This is the time of year that we shop for new cushions with outdoor fabric for our patio furniture. We should always strive to get the best that we can afford so that they last and look good for a long time. This article will review two popular outdoor fabric types and things you can do to keep your cushions and fabric looking great and feeling comfortable.
Making quality outdoor cushions requires starting with quality materials to ensure the cushions withstand the destructive outdoor forces that can turn them into pathetic ugly pads. The ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, rain and dampness, wind, dirt, mold and mildew can all cause wear and can deteriorate your cushions. There are varying degrees of fabric quality and there are varying degrees of care that people are willing to provide to preserve their cushions and fabric. Depending on which fabric type you choose, the degree of care and the cost of the cushions will vary.
Popular Outdoor Fabric
To keep it on the simple side lets look at two popular outdoor fabrics
- Spun Polyester Prints
- Solution Died Acrylics
Spun polyester fabric is type of outdoor cushion fabric that is manufactured by printing an inked pattern or solid color on a white 100% spun polyester cloth. This is an extremely popular type of fabric because it is economical and you can pretty much find just about any solid, stripe or floral print you can think of. The inks applied are deemed outdoor worthy and the polyester can never be damaged by dampness or water. The inks used in spun polyester fabric have a tendency to fade over time primarily due to UV light and somewhat due to wear.
Solution died acrylic fabrics are top of the line outdoor fabrics. The color is blended into the acrylic yarn itself and can not be leached out by water and fading is minimal because inhibitors in the material provide long lasting protection against fading caused by UV light from the sun. Patterns are achieved by the weaving process rather than the printing process like spun polyesters. You will find many more geometric designs with acrylics as compared to the multitude of floral designs with spun polyesters.
Spun polyester fabric also goes by the names indoor/outdoor fabric and all-weather fabric. These are generic names provided to the type of fabric and its use. Acrylic fabrics usually go by the manufacture’s name. Two popular manufacturers names of acrylic fabric are Sunbrella® and Outdura®.
To learn more details about fabrics, read our earlier post.
You won’t find a big difference between spun polyester and acrylic fabric with respect to durability when they are in new condition. Acrylics do tend to wear better and last longer over the long term.
Cushions fabricated from Spun polyester are more economical than acrylics. Acrylics and range anywhere from 25% to 100% more than the base cost of spun polyesters. Depending on where you shop, adjustments to the cost of making a cushion will vary. Issues such as matching florals can add an additional 20% to 60% depending on the repeat of the pattern. This is important to know because a lot of fabric can be wasted trying to match up fabric patters at the seams increasing the cost. In general, most floral patters look fine without matching the patters. The cushion makers usually try to do a good job without wasting fabric. Don’t feel that it is a mandatory requirement to match the pattern at the seams. Ask to look at examples of cushions made without matching.
Spun polyester fabric cushions will last a lot longer without fading if additional care is taken to protect them against long term exposure to sunlight. Take them inside or store them out of the sun when not being used or use furniture covers which also protect your furniture finish. Its a downfall of spun polyesters, but the availability and choice of prints generally outweighs the need for care. Acrylic fabrics will generally last a lot longer than spun polyester fabrics without fading. So, if having to take care of cushions to make them last longer is not for you, then maybe acrylics are the better choice.
Overall you need to keep your cushion fabric clean to keep them looking good. So, make it a point to clean them every once and a while before they get to grungy.
Spun polyester fabrics and acrylics can be cleaned without losing color using mild carpet or upholstery cleaners. However enhanced cleaning with bleach can be used with most acrylic fabrics. Check with the manufacturer.
Both spun polyester fabric and acrylic fabric are quality fabrics. Spun polyester offer many more floral prints and are more economical than their acrylic counter parts. Cushions that utilize spun polyester fabric require a little more care to keep them from fading than acrylics. Cover or store spun polyester cushions out of the sunlight to reduce fading over the long term. Durability against wear is not something to worry about unless you are really hard on cushions. In which case you may want to choose an acrylic for long term durability. Acrylic fabric covered cushions will cost you between 25% and 100% more than spun polyesters. Clean your cushions before they get so soiled that nothing you can do will save them using mild carpet cleaner or upholstery cleaner. Check with the manufacturer to see if you can use bleach on your acrylic fabric. Don’t try to use bleach on spun polyesters, you may ruin the print.