When making the decision to update your outdoor cushions, the first thing we think about is the fabric. Fabric is the piece that we see first. The part that speaks to us by it’s color, texture and pattern. It’s the part that also touches our emotion, whether it is by creating a sense of calm and retreat or fun and adventure and invites us to sit awhile. There is a style and pattern for whatever you are seeking.
While on your search for the perfect outdoor fabric, be sure to ask yourself a few questions. Will your cushions be in a area covered and protected from the elements or will they be exposed to rain and sun? How much exposure to direct sun will they get? Do they need to be pet friendly? How about kid-friendly? How much use and wear will they get? Is Eco-friendliness important to you?
There are a lot of options for outdoor fabric so once you know some of the qualities of a good outdoor fabric, hopefully it will be a little easier to narrow it down.
UV Ratings are given to fabrics to measure the number of hours of protected sun exposure to UV rays. Most printed/woven polyester and printed acrylic fabrics are rated for approximately 500-750 light hours. Woven Acrylics (like Sunbrella) are rated for approximately 1500 light hours or more. Color stability will be greatly affected by the UV rating.
Double Rubs are a rating given to fabrics that measures the abrasion resistance and durability of the fabric. For cushions and outdoor furniture, look for anything 30,000 and above for good wearability. Fabrics with 15,000 or less are best suited for accent pillows or other accessories such as placemats.
Care for outdoor fabric will vary depending on the fiber content and weaving process. Pay special attention to the care instructions for the fabric you pick. Depending on the fiber content and how they are made, some can be spot cleaned with soap and water or for really tough stains, sprayed with a bleach/water solution. Most recommend against rubbing the fabric with a cleaning brush. The best defense is protection and cleaning as you go. Treat stains right away and air dry. Most outdoor fabrics, when sprayed with water, will dry relatively quickly in the open air. Following are a couple of links with specific cleaning instructions for either Sunbrella or Revolution Fabrics.
Now that you are educated with the basic qualities of a good outdoor fabric, it’s time to start looking for the perfect fabric for your specific needs. Below is just a sampling of fabrics and sources to consider.
Sunbrella performance fabrics are 100% solution-dyed acrylic Their fibers have color and UV stabilized pigments spun right into the yarn making them inherently fade resistant to sun and cleaning. They have a limited 5 year warranty on most of their fabric as well. There are many sources to find Sunbrella but here are a few to start your search. If you notice that your Sunbrella fabric is losing it’s stain and water repellency, Fabric Guard 303 will restore both to factory levels for just over $23 on Amazon.
Outdura & AquaDuck are both a solution dyed acrylic fabric that has many of the same great features as Sunbrella. It is water repellent, fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and easy care with a 5 year warranty. Sold through Big Duck Canvas, the choices are a little limited coming in a variety of solid colors and stripes. These fabrics run between $20 and $25 a yard. You can check out the selections here:
Revolution Outdoor fabrics is a performance fabric and is also made in North Carolina. It is inherently stain and moisture resistant. It can be cleaned with a bleach/water combo and should not be scrubbed or machine washed or dried. They have several options available in solids, patterns, and textures to check out. If you are interested, you can get 10 free samples sent to you! Check them out at:
Crypton is actually a finish that is applied to the fabric after it is woven. It last for quite a while though after several washings, can actually wear off. It too has a great reputation especially for being stain resistent. If you are wondering the difference between Sunbrella or Crypton, this is a good article.
Polyester outdoor fabric (you will see this at JoAnn’s), has some beautiful prints and colors, but if you look closely, you will notice that the color is only on one side. That’s because it is printed on after the fabric is woven. That means, with a little sun, the print will get lighter and lighter and eventually fade to white. Ask me how I know. These fabrics are best suited for accent pillows and other accessories such as placemats.
Hopefully this information is helpful and not too overwhelming. I would recommend if you find a fabric you love, get a sample and read the detailed description of the fabric for all the characteristics detailed above.
Good luck and if you need help…I’m just a click away.
This post took longer than I planned to get out as I was busy making lots of cushions!! Hopefully the next post on foam will be out shortly.