With outdoor furniture, there’s simply no hiding from the sun, storms, and the occasional wine spill. But unruly weather and cocktails al-fresco don’t need to vanquish your dreams of a pristine patio. Durable outdoor fabrics can help you stand up to the forces of nature—and the forces of fun.
It’s true that outdoor furniture items have historically been associated with time-consuming care. However, outdoor furniture fabric innovations have made moving outside a breeze.
Perhaps you’re outfitting a new property, had a bad experience with previous weather mishaps, or are looking to expand your lifestyle to an outdoor setup. You’ll want to choose a waterproof fabric that’s durable, waterproof, and fade-resistant without sacrificing comfort.
Consider this list of fabrics as you spruce up your landscape and improve your lifestyle. Our guide will walk through the top outdoor cushions and upholstery fabrics on the market to help you develop the durable oasis of your dreams.
A Popular Product: Polypropylene and Olefin Fabrics
Polypropylene is a man-made material that fills our cabinets, cooks our food, and in many ways, holds our lives together. You can find this material commonly in:
- Sports gear
You can also find it in patio furniture, in an outdoor fabric called Olefin. Olefin is waterproof thanks to the fact that it’s woven from plastic threads, with pores too small to allow water molecules to pass and just large enough to allow for ventilation and airflow that curb mold growth.
Consider Olefin if you’re searching for an outdoor fabric that’s:
- Moisture resistant
- UV resistant
- Mold resistant
Sound ideal for your outdoor soiree? So long as things stay calm.
While Olefin boasts superior water resistance to fabrics like wool and cotton, the fact that it’s made from plastic—specifically polypropylene—means that it can become unstable in certain extreme environments. The FDA approved certain kinds of high-quality polypropylene for microwave-level environments due to its non-reactivity, but you’ll want to ensure the quality of your material.
Man-Made Magic: Acrylic Fabrics
Acrylic fabric is a woven, synthetic option, which means the elements of this fabric do not occur naturally and are rather engineered through a chemical process. This cost-effective and durable fabric closely resembles the feel of wool. It is frequently used in sweaters, blankets, and clothing as an affordable alternative to natural fibers like sheep's wool and cashmere. The type was introduced in the mid-twentieth century and caught on as a wool substitute in sweaters and blankets.
The durable, soft weave is surprisingly flexible and is resistant to the following:
A top option for outdoor furniture items, hydrophobic acrylic performance fabrics goes one step further when it comes to exterior maintenance by accommodating all kinds of cleaning agents. Skip the specialty scrubs and dab your furniture down with simple soap whenever necessary.
A Sustainable Staple: Sunbrella’s Solution-Dyed Fabrics
Sunbrella’s solution-dyed options take acrylics one step further by introducing anti-color fade properties. This fabric type is resistant to:
- UV radiation
It’s not uncommon for performance fabrics to be coated in color after production as a protective finish. With wear and time, these coatings can fade away—the awning that used to keep you dry in a downpour can no longer live up to a little drizzle.
That’s not the case with Sunbrella fabric. But what is Sunbrella fabric, and is Sunbrella fabric waterproof? This legacy fabric manufacturer uses a solution-dye process, in which threads are saturated prior to weaving to allow the material to fully absorb color and strength. With Sunbrella’s performance-based method, the solution dyed acrylic fabric retains its vibrancy and durability for an exponentially long time—no matter what storms, sunshowers, or ketchup stains await.
And all without sacrificing comfort or softness. There’s a reason that many consider Sunbrella fabric to be the best fabric for outdoor furniture and that it’s Harbor Classic’s selection for chairs, chaises, ottomans, and more. Pull up a seat to the future of furniture with favorites like Harbor Classic’s Newport collection or our Savannah porch designs. All our favorite styles feature Sunbrella’s solution-dyed fabrics, a sustainable solution that limits and lowers water and energy use in the fabrication process.
Fabrics to Avoid
Some market options don’t cut it when it comes to curating an outdoor environment you can rely on. Though some thin designs may hold up for a few weeks in a shady side yard, unchecked materials can trap moisture and lead to more headaches than healing afternoons outside.
Consider avoiding these materials:
- Polyester fabrics – Though polyester is a breathable synthetic material that resists water, similar to polypropylene, it typically requires additional, extensive chemical treatments to become fully waterproof.
- Silk fabrics – Silk is a natural fiber cleaned from the cocoons of silkworms. This fabric is volatile and easily stained with water or other solvents. Save this delicate thread for your protected indoor sets.
Harbor Classics Transcend Trends
Fabric choices can make or break your outdoor space. They're exposed to direct sunlight, moisture, and harsh elements. Durable materials that withstand the elements will ensure your sets remain striking and safe through any seasons or unexpected sun-shower.
All of Harbor Classic’s selections come upholstered with hand-picked solution-dyed fabrics and set against equally durable, timeless materials like teak, aluminum, wicker, and rust-proof metal. With complimentary next-day shipping, a sustainable paradise is hours away.
With a history of long-standing vendor relationships, trust our expert team and material specialists to select only the best. Our luxury designs tick all the boxes so you can forget about your checklist. Breathe easy and sink into the sublime with Harbor Classics designs.
Science Direct. Repellent Fabric - an overview. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/repellent-fabric
Chemical Safety. Olefins. https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/olefins/
Sunbrella. Sunbrella Fabric Difference. https://www.sunbrella.com/sunbrella-fabric-difference
Outdoor Fabric Central. Sunbrella Info & Warranty. https://www.outdoorfabriccentral.com/sunbrella-info-warranty
Fashinza. Waterproof Fabrics: Types, Significance, and History. https://fashinza.com/textile/fabric/waterproof-fabrics-types-significance-and-history/