The Best Fabric for Outdoor Cushions and Why

by mandeesears

What brand fabric is best for performance, longevity and beauty of your patio furniture? Sunbrella fabrics. Find out why.

Deck, porch and patio furniture has to stand up to the elements. The frames made from cast aluminum, all-weather wicker, slings and more are designed with the elements in mind.

However, what fabrics can remain beautiful while enduring UV rays, temperature changes, rain and stains from everyday use? This article is about the best fabric for outdoor cushions and why.

Before you buy replacement cushions, read this.

What is Solution Dyed Acrylic?

And why does it matter?

Sunbrella fabrics are made with 100% solution dyed acrylic. 

Okay, what the heck does that mean? 

Solution dyeing (aka dope dyeing) is a process created in Europe in the 1950's. It involves coloring the polymer prior to extruding it into the acrylic fibers used to create the fabric. In layman's terms, the color is set while the the acrylic is still in liquid form allowing the color to be an integral piece of the finished product.

Traditional dyeing involves applying color to a finished product -- changing its' natural color. Solution dying is done as a first step prior to making the fibres that will eventually become the finished product.  

Think of it this way:

Traditionally dyed products are like an apple -- the outside, the side you see first -- is the dyed color. The inside is the natural color of the product.  

Apple Carrot Dyeing ProcessesCut Apple Carrot Dyeing ProcessesSolution dyed products are like a carrot -- the inside and outside -- through and through are the same color. This is because the color is set prior to making the product. 

So, comparing Sunbrella fabrics to some other outdoor fabrics is truly like trying to compare apples and oranges... errr... carrots. Carrots win hands down!  

It's important because it means Sunbrella fabrics don't fade -- even in the sun. The color is as rich in the middle of the fibers as it is on the outside of the fibers. No more sun bleaching for your patio cushions! 

Did you know Sunbrella® fabrics can be cleaned with Chlorine Bleach? Yup, the solution dyed acrylic will not be ruined by bleach. Makes it a perfect choice for by the pool!

Bringing the Indoors Out

Don't Neglect Your Patio, Porch, Deck or Garden Area

Today, outdoor areas of your home are becoming more and more important to our lifestyles as well as for re-sale value. No longer are patios only important to warm weather climates.

People are choosing to make their patios, porches and decks a secondary living space like family rooms -- one where nature and being outdoors can be enjoyed. Meals, entertaining and relaxing are great activities to enjoy outside. 

Following this trend, people are putting more thought into furnishing their outdoor space. They want it just as comfortable as indoors. Patios are designed with televisions, outdoor kitchens or barbecues, rugs, lighting, bars, and more. When furnishing your outdoor space, bring everything you need to relax and enjoy it (like inside) outside with you. You will be much more likely to take advantage of the space if it fits your lifestyle. 

Apartment Complex Pool, Retro
Enclosed Patio Furnishings
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Patio Furniture Cushions

Change the Look with New Outdoor Cushions

What if you really like your existing patio furniture frames but the cushions look like they have seen better days and aren't that comfortable anymore? 

Consider just getting new cushions. The benefits are:

  • New look with a new fabric. Change up your patio decorating theme or color scheme by changing the cushions. 
  • Not as big an investment. If you had to buy the actual furniture, it would cost a lot more.
  • If you choose Sunbrella fabrics for your replacement cushions, you get their 5 year fabric warranty. 
  • With routine cleaning, the cushions will look as good in 5 years as they do brand new!

Most frames are painted or stained wood, metal or all-weather wicker. They come in a variety of mostly neutral colors like black, bronze, white, brown, redwood, etc...

Adding new cushions can completely change and refresh your existing patio furniture without the huge investment of new frames. 

You don't have to worry about hauling big pieces of furniture or assembling boxes of frame parts (see first photo on left). Simply measure your old cushions, choose a new fabric and place the order. New cushions can be delivered to your door step or the store you ordered them from. 

New cushions is an easy option to freshen up your patio space. Maybe you'll want to spend even more time in the great outdoors! 

Retaining the Beauty of your Outdoor Cushions

Care and Cleaning are Top Priority

The #1 way to keep your outdoor cushions like new is to regularly clean and care for them. You wouldn't buy a new piece of clothing and never wash it after wearing it, would you?

Outdoor cushions take a lot of abuse from nature as well as through normal use. Dirt and stains should be taken care of on a regular basis to keep your cushions looking great.

Sunbrella fabrics are mold and mildew resistant. The fact is, mildew grows on dirt, pollen and other natural elements. Keeping your cushions free from dirt with regular cleaning is the easiest way to prevent mold and mildew. 

Sunbrella® fabrics Care and Cleaning is online and available to everyone. Not only do they have general care and cleaning guides but they also offer a stain chart to help you get things like suntan lotion, coffee and wine out of their award winning outdoor upholstery fabrics. 

How to Clean Sunbrella Fabrics

Sunbrella® video(s) provided by Glen Raven, Inc., owner of the Sunbrella registered trademark.

Standing Behind Their Fabrics

Sunbrella's Upholstery Fabric Warranty

When you have an industry leading product, you stand behind it. Sunbrella fabrics are backed with an unprecedented 5 year warranty against fading or loss of strength due to normal use conditions like sun exposure, mildew or natural elements. 

