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Comparing Outdoor Fabrics

Posted by Thomas Hood on

Designing for an outdoor space can seem daunting at first. With so many different brands, colors and designs, it is reasonable to feel intimidated and rationalize buying a cheap set of outdoor furniture from Target. The paradox here is that choosing to ‘buy cheap’ when selecting a fabric will ultimately cost you more money down the road. Store-bought outdoor furniture is typically made of 100% spun polyester. It’s cheap, easy to wash and generally will not shrink. But, spun poly will fade after 500 hours in the sun, which is about 4 times as quick as solution-dyed acrylics. The fabric is also coarse and is not easy to work with, flaws that discourage both potential buyers and upholsterers alike. Fortunately, a superior option exists - solution-dyed acrylic fabrics. When selecting a solution-dyed acrylic fabric, refer to the three biggest manufacturers’ (Sunbrella, Outdura, Tempotest) catalogues and select the design that fits your particular needs. Sunbrella (a brand as ubiquitous as Kleenex) Rain fabric is engineered for locations that experience high amounts of rainfall - and is one of the few designer fabrics that is 100% waterproof. It is bleach cleanable, mold and mildew resistant, and sustainably made in the USA. Outdura fabrics are also bleach cleanable and come resistant to UV radiation, stains, as well as mold and mildew. The North Carolina based company offers a slightly longer 6 year warranty but is not directly available to the end customer, meaning that to purchase Outdura fabrics it must be through a retailer. Lastly, Tempotest is an Italian based fabric company that specializes in machine washable solution-dyed acrylics. This means that to clean Tempotest fabric only a washing machine is required, no harmful chemicals or bleach necessary. It is also water and stain/mold/mildew resistant, but not 100% waterproof. Tempotest also offers an outstanding 10 year warranty for their awning and marine fabrics, and a modest 6 for their indoor/outdoor fabrics. Whichever brand you choose - Sunbrella, Outdura or Tempotest, it is easy to see the benefits of solution-dyed acrylic over spun polyester. Cost-effective, durable, stylish and sustainable, solution-dyed acrylic truly is the ultimate outdoor fabric. 


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