Bilboa our collection of beautiful outdoor fabrics

Outdoor Upholstery Fabrics

With summer finally upon us, many people’s minds will naturally turn to their gardens and outdoor spaces, and of course this will include furniture and outdoor fabrics. If you are considering embarking on creating an outdoor furniture project that will include some upholstery, the fabric choice will form a big part of the job’s chances of success. During the lifetime, exterior upholstery fabrics will endure extreme conditions certainly in comparison to an interior furnishing fabric. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your selected fabric will tick all those important performance boxes. 

Our Fiori collection

What can I use outdoor fabrics for? 

Outdoor living is a growing part of our lifestyle. Many people are redeveloping their homes with large sliding doors that look out to the garden and using this a great opportunity to bring the outside in. Sofas, chairs and a whole gambit of different types of furniture can benefit from a cost-effective facelift. Using outdoor fabrics presents a great opportunity to add more comfort as well as creating a new splash of glamour to our gardens.  

What characteristics should you be looking for from an outdoor fabric?  

With the ever changing British climate, good quality outdoor fabrics need to perform a few functions. They need to be water repellent, colour fast and robust. You also need to choose something that will wipe easily. When the summer is over, all you will need to do is wipe the fabric down and pack away for the winter. 

Basically there are three separate things to consider in an outdoor fabric before making your final decision.

1/ UV resistant fabric and sun bleach

UV, an abbreviation for ultraviolet, make up roughly 10% of the suns light. Any outdoor fabric must be able to withstand the UV rays – these rays have a shorter wavelength that can penetrate fabrics and cause corrosion to the dyes and fibres, a process known as photodegradation. Fabrics can be tested for their UV performance – this is known a light fastness grey scale test and goes from 1 – 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. 

2/ Water resistance

Make sure you select a water-resistant fabric, since nobody wants to sit on a soggy cushion. Even if you leave it outside on a dry evening, mildew can build up overnight and soak into a cushion. A water repellent fabric will help prevent any moisture penetrating the fabric and foam thus preventing water saturation and in turn avoiding fungus build up underneath the fabric. 

Our Lido collection

3/ Mould resistance

Moisture and fabrics are not a good combination. Outdoor fabrics need to be mould resistant. Fabrics such as 100% solution dyed acrylic, vinyl or olefin will help stop any growth of mould.

Different types of outdoor fabric available from Weave

100% solution dyed acrylic

Solution dyed acrylic is produced by a process of blending pigment and polymer together to create a yarn that is dyed all the way through, once it is extruded. When it is woven, this gives the fabric super durable properties allowing it to stand up to the elements. Also, its nature means that it is inherently UV resistant and water repellent, thus preventing fading and mould. From a seating point of view, it is breathable, emulating the handle of a normal interior fabric, which gives the upside of not being sticky to sit on in the heat. It is great for both seat cushions, upholstery and accessories such as scatter cushions.  Check out our beautiful Bilboa range here.

Olefin

Interestingly Olefin was discovered as a chemical by product of oil, commonly known as polyolefins way back in the 1950s in Italy by a man called Glulio Natta. Production was quickly taken up by manufactures to make all types of fabrics. Notably Natta had partner Karl Ziegler were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1963 for their development of a method of transforming polyolefins into fibre using titanium as a catalyst.

Olefin is even more sustainable than fabrics such as cottons. Moreover it is fully recyclable after its use, making it an excellent choice for those environmentally conscious of us. Browse our beautiful collection of Lido here and Fiori here.

Olefins chemical makeup is naturally stain resistant, which means designs cannot be printed on it. In order to achieve a particular design, the threads must be pre dyed during the melting process and then woven in. However, Olefin has a low melting point, so this makes it simpler to produce. Finally, it’s important to remember that Olefin is extremely durable and well suited to high traffic areas. It is ideal for poolside use, with its water-resistant properties and will not stop wet for long after a summer shower. 

Check out our beautiful collections of outdoor fabrics here and bring your indoors out!