Choosing Outdoor Furniture - The Right Seating Material

Posted by Dan Jolly on Jun 20, 2012 8:59:00 AM

Patio furniture deep seating cushionsCertainly, the component of almost any piece of patio furniture that is most vulnerable to the harsh elements is the cushion or sling material. This creates a major concern for most people when choosing patio furniture, and rightly so. There’s nothing worse than spending your hard earned money on a low quality product that begins to break down and fall apart after only a few years.

Fear no more. Here is some important information that should help you choose a material that will give you lasting durability as well as the comfort you expect.

Cushions: The first name in outdoor cushion material is Sunbrella®. Everyone knows Sunbrella® fabrics are ideal for outdoor living, but did you know you can leave your cushions outdoors all year long? Sunbrella® fabrics are mildew-resistant, fade-resistant, soft to the touch and they’ll even stand up to the harshest sun and the most dramatic weather Mother Nature can muster.

Made of 100% solution-dyed acrylic yarn, Sunbrella® fabrics are known for their outstanding durability and long lasting color. In ordinary fabrics, dyes are added to the surface of the yarn or fabric, thus the color only penetrates the outer layer and washes out or fades away over time. Because the color pigment is solution-dyed throughout the material before it is woven, Sunbrella® fabrics won’t fade with extreme exposure to the unforgiving sun or even cleaning with bleach.

how to identify quality outdoor fabricSlings
: When it comes to sling material, it’s crucial to make sure the sling material is infused with UV inhibitors. Because sling material is stretched tight onto the frame of the chair, it’s more susceptible to drying out and tearing. Fabric that is made with UV inhibitors are less likely to fade, dry out and eventually tear. Additionally, sling material should be made with PVC material. Without PVC yarn woven into the material, slings will begin to sag and eventually tear after a short period of time.

Straps: Although very common among commercial grade patio furniture, vinyl straps are not typically used on residential patio furniture. While it is very durable, strap furniture isn’t usually as comfortable as sling or cushion furniture, and the straps themselves may also begin to discolor with prolonged exposure to the sun. Adding a removable cushion to strap furniture will help prevent discoloration while also improving the overall comfort. Finally, you should also avoid using petroleum based products such as sun block and tanning oils directly on the straps as this may also lead to discoloration of the vinyl straps.

As far as what is the best option of the three seating materials we covered it boils down to what fits your needs. How will your furniture be used, for dining, for lounging poolside or as a deep seating gathering area? Regardless of which you choose, when the time comes to purchase your next set of patio furniture take a moment to ask a few questions about the seating material.

All of this information as well as other great insights into purchasing patio furnishings can also be found in our Free Outdoor Furniture Buying Guide.



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Loaded with important information about the different types of patio furniture materials and styles as well as great style tips from our team of designers, you'll find everything you'll need to help you create your own backyard escape. As an added bonus, we've also included a useful checklist that you can complete and take with you when you goshopping for patio furniture.

Topics: Sling Patio Furniture, Cushion Patio Furniture, Sunbrella Fabric, Choosing Outdoor Furniture, Patio Furniture Care