Outdoor Furniture Fabric 101

Phifertex sling set with GeoBella pillows
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Best Fabric for Outdoor Furniture

There are so many types of outdoor fabric on the market, but information on how to choose the best fabric for outdoor furniture applications can be hard to find. Quality is fundamental, but so is matching the right fabric to the job. That’s where research and education matter — and that’s why we created this guide to understand which outdoor fabric works best for each type of DIY project.

Different Types of Outdoor Fabric

Olefin

Perfect for poolside use, this 100% recyclable outdoor fabric is a high performance indoor/outdoor fabric that is water resistant. Woven from strong-yet-soft olefin yarns, it combines the durability of traditional outdoor materials with the beauty and refinement of conventional designer upholstery fabrics. It’s durable, sturdy, color fast and easy to wash, but lightweight and soft to the touch. Olefin fiber properties are perfect for the below applications:

  • Outdoor Cushions & Pillows: Choose olefin for projects like outdoor throw pillows, cushions and upholstery, where comfort, softness, and sophisticated design options are a top priority.
  • Outdoor Curtains: The drape of olefin material gives your outdoor curtains a graceful flow. And because the fabric is woven from solution-dyed olefin yarns, they won’t fade in the sun like some common polyester blends. Learn more about the best fabric for outdoor curtains.

Vinyl-Coated Polyester Mesh

Woven from strong polyester yarns coated with a waterproof liquid vinyl, this tough outdoor fabric is engineered for strength and dimensional stability. From sports equipment to beach bags to upholstery, woven vinyl mesh fabrics are long-lasting and easy to clean. Because it doesn’t fray when cut, it can also be used for “no sew” projects: whip up placemats, tablecloths and table runners in no time at all. This durable outdoor mesh fabric is perfect for the below applications:

  • Sling Chair Mesh: Because it’s so strong and sturdy, PVC-coated mesh is the best material for outdoor furniture that needs to comfortably and safely hold a person’s body weight.
  • Boat Flooring Material: When paired with a special backing for grip and improved water-wicking capabilities, Vinyl coated polyester fabrics provide incredibly durable and fully customizable marine flooring.

Canvas

Commonly known for its versatility, canvas is widely used for a multitude of heavy-duty purposes. Lightweight, canvas is generally made of cotton or linen using single ply yarn in a plain-weave. Although canvas can be a popular choice for outdoor furniture, the cotton fibers in canvas are simply not as durable as olefin. In cases of outdoor use, it can only be made waterproof by adding a paraffin wax coating, which tends to leave a sheen on the fabric. However, when scoping out fabric options, you’ll often see canvas used for the following applications.

  • Outdoor Cushions and Pillows: Sometimes used for outdoor furniture fabric on cushions, this type of fabric will not hold its integrity as long as those made with olefin fabrics.
  • Outdoor Curtains: Because of this fabric’s ability to move freely, it can make a good fabric for curtains. However, keep in mind that the cotton fibers in canvas aren’t as durable as those in olefin, so they can be more likely to fade or mildew quickly.

Solution-Dyed Acrylic

Solution-dyed acrylic fabrics are comprised of acrylic yarns that are dyed using a technique that completely saturates the yarn, rather than just dying the outside coat. This fabric is extremely durable and can even withstand up to 1,000 hours of UV rays, meaning it won’t easily fade. It also does well in moist environments because it doesn’t mold easily. However, this fabric is not known for being soft, as its texture is like wool. In addition, this fabric is not a wise option if your concerns include a desire to be eco-friendly or if you’re trying to avoid skin sensitivities. These fabrics are also highly flammable and should be kept away from fire pit and outdoor fire places. Some popular uses for this fabric include:

  • Fabric Awnings and Umbrellas: Because of its ability to defy fading even after hours of UV exposure, this fabric is perfect to use for outdoor awnings. It provides ample shade, and maintains its color.
  • Outdoor Furniture Cushions and Pillows: If comfort and environmental factors are not top priority, this fabric can be used to make outdoor cushions and pillows. However, if the furniture will be used close to grills or fire pits, we recommend choosing a less flammable type of fabric.

