Don’t you just hate it when your outdoor decor rips, fades, or gets destroyed too soon?
Choosing durable fabric for outdoor furniture and decor can be a daunting task, but with a little information and research it’s easy to do.
Understanding what makes a fabric durable and the different types of textiles are essential when shopping for outdoor materials.
Read along and join us as we discuss what is the most durable outdoor fabric.
What Makes a Fabric Durable?
Durable is a subjective term when choosing a fabric for outdoor use.
Consider the applications and requirements that you need for a fabric when shopping for a material.
For example, a fabric that is being used to upholster a cold weather ski lift will have different needs than a fabric used to make a chaise lounge at the beach.
When manufacturing fabric, fiber content, weave type, and chemical treatments can be manipulated to give each fabric various characteristics.
Here are a few different ways that fabric can be made, and what you should look for:
1. Fiber Content:
Synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, and acrylic are generally recommended when choosing a durable outdoor fabric.
These fabrics are more durable and longer lasting than naturally sourced fibers, which are more susceptible to mold.
Additionally, fabrics constructed with synthetic fibers are also easier to clean and can sometimes be found at more affordable prices.
2. Weave Type:
Fabrics can be woven, knit, or extruded.
That being said, plain woven and extruded fabrics are the most durable types of fabrics used for outdoor applications.
3. Simple Basket Weave
A plain or basket weave is a simple, 1 over 1, interlocking yarn style.
These types of fabric feature a tight weave structure that maintains its shape over time in addition to resisting pilling and abrasion.
One variable in weaving fabric is the yarn size and thread count.
When choosing a durable outdoor fabric that is woven, look for one with a lower thread count fabric and a thick yarn size.
These fabrics are generally more durable than high thread count fabrics, which are woven with thinner yarns.
4. Fabric Extrusion
Another way to manufacture durable fabric is extrusion.
When a fabric is made by extrusion, no weaving or knitting is involved – a solid sheet of material is created by heating a viscous solution and allowing it to evenly dry as a sheet of fabric.
As you can imagine a solid sheet of material is more durable than a fabric that is woven from yarn.
Additionally, extruded fabrics can be made with additives, giving the fabric additional properties we will discuss next.
5. Chemical Treatments:
After, or sometimes during, the manufacturing process, fabric can be treated with chemicals to make it more durable.
When choosing a durable outdoor fabric, consider picking out one that has been treated to be UV resistant, fire retardant, mold resistant, waterproof, colorfast, and can withstand cold cracking.
As stated before, consider your application and requirements because a fabric needed for a wet environment will differ from a material used in a dry and hot environment.
What Are The Different Types Of Outdoor Fabrics?
In the above section we talked about how fabric can be made in various ways, so it’s fair to say not all fabric is the same.
Let’s discuss some of the different types of durable outdoor fabrics:
1. Waterproof Canvas:
Waterproof canvas is a durable and coarse textured fabric that is treated to be waterproof or water resistant.
This type of fabric is made from synthetic fibers like polyester or acrylic, and commonly features a backing which makes it waterproof.
Additional treatments can be applied to this material to make it resistant to molds, mildews, and color fading.
As an added benefit, these fabrics are usually very easy to clean.
Waterproof canvas is a durable outdoor fabric that can be made into items like tents, awnings, vehicle covers, and cushions for outdoor furniture.
Some of the best waterproof canvas is manufactured by Ottertex.
Vinyl is a durable outdoor material that is smooth and stylish.
This fabric resembles leather and is extruded from PVC – meaning it is a solid sheet of waterproof or water resistant material.
During the manufacturing process of vinyl, additives are commonly used making this material resistant to molds, mildews, and color fading.
Being sourced from PVC, gives this fabric additional qualities such as being flexible and resistant to high temperatures.
Vinyl fabric is commonly used to craft durable outdoor furniture upholstery, upholstery for boats, sporting equipment, and more.
Ripstop is a thinner, textured, and relatively soft fabric.
This woven fabric features additional stitching which acts to prevent rips and tears.
Ripstops can be made from polyester or nylon, the latter being more durable, and are commonly treated to be waterproof or water resistant.
Two types of chemicals that are applied to ripstop are PU and DWR. Ripstops made with PU or polyurethane make the material waterproof.
On the other hand, DWR or durable water repellent ripstop fabrics are finished to make water repel off of the material.
DWR ripstops are not waterproof, they will allow liquids to run off of the fabric, but a lot of water will penetrate through the material.
Ripstop fabrics are used to create a variety of durable outdoor items like flags, banners, boat sails, kites, tents, and sleeping bags.
How To Choose The Most Durable Outdoor Fabric?
At this point you may be asking yourself “but what is the most durable outdoor fabric?”
To answer your question, there is no single most durable outdoor fabric.
However, let’s discuss how to choose the most durable outdoor fabric based on what you will need it for:
1. Cold Weather:
Fabrics that will be used in cold, snowy environments should be able to withstand low temperatures and be water repellent.
When choosing a fabric for cold weather look for the cold crack rating of the material.
Solid fabric like vinyl that is not rated for cold cracking may split and become damaged when the temperature drops.
Furthermore, when water freezes on top of fabric it can cause damage to the textile.
If choosing a fabric used for cold environments, ensure the material is water repellent so it doesn’t allow water too pool and freeze on the fabric.
2. Hot Weather:
When choosing a fabric that will be used in hot and sunny weather, you should look for a fabric that will resist damage from UV rays in addition to being easy to clean.
Fabrics made for hot environments are generally rated to be colorfast, meaning the fabric’s color will not fade in the sun.
Additionally, you may want to pick a fabric that is easy to clean.
When making furniture with outdoor fabric, you should be prepared for spills and stains, so easy cleaning is a must.
3. Wet Weather: Whether you are expecting rain or a wet environment, you will want a waterproof fabric to that can withstand the elements.
Many fabrics can be easily treated to be waterproof. Sometimes you can even take an existing fabric and apply a waterproof coating yourself.
If choosing this method, you may need to reapply the waterproof treatment annually. Since this may be time consuming, it may be better to buy a fabric that is rated to be waterproof.
While there is no singular answer to “what is the most durable outdoor fabric,” choosing the right material can be an easier task if you understand the differences and purposes of each fabric type.
There are many ways to make a fabric durable, in addition to there being a wide variety of types of outdoor fabrics.
Choosing the most durable outdoor fabric must be based on your specific requirements and applications.
The next time you need a durable outdoor fabric, consider shopping at reputable online fabric stores such as Fabric Wholesale Direct, where you can browse a wide selection of outdoor fabrics to find the one that best matches your application.
Online fabric stores are a great place to learn about the characteristics of each material and usually offer samples at a discounted price.
Have fun shopping for fabric, and happy sewing!