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How To Choose the Perfect Outdoor Upholstery Fabric

How To Choose the Perfect Outdoor Upholstery Fabric

Summer is here, and it brought sunny skies, warm weather, and lush greenery with it. During this beautiful, comfortable time of year, many homeowners strive to spend more time embracing Mother Nature. But if you're going to be spending more time outside, you want that time to be pleasant—and one thing that can quickly ruin your time in the sun is uncomfortable, worn-down, and outdated furniture. If you want to refresh your outdoor furniture to improve your summer experience, consider using reupholstery to improve the appearance and durability of your furniture in just a few quick and easy steps. Review the tips and tricks for finding your match to choose the perfect outdoor upholstery fabric.

Types of Outdoor Fabric

There are several varieties of outdoor fabric to choose from. The four most common are listed below.

Solution Dyed

This type of fabric is made by dying fibers before spinning them into yarn. Solution dyed fabric is water resistant, fade resistant, washable, and has a high thread count. Another perk of solution dyed fabric is that it looks like indoor fabric, which means it has a natural, non-plasticky appearance that's visually appealing. The one con to solution dyed fabric is that it can be costly, but for all its perks, most would agree the price is worth it!


Polyolefins have many of the same benefits as solution-dyed fabric because they’re essentially a more advanced form of them. Polyolefins are solution dyed, then turned into a solid or textured woven fabric. They're natural-looking, durable, washable, and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. If you need something that's exceptionally durable, this hardwearing fabric is the right choice for you.

Spun Polyesters

This economical choice is made from inexpensive polyester. While not as durable as other options, spun polyesters are still decently fade-, wrinkle-, and weather-resistant. They make a fantastic choice for pillows, décor, and other furniture that you want to have a vibrant, playful look.


Like spun polyester, vinyl is an affordable option that's available in many different colors and patterns. It's water-, weather-, and UV-resistant and a breeze to clean. It also stretches easily for fewer wrinkles.

Factors To Consider

When choosing an outdoor upholstery fabric, there are a few key considerations to mull over. Here's what you should factor in before making a purchase.


Durability is a crucial factor to consider when selecting an outdoor fabric. The outdoors are harsher than the indoors, which necessitates the use of sturdier cloth that can withstand heat, rain, nibbling and scratching from pesky critters, and more. Fortunately, the fabrics listed above are all suited to outdoor use. However, some are more durable than others.

As a general rule, furniture that’s left out in the open needs more durable fabric than furniture kept under shelter. Likewise, furniture that you plan to use often needs more durable fabric than furniture you only plan to use occasionally. Additionally, if you have kids or pets, it’s smart to invest in fabric that’s easily washable so that you don't have to panic when stray hairs, dirt, or crayon marks find their way onto your furniture.


Price is another important factor to consider. While looks and durability are paramount, you also need fabric that's available at a price point you can comfortably afford. For most people, it's best to choose mid-range fabric that provides the look and durability they need without breaking the bank. That said, if you plan to use your outdoor space often, it may be worth it to splurge a little.

How Many Yards?

Most outdoor upholstery fabrics are sold by the yard. Take the time to carefully measure the cushion or pillow you want to reupholster before you buy to ensure you have enough fabric to complete your project. We recommend purchasing a few inches more than you need to account for any incorrect measurements and tricky seams.

Color & Pattern

This is the fun part! Fabrics come in all sorts of colors and patterns, allowing you to customize their look to suit your tastes. The way your fabric looks is totally up to you. If you need help choosing, take inspiration from your surroundings—what colors and patterns are you already using in your yard, and what type of fabric would complement those designs?

Waterproof vs. Water Resistant

Surprisingly, these two similar terms don't mean the same thing! Waterproof fabric is treated and provides a full, practically impenetrable barrier against water. Water-resistant fabric has a special weave that deters water but won’t completely shield your fabric from moisture. If you live in an area that frequently sees rain or snow, waterproof fabric is the ideal option since it's more protective. But if you live in an arid environment, water-resistant fabric should hold up just fine.

Maintenance Levels

Of course, if you want your outdoor fabric to last, you need to take care of it. Different fabrics have different maintenance needs. Before you purchase a fabric, familiarize yourself with the amount and type of maintenance it requires. After all, you don't want to choose a high-maintenance fabric if you don't have the time to care for it.

Fortunately, most outdoor fabrics are easy to care for. If your fabric isn’t fully waterproof, you'll need to bring it in during bouts of rain or set it on its side to dry once the rain has ceased. If you spill something on the fabric, clean it immediately using a mild soap and lukewarm water or a fabric-safe cleaner. If you want to limit how fast your fabrics fade, you may want to shelter your furniture under the shade during particularly sunny days.

Where To Get Outdoor Fabric

Visit the Fabric Outlet for a paradise full of outdoor upholstery fabrics. Our collection contains bold and vibrant polyester fabrics that both look and function amazingly. Our products are all made from long-lasting and wear-resistant materials and are Solar Flair SNS, so they won't get hot under the sun. Shop our assortment of fabrics today to find the perfect match for your outdoor space.

How To Choose the Perfect Outdoor Upholstery Fabric