Adding outdoor furniture to your deck or patio creates an inviting space for relaxing and enjoying warm weather days. There are many choices in outdoor furniture styles and fabrics. Purchasing outdoor furniture is an investment that you’d like to have last for many years while looking good. You may wonder what types of fabric are best for your outdoor furniture. We’ve done all the research on fabrics for you.
The best fabrics for outdoor furniture include:
- Polypropylene or olefin
- PVC mesh
- Marine vinyl
Choosing one of the materials above for your outdoor furniture will ensure that you can enjoy your furniture pieces for years to come. Each of these contains specific properties to ensure it is resistant to the elements and durable. Read on to learn more about each type of fabric and what makes it unique.
The Fabric Selections For Outdoor Furniture
Polypropylene or olefin
Polypropylene or olefin fabrics are more durable than other fabrics and can stand up to many hours of bright sunlight exposure. Fabric is medium to heavyweight and designed to be durable. Colors and patterns are more limited in this fabric, and it is typically used for awning, umbrellas, and covers. Olefin fabrics are perfect for upholstery, cushions, and pillows in outdoor furnishings because of their higher abrasion resistance. While olefin fabrics are designed to resist outdoor elements, you should still bring them inside when possible to extend their lifespan.
This fabric has great UV resistance, and it drys very quickly when wet. It is colorfast and stain-resistant, making it a very durable, resistant fabric for outdoor furniture. Polypropylene is made from a synthetic thermoplastic polymer creating a strong fade-resistant fabric that also repels mold and mildew. This fabric can be cleaned with a bleach and water solution.
Polyester-based outdoor fabrics provide the widest selection of prints and styles while maintaining a lower price point than other options. These fabrics are medium weight and easy to sew. They are treated to a UV rating of 500 light hours before fading occurs, so you should bring cushions indoors when not used to protect them and extend wear. You can clean fabric with warm soapy water.
PVC mesh is a heavy-duty outdoor fabric. This fabric works particularly well in poolside areas. The material has a plastic basket weave texture that allows water to pass through the fabric. The fabric also drys quickly and is fade-resistant. You’ll find this fabric on a lot of sling-style chairs. It does not have stretch to it and can be directly attached to the furniture framework.
Marine vinyl is a heavy-duty upholstery. It is the most durable of the fabrics and treated to resist stains and water, as it has a high UV and abrasion resistance. Marine vinyl has a leather look and is easily wiped clean.
Acrylic fabrics are colorfast and treated to withstand UV exposure. The fabric is water-resistant. Acrylic fabrics feel like soft cotton fabric, making them very comfortable for outdoor furniture while also being durable and long-lasting.
Is outdoor fabric washable?
You can wash outdoor fabrics. To clean your outdoor fabrics, start by brushing off any loose dirt. If you do this regularly, it will keep soil from penetrating the fabric. For light cleaning, you can dissolve a laundry detergent pack in a gallon of warm water. Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub gently over the material and then rinse thoroughly. Allow the fabric to air dry. If fabrics belong on a seat or cover, stretch them back over their frame to prevent shrinking while drying.
If you have a stain that needs spot cleaning, blot it with a paper towel or clean cloth to soak up as much as possible. Oil-based stains respond well to the application of baking soda. Then scrub the stained area with a toothbrush. The baking soda will soak up the oil and can then be brushed off. Other stains can be cleaned using mild dish soap and water scrubbed with a sponge or soft-bristled brush.
Deep cleaning your fabrics at the start and end of the season will ensure they stay beautiful. Check care labels. Some materials may be machine washed. If you notice any mold on your fabrics, soak in a solution of detergent, non-chlorine bleach, and water before washing.
How long does outdoor fabric last?
Polypropylene and olefin fabrics will last up to ten years with proper care. However, remember that cushions will also get wet inside, which can cause mold and bacteria to grow. Make a habit of shaking any water puddles off your cushions to quickly dry not only the fabric but the inside cushion material.
What is the most durable outdoor fabric?
Outdoor fabrics need to be able to stand up to the onslaught of weather, sun, and normal wear and tear. Durable fabrics will withstand pressure to tear and abrasion. Because different fabrics are used on various products, the most durable fabric varies by furniture application. Olefin is the most durable fabric for use in cushions and pillows. This fabric wicks moisture and air drys quickly while also being less likely to pill. It also withstands abrasion more than other fabrics.
PVC mesh is the most durable fabric for sling chairs and upholstery. It doesn’t tear or split under pressure and also has high abrasion resistance. Because it repels water and air dries quickly, it can stand up in situations when it freezes and thaws without being damaged.
Choosing a durable and easy-to-care-for fabric for your outdoor furniture will ensure your investment looks great and lasts for many years. Consider if your furniture will be under a roof or exposed to the elements when selecting the fabric. Poolside furniture needs to be exceptionally good at handling exposure to water while drying quickly. Even with a high-quality fabric choice, taking your cushions inside when not in use and proper cleaning will extend their lifespan even further.
If you are currently designing your outdoor space, our post “Should Outdoor Furniture Match?” will inspire you to create a relaxing outdoor oasis. “3 Methods To Waterproof Wood Furniture Outdoors” is a post that will teach you how to preserve and protect your beautiful wooden furniture pieces.