How to Pick the Right Cushions and Fabric For Your Outdoor Furniture

When it comes to outdoor furniture, looks aren’t the only thing that matters. After all, you want your seating to be comfortable so you can truly sit back and relax when you’re out on the porch!

As part of creating the ultimate relaxation zone, choosing the right cushions and fabric is an important consideration. Whether you are purchasing separate cushions to go with your current furniture, or buying new pieces that incorporate cushions and fabric as part of the design, the right selection will enhance both the appearance and long-term usability of your furniture.

Here is a closer look at the types of fabric most commonly used for outdoor furniture, as well as what you can do to ensure that your cushions and fabric stand the test of time.


olefin fabric

Olefin — also known as polypropylene fiber — is a widely used outdoor fabric that is actually a byproduct of refined petroleum. This synthetic material is quite durable and stain resistant, while also being more resistant to fading from ultraviolet light. The material itself is chemically stain resistant, so it doesn’t need to have additional chemicals or antimicrobial products applied.

This material is actually quite environmentally friendly, as it doesn’t require water during manufacturing, and makes use of materials from oil production that would otherwise go to waste. 

Olefin fabrics typically use a wax-based, water-repellant finish that keeps the cushions from absorbing moisture. This prevents mildew growth, making olefin much easier to care for than other materials. Olefin also has a high light fastness rating of 2,000 hours or three years — meaning that it should be able to resist UV-related fading for at least that amount of time.

Solution Dyed Acrylic

Solution-dyed acrylic is another common fabric used in outdoor furniture. As The Spruce explains, “With this type of fabric, the dyeing occurs before the yarn is made. Liquid acrylic and color are mixed and formed into fibers. Then the colored fibers are spun into a yarn already permeated with color. The fabric is made to be colorfast after exposure to the elements, along with ordinary wear and tear. Solution-dyed acrylic is usually soft, breathable, water-resistant, and quick-drying.”

Because the fabrics are fully permeated with the color, they are much more resistant to fading than printed acrylic. Printed acrylic generally uses a screen print with dyes that are meant to resist fading and weather damage. However, these dyes are far less durable since they only provide a “surface-level” finish.

While solution-dyed acrylic can provide up to 2,000 hours of lightfastness and has great mildew resistant properties, it typically needs a specialty stain finish to prevent staining from other materials. Oily stains (such as from food products like ketchup and mustard) can be quite hard to get out. 

Outdoor Polyester

Outdoor polyester tends to cost less than other outdoor fabrics, but with the trade-off of significantly inferior performance. Polyester generally only has a lightfastness score of 500 hours, and may begin to fade after one year. 

Polyester is batch-dyed so that large amounts of the fabric can be produced at once. While this further lowers costs, it also makes the dye less resistant to spills and stains. The materials also have a tendency to pill and fuzz when washed.

As a result, polyester may be a serviceable option if you only plan to have your furniture outside for a few months out of the year. Otherwise, it will likely fade and deteriorate too quickly to be truly worth the effort.

Caring For Outdoor Cushions and Fabric

outdoor furniture fabric

Regardless of the materials you choose for your outdoor cushions and furniture fabric, you can generally follow the same care guidelines. It is generally best to wipe off any spills or soiling as quickly as possible. Even for materials that are more stain-resistant, the lingering debris can create the perfect conditions for mildew growth, particularly in humid climates.

To remove dirt and other debris, first brush or wipe off as much as you can. Spot clean the affected area with either the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning solution, or a mixture of 1/4 cup bleach-free detergent and 1 gallon of warm water. After applying the cleaning solution to the dirty area, scrub out the stains with a soft towel or sponge. Then, rinse with clean water and dry using a clean towel.

It is generally safer to air-dry outdoor fabric after washing. Some materials, particularly acrylic, can be damaged if dry cleaned or placed in a clothes dryer. Repeat this process as necessary. 

Check the tags for the fabric or cushion, just in case the manufacturer has different cleaning recommendations. For example, some manufacturers may recommend cleaning the entire cushion after a set length of time. If the fabric coverings can be removed from the cushions, you may be able to wash them in a washing machine, though they will likely still need to be air dried.

Finally, you can prevent stains and extend the lifespan of outdoor cushions and fabric by using a furniture cover when you won’t be using the furniture. A waterproof cover will protect the fabric from ultraviolet light, dust, water, and other signs of weathering. 

Find What You Need With KB Authority

With high-quality outdoor cushions and fabrics, you can have confidence that your outdoor furniture will help you create the perfect gathering place for friends and family. With the right materials and proper care, you can expect your furniture to serve you well for several years to come.

Of course, finding high-quality outdoor furniture at an affordable price can sometimes be a challenge — but not with KB Authority on your side. We offer a wide range of outdoor furniture from quality brands like Crosley, Hanover, and Panama Jack. Many of these pieces are available at significant discounts off MSRP, and many products also feature additional savings for individuals who are part of our membership program.

Whether you need something for a smaller patio or are looking for a full-size conversation set, you’ll find the quality you want at an affordable price through KB Authority.

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