Best Outdoor Fabrics For Patio Cushions

So, what is the best type of fabric for outdoor applications? This is where your list of wants and needs comes in. What you need out of your outdoor cushion and furniture fabric will determine what fabric is best for you to use. The table below can help you determine what Phifer fabric will be best for you:

ProductFabricFeaturesPriceApplication Examples
Phifertex® Jacquards100% woven Vinyl-coated polyesterMade in the USA; GREENGUARD® Certified; Microban® antimicrobial protection; Stain Resistant; Fade Resistant; Slingable; Intricate design workMediumSlingable fabric; wrap furniture; multipurpose (decorative bags, pet beds, placemats,  table runners, umbrellas)
Phifertex® PVC / Olefin BlendsVinyl-coated polyester alternating with olefinMade in the USA; GREENGUARD Certified; Microban antimicrobial protection; Stain Resistant; Fade Resistant; Slingable; Strength & softnessMediumSlingable fabric; wrap furniture; multipurpose (decorative bags, pet beds, placemats,  table runners, umbrellas)
​Phifertex® Wicker Weaves100% woven Vinyl-coated polyesterMade in the USA; GREENGUARD Certified; Microban antimicrobial protection; Stain Resistant; Fade Resistant; Slingable; Dobby weave that gives look of natural fibersHighSlingable fabric; wrap furniture; Multipurpose (decorative bags, pet beds, placemats, table runners, umbrellas)
​​​​​​Phifertex® Plus100% woven Vinyl-coated polyesterMade in the USA; GREENGUARD Certified; Microban antimicrobial protection; Stain Resistant; Fade Resistant; Slingable; Extra strongMediumSlingable fabric; wrap furniture; multipurpose (decorative bags, pet beds, placemats, table runners, umbrellas, shade awnings, children’s cots)
Phifertex® Standard & Recreational100% woven Vinyl-coated polyesterMade in the USA; GREENGUARD Certified; Microban antimicrobial protection; Stain Resistant; Fade ResistantLowMultipurpose (decorative beach bags, pool fencing, temporary fencing, pet beds); track & field jump pits; children’s cots; horse masks; brailer bags; transport fabric; safety fabrics
GeoBella® Outdoor Cushion and Pillow Fabrics100% recyclable yarns / 100% OlefinEco-friendly; GREENGUARD Certified; Stain Resistant; Certified; Fade Resistant; Comfortable, soft, and strongMediumCushions & pillows; curtains; multipurpose (pet beds, upholstery, tablecloths, placemats, umbrellas)
Murotex®100% Vinyl-coated polyester meshMade in the USA; GREENGUARD Certified; Microban antimicrobial protection; Stain Resistant; Fade Resistant; Flame Retardant; Meets most commercial office building specs and codes; Produced on a custom basisHighCommercial wall covering; stadium seating; commercial seating, wrapped acoustical panels, panel applications
Marine FlooringVinyl coated polyester alternating with olefinMade in the USA; GREENGUARD Certified;  Stain Resistant; Fade Resistant; Produced on a custom basisHighMultipurpose; boat flooring (full deck flooring applications, custom fit mats); marine

How much fabric will you need?

Once you know which fabric to buy, the next question is how much do you need? While every project is unique, our fabric calculation guide will teach you how to measure and plan with confidence.

Choosing Fabric for Your Next DIY Project

Our Outdoor Fabric Visualizer is a fun and powerful tool to help you envision the final result of your DIY adventures. It’s so easy to mix and match your favorite fabrics with our sample images to see how your outdoor furniture dreams might look in real life.

Types of Outdoor Fabric from Phifer

Blurring the line between high performance and high design, our GeoBella line is a superior olefin fabric. Stain resistant, UV/fade resistant, water resistant, and eco-friendly, GeoBella fabric is an ideal choice for both indoor and outdoor use. Check out our selection of outdoor fabrics that can be delivered right to your door!

 

Need more great information about Phifer’s outdoor fabric? Get in touch with one of our friendly experts today! We live and breathe outdoor furniture fabric and can answer all your questions over the phone, email or live chat.

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