Umbrellas have been around for hundreds of years. The concept of a canopy held overhead to protect from rain or sun has evolved in a plethora of stick umbrellas, compact umbrellas and other specialty models. There are so many components that work together to ensure you stay protected from the elements. In this guide, we will explain all the parts of an umbrella, including some useful umbrella terminology.
The term 3-fold umbrella refers to the frame of a compact umbrella that folds into three parts. Therefore an 8-rib umbrella will have 24 folds. This design of frame allows the umbrella to reduce significantly in size when closed; for example, a 90cm canopy can reduce to just 30cm when closed allowing for easy storage. Folding umbrellas are also available in 2-fold, 4-fold or 5-fold designs.
The umbrella arc is a measure related to the canopy. It measures the distance around the curvature of the canopy so represents the amount of fabric that will cover the head and shoulders. A typical umbrella arc measurement is around 120cm or 47 inches.
An automatic umbrella is one that either opens automatically, or opens and closes automatically, activated by a button. When the button is pressed, the umbrella will open caused by springs or pressure from the ribs and stretchers. Only compact umbrellas have the possibility of an automatic close mechanism where the canopy snaps shut when the button is pressed for a second time. The shaft is then collapsed manually.
The bottom spring of the umbrella is located at the bottom of the shaft. It is a triangular shaped piece of metal that protrudes from the shaft to hold the runner firmly in place when the umbrella is closed. It is flat on the bottom edge to allow the runner to lock in place when the umbrella is folded closed. When the umbrella is to be opened, the bottom spring is pressed towards the shaft to allow the runner to pass by so the umbrella can be used.
The umbrella button is a feature of both compact and stick umbrellas. It is found on automatic umbrellas, usually integrated into the handle. It is used to open the umbrella in the case of an automatic opening umbrella and is used to both open and close the umbrella on an automatic open and close model.
The umbrella canopy is the fabric used to cover the umbrella ribs. Fabrics used include polyester, nylon, cotton or plastic, with most common fabric being polyester as it’s waterproof, durable and retain its shape whether wet or dry. A Teflon coating can also be applied to the canopy to give it further waterproof properties and to aid the removal of stains. The canopy could be a solid color, have a pattern, a picture or even be clear, it’s the opportunity for the owner to show off their personality.
The umbrella cap is found at the top of the umbrella just above the canopy. On a compact umbrella it is the last part at the top of the umbrella, on a stick umbrella it is not as the ferrule protrude beyond the cap. The function of the cap is to ensure water flows onto the canopy and not down the umbrella shaft.
A compact umbrella, sometimes known as a folding umbrella, travel umbrella or mini umbrella consists of a folding frame and collapsing shaft capable of folding down to a compact size. When closed, the length of the umbrella can vary from 15cm to over 45cm, however the average length is around 30cm.
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An umbrella with a double canopy has two layers of fabric that overlap to create vents between the fabric layers. The vents are designed to allow wind to blow through the layers to regulate pressure and help to avoid the canopy from turning inside out. A double canopy can extend the life of an umbrella as it reduces stresses on the frame.
Designer umbrellas typically emanate from fashion, jewelry or textile houses where the look and functionality are designed to reflect the look and personality of the brand. Often the canopy of the umbrella will be used as a canvas to create bold and colorful designs.
The umbrella diameter is a measure related to the canopy. It measures the canopy from one edge to the other. A typical umbrella diameter measurement is around 100cm or 39 inches.
An umbrella used by the doorman of a hotel, public building or other company. Doormen umbrellas are invariably stick-style umbrellas with a large canopy to protect customers and visitors as they arrive and depart. The canopy color will usually match the brand and associated colors of the company the doorman works for.
The term umbrella ferrule relates to stick-style umbrellas and depending upon the manufacturing process is either a ring or cap, usually made of metal which adds strength to the end of the umbrella that extends beyond the canopy. It prevents the end of the umbrella from splitting or wearing, and is an important aspect that prolongs the life of the umbrella.
The umbrella frame encompasses ribs and stretchers that form a structure upon which the canopy is sewn. Umbrella frames are usually made of metal, fiberglass or plastic, and can have between 6 and 24 ribs, with 8 ribs being the most common. The frame has fulcrum points and joints that allow the frame to collapse into the closed position to allow the umbrella to be carried more easily.
