Choosing Fabrics For Outdoor Use

Summer is a great time to be entertaining outdoors and with so many people working on the preparation of their backyard spaces, it’s so important to learn a little bit more about fabrics that are appropriate for outdoor use. 

The sun is shining and you are preparing those outdoor spaces, but what you don’t realize is how much those outdoor furnishings really take a beating. The sun, heat, wear and tear, chlorine, rain, tree sap, really can shorten the lifetime of fabrics that are not specifically made for the outdoors. Those beautiful brightly colored fabric cushions might look great the first few weeks or months but their long-term use might be shortened by the choice of fabrics used.

Today there are so many types of fabrics that are specially made for outdoor use. These fabrics can be made of synthetic fibers, acrylic, or cotton blends. They are treated with a chemical during the manufacturing process that allows them to resist water which reduces rot and mildew. Sunbrella is one brand name that is popular. However, today most fabric companies do offer an all-weather outdoor fabric option that is specifically made for the outdoors. 

Gone are the days where there are only a few color selections and manufacturers of outdoor fabric. The early outdoor fabrics were stiff, uncomfortable, and hard to work with. Today’s outdoor fabric is really an outdoor/ indoor fabric. Soft to the touch, easy to work with, and the options are only limited by your imagination. The highest quality outdoor fabrics are available in almost any color or pattern imaginable.

Add rich color.

Most designers have access to superior quality outdoor fabric, as most “to the trade” fabric companies make outdoor fabric. This confuses consumers because they believe there is only one manufacturer of outdoor fabric and that if they ask for this they are seeing all the options.

Here are some facts:

  • Any fabric, cushion, or pillow that’s left in the outdoors will experience more wear and tear than a cushion that’s indoors.
  • Outdoor fabrics have built-in UV protection and water-repelling properties that make it easy to wipe off.
  • Most of the designer type fabrics that you are seeing on outdoor furniture are custom options. There are some retails that offer some custom options on outdoor pieces. You will choose from the fabrics that they offer.
  • Don’t be afraid to explore custom options for cushions and outdoor fabric work. The choices are endless.
  • The best way to lengthen the life of your outdoor cushions, bring them inside or cover them in rain or bad weather. I try to suggest pieces that have removable cushions. This makes it easy to bring the cushions inside. It also makes it easier to replace the cushions or re-cover the cushions when they wear out. Remember that a soaked cushion with eventually deteriorate quicker than one that only experiences a quick shower and then is dried off.

Until next time,


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