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Outdoor Fabric 101

 With Special Order season rapidly approaching, we thought it might be a good time for a primer in fabric types. There are hundreds of choices available, but not all are created equal. Here's a quick run down on the three most commonly used for outdoor furniture.

Solution Dyed Acrylic

This marine grade textile was originally developed – and is still used for – upholstery and awnings on sailboats and yachts. It’s colorfastness is due to a manufacturing process which produces threads with inherent color, meaning the fibers are spun from raw acrylic consisting of the desired color. Click here to watch a snazzy video demonstrating this process! These high-performance textiles can be cleaned with bleach. Sunbrella and Outdura are two well known manufacturers of this type of fabric.


PVC threads provide durable strength, while solution dyed acrylic yarns add softness and comfort. This mix creates an outdoor performance textile that is as beautiful and practical as it is strong. Sling has a long history of use in the outdoor furniture industry and continues to be a popular choice due to its quick drying, low maintenance characteristics. These textiles can also be cleaned with bleach. Phifertex and Twitchell both manufacture sling fabrics.

Printed Acrylic and Polyester

These fabrics are durable but require gentler care. The beautiful patterns are screen printed onto the surface of the textile and can therefore fade over prolonged UV exposure and cannot be cleaned with bleach. These fabrics are only used on our indoor wicker and rattan; all furniture for outdoor use is always upholstered in a marine grade fabric. Classic Rattan carries a wide selection of beautiful fabric choices for their furniture.

Don't Worry...

There isn't going to be a pop quiz! While it would impress the heck out of us if you know these fabric types, it's ok if you don't. We'll make sure you choose materials that work best in your specific environment - be it a screened porch or poolside - so you can trust that your outdoor furniture from Stover's will last for many years to come.