A flat umbrella is a type of compact umbrella that when closed has a narrow profile that allows the umbrella to be stored more easily. The flat profile is achieved by having a small number of ribs, usually six, that lay flat when the frame is collapsed; the typical height of a flat umbrella is just 4cm. Flat umbrellas are ideal for storing in a small compartment of a bag or a pocket.
Golf umbrellas are a style of stick umbrella with a large or extra-large canopy for use on the golf course or in fact for any sport or occasion. They can be manual open or automatic open and invariably have a straight handle rather than a hook handle so they can be easily placed in the player’s golf bag.
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The term gore refers to a tapering or triangular piece of cloth that makes up the canopy. With an 8 rib frame, there would be 8 pieces of cloth that are stitched together and attached to the frame.
The handle of an umbrella, used to hold the umbrella, is found at the base of the shaft and made of wood or plastic. Handles are usually straight or curved and vary in size greatly. Handles on compact umbrellas tend to be smaller to aid portability, handles on stick style umbrellas will usually be larger and often a hook design. Modern technology also allows for non-slip coatings to be applied to assist with grip.
A hook handle, sometimes known as a hooked, curved or J handle, found at the end of the shaft, can be constructed from wood or plastic. Curved in shape, it is most commonly found on stick umbrellas.
Long umbrellas are a style of stick umbrella. They have a continuous shaft and when closed usually have a length of between 100cm and 110cm which is at the upper end of the stick umbrella range. As a result of the long shaft, longer ribs can be used and they therefore have one of the largest canopy diameters of any umbrella. (Also see Golf Umbrella)
A manual umbrella is one that is opened and closed by hand without an automatic mechanism. To open the umbrella, the runner is manually lifted along the shaft and is held in place towards the top of the shaft by the top spring. The umbrella can then be manually lowered by pressing the top spring and sliding the runner down the shaft until the umbrella is fully closed.
Mini umbrellas, sometimes referred to as pocket umbrellas, are a type of compact umbrella. They have a folding frame and collapsing shaft capable of folding down to a very compact size and will usually have a length of less than 20cm when closed. As a result of their very compact size, they will usually have a smaller canopy diameter, perhaps as small as 80-90cm.
The notch of the umbrella is the ring towards the top of umbrella shaft where all the ribs come together and are held in place. It can be seen just below the canopy when looking from the underside of the umbrella and is usually made of plastic or metal.
Pocket umbrellas, sometimes known as mini umbrellas, are a style of compact umbrella designed to be small enough to fit into a large pocket, perhaps of a coat or jacket. They have a folding frame that can fold down to a very compact size assisted by a collapsing shaft that enables the umbrella to have a length of less than 20cm when closed. Due to their very small size, they invariably have a small canopy diameter.
Rainbow umbrellas available in stick and compact formats. They are characterized by having colorful canopies, usually with a different color between each rib. Each panel has a different color of the rainbow graduating through red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
The ribs of an umbrella are a component of the frame and play a crucial part in holding the canopy in place. They run between the notch and the tips, and are supported by stretchers that are connected to the runner. Ribs can be constructed from metal such as steel or aluminum, however can also be made of fiberglass or plastic. These materials allow the frame to be strong and flexible.
A frame will usually have 8 ribs; however the number can actually vary between 6 and 24. An even number of ribs add symmetry and balance to the frame. Ribs are one continuous piece on a stick umbrella; however, on a compact umbrella, they must be able to fold so they are made up of several parts that pivot to allow the umbrella to collapse down to a small size.
Rivets are used within the frame of the umbrella to connect ribs to stretchers on a stick umbrella, and to connect folding parts of the frame on a compact umbrella. They allow the ribs and stretchers to pivot, allowing the umbrella to open and close.
The runner of an umbrella is the ring that moves up and down the shaft that allows the ribs to fully extend as the umbrella is opened and contract when the umbrella is closed. On a stick umbrella, as the umbrella opens, it causes the stretcher and ribs to move from the vertical position to a more horizontal position, allowing the stretchers to hold the ribs firmly in place when locked towards the top of the shaft. On a compact umbrella, as it ascends the shaft, it causes the ribs to unfold and pushes them outwards to their open position.
