Weatherproof Fabric Guide

How to Choose the Best Fabric for Outdoor Furniture

Fabrics labeled for outdoor use need special treatment to withstand strong sunshine, rain, stains and windy days. However, some weatherproof fabrics are better than others, depending on the climate where you live. Choosing the right outdoor fabric and properly maintaining your furniture is important for lasting style, comfort and use.

What Fabrics are Good for Outdoor Use?

When decorating your porch, deck or patio, choosing the right materials is important. Rust-resistant metals, splinter-free wood finishes and sturdy frames are a must. Be sure to pick a quality material for outdoor cushions and chairs as well. While they have different brand names and individual needs for care, the following are some of the top weather-resistant fabrics:

  • Solution-Dyed Acrylic: Woven outdoor fabrics, like Sunbrella fabric, are soft and breathable. The solution dyeing process involves a mix of pigment and liquid acrylic that’s then spun into yarn, resulting in a colorfast, water-resistant outdoor chair fabric. Dyed acrylic is the best fabric for outdoor furniture like sofas with seats in solid hues.
  • Polyester: A common outdoor pillow fabric for printed toss cushions and patterned seating, polyester is strong, quick-drying and resistant to rot. The dyes used for printing resist sun fade and have a water-repellent guard for additional protection. Water-resistant polyester is also one of the most affordable outdoor fabrics.
  • PVC Mesh: Strong and stretch resistant, fabrics made of olefin, PVC and vinyl-coated polyester or acrylic are popular for sling chairs. They are durable, easy to clean, colorfast and mildew resistant. Often, the fibers or mesh of sling chair fabric have a plastic-like, woven appearance.
  • Canvas Material: Canvas is a generic term often used to describe polyester, acrylic and textile blends. There are also cotton and linen-based canvas outdoor fabrics that are soft and comfortable but vulnerable to mold and mildew due to their natural fibers. Non-synthetic canvas usually requires extra coatings to prevent fading and promote water resistance.
summerset way brown 4 pc
Conversation Sets with Sunbrella Cushions

The Most Durable Outdoor Fabric for Your Space

Depending on the climate you live in, some weatherproof fabrics may be better than others. Knowing how to buy patio furniture for your home is essential. Strong UV rays, extreme heat, high winds and rainy weather are all damaging to your outdoor furnishings. Many outdoor fabrics already have all of the following types of durability.

3 pc outdoor sectional
Outdoor Sectionals with Sunbrella Cushions

Fade-Resistant Fabric

For patio furniture that stays bright and vivid for years to come, choose a fade-resistant outdoor fabric. These textiles have special coatings to keep fibers from breaking down and withstand fading damage from UV rays. Regardless of the material, it’s still a good idea to bring your cushions and pillows indoors when not in use.

Manufacturers measure the fade resistance of outdoor fabrics, providing consumers with a limited number of hours of protected sun exposure. After this time is over, upholstered cushions can still fade. Printed and woven polyesters have up to 500 and 750 hours of exposure time, while woven acrylics stay vivid for 1,500 hours or more in the sun.

siesta key 5 pc fire pit set
Seating Set with Fire Pit

Fabrics for High Winds

Heavyweight fabrics are best for windy areas. The extra heft ensures your umbrella or canopy stays anchored down during a storm or particularly breezy day. Solution-dyed acrylics range from medium to heavyweight. The thicker, denser material is a popular fabric for awnings, umbrellas and furniture coverings.

outdoor chaise and umbrella
Outdoor Chaise Lounges with Sunbrella Cushions

Water-Resistant Fabrics

Outdoor fabrics are water-resistant, but most aren’t completely waterproof. Water beads up on the surface rather than soaking through. The quicker the fabric dries, the less chance you have of mold and mildew growth. If you need a waterproof outdoor fabric, PVC mesh is a smart choice.

The materials in PVC mesh are perfect for pool chairs and other patio seating options that might sit next to water or out in the rain. Water passes through the woven design rather than soaking into cushions and causing mildew. The dense material is strong enough to support your body weight and dries quickly, making a sling chair a great poolside seat.

windy isle 5 pc outdoor set
5 Pc Outdoor Seating Set

Patio Furniture and Decor with Weather-Proof Fabrics

Outdoor-safe fabrics make it possible to outfit and decorate an entire patio with comfy seating and stylish decor while protecting you and your layout from rain and sun damage. From your sectional to your bistro set, some durable patio furnishings and accents for your deck or porch include:

  • Sling Chairs: Slingback patio chairs are versatile seating options, and they’re also ultra-supportive. Set a couple of chaise lounges with sling material to arrange by the pool when soaking up the sun after a refreshing dip, or enjoy brunch with friends when you use them as seating with a modern dining table.
  • Outdoor Weatherproof Cushions: Seat all your backyard party guests on a cozy, durable patio sofa or sectional upholstered with easy-clean outdoor cushion fabrics. There are many colors and patterns to choose from, including neutral beige and gray, cool hues like blue and green and warm reds or yellows. For sun-soaked patios, colorfast Sunbrella cushions are a smart choice.
  • Toss Pillows: Think your loveseat, rocking chairs or lounges need a little more personality? Boost your style and your color palette with accent pillows in solid hues and elegant prints. Sunbrella outdoor pillows add increased durability plus additional lumbar support to your seating sets.
  • Umbrellas and Canopies: Stay relaxed in the shade of a Sunbrella umbrella or canopy. A table umbrella’s central pole fits inside a dining or bistro table for cool afternoon brunches, while cantilever umbrellas keep your entire seating area at a comfortable temperature.
  • Furniture Covers: Many different types of covers make protecting the look and longevity of your patio furniture easier. Search for waterproof covers to fit every piece in your layout, including your sofa, chaise lounge, chairs, umbrellas, fire pits, tables and bar sets.
  • Outdoor Rugs: Made with special fibers for both indoor and outdoor use, all-weather outdoor rugs are durable and stylish. Use them beneath a conversation set as a soft place to rest your feet and elevate your look from the ground up.
4 pc outdoor seating set
Wooden Outdoor Seating Set

Maintaining Outdoor Fabrics & Furniture

While they do have significant durability, patio furniture fabrics still require some cleaning and maintenance. Regular cleaning helps prevent stains, odor-causing bacteria and mold or mildew from building up. The sooner you learn how to maintain your outdoor furniture, the longer it will last. Here are some tips to keep your patio seating and accents in great shape:

  • Store in a Dry Place: If you expect bad weather conditions, store your outdoor furniture someplace safe, like a garage or shed, to shield them from heavy winds and rain. Storing outdoor furniture keeps lightweight pieces from flying away and further protects water-resistant fabrics.
  • Clean Up Spills Immediately: Liquid spills bead up on the surface of water-resistant fabric, so you have more time to wipe them away. Clean up messes as soon as possible to avoid possible staining.
  • Follow Instructions on Tags: Always pay attention to manufacturer recommendations when cleaning and maintaining outdoor furniture. In general, brushing off dirt and debris, spot cleaning stains and allowing fabrics to air-dry are safe cleaning methods.
  • Prepare for Seasonal Changes: If you live somewhere with chilly autumns and snowy winters, consider winterizing your patio furniture. Although outdoor pieces are made for all seasons, using quality cleaners and covering furniture protects your investment in the long run.
Patio furniture covered.
Patio Chair Cover