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  • Writer's pictureDeland Pelto

Outdoor Fabrics 101

The outdoor living trend shows no signs of slowing down. Our outdoor spaces have become even more important as we stay home for extended periods. The fabrics specifically created for outdoor use have some pretty awesome characteristics. Let's take a look at the best options.

100% Acrylic fabrics such as Sunbrella, are practical as well as beautiful. The reason these fabrics retain their color for so long is in the fiber itself. All of the brilliant colors we love are created when the fiber is in a liquid state. the liquid is transformed into fine filaments that are woven very tightly together to create a water resistance fabric.

These acrylic fabrics are durable and easy to care for. You can wash them with soap and water and even bleach! If you wash them in your washing machine, just remember to use cold water and never put them in the dryer! Just put the covers back on the cushions while wet and they will look good as new.

Airy outdoor sheers are a great addition to a gazebo.
Airy outdoor sheers are a great addition to a gazebo.

There are many less tightly woven acrylic fabrics that are sheer and make beautiful draperies. Airy and light to look at, but durable and cleanable for outdoors.

Other fabrics available for use outdoors are made of polyester or polyolefin (aka polypropylene) fibers. Both are solution dyed like acrylic, but polyester will absorb water. Polyester is also less fade proof than other options. Therefore some of these fabrics are classified for Indoor/Outdoor. Sometimes the fabrics will have an acrylic backing to help with water resistance or to add stability.

These fabrics are very tough, but should not be used in direct sunlight. They are perfect for areas that are covered or shaded. Of course, any of these fabrics can be used indoors at any time. The hand on these super-fabrics is suitable for residential use. Soft and even drape-able, any high traffic area would benefit!

Another amazing characteristic of the new outdoor fabrics are the interesting weaves and textures like chenille and matelassé. All of the major fabric houses offer outdoor fabrics in an amazing array of designs. Check out our Integrity Design Resources showroom to find the latest samples!

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