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How to choose the best outdoor fabric for cushions

Choose the right outdoor fabric fiber for your home.


Landscape architects, designers, realtors, and building contractors all agree that regardless of the price point on a home, outdoor living spaces have become a standard feature in new home construction. The trend is to create an outdoor living area that mimics indoor living.

Outdoor kitchens vary from a built in grill to fully functioning kitchen spaces that may include refrigeration and brick ovens. What outdoor space would be complete without a television and a sound system as well as a fireplace or at least a cozy fire pit?!

With all these outdoor living areas, comfortable seating is essential. Think of the seating as an expansion of what you would have inside your home... comfortable dining chairs, a sofa or a sectional. The difference is that the seating is made of materials that can withstand the outdoor elements. Harsh sunlight, temperature extremes, water and humidity that contribute to mold require special fabrics engineered for outdoor living.

Revolution Outdoor Fabrics are the perfect choice for your outdoor living and entertaining!

The three best outdoor fabrics and their Pros and Cons

Olefin Outdoor Fabrics

New to the outdoor fabric category, Revolution outdoor fabrics are woven in King Mountain , North Carolina with olefin and polypropylene yarns.

Olefin is a byproduct of refining petroleum and is extremely durable and stain resistant. Olefin along with Acrylic is extremely resistant to fading from the sun. Most outdoor fabrics on the market will be acrylic, olefin, or polyester. Polyester fabrics will preform the worse because it has the lowest lightfastness rating and they require a PFC chemical finish for stain resistants. The two best fibers when making outdoor cushions are solution dyed olefin and solution dyed acrylic. The best thing about Revolution Performance fabrics is that you get superior performance at a great value per yard. Where most outdoor fabrics range from $20 - $50 a yard , Revolution outdoor fabrics cost between $15 and $30 a yard!

Revolution Performance Fabrics

Pros Cons

Extremely stain resistant without the use for a PFC chemical treatment .


Currently produce a small line of outdoor fabric. More fabrics will be available in the future.

100% woven in the United States with raw materials form within 300 miles of the factory.

Heavy texture ( great for cushions , maybe not drapes )

Exceeds 30,000 Double rubs and us very abrasion resistant

Wax based water repellent finish for rain and dew.

Outdoor fabrics are over 2000 hours of light fastness or 3 year fade warranty.  

Mildew resistant properties.

Solution Dyed Acrylic Outdoor Fabrics

Acrylic fabrics are synthetic fabrics made from acrylic fibers. They have a number of advantages including lower specific gravity, mildew-resistant properties and an ability to manage moisture. Made famous by outdoor fabric brands like Sunbrella, most outdoor fabrics are solution dyed acrylic or a cheap polyester only good for a season. Acrylic is great for lightfastness but is extremely easy to stain when not treated with a stain treatment bath. These fabrics tend to look great at first but become stained as the treatment wears off. Do not let the "solution dyed" marketing efforts fool you . Not all solution dyed fibers are created equal. Solution dyed Acrylic can be atmospherically dyed ... This means that the fiber has dye sites. The more dye sites a fiber has, the more wine, ketchup , and stains can penetrate the fiber. Solution Dyed Olefin on the other does not have dye site. This is why Olefin is stain resistant without the use of stain treatment baths.

Pros Cons

High UV and lightfastness scores ( 2000 hr of lightfastness)

Contain harmful PFC Chemical

mildew resistant properties

Known to pill or fuzz

Multiply use application ( drapes , cushions, curtains)

Very expensive ( will had $400 average to your upholstery projec t)

Some liquid resistant properties ( with stain finish applied )

Flat texture ( not great for upholstery / limited design )

Extremely hard to get oily stains out ( Ketchup, Mustard, ETC )

Outdoor Polyester and Prints

Mostly used in one season outdoor goods, polyester outdoor fabrics and prints will be your lowest performing outdoor fabric . These fabrics on average will have a light fastness score no higher than 1000 hours of light fastness. Unlike solution dyed Acrylic and Olefin, Polyester is batch dyed. Most polyester is woven white and then dyed in drums to its desired color. This process is great for obtaining mass amounts of colored fabrics but these fabrics are extremely receptacle to staining because of the mass about of dye sites in polyester fiber. These fabrics will be cheap and only good for a seasonal throw pillow or two.

Pros Cons

Largest selection of product

Low Lightfasntness / Fade rating ( 1 year or 500 hour average )

Cheap fabrics by the yard

Hard to clean oily spills like ketchup and mustard

Can have some liquid replency after a PFC chemical bath

Abrasion results are across the board

Known to pill or fuzz.

Contains Harmful PFC chemicals if stain resistants properties are claimed.

Olefin outdoor fabric vs Acrylic outdoor fabric

When choosing the best outdoor fabric for your outdoor cushions, we recommend using Revolution Outdoor Performance Fabrics. Revolution Fabrics are 100% made in the United States and contain know harmful PFC chemicals, making them easy on your home and the environment. By choosing Revolution outdoor fabrics, you will get a outdoor fabric that will last for years and will hold up to all of life's messes.