Bottom line is Sunbrella fabrics last 2 to 10 times longer than conventional fabrics. The cushions you get for cheap at the big box stores? Made in bulk and with fabric and filling that will wear out, fade or otherwise not hold up very long. 

For full warranty information, visit Sunbrella® Fabrics Warranty page.

Sunbrella Fabrics

History of Sunbrella Outdoor Fabrics

In 1961, more than 50 years ago, Sunbrella® fabrics hit the market as an alternative fabric for awnings. To that date, cotton had been the choice. The problem with cotton was fading in the sun and overall breakdown of the fibers over time.50 years 

Sunbrella fabrics were born.

During the 1970's, boat owners and avid sailors began to realize that Sunbrella fabrics were the perfect for sail covers and boat tops. These applications required a performance fabric that could stand up to the elements of sun, water, saltwater and more. 

Again, during the 1980's, Sunbrella broke into another market that demanded high performance of its' fabric -- outdoor cushions and patio umbrellas. This step brought Sunbrella fabrics to the forefront for everyday people. The superior quality, color-fastness and gorgeous designs available made  believer's out of homeowners, apartment dwellers and anyone with an outdoor seating space. 

Today, Sunbrella fabrics are used in the awning, marine, outdoor furniture and indoor furniture industries. They have set the standard high for the performance level that consumers want and need in their everyday fabrics. 

Sunbrella Fabrics for Your Patio

Umbrellas, Cushions and Pillows
Pillow Decor - Sunbrella Castanet Beach Stripes Outdoor Pillow

Soft stripes in warm sunny summer colors. Castanet Beach is a perfect poolside throw pillow made from sturdy weather resistant fabric from Sunbrella - THE name in outdoor ...

Sunbrella Tufted Round Chair Cushions / Only Round-back Chairs, No Ties, Mist Blue, 19X18

When you add Sunbrella replacement cushions to your outdoor patio furniture, you're adding more than plush comfort, you're adding bold, vibrant color that's guaranteed to stay ...

Only $49.00
9' Market Umbrella - Beige Auto-Tilt Feature, Durable Sunbrella Fabric Umbrella Base Not ...

Enjoy cool outdoor lifestyle under the shade of this attractive market umbrella. Maximize shading area with the easy-to-use auto tilting mechanism and angle the umbrella ...

Only $699.99

Bottom Line

Sunbrella Fabrics are the Best -- Why mess with the rest?

Sand Collection - Sunbrella FabricsUnsurpassed Durability - Over 50 years ago, Sunbrella fabrics broke into the marine market with the best performance fabrics manufactured. Boating enthusiasts put in through the wringer using it on boat awnings, sails, tarps and more. They endured the hard marine life and still looked great. 

Longevity - Sunbrella fabrics can last as long as 20 years with care and cleaning. That's 2 to 10 times longer than other fabrics. 

Fade Resistant - The sun won't fade your Sunbrella fabrics like it can traditional or low quality outdoor fabrics -- and their 5 year warranty backs it up!

Water Repellency and Stain Resistant - Manufactured to resist stains and to repel water, Sunbrella fabrics are the perfect choice for a patio, porch or deck. It can withstand the elements and still look gorgeous. Isn't that what you need from your outdoor fabrics?  

UV Protection - When Sunbrella fabrics are used for umbrellas and awnings, they offer up to 98% protection from harmful UV rays.  

Patio Decorating Ideas | Resources

Picking a theme for your outdoor living space helps you decorate easier, with ways to make those all-important choices.
Isn't it about time to redo your patio, porch or deck? Patio decorating ideas are everywhere -- but let's concentrate of the look of the islands -- tropical style.
Make your patio, porch or deck a Tuscan garden escape with some of these patio decorating ideas -- Tuscan style.

Sunbrella® is a registered trademark of Glen Raven, Inc.

Updated: 02/19/2013, mandeesears
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What do you think of Sunbrella fabrics?

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mandeesears on 04/23/2012

Thanks Katie. I think lots of mom's influenced Sunbrella to promote their fabrics for indoors too! Glad I could help. :D

katiem2 on 04/23/2012

Thank you, now I won't need to replace my outdoor cushions every year. Love the fabric patterns shown here. I like Brenda's idea as well, what a great idea, especially with crafty and artistic kids about.

mandeesears on 04/11/2012

You're welcome Brenda! Sunbrella fabrics has a whole line of indoor fabrics as well. I covered my dining table chairs in outdoor fabric too! Definitely wears better and the colors were just so happy!

BrendaReeves on 04/11/2012

I will definitely check these fabrics out. I like to use outdoor fabric inside my house. I covered my kitchen chairs in it, and I'm making valances for the windows in the kitchen with the same fabric. I have four dogs and two cats. That calls for sturdy fabrics in the house. Thanks for the info.

mandeesears on 03/26/2012

Oh, Susan, the fabric selection Sunbrella puts out is full of variety and beauty. I agree that a Country Porch could easily be fashioned using Sunbrella fabrics.

BuckHawk on 03/23/2012

So cool! I love Sunbrella fabrics and their look is perfect for the Country Porch with all the colors and patterns. What great information you have here!

mandeesears on 03/10/2012

You're welcome Angel. Glad it was helpful!

Angel on 03/10/2012

We are moving and putting in a pool at our new house as we speak. I will need good cushions for our pool furniture and outside patio area. This article was helpful to me in my new adventure. Thanks for sharing.

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