Putting your outdoor furniture to use is a tactile experience. Sure, you look at the furniture for a bit, but what keeps you on it is how it feels. The upholstery on the furniture has a pretty important role to play in how comfortable it is and how well it’s able to hold up to being outside all the time. So what sorts of upholstery should you have on your outdoor furniture?
Outdoor fabrics need to be able to withstand a lot of adverse conditions. They need to withstand sun, water, temperature changes, and more without degrading or losing their color. Solution-dyed acrylic fabrics tick all of these boxes. These fabrics are colorfast, which means that they are incredibly resistant to color fading and running. The fabric is also water-resistant. But most-impressive of all, it’s comfortable! When treated for water, many fabrics lose their softness, but not with solution-dyed acrylic. With all these advantages, solution-dyed acrylic does tend to cost a bit more than alternatives, but the comfort is well worth the small extra cost.
Polypropylene is also called Olefin. It’s a synthetic fiber that’s made from propylene, a byproduct of oil and natural gas facilities. Once it’s made into a fiber, it becomes strong and resistant to fading, staining, and abrasion. It’s so stain resistant, in fact, that you’ll find that it’s generally not going to be possible to dye it yourself. These characteristics make polypropylene fabric a good option as an upholstery material for outdoor furniture and pillows. This synthetic fiber is also incredibly light.
If you have a pool or are looking for something for patio chairs, PVC mesh can be a really good upholstery option. This material has a plasticy basket weave appearance. PVC mesh holds up really well against water. Water passes through it quickly and it dries fast. It’s generally going to be resistant to sun fading too. It doesn’t stretch, so you won’t need to have a support under it. If the ability to hold up to water is a concern, PVC mesh is a pretty solid option to go with.
Anyone who’s spent time on a boat has very likely sat on something covered in marine vinyl. It’s a pretty popular upholstery option for things like boats and automobiles and has a leathery appearance. It’s treated to be water resistant, stain resistant, and UV resistant. That pretty well keeps it from being damaged by the various elements it gets exposed to. Add its high abrasion resistance to all of that, and you have a high quality, durable upholstery option that is also fairly comfortable to sit on.
Okay, so there are probably other options out there, but polypropylene, PVC mesh, and marine vinyl are all pretty good options that are worth thinking about. If you do choose to go with a different upholstery option, think carefully about how well the material will hold up to being outside all the time in the sun, wind, and rain.
Furniture upholstery is only part of the equation when it comes to choosing patio furniture. Read this next: How Do I Choose Patio Furniture?