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How to choose the best outdoor fabric for your furniture

How to choose the best outdoor fabric for your furniture

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The best fabric for outdoor furniture

Whether you’re shopping for upholstered outdoor furniturereplacement cushions, or planning to re-upholster existing cushions in an all-weather fabric, there’s much to consider when selecting an outdoor fabric for your patio. From leading brands to trustworthy materials, read on for our guide to choosing the best outdoor fabric.

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The best outdoor fabric brands

While some upholstered outdoor furniture brands may feature in-house outdoor fabrics, many cushioned outdoor furnishings feature fabrics from trusted, industry-leading brands. Here are the three main brands, all of which are made from solution-dyed acrylic fibers:

SunbrellaSunbrella has become synonymous with outdoor performance fabrics and offers resilient, versatile fabrics in a wide variety of award-winning designs, colors, and styles. Made from durable acrylic fibers, Sunbrella’s upholstery fabrics are soft to the touch, extremely long-lasting, easy to clean, water-repellent, and resistant to common signs of aging such as mildew, fading and mold. They’re also backed by a 5-year limited warranty.  

Outdura - Outdura is a leader in high-quality acrylic outdoor fabrics that are durable, easy to clean, and resistant to water, mildew, mold, and UV fading. Outdura’s fabrics are also available in a variety of colors and styles to suit any application or taste.

Tempotest - Tempotest is an Italian based fabric company that specializes in machine-washable solution-dyed acrylics. Tempotest fabrics are often available with upholstered or cushioned furniture from brands such as Kingsley Bate, Cane-line and other upholstered outdoor furniture brands. Like other leading outdoor fabric brands, Tempotest fabrics are durable, easy to care for and resistant to water damage and fading. Available in a wide selection of colors, patterns, and styles, Tempotest Home® fabrics can be machine washed (up to 85°F) without losing their water- and stain-resistant properties, thanks to the use of Teflon® Extreme fabric protector that’s applied during the production process. 

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The best outdoor fabric material

Solution-dyed (or pigment-dyed) acrylic or polyester fibers are the ideal fabrics for outdoor furniture. (Solution-dyed acrylics are generally more expensive than polyester—but for good reason, as they last longer and are more fade-resistant.)

If a fiber is 100% solution-dyed, that means that the color pigments have been mixed in so that they penetrate all the way through the fiber rather than just on the surface. This results in a far superior colorfastness and resistance to UV fading, which allows the fabric to retain its color for many years. Solution-dyed acrylic and polyester is also water-resistant, extremely durable, easy to clean, and soft to the touch, making it an ideal fabric for outdoor furniture. 

Some solution-dyed fabrics feature special treatments that afford additional protection. Sunbrella’s rain fabrics, for example, are pre-treated with a non-porous, barrier finish that causes water to bead up and roll off rather than soaking through the fabric. It also speeds up the drying process and does not impact the color or feel of the fabric itself. This type of fabric is ideal for tropical climates or areas with heavy rain.

Tempotest fabrics benefit from a finishing process developed in partnership with Teflon™ that forms a barrier around each fiber, providing protection that repels water, oil, and dirt. All Tempotest fabrics are also treated with a Hi-Clean finish, which is repellent to water, grease, and oil and resistant to mold without compromising the fabric's breathability.

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How does fabric grading play into choosing the best outdoor fabric?

When browsing outdoor fabrics, you might notice a fabric grade associated with each option. Fabric grades differ from brand to brand—and a lower fabric grade doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality. A lower fabric grade is typically associated with a lower price—but this can vary and often depends on how much of the fabric a brand has in stock, as well as the fabric’s materials, pattern, and durability. In general, it’s helpful to look at an outdoor fabric’s fiber content and brand to determine its quality and longevity. AuthenTEAK carries only high-quality industry-trusted brands of both upholstered outdoor furniture and fabrics by the yard

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The best way to care for and maintain outdoor fabrics

Though the best outdoor fabrics are incredibly resilient to the elements, it’s always a good idea to implement practical maintenance and cleaning practices. To protect your upholstered outdoor furniture when it’s not in use, cover it with a weather-resistant protective cover, which will shield your fabric and cushions from dirt and water and help reduce the amount of time you’ll need to spend cleaning it. 

When life happens, a good fabric and upholstery cleaner can be used to spot-treat stains or spills to remove surface oil, dirt, and pollutants. A water-repellent fabric guard can be used to add additional protection against stains, mold, and mildew, even in the harshest environments. Many removable outdoor fabrics can even be washed in the washing machine (although we always recommend consulting the furniture manufacturer before removing the casing.)