To be, or not to be… used for outdoor furniture: that is the question. When it comes to choosing the best materials for your next outdoor purchase, where do you even start? Your outdoor seating is exposed to very different elements than your indoor sets, and therefore needs a very different kind of consideration. Though here in Florida we’ve thankfully escaped most of the wear and tear that comes from snowy winters, we still have sun and salt water, winds and rain to contend with. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the best fabrics for the great outdoors.
A Question of Durability
Even patio furniture and cushions that are under an awning are still subject to the winds, moisture, and extremes in hot and cold of the outdoors. Over time, most fabrics will also fade with constant exposure to sunlight. When it comes to choosing fabric, bear in mind colors and patterns. Dark colors and bright and vibrant colors will all fade faster than some of the more muted tones. This doesn’t mean you should abstain from them completely, heavens know we at Leader’s love a strong coral or a leafy print! Just make sure you take extra care to cover or store away your pieces from the intense rays of the sun whenever possible. Just like we can get a sunburn on a cloudy day (another reason why we all should be wearing sun screen every single day!) cushions and pillows are susceptible to fading even when the sun isn’t beating down on us.
What’s In A Material?
When it comes to durability and strength, there are certain materials that are built to last. Here are a few suggestions to what to look for;
Duck cloth, similar to canvas but with a tighter weave, duck cloth is a great material if you’re looking for something cotton-like but with some extra heft, perfect if you’re looking for material for outdoor curtains.
Textilene fabric is woven polyester with a PVC coating. Used for sling seating, sunshades, and outdoor furniture, it is waterproof and fade resistant as well as mold resistant and flame retardant.
Polypropylene or olefin fiber is a synthetic fiber, ideal to use for cushion inserts and covers. It can easily stand up to mold, heat, sun, and wet weather.
Polyvinyl chloride, PVC, or vinyl, is hardy and easy to clean. Vinyl was first used in the 1920's and is said to be the second most popular plastic in production today. While its impact on the environment and on health has been a subject of debate for decades, vinyl is recyclable and a great material to consider for your patio furniture covers.
Want to cover your bases? Look for marine-grade fabrics - as in suitable for use on boats. Made with a tighter weave and a heavier finishing process than most outdoor fabrics, marine-grade fabric is stiffer and built to endure rough weather and conditions. It's the perfect material for boat upholstery, canopies, outdoor covers, and a stylish-yet-indestructible-sofa.
How To Choose?
First, become familiar with the way the types of materials you’re considering have been treated. Here are a few popular treatments that will help you to understand which process is right for you.
With this type of fabric, the dying occurs before the yarn is made. Liquid acrylic and color are mixed and formed into fibers, then, the colored fibers are spun into a yarn already permeated with color. The fabric is made to be colorfast, even after exposure to the elements, along with ordinary wear and tear. Solution-dyed acrylic is usually soft, breathable, water and mold resistant and dries quickly. Could this be the unicorn fabric of outdoor materials? We think so. Our wide selection of Sunbrella fabrics are all almost all solution-dyed and a therefore a great choice for your next lounger or dining seat, with dozens of designs and colors to choose from.
Printed Acrylic or Polyester
Polyester or acrylic fabric is screen-printed with fade and weather-resistant dyes. After it’s printed, an additional water-repellent guard is applied, creating an extra layer of protection to the fabric. This means printed synthetic fabrics are strong, durable and resistant to elements such as mold, mildew fading and shrinking, making them a great choice for long-lasting outdoor furnishings.
Piece dyeing is the process of weaving or knitting undyed yarns to create a fabric that is then dyed together as a whole. Piece dyeing is recommended for a more solid, uniform fabric shade, ideal for solid, highly-pigmented pieces. Because dyed fabrics are colored throughout, they are very lightfast and can withstand a significant number of hours in the sunshine, perfect for a sunny Florida summer.
Can’t decide? Stop into one of our showrooms across Florida and speak directly to one of our experts. We’ll help you find the fabric that best suits your needs and style. Remember, “To Thine Own Self Be True.”