The Best Fabric for Outdoor Cushions

When it comes to determining the best material for your outdoor cushions, there are several factors to consider. First, and foremost, you need to decide where you’ll be using them. Cushions used in outdoor spaces like an enclosed patio or a deck with a roof will be protected from the elements and can afford to be a little less robust. On the other end of the spectrum, outdoor seating options like a garden bench will have cushions that will be left outside all the time, so they should be crafted from hardier material to stand up to precipitation and sunlight.

Climate and geography are another consideration. Wetter areas, like the Pacific Northwest and humid Southern regions prone to hurricanes and frequent storms, may have cushion material requirements that differ from those of the hot, arid Southwest, for example.

And, of course, not all material for outside cushions is created equal. It’s wise to read the fine print about what weather hazards a cushion can reasonably accommodate without deteriorating, and choose according to your needs.

What Fabric Is Commonly Used For Outdoor Cushions

There’s no shortage of possibilities for material used for outdoor furniture cushions. You can choose from natural, synthetic, hardy, more delicate—the possibilities are vast! Here are some of the more popular options:

Olefin Fiber/ Polypropylene: An incredibly durable synthetic that’s often used for both cushion inserts and covers, this pet- and kid-friendly outdoor material is inherently resistant to stains and UV rays.

Vinyl: While easy to clean and relatively hardy, vinyl becomes hot to the touch as temperatures rise and does not absorb sweat, making for an unpleasant summer experience.

Duck Cloth: Also referred to as “canvas,” this fabric is commonly used in tents, stroller covers, workwear clothing, and other products in which durability is a crucial element.

Textilene Fabric: Synthetic and made from woven polyester covered in PVC (vinyl), Textilene holds up well when exposed to the elements, but can be less comfortable than natural fabrics due to its PVC coating.  

Cotton: Used for centuries for outdoor cushions, cotton canvas is a popular choice for those looking for a balance of comfort and affordability but is prone to mildew and fading if not treated before use.

Solution-Dyed Acrylic: Another synthetic option that resists mildew and fading well, but will remain soft to the touch and comfortable during all seasons.

The Best Outdoor Fabric For Cushions

For most people, durability and comfort are the top considerations to determine the best material for outdoor furniture cushions. Price is also a factor, but keep in mind that the initial upfront cost may not be the only expense. Flimsier, less expensive outdoor cushion fabrics often degrade at a much faster rate which may necessitate buying new cushions sooner than anticipated.

If you are willing to forgo comfort in warmer temps, vinyl is probably the least expensive option. Options for mid-grade outdoor cushion fabric include duck cloth and cotton (which are prone to fading and mildew if not treated), and Textilene, which is waterproof, but can get quite hot in the sun. 

For long-lasting comfort and durability, solution-dyed acrylic fabrics are probably your best bet. The actual yarn itself is colored right down to the core, which helps it retain its color even in the face of consistent UV exposure. It also resists mold and mildew, is easy to clean, and is breathable for those steamy summer days when the air is so hot it feels almost palpable. 

The best waterproof fabric for outdoor cushions is synthetic plastic material like vinyl, or, to a certain extent, polypropylene. While the other fabrics can be water-repellant to a certain degree, they are not truly waterproof.

Is Outdoor Fabric Stain Resistant?

Anytime you want to enjoy food or drinks on outdoor furniture, there’s a question of how easy the cushions will be to clean in the event of a spill. The good news is that there are many stain-resistant outdoor cushion fabrics to choose from. Vinyl and Textilene have the most stain-resisting power, as they do not absorb liquid. However, other materials like treated solution-dyed acrylic and cotton fabric also repel liquids, which improves their ability to repel substances that could potentially leave a stain.


How Do You Clean Outdoor Furniture Cushion Fabric?

Most outdoor furniture cushion fabric is reasonably easy to clean, especially if you’re vigilant about consistently brushing off dirt and debris so it does not have the chance to get embedded into the material. Generally speaking, soap and water are your best bet for removing stains, but some material also reacts well when a small amount of borax is added to the mix. Always be sure to read the instructions before attempting to clean your pillows, as you do not want to end up unintentionally damaging them.

What Is The Best Color For Outdoor Cushions?

The sky is the limit when it comes to cushion colors! Deck, pool, garden, and patio furniture cushion fabric is available in a multitude of shades ranging from soothing neutrals to vibrant primary colors. Choose a color that will complement your furniture and color scheme, but if you are concerned about potential stains, darker fabric is always a better choice.

Keep in mind that outdoor cushions should be considered accent colors, which means you have a little more latitude when it comes to brighter colors. Although, if your patio or other furniture is already a brilliant hue, the fabric used to cover the patio cushions should be a little tamer to balance it out.

Choosing the Best Fabric For Outdoor Cushions

Choosing which type of fabric for outdoor cushions is best for you comes down to personal preference and priorities. Your price point, the area where you’ll be using the cushions, geography, and desired level of comfort all come into play. Just keep in mind that, like most things, you often get what you pay for when it comes to outdoor cushions. Don’t be tempted to skimp on quality. You’ll only be cheating yourself out of the best experience.

Why Buy POLYWOOD® Outdoor Furniture Cushions?

POLYWOOD furniture is highly valued due to its incredible craftsmanship and durability, and our cushions are no different. We take pride in all our products and want you to feel the same; as a result, our outdoor furniture cushions are robust and built to hold up against anything Mother Nature can throw at them. Furthermore, we offer a one-year warranty that covers damage like tearing or mildew. It’s always a great time to buy a POLYWOOD cushion for your outdoor furniture, but now with free shipping on all cushions, there’s no reason to wait!

23 thoughts on “The Best Fabric for Outdoor Cushions

    1. Hi Joyce!

      Great question! The material is going to only be available as a finished good, such as a cushion or pillow. Thank you for taking the time to ask.

    2. Need to hang some material on outside of window to afternoon sun off my fridge. Would solution dyed acrylic do the trick

      1. Hi Ann!

        The solution dyed acrylic fabric will be a great option to bring relief from the sun and will be able to hold up in the exterior environment.

        Have a wonderful day!

  1. Wonderful information, thanks a lot for sharing kind of content with us. Your blog gives the best and the most interesting information about the best fabric for outdoor cushions. I wonder if we can gather such practical information about it, a great post definitely to come across.

  2. Loved your article. It really helps me narrow it down. I have one more question, which is what type of Foam is best to wrapped some of your suggestions around outdoors cushions?

    1. Hi Thomas!

      We utilize polyurethane foam for our deep seating cushions. I hope this helps!

      Great question!

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