Published on March 1, 2013 by: Ronald Skeean
How to Compare Outdoor Furniture Fabrics - A Consumers Guide
When custom designing your outdoor patio, the wide variety of outdoor furniture fabric choices can quickly overwhelm your decor selection process. Every company you come across is going to try to entice you to buy their product by promising you that their materials will offer you the highest durability, fade-resistance, color retention and ease of cleaning available on the market. However, by performing a bit of due diligence, you will quickly be able to realize the truth-tellers from the hype marketers. The key to selecting the right fabric for your outdoor furniture is to learn how to correctly compare the different fabric options to determine which one is best for your particular lifestyle.
Durability of Fabrics
Discount stores are notorious for trying to pass off cheap cotton, gingham, suede and nylon outdoor furniture fabrics as durable fabrics or webbing materials. While these materials are perfect for indoor use, they just do not hold up well outside in the elements. It could only take one rain, wind or hail storm to completely ruin the fabric, hence the bargain price.
The only wise way to justify a purchase of these items is to take them outside during fair weather days, and then store them inside until the next fair weather day. The problem with this method is that you cannot predict the weather. Therefore, you could literally go out to run a few quick errands and come back to find that a storm has completely ruined your outdoor furniture fabrics. Furthermore, your outdoor furniture is usually subject to punishing UV rays which can quickly cause fading of colors, and sometimes actually damage the strength of the material.
On the other hand, certain materials are created especially for outdoor furniture. These materials include acrylic and acrylic-blend. Acrylic-blend fabrics are generally acrylic-covered or coated polyester or cotton. These options are somewhat softer to the touch than 100 percent acrylic and come in a wide variety of styles. They also offer long-term durability and survive most types of storms virtually unscathed.
One other main key to finding fabrics that offer optimal durability over the long haul exists. This key is the distribution of threads within the pattern. If some of the threads are larger than others, the larger threads will be more likely to separate from the smaller threads during normal wear and tear. Over time, this problem can cause the entire pattern to separate and lead to the complete demise of the outdoor furniture cushion. Therefore, it is wise to select same-size thread patterns, such as Tropitone fabrics. This well-known fabric company creates an enormous assortment of pattern designs that utilize same-size threads that are pull-resistant. Tropitone fabrics are also made from either acrylic or acrylic-blend, so they offer double protection from wear and tear.
Fabric Fade resistance and Color Retention
Another added bonus you get when you select acrylic or acrylic-blend fabrics is protection from fading, which in turn maximizes color retention. This is mainly due to the solution that the manufacturer uses to dye and treat each piece. This special process enriches the fabric's individual colors, as well as enables the outdoor furniture fabrics to repel atmospheric chemicals, rot, mildew, and food and dirt stains. Although vinyl or nylon fabrics have minor fade resisting properties, these types of outdoor furniture fabrics are not very comfortable to sit on for extended periods of time. Vinyl or nylon webbing on outdoor furniture fabrics also come in limited patterns and styles, making them hard to find and even harder to replace.
Ease of Cleaning Different Fabric Types
Another main area to investigate is ease of cleaning. You can get away with a cheap cotton discount store find that has been treated with Scotchguard for a while. Vinyl is also easy to clean, if you can find a pattern and style that suits you in this material. Again, acrylic and acrylic-blend generally win over the other outdoor furniture fabrics over the long haul.
Generally, all you need to clean these materials are liquid soap and warm water for dirt, mildew, wine or food and beverage stains. Since these materials are so sturdy, acrylic and acrylic-blend outdoor furniture fabrics can also be scrubbed down and hosed off for deeper cleanings that remove ground-in stains. Many of the cleaners made for outdoor furniture may be purchased at a specialty retail store for outdoor furniture.