyl: Vinyl coated fabrics are waterproof and inexpensive but they tend to fade, crack and peel over time. Vinyl umbrellas are mainly used as disposable, temporary options.
While synthetic cloths dominate thanks to their practical properties, some luxury umbrellas still use natural fabrics like cotton, linen or silk. However, natural fabrics are rarely waterproof on their own – they need coatings or specialized treatment to repel water.
Umbrella Cloth Craftsmanship
Creating water-repellent, weather-resistant umbrella fabrics takes precision and skill. Here are some of the key techniques used:
- Tightly woven fabrics: The density of the weave has a direct impact on how waterproof the cloth will be. Tighter weaves leave less space for water to seep through. Specialized looms are used to achieve extra-tight micro weaves.
- Waterproof coatings: Fabrics are treated with silicone, acrylic or Teflon coatings to prevent water absorption. These coatings seal the pores in the cloth. However, coatings can wear off over time so reproofing is needed.
- UV resistant finishing: UV rays can accelerate fabric deterioration. Umbrella cloths are treated with UV blocking chemicals to make them more sun-proof. This helps retain color and strength.
- Canopy waterproofing: Umbrella canopies usually have double layers. The inner lining provides extra waterproofing while the outer layer protects against abrasion. Some umbrellas feature ventilation flaps between the layers to allow condensation to escape.
- Sturdy seams: Seam allowance and binding techniques are used to create tightly sealed, reinforced seams that don’t leak. Special seam tapes also prevent wicking and leakage.
- Ribs and stretchers: The cloth needs to be securely attached to the umbrella’s ribs and stretchers. Customized designs allow the fabric to flex without tearing away from the frame.
Popular Umbrella Brands and Their Fabrics
Now let’s look at five major umbrella brands and the fabrics typically used in their products:
- Totes – Known for durability, Totes umbrellas are made using heavy duty polyester or vinyl fabrics. Their clear bubble umbrellas showcase waterproof vinyl.
- Crown Coast – This brand uses lightweight polyester canopies with weatherproof acrylic coatings. The umbrellas come in many colorful designs.
- GustBuster – Specializing in wind-resistant umbrellas, GustBuster features trademarked Fortis and Tru-Flex fabrics which are made of resin-coated polyester micro-weave.
- Senz – Their cleverly designed umbrellas use a durable nylon canopy with acrylic coating. This allows more compact folding.
- Davek – Investing in craftsmanship, Davek offers high-end umbrellas made with premium Teflon coated polyester or micro-weave fabrics. The seams are hand-welded.
From versatile polyester to ultra wind-proof micro-weaves, umbrella fabrics run the gamut from basic to high-tech. While the exact fabric composition varies by brand, the construction always focuses on waterproofing, durability and flex. When buying an umbrella, look closely at the canopy material to determine which one matches your needs and style. A quality umbrella combines sturdy cloth with sturdy craftsmanship.