***See Update below to find out how this technique lasted***
We’ve had our black canvas outdoor umbrella for about five years. During most of that time we did not have a garage or anyplace to store it for the winter and the constant exposure has caused the black to slowly fade to gray. Surprisingly, though, it’s still in good shape with only a few small holes at the top thanks to birds who like to hang out there. It’s surprising because I found a really good deal on this- I paid $40 for it and it’s an easy to open hand-crank design instead of the cheaper wooden pulley system.
This season, though, I could no longer ignore it:
The umbrella was no longer just gray, but a washed-out gray that contrasted dramatically with the black underside (what you don’t see, though, is the green moldy stripes that were also on top – I threw it in the washer and laid it out to dry first and it came out looking great!). Since the underside was still black, and the canvas in decent shape I decided to try to get another season out of it by painting the top. What did I have to loose?
Since I wanted to make this as easy as possible (always a goal of mine!), I used spray paint – and the cheapest indoor-outdoor paint I could find, at that, since I don’t expect this to last more than a season and this was just an experiment.
Note: I should mention that I did not research this in advance, so I didn’t know there was an article on eHow about painting a faded umbrella. But I can tell you this: I would not used regular paint and a brush or sponge like the article suggests. I tried it when I ran out of spray paint and it takes a LONG time, plus soaks into the whole fabric, created a stiff, ugly pattern on the underside. I also found it impossible to apply evenly with a sponge- maybe a small roller would work better for even distribution, but there’d still be the problem of soaking into the fabric.
Here’s what I learned and how you can spray paint a faded umbrella, too:
- It takes a lot of spray paint. Ours is a nine foot umbrella and I used 5 cans of paint. It probably could use another can, so I’d plan on about a can per section of umbrella (however, at .97 a can – flat is great for this – it’s a total investment of $6!).
- Your finger will not last, so use a spray-paint gun that attaches to the top of the can. They are another $3-6 dollars, but you will love it.
- Remove the cover from the frame (unscrew the finial and pull the cover out of the supports) and lay it out flat on the grass (we will just mow the black edges away) or cover an area with paper or drop cloths if you don’t want to use the lawn.
- Start at the top and spray the vent and vent edges and undersides.
- Spray one section at a time, being careful to get all the seams and edges.
- It won’t cover evenly – plan on a second coat after it dries a bit and spray in a different pattern.
- Let it dry and put it back on the umbrella frame and then use a ladder to add a third coat (you can make this step the second coat and not do 3 coats, but it will be more mottled). It was really easy to stand and turn the umbrella as I sprayed, but I’d still do the first coats with the umbrella flat to get the tops, seams and edges without worrying about getting paint on the frame.
I think it looks 100% better. Actually, a million times better than green mold on faded gray.
Especially for six dollars.
Up close, you can see that it’s still a bit mottled. My daughter thought it looked like those photographers backdrops that are supposed to be that way, so I’m going with that.The eHow article did mention spraying it with a water-repellent spray after painting, which, since I like out it turned out, seems like a good idea.***see update below***
Oh – and did you notice our new gravel patio? I’m so excited to show you the whole backyard transformation from huge, ugly, rotting deck to four new outdoor rooms! So to be sure you see this, and all the other great things we have planned for you, you’ll want to subscribe to An Oregon Cottage!
***2013 Update: I never did spray any protective coat on the umbrella, but I’ve gotten three seasons of life from it with only this one time painting!! I simply cannot believe how that cheap spray paint has held up all these years – this is definitely a way to get more life out of an outdoor umbrella!***