Easy, Illustrated Instructions on How to Make a Concrete Patio Umbrella Stand
The problem with store-bought umbrella bases is that they are lightweight. Well, not actually lightweight, but light weight compared to what you actually need to hold a patio umbrella. Also, they are expensive.
Examining the problem, there are two distinctly different patio umbrella-holding scenarios: 1) through the middle of a table. 2) Freestanding.
The requirements for a patio umbrella which is supported by a table do not include being heavy. If the umbrella is supported halfway up the shaft by a 50 lbs. table, the umbrella is sufficiently supported without an umbrella stand at all.
On the other hand, if you would like to support an umbrella without the help of a table, you need a heavy umbrella stand. Like really heavy.
Presumably because patio umbrella stands are expensive to transport, it can be difficult to find one which is heavy enough to suit the needs of a stand-alone patio umbrella. I recommend making one yourself.
You will need a wheelbarrow and gloves. A garden hoe will help too. These are the steps:
- Find a bucket or plastic container
- Tape a rod to the bottom
- shovel cement into the bucket around the rod
- Let the cement dry
- Remove the rod
- Invert the plastic container to let the cement slide out
In my opinion, the most attractive umbrella stands are round, smooth and low to the ground. I found great shapes at hardware stores in the bucket aisle, in the garden section of Lowes, and in the housewares department at Target. There is a chance that the container will be ruined in the concrete process, so you can start with a disposible aluminum foil turkey pan from the Dollar store.
I decided on a serving bucket from Lowes. It looked like galvinized metal, but it was plastic. It was a 28 quart container, which, I was happy to find, held almost exactly two bags of mixed cement. If you don't trust your luck, measure the liquid volume of your container to estimate the amount of cement, and thus the weight of the finished project.
|Amount of cement needed
|# of 60 lbs. bags needed
|Resultant weight of patio umbrella holder
|1/4 cubic foot
|1/2 cubic foot
|3/4 cubic foot
|1 1/2 bags
|1 cubic foot
Next I carefully measured the rod on my patio umbrella. It was 1 3/8th inch diameter. I wanted my umbrella hole to be very close to this size, because I didn't want the umbrella to flop around in there, and I definitely didn't want to make the hole too small! Are we still talking about umbrellas?
One option is to use 2" PVC pipe as a sleeve, which remains embedded in the concrete. In my opinion, a 2" PVC pipe was too large for a 1 3/8" umbrella pole. Instead I used a piece of 1" pipe and wrapped it with a few layers of paper and masking tape to flesh it out to the correct size. The layers of paper would remain flexible after the concrete hardened, allowing me to pull the pipe out, leaving an unlined hole in the concrete umbrella base.
I carefully taped the rod to the bottom of the bucket. The rod had to be straight up, or the umbrella would be leaning in the final product. I was also careful not to slap too much tape on the bottom, as any bumps in the tape would be transferred to the hardened cement and be visible from the top of the finished project.
FInally, I sprayed the plastic tub with Pam cooking spray, to prevent the concrete from sticking to the mold. I could have wiped oil onto the plastic. I'm not sure this step is neccessary, but it seemed like a simple precaution.
Next it was time to mix some concrete. You kind of need a wheelbarrow for this job, although you could use a garbage can or a second heavy plastic tub.
Combine one bag of concrete with almost one gallon of water.
Mix it with a hoe, or a shovel. Mix it until all of the cement mix is wet. You have about 20 minutes until the cement starts uh, cementing, so work quickly.
Wet cement is like liquid sandpaper. It will rip up your hands if you try to handle it. Use gloves.
Use the shovel or a trowel to scoop the wet cement into the container. Be careful that you don't knock the center pipe off-center or loose. Tamp down the wet concrete as you go to avoid capturing any air bubbles. You particularly don't want air bubbles on the surface of the mold, where you'll be able to see them on the finished project.