Patio - predrilled holes for shade umbrellas

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Old 06-04-15, 09:23 AM
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Patio - predrilled holes for shade umbrellas

I'm hiring a contractor to do some backyard landscaping and hardscaping, and he proposed predrilling some holes in the concrete for easy setup and removal of patio umbrellas. [We live in Southern California where there is lots of sun and lots of heat to take shade from.]

I like the idea from one perspective, because umbrella stands are a pain to store when the warmer seasons are over. They also do a lousy job of holding the umbrellas upright during windy weather; we've had all three umbrellas topple over in spite of their stands when we didn't have time to take them down first.

The biggest drawback is that the umbrella will lose at least 12-14 inches of height because what was formerly mounted on an above-ground stand is now sitting in a hole.

Some questions arise, and I'd appreciate some experience and guidance from others:

1) First, how deep should those holes be?

2) Without a screw to tighten, are the holes really as effective in holding an umbrella as a stand?

3) In order to regain the height, has anyone ever fabricated a transition piece out of steel or aluminum that has a male half that inserts into the hole and female half for the umbrella post?

Thanks for any advice!
 
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Old 06-04-15, 10:54 AM
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1. How deep depends on what they are going into. Many umbrella poles are aluminum or thin walled steel so they are not the strongest. I've made my own stands of steel and the socket is only 4" deep for the pole. When I accidentally hooked it with the tractor the pole kinked & bent over right above where it went into the socket so the socket was stronger than the pole.

2. I think the biggest problem will be if you tilt the umbrella. Without some way to fix the pole in place it can just pivot with the wind. Wedges driven between the pole and socket work pretty well to lock the pole in place but it's not convenient and it looks like a Band-Aid fix.

3. Yes, I've made extensions. I've even made curved ones so regular umbrellas can be mounted off vertical surfaces.
 
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Old 06-04-15, 04:21 PM
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Keep in mind if he cores holes, no matter how deep, they will fill up with crud over time, and will be a bear to clean out. Since you have the umbrellas that you like at the height you like, I would stick with above ground supports. I know, they are ugly.
 
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Old 06-04-15, 04:50 PM
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I'm also a little concerned about what's in them. If we have a slab that is a few inches thick, then the bottom parts of these holes will be buried in the clay, am I right? Not good after a few years.
 
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Old 06-04-15, 04:54 PM
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Who would one find in his community who can fabricate an extension? And are there thoughtful ways to do it?
 
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Old 06-04-15, 05:05 PM
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Having dirt as a bottom of the holes would be my concern, too. I would think your patio would only be 4" thick, not enough for support for the umbrellas.
 
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Old 06-04-15, 07:01 PM
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Unless he does something to form sockets I think simply boring holes in the slab would be almost useless. A deeper socket only helps if there is something down there to provide support.

Personally I would not do permenant sockets. I had the option when I did my patio a few years ago. Unless you turn your patio into Swiss cheese I can't imagine how there will be a socket where you need it. Furniture moves, extra chairs are added during parties. The stupid sun is constantly moving around.

I do agree that "normal" umbrella stands are almost useless. They are intended for use under a table for which they work great but on their own they topple over in a 10 mph breeze. I ended up getting 60+ pound umbrella bases with wheels. When I want pristine patio they can be rolled away. The wheels make them manageable to move as the sun wanders across the sky and their heavier than average weight holds them steady in most winds.
 
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