Patio umbrellas are the unsung heroes of the outdoor patio furniture world. These not only soak up the harmful rays of the sun but also keep bird poop away from us. Unfortunately, patio umbrellas’ material fades as it ages in the sun and collects unsightly marks and stains from dirt, dust, and bird droppings. The good news is that we know just how to revive your patio umbrella to its former beauty.
In order to best know how to dye a faded patio umbrella, you first need to determine what fabrics and materials you will be working with as this will then determine which paints will be best suited to the material. The most popular material used for patio umbrellas is acrylic fabrics. Harder-wearing canvas is also used, but these are found only on luxury and high-end patio umbrellas. Other materials used for patio umbrellas include solid vinyl, vinyl mesh, and specialty materials such as faux straw or thatch styles for commercial products. All patio umbrellas are treated with water-repellent coatings during their manufacture and weaving processes to protect them from the elements, and a further layer of clear coat is applied to the materials once they are completed. These clear coats work in the same ways as a polish: they seal in the water-repellent chemicals and also serve as sunblock for the material to prevent fading.
The reason your patio umbrella fades is that Mother Nature’s elements and bird poop are far stronger over time than the patio umbrella’s fabric’s clear coat. You might be wondering whether the easiest and best way to dye a patio umbrella is to remove its fabric top and simply wash it in water with dye, as you would for other fabrics. Unfortunately, due to the properties of the acrylic fabrics, this would take several washes and many gallons of dye to achieve a successful restoration. It simply isn’t feasible to hand-wash the patio umbrella’s fabric with dye either. Your solution would be to take it to a professional dyer, but that also won’t suffice.
Simply put, patio umbrellas are not made with dyeable materials. The reason is that these fabrics are treated to repel water. It would be challenging to dye this fabric as the dye won’t sufficiently bond with the material. If a patio umbrella were made of 100 percent cotton, they could then easily be dyed and a person could even tie-dye their umbrellas into weird and wonderful designs. The acrylic fibers will also only be able to be dyed with dyes that are light-resistant – this means that they will become damaged by the sunlight. The dye will likely fade within a few days after exposure to the sun – and then you’ll be back where you started.
The use of outdoor paint and a roller paint brush might seem like the logical solution to this problem. However, those paints are actually very heavy and thick in their structure. While they are water-proof and can withstand the sun’s rays for a number of years these outdoor paints don’t absorb into the fibers of the fabric, but instead they cake the layers and weaves together. Once that paint has dried, it will make the umbrella fabric very heavy and dense and will not feature the heat-absorbing qualities your umbrella did previously. The paint will most likely not manage the effects of wind on the flapping fabric and people who’ve painted their umbrellas in this way have found that the paint begins to crack in places when the temperatures rise and flake off in some areas. Once more, you’ll be back where you started sooner than you think.
So, how do you restore a faded patio umbrella? That can be effectively achieved with spray paint.
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Tools and Materials Required For This Job
• spray paint (indoor/outdoor spray paint works fine, but outdoor spray paint is recommended): you will require about 1 can of spray paint per 2 feet of umbrella material
• spray paint can gun
• painter’s tarp or canvas (or newspaper)
• painter’s tape
• soft-bristle brush
• fabric protectant spray
Remove the umbrella from its stand. It would be best to place the umbrella’s top on the floor to get a better grip of the material and to reach all areas of the fabric top. With your soft-bristle brush, scrub all dirt, bird droppings, and other debris off the fabric as well as you possibly can manage.
If the bird poop leaves marks on the fabric, you can remove those stains. If your umbrella’s fabric is canvas, you can simply drop the material into your washing machine for a cold cycle to clean it.
Remove the umbrella top from its frame. Then, place the umbrella top onto the painter’s tarp or canvas (or, you can lay it on top of newspaper) and then use the painter’s tape to cover up any fittings or parts of the umbrella top you’d not like to be painted.
After spreading the umbrella top out, you can prep it for spray painting by sticking its sides down to the newspaper or tarp.
This is the part where you’ll begin spray painting your umbrella’s top. Where do you buy spray paint? Your local auto shop or DIY store will have a large selection for you to choose from. The secret is to choose a paint color as close to the original as possible. It is best to work in patterns: start from the center of the umbrella and work down in pie-shapes and be sure to make even strokes with the spray painting gun.
Once you’ve covered the entire area of the umbrella, allow it to air dry for 15 minutes or so before applying the second coat. However, for the second coat it is important to spray the paint in a different pattern: work your way from the outside to the center in straight lines.
This is because the spray paint won’t cover everything evenly and you want to reach all areas. If you want a deeper color, add more coats until you’re satisfied.
Allow the umbrella to dry completely for around 24 hours – and bring indoors at night to remain dry.
Replace the umbrella fabric with its frame. You can then spray a coating of fabric protectant to improve its water-repellent properties.
Your umbrella will look as good-as-new after this process and it will last you a number of seasons before you will need to repeat the job.
It is possible to restore your faded patio umbrella to its former color with spray paint. It might take a few coats to achieve the color depth you desire, but with spray paint cans costing $1 each, you will still be paying far less than you would for a tin of paint.
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