The umbrella shaft connects the frame to the handle. It is usually made out of wood, metal, fiberglass or plastic. Stick umbrellas have a continuous solid shaft thus offering a strong core to the umbrella, it is usually cylindrical in shape. Compact umbrellas usually have a metal telescopic shaft capable of collapsing in one or two places. Compact umbrella shafts are often hexagonal in shape as this adds strength.
Shaft Ball Spring
The shaft ball spring is a feature of telescopic umbrellas that allows the shaft to collapse in one or more places. This feature is a retractable ball connected to a spring that when deployed allows the telescopic shaft to lock into position. It allows the shaft to be fully extended and held firm while the canopy is open. When the umbrella is to be closed, the ball spring retracts too allow the shaft to collapse and shorten for storage.
The umbrella slipcover is the protective cover used to store the umbrella when in the closed position. It is invariably the same color as the umbrella canopy and is a great way of keeping the umbrella clean and safely stowed.
A stick umbrella, sometimes known as a walking umbrella or golf umbrella, is made of one continuous shaft and has a length of between 80cm and 110cm when closed. They usually have a larger canopy arc and diameter when compared to a compact umbrella.
Umbrella stretchers are a feature of a stick umbrella frame. Made of metal, fiberglass or plastic, they connect the ribs to the runner of the umbrella. As the runner moves up the shaft, it causes the stretchers to extend outwards, they then place pressure on (or stretch) the umbrella ribs so they stand firm and form the arc of the open umbrella.
An umbrella tip can be found at the end of each rib, made of metal or wood. They add a cap to the end of each rib and include a hole so that the canopy can be sewn through the tip to hold the canopy firmly in place at the end of each rib.
The tip cup on an umbrella is found just above the handle. It is a hollow cylindrical component that allows for the umbrella tips to be stowed away safely when the umbrella is folded and closed. It is usually the same diameter as the umbrella handle; however, it is wider than the shaft to allow a sufficient gap for the umbrellas tips to fit. The tip cup can also add to the appearance of the umbrella, often giving an eye-catching design feature to the handle.
The top spring of the umbrella is located towards the top of the shaft. It is a feature of manual-open umbrellas and is the triangular shaped piece of metal that protrudes from the shaft to hold the runner in place when the umbrella is open. It is flat on the top edge to allow the runner to rest on top easily and is connected to a spring to allow it to hold firm. When the umbrella is to be closed the top spring is pressed towards the shaft to allow the runner to pass by so the umbrella can be closed.
An umbrella with a vented canopy has two layers of fabric that overlap, thus creating a vent between the two layers. The vent is designed to allow wind to move through the layers, thus regulating pressure and helping to prevent the canopy from flipping inside out. Such a design can extend the life of an umbrella as it reduces stresses on the frame.
A walking umbrella is a style of stick umbrella that can also be used as a walking stick or to aid balance. This style of umbrella has a strong shaft to give strength while walking and a handle that can be easily gripped to aid balance. The handle is typically perpendicular to the shaft and easy to grip. The ferrule is very important to a walking umbrella as it is the only part of the umbrella that touches the ground, it will be strong and made of a non-slip material to ensure the umbrella has stability.
The word windproof specifically refers to the frame of an umbrella. It means that the frame is designed to flex and may flip inside out; however crucially, it will then return to normal without breaking. Therefore windproof frames are typically stronger than other non-windproof frames. There is sometimes a misunderstanding that the word windproof means the umbrella will not flip inside out and will stay firm in any wind strength; this is incorrect, a windproof frame is designed to flip to save the frame from breaking.
A wind-resistant umbrella has a frame that can more easily withstand gusts of winds. It has superior components within the frame that are made to a higher specification including the ribs, stretchers and rivets.
The wrist strap on an umbrella is usually found on compact models and is attached to the handle. Made of nylon, polyester or elastic, it allows the umbrella to be secured to the wrist to aid holding the umbrella when open or carrying the umbrella when closed.
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