How to Maintain Your Thatch Patio Umbrella

When choosing which umbrella to install on your patio, chances are the aesthetic effect played about as much of a role as the price. We all want something that fits in with our personal style, that makes our back yard a place of sanctuary, or fun.. By choosing a thatch patio umbrella, you’ve brought something a little more tropical into your home environment. 

However, thatch patio umbrellas are rarely the lowest priced option. As such, you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure yours stands firm for years to come. The good news is, with some regular maintenance, you can keep your thatch umbrella a feature of your patio for longer than most other materials.   

1. Apply a protective coating

One of the positive attributes of your thatch patio umbrella is that it utilizes natural materials and design that have been used for centuries to keep people out of the path of rainfall and direct sunlight. Most options today use water reed as the thatching material, which has a limited natural water resistance. However, that doesn’t mean to say that it is immune to the effects of the elements. The design of thatching can mean that your umbrella may hold moisture in humid climates, or retain rain during particularly wet periods, meaning that it’s susceptible to rot, moss, and mold. One of the other key risks is that natural thatch is flammable. Once a year, it’s important that you apply a waterproof sealant and fire retardant coating. These are often separate products, but there are combination versions that protect from fire, water, mold, and algae on the market — these can retail around $90 for a gallon.If your umbrella is constructed from synthetic thatch materials, such as PVC, you generally don’t need to apply protection, as these have natural water and mold-repellent properties. Many are also coated in UV resistant spray to prevent fading in the sunlight.

2. Correctly install and store your umbrella

A thatch patio umbrella is a beautiful addition to any garden set up, but it’s not always something that you can just put up and leave year round. By doing a little research into how your umbrella is manufactured, you can gain an insight into what storage and installation precautions you should take.

  • Wind — If your thatch has been handwoven, it is likely to be able to withstand anything up to 50 mile per hour gusts if installed to a solid surface. If the weather forecast calls for anything over 50 mph, you’ll need to store it inside so it doesn’t fall over from the gusts of wind.
  • Runoff — If your umbrella has been created with natural thatch, there is a risk of runoff. This is where the water from the first rainfall on your umbrella collects, and drips onto your patio over a period of days, resulting in staining. This can be prevented during installation by hosing down the thatch twice a day for around 30 days, until water runs off the thatch cleanly.
  • Removal — There may be times that it’s necessary to remove your thatch patio umbrella. Unlike other styles, these are usually not designed to be quickly and easily folded away. Take care to remove each layer of the thatch umbrella cover, stacking it in a clear space to avoid damage from snagging and trampling. Be sure there is sufficient airflow around the thatching to prevent mold while in storage.

3. Rotate and Repair

Thatch patio umbrellas are naturally pretty hardy, but they’re by no means invincible. Over time, the thatching can sag in an unsightly manner. You may even find portions have become severely damaged due to the elements or family mishaps. Taking care of this can usually be done by anyone with a little DIY know-how.

The majority of thatch umbrellas are manufactured in a modular fashion; panels of thatch are fixed into sections around the circumference of the frame. Sagging can be mitigated by rotating the thatched panels a couple of times a year. Remove those on the bottom, and place them on the top, and move each upper layer on step lower. 

During your rotation procedure, inspect the panels for damage, mold, and wear. With moldy panels, a simple solution of water and bleach, carefully wiped down will do the trick. In the event of damage, most manufacturers will provide a few spare panels with the initial purchase, but these can usually be bought individually if you don’t have them to hand. However, be sure to apply the waterproof and fire retardant treatments to any new panels. 

Thatch Umbrella on Beach

4. Commit to Regular Pest Control

Many of us choose a thatch patio umbrella for its natural appearance and attributes. However, these same natural advantages can attract bugs. This can be particularly problematic in temperate climates. Wasps and hornets like to build their nests within the layers of various types of grass, and damp areas of thatching can be an attractive breeding ground for flies and lice. 

Be sure to commit to regular checks of your umbrella thatching, looking between each layer for any early signs of pest life. Nests and infestations should be taken care of quickly, but with care — if you come across bees it is a more environmentally-conscious approach to move them to another location rather than exterminate them. While there are home insecticide products on the market, it can be wise to seek treatment advice from a pest control expert for any significant or recurring problems.

Wrapping Up

Your thatch patio umbrella can bring some tropical spirit into your garden, and many can last well for upwards of 10-15 years. However, you must ensure you protect it from the elements, learn about correct installation and storage protocols, make regular spot repairs, and keep the pests at bay. A few simple, regular precautions can keep your umbrella fresh and serviceable for years to come.

People Also Ask…

How Do I Clean a Thatch Patio Umbrella?

Unlike regular patio umbrellas, thatch umbrellas can benefit aesthetically from a little patina here and there. However, it is important to keep them clean all the same.

  1. Gently vacuum or sweep between the layers of thatch to remove any loose dust and dirt.
  2. ​Mix a light cleaning solution with water. A mildew remove or light bleach can be sufficient here.
  3. ​Use a brush to gently clean each section of the thatching. Work from the top down, so that any dirty water runoff isn’t gathering in clean sections.
  4. ​Wipe down the frame and stem using warm water and a little detergent.
  5. ​Thoroughly rinse the thatching using a hose.
  6. Leave the umbrella to dry naturally in the heat of the sun.

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