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The Top 4 Outdoor Chair Cushion Materials

Updated on May 25, 2014

The Need For Different Materials

Every decorator will say the key to a room is accessories. This is true for an outdoor room as well. The easiest solution to brighten your outdoor furniture is to change your accessories. New outdoor cushions can modernize and provide a new look for your outside living space. In the beginning a cushion was a soft bag of material stuffed with wool, feathers, and even paper, to use for sitting, kneeling or to soften the hardness of a chair or couch. Today we can add personal decorating style as the prints, colors, and texture changes from year to year, the right fabric will help to determine the type and long term usage of your cushions. There are basically four different types of outdoor chair cushion materials, all providing different functions and needs. If you prefer to change your accessories every season, or are looking for long term durability knowing the makeup of the materials used is a plus.It is also o.k. to mix and match your materials, although it is recommended to keep the color and patterns in mind. Pool chairs and dining cushions should have the right material used for function.

Duck Canvas Chair Cushions

Traditional Canvas Outdoor Chair Cushions
Traditional Canvas Outdoor Chair Cushions

1. Cotton Duck Canvas

Cotton duck canvas is a fabric that dates back to the 13th century. Two yarns are tightly woven together to form the plain weave. The fabric is very durable and will stand up to excessive wear. Cotton is an inexpensive fabric that dyes easily. Although cotton duck canvas is naturally water resistant the fabric will retain water in the small pockets of space in the weave and grow heavier. Over time water may find its way into the stuffing of the cushion causing mold or mildew problems. It is recommended that a waterproof treatment be done once a year. Because this fabric is dyed after the original manufacture process, do not use Bleach in the cleaning process. It is also recommended that cotton canvas is not used on outdoor pool furniture. The cotton canvas material is relatively cheap and comes in a wide assortment of colors and styles. It is very easy to add a personal touch, and paint your own cushions or even have a custom print made.

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2. Vinyl - PVC

Polyvinyl Chloride better known as vinyl or PVC is basically a plastic material. Typically this is the least expensive fabric; however the ease of use and multi pattern options makes this also a very popular fabric for outdoor chair cushions. With the addition of plasticizers this fabric is very flexible and easy to mold and conform to various outdoor chair shapes. It is common for manufactures to add plastic for a slipcover effect. This product does not stand up to heat very well and can get hot to the touch. It also has the potential to fade. Studies are inconclusive, however there has been inquires as to the environmental health concerns with the manufacture of this material.

3. Textilene

Textilene is a mesh woven material with strong polyester yarns individually coated with PVC. This is a blend of the durability of the polyester yarns with the protection of the plastic coating. Typically Textilene is a waterproof material, however does not have the long term sun protection and is subject to fading. Textilene should be cleaned with mild natural soap (no detergent) and water. A small amount of bleach can be used to get out tough stains, however over time bleach will breakdown the PVC material. The polyester does provide some durability and stability, so use poolside, along with regular cleaning. This material is the middle of the cost scale. Not the cheapest and not the most expensive finished product. Outdoor chair cushions have the common woven mesh texture.

4. Sunbrella

100% solution dyed acrylic or better known by a manufactures name Sunbrella is the top of the line material made today. This material is made from a variety of synthetic and cotton blends. The solution dyed refers to the process in which the fabric is colored. Almost all fabric is colored as a second part to the manufacturing, this fabric is solution dyed first. This means chlorine or sun will not discolor for fad over time. The manufacture of the outdoor products are chemically treated during the manufacturing process which provides material that repels water, is resistant to rotting or soiling, and does not promote mildew growth. This is the ideal outdoor chair cushion to use poolside. Sunbrella comes in several grades and each grade has its purpose. This material can be used anywhere from high usage, to hot sun, and poolside without degrading. It is also the most expensive material on the market.

How to Measure your Outdoor Chair Cushion

A Helpful Hint

Although products indicate they are mildew & mold free, keep in mind mildew can grow on dirt particles, it is important to keep fabrics clean. A mild soap and water should work. Outdoor furniture cushions should be allowed to dry in the sun.

Décor Availability

Outdoor chair cushions can be found in hundreds of colors and patterns, and most of the materials above offer cushions from smooth through rough textures and from matte to shiny finishes. Flowers, stripes or solid designs are very common. A new accessory can upscale any room, including your backyard living space. If enlarging an indoor room by extending it into the outdoor living space it is important to have a flow of color.


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