How to Dye a Patio Umbrella


A patio umbrella is a necessity for outdoor dining and enjoying sunny days. Many patio umbrellas are just plain ugly, to put it bluntly, and don't go with the rest of your patio decor. Whether it's a brand new natural canvas umbrella or a hand-me-down nylon model with an unappealing color theme, there are crafty fixes for each.

Things You'll Need

  • Patio umbrella
  • Fiber reactive dye
  • 6 to 8 cups non-iodized salt
  • 2 cups soda ash (sodium carbonate)
  • Small bowl
  • Washing machine
  • Large stirring utensil (optional)
  • Dropcloth
  • Towel
  • Fabric paint
  • Applicator brush

Dyeing A Canvas Patio Umbrella

  • Remove the canvas from the umbrella frame. Wash in a washing machine on a hot cycle to remove any dirt or stains. Remove and set aside.

  • Fill washing machine to medium load with hot water. Add salt and dye per dye manufacturer recipe, and agitate or stir until dissolved.

  • Place your umbrella fabric in the machine, and agitate for 20 minutes without letting the cycle drain or adding more water. Do this by toggling the machine on and off or leaving the machine off and stirring by hand with a utensil such as a large wooden spoon.

  • In a small bowl mix soda ash with hot tap water. Add this mixture to the water at 5-minute intervals while stirring or agitating. Be careful to not pour the mixture directly onto the fabric.

  • Agitate for 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the desired depth of color. Set the machine to complete the rinse cycle.

  • Run a full wash cycle using a mild detergent to remove any excess dye. Remove your umbrella fabric from the washing machine, and lay it flat to air dry.

Painting a Patio Umbrella

  • Remove fabric from the umbrella frame, and wash in a washing machine to remove dirt. Use a cold water cycle so as not to warp plastic or nylon fibers. Remove and lay it flat to dry, or wipe dry with a towel.

  • Prepare your work space by laying out a dropcloth or work outdoors. Lay umbrella fabric flat.

  • If you plan to make intricate designs on your patio umbrella, create your own stencils or sketch your ideas onto the umbrella using a pencil. Take this opportunity to arrange your designs to your liking before applying the paint.

  • For a solid color, apply the paint with a brush in even strokes, moving with the direction of the fiber weave. Apply as many coats as desired, letting each dry thoroughly. When working with intricate designs, apply an even base color, and allow it to dry before painting the details.

  • Allow the paint to dry completely before reattaching to the umbrella frame or turning the fabric over to paint the underside.

Tips & Warnings

  • You must paint plastic or nylon mesh umbrellas because the synthetic fibers will not absorb dyes. Canvas can be dyed or painted, depending on your desired look.
  • When working with large swaths of material such as patio canvas, it is best to use a fiber reactive dye as other pre-mixed dyes may not offer the best result.

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