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The world of outdoor fabrics has evolved. We are no longer limited to a range of heavy acrylics in tropical prints. Instead of stiff, scratchy cushions, we can enjoy soft, luxurious fabrics outdoors that rival interior textiles.

What are outdoor fabrics?

Outdoor fabrics are designed to withstand the stress of living outside. The woven textiles are made from a variety of materials including acrylic, synthetic fibers, blends of cotton, polyester and linen. These vary in aesthetics and quality which greatly determines how long they will last outdoors.

Most outdoor fabrics are breathable and through manufacturing techniques, they’re designed to repel water. Quality outdoor textiles will be resistant to soiling and water-based stains as well as be resistant to mold and mildew.

You can view our quality outdoor fabrics here.

Key features of outdoor fabrics

When choosing outdoor fabrics, you want to ensure the textile is going to weather well outside. To a great extent, the types of fabric you choose will come down to how you want to use your furniture and where it will be placed outdoors.

Some of the key features of outdoor fabrics include:

  • Fade resistant
  • Weather resistant
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Waterproof
  • UV resistance
  • Stain resistant
  • Breathable
  • Washable – machine or hand wash

The new wave of outdoor fabrics

Our Nomah collection upholstered in Belgian Linen Dovetail
Our Nomah collection upholstered in Belgium Linen Dovetail

As we spend more time living outdoors, our desire for comfortable outdoor furniture that can withstand the external environment deepens. As a result, we’re seeing more lounge furniture that would be just as fitting inside come onto the market. Because of this outdoor fabrics are evolving to improve the level of comfort.

Our specialist outdoor Belgium linen range highlights a new wave of outdoor fabrics. Unlike the strong, heavy acrylic textiles, the outdoor linen is incredibly soft and gets better with age. It’s such a lovely fabric collection, you could use it inside without anyone associating it with the outdoors. This is a great solution for those with children who desire durable, yet luxurious, fabrics that can withstand dirty feet and sticky hands.

Why you should consider a woven textile

Woven fabrics not only look great, they’re also more fade resistance than printed acrylics. This is especially important for those pieces that will be regularly exposed to the sun. If you’re worried about fading, consider the color fabric you’re choosing. Dark colors like navy and black and bright shades tend to fade more quickly than light, neutral colors.

Another advantage of choosing a woven fabric is that it will disguise any dirt and dust effectively.  This is ideal for those pieces you wish to leave outdoors rather than store the cushions away.

What’s the difference between waterproof and water-resistant?

Materials that claim to be waterproof are impervious to water whereas water-resistant textiles are those that repel some water. There is also showerproof fabrics that will withstand exposure to rain showers well and water repellent materials that have been treated with an external coating.

It’s worth noting, fabrics that have an external water repellant finish will feel different than natural materials such as linen. Also, the coatings will eventually wear off as they are exposed to the elements or washed.

Cushion quality is just as important as fabrics

What's inside is also very important
What’s inside is also very important

If you’re looking upholstered outdoor furniture, it’s hard to ignore what’s inside that determines it’s comfort and durability. The foam used in cushions is one particular element you want to ensure will be suitable for your furniture piece and it’s end use.

When buying outdoor furniture with cushions it’s important to consider their drainage ability. Quality reticulated quick dry foams, for example, will drain extremely well when compared to traditional Dacron foams.

Read about caring for your outdoor upholstered furniture here.

If you want to leave your furniture outside all year round, we recommend you choose reticulated foam cushions that you can tip on their side to allow for the water to run out of the material. However, if you are positioning your piece undercover, Dacron wrapped foam cushions will be more suitable. They’ll provide a greater level of softness and still offer adequate drainage for those times it is exposed to wet weather.