Best Fabric Choices For Outdoor Furniture

Whether you're planning on reupholstering your current set or looking to pick out something new, there's a few things you should consider about fabric for outdoors. Namely, what will work best for you.

First and foremost, any fabric you choose for outdoor purposes must be waterproof or water resistant, as they will be exposed to the elements. Outdoor fabrics are made with a protective coating which helps to repel or resist water, moisture, mold and mildew, all of which can age and cause damage to cushions. It's important to note, however, that if your outdoor fabric is labelled as “water repellant,” a finish has been applied to the fabric which will wear down over time as you use and clean it.

Look for fabrics that are labelled as fade-resistant too, so that sun and rain won't damage the pattern or colour. It's also good to make sure that pillow inserts have a polypropylene cover, and that the filling is 100 per cent waterproof as well.

Fabric Types

Though there are many options for fabric for your outdoor furniture (one could even use a particularly pretty shower curtain!) we will detail a few of the more common types below:

Solution-dyed acrylic

Solution-dyed acrylic is less susceptible to fading, wear and tear, and in some cases resistant to bleaching, making it an ideal option for outdoor furniture.

Cotton Canvas

Canvas is a plain woven fabric that was traditionally made with hemp or linen but is now made with cotton. It is a heavy duty fabric, relatively inexpensive, and can be used in many outdoor applications, although it is not naturally stain, water, or mildew resistant and should be treated. Duck cloth is similar to canvas but features a much tighter weave.


Textiliene fabric is woven polyester with a PVC coating. Waterproof and fade resistant, as well as mold resistant and flame retardant, it's an excellent choice for sun shades and outdoor furniture.

Outdoor Curtain Fabric

If you're looking for a more economical fabric option for outdoor cushions, consider outdoor curtain fabric, which is available in sheer and heavier styles.

Fabric Tips

Treat any cotton blend and non-treated fabric with Scotchgard or any similar protective coating before using it. These products can be applied directly to outdoor fabrics to make them more water repellant. Topical applications may wear off over time, however, so the fabric will need to be retreated.

Wipe down and dry off cushions and other fabrics, especially those that can catch and retain water, after a rain to avoid mold and mildew.

At least once a month, wash your cushions and fabrics with a soft detergent to remove surface dirt. Thoroughly clean cushions and fabrics before storing away at the end of the season.