If you’re planning to relax outdoors as we get back into the warmer months it may be time to start thinking about what you’ll be relaxing on. Any chair, lounger or outdoor sofa is bound to be more comfortable with the addition of outdoor rated cushioning. If you plan on buying new outdoor furniture, this cushioning may come with your purchase, but if you plan to keep your existing furnishings, or your new furniture isn’t cushy enough, you may want to make (or have made for you) some outdoor cushions.
Of course pillows and seat cushions are not only for comfort, but also are highly decorative and so, outdoor fabrics come in a large range of colors and patterns. It is important when choosing a fabric to educate your self on what can, and cannot be used outside. Any dyed or printed fabric will eventually bleach under the UV rays of the sun, which fade the color and damage the fibers, so that they fail and disintegrate more easily.
In general 100% acrylic fabrics are best, able to withstand UV rays and exposure to moisture, Solution-dyed 100% acrylic fabrics like those from the Sunbrella® Company have fibers that are dyed before being woven into fabrics, meaning that they fade more slowly than a fabric that has color printed onto one side of it after weaving. These fabrics resist fading in UV rays and are water resistant in the case of rain or wet bottoms from having been in the pool.
Textilene® is a woven fabric made from polyester core yarns coated in vinyl, it has a plastic-like feel but comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. Textilene® does not fray when cut and so it is often used for outdoor place mats, but can also work well as upholstery in wet areas. Because of the processes involved in their production, these fabrics can often be quite expensive, other fabrics are available at a lower price point but will have to be replaced more often.
In the mid-range are acrylic-coated polyester-cotton blends, which are a canvas-like material that comes in a wide range of colors. The poly-cotton blend fabric is coated with a thin acrylic layer that repels dirt and resists abrasion. Vinyl-coated cotton and Vinyl-laminated polyester are fabrics that have a Vinyl, perhaps better known as PVC, coating on one side (with a rubber or plastic feel) to prevent the transfer of moisture through to the cushion’s foam interior. They are often quite stiff and better used on larger items.
The less expensive outdoor cushions you will find in most retail stores, sold individually, are a polyester or poly-cotton blend fabric, which has been stamped or screen-printed with a pattern and then sprayed with a UV and water repellant finish. This type of fabric is much more decorative, can also be purchased as fabric and is suitable for outdoors due to it’s UV and water repellant finish, but while it will last longer than an indoor fabric, it will need replacing sooner than a 100% solution dyed acrylic, especially when placed in direct sunlight. You must also be careful when laundering these outdoor cushions as the finish can wash off if detergent it used. Unlike 100% acrylic fibers, which are weather resistant, polyester and cotton fibers are not weather resistant without their protective coating or finish.
If you enjoy redecorating your outdoor space each season or each summer it may not matter how long each cushion or pillow lasts. For those interested in a one-time long-term investment in their outdoor fabric choice it’s better to spend a little more at the outset, especially if in a very sunny region.
It’s noting that, while the fabric of the cushion takes the brunt of UV rays and weather, there are other unseen parts of the cushion that are important to consider. If you are making the outdoor cushions or having someone make them for you it is important to use outdoor-rated UV and mold-resistant thread. As good as the fabric is, a poor thread that disintegrates in the sun or mildews easily, will cause your pillow to literally fall apart at the seams. The second important part of the cushion is the filling; certain foams and stuffing hold onto water and can cause mildewing. It is important to get proper outdoor foam or batting that allows water to run through it, so that it dries quickly. Enjoy decorating your backyard space!
100% polyester Outdoor Fabric Zebra Skin Aquamarine by P Kaufmann. Source
Premier prints Magana Oxford indoor/outdoor modern Geometric home décor fabric 100% polyester with UV and water resistant finish. Source
Premier prints 100% polyester with UV and water resistant finish white and green Greek key outdoor fabric. Source
100% polyester with UV and water resistant finish Birds outdoor fabric, Richloom Ash Hill. Source
100% polyester with UV and water resistant finish Navy Richloom Carmody outdoor fabric. Source
Textilene® striped fabrics. Source
This chair is covered and cushioned in Textilene® fabric. Source
100% Sunbrella® acrylic fabric in Canvas canvas, Milano Dawn, Canvas Dusk, Empire Dawn and Moreland Taupe. Source
100% Sunbrella® acrylic fabric in Canvas Parrot, Milano Dawn and Sailcloth salt. Source