Cushion Connection provides one of the largest online outdoor fabric selections. Since there are so many options available, we have created this Outdoor Fabric Buying Guide to assist you in making the right fabric decisions for your order. All our fabrics are designed for outdoor use, however, not all of them have the same quality. When you are looking at our products, you will see several fields underneath each fabric option that provide you with following details: material construction, fabric manufacturer information, and Cushion Connection’s basic grading system which indicates the quality of the fabric. Based on our years of experience, we’ve designated every fabric as either Good, Better, or Best as a simple way to understand fabric quality. What you choose will depend on what fabric you like, where you are using your products, and the final cost of the product. As you evaluate these factors, it is important to understand that the least expensive product may not be the most cost effective for your specific needs.
Each category below will discuss best uses, material content, manufacturer information, and ways to prolong the life of your cushions. Our fabric numbering system is also a guide to fabric quality. All of our fabrics have a 4 digit number starting with a number between 1 and 7. The lower the number, the less expensive the fabric.
The “Good” category of outdoor fabrics include printed polyester fabrics. Printed polyester fabrics are a great choice if you are looking for multi-colored patterns or stripe fabrics at a good price point. These fabrics start out as a white base cloth and have patterns printed on them with UV-resistant dyes. These fabrics are medium weight which is suitable for residential use and can be spot cleaned with mild soap and water. These fabrics generally have a UV rating of 500 sunlight hours.
Fabrics in the GOOD category do not have the manufacturers listed since their quality is the same regardless of manufacturer.
We recommend that these fabrics be used for pillows or cushions in shaded outdoor areas or places that do not get much direct sunlight. As with anything in life, the better you care for a product, the longer it will last. The lifespan of these products can be prolonged by storing them away from sunlight when not in use, as well as rotating the cushions. Most of our cushions are reversible and can be used on both sides. Where you live will also determine the speed at which these cushions will fade. We do not recommend this fabric in areas that are exposed to strong sunshine like California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico or anywhere that has longer sun seasons. We also do not recommend these fabrics for use in umbrellas or higher priced items (such as deep seating and expensive chaises) unless you understand the terms of the fabric as stated above and plan to diligently take care of these products when not in use.
As we begin our explanation of our Better and Best fabrics, an easy way to understand the differences in the quality (in terms of light fastness and fading) is to compare printed fabrics to a radish. They start out as white fabric and when they are dyed, they appear to look red on the outside; but as you cut through the fabric, you will notice that the dye is just on the surface of the fabric and that the yarn on the inside is still white.
Our Better and Best fabric uses solution-dyed yarns in which the fabric is extruded, and the dyes have completely penetrated through the yarn. These fabrics are like a carrot: orange on the outside and inside. It is the process of solution dying that increases light fastness, creates easily cleanable fabrics and a soft hand that allows these fabrics to be used inside or outside your home.
Cushion Connection offers a large assortment of fabrics in our “Better” category. These fabrics are woven from either high UV polyester, olefin/polyester blends or polyester/acrylic blends. These fabrics are solution-dyed, which means they have high UV protection, are bleach cleanable, and good for outdoor or indoor use. We use only the highest quality fabric mills to source these fabrics. In addition, all our fabrics in the BETTER category are backed by a 3 or 4-year fade warranty, depending on the manufacturer. The fabric mills that produce these “Better” fabrics include Abercrombie, Inside Out Performance Fabric, Revolution Outdoor, Rothschild and Sunbelievable. These fabrics are attractive, durable, and often provide great patterns or textures all at a lower cost compared to our “Best” fabrics. Unlike printed fabrics, these fabrics are woven to create patterns and textures. In our 40 years of business, we have not had to honor a fade warranty with these fabrics. Something to note with Olefin is that it is a heat sensitive fabric, and although it will not fade quickly, extreme heat can cause it to become brittle, which may become an issue in high sun states. These fabrics are not much more expensive than those in the “Good” category and will provide better value in the long run. It’s important to note that some of these fabrics have a slightly stiffer hand than the solution dyed acrylic fabric we offer in the “Best” category. Even in the “Better” category, the price of these fabrics vary as a reflection of the complexity of creating woven patterns and the cost of the extra yarns.
You can order our “Better” fabrics with the confidence that you will get a long-lasting, quality product. We always recommend ordering free swatches so you can see and feel the fabric for yourself before you make a final decision.
Our “Best” fabrics are all made from solution-dyed acrylic. This type of fabric is the gold standard for outdoor cushions. The #1 name for solution-dyed acrylic fabric is Sunbrella (made by Glen Raven Mills). Solution-dyed means the pigment in the yarn is added before the yarn is made which allows for the complete saturation of the UV-enhanced dye to permeate the yarn. Sunbrella fabrics offer a 5-year fade warranty. Although Sunbrella is the most recognized brand of solution-dyed acrylic fabrics, we also offer solution-dyed acrylic fabrics from other mills. We have a limited selection of Outdura, Tempotest, and Agora fabrics, which all are made from solution-dyed yarn. Tempotest has a 6-year fade warranty and has a coating of Teflon applied to its surface. Outdura and Agora both have a 5-year fade warranty. Any of these fabric options will stand the test of time, are bleach cleanable, and are mold and mildew resistant. This means that these fabrics can be used anywhere, including in areas where kids can make a mess. To provide unique styles for our customers, Cushion Connection offers Sunbrella fabrics that are “Made to Order” meaning they are in limited circulation or are exclusive to us and may not be found elsewhere. Cushion Connection prides itself on offering the highest quality products in fabric choices that are unavailable by our competition. Our fabric options allow you to create unique looks that can’t be found anywhere else. Whether it is Sunbrella or any other fabric in the “Best” category, they will all provide you years of comfort and superior cleanability.