CushionGuard vs Sunbrella: The Best Outdoor Fabric

Written by Neighbor Editorial Team | @neighboroutdoor |

Learn the differences between two of the best outdoor fabrics.

CushionGuard vs Sunbrella: The Best Outdoor Fabric

Outdoor fabrics differ from indoor fabrics and upholstery because they need to live outdoors year-round. You’ll want your outdoor furniture’s fabric to be high-performing and yet still comfortable enough to lounge on every day. Not all outdoor fabrics are created equally, however. The best fabrics for your outdoor space are durable, strong, and able to resist stains, mold, and mildew.

Before you decide on furniture for your outdoor patio, take a closer look at the fabric being used. One of the most trusted outdoor upholstery brands is Sunbrella. Sunbrella’s solution-dyed acrylic fabrics have been a leader in the patio fabric industry since the ‘60s and they continue to innovate their product lineup each year. CushionGuard fabric, on the other hand, is a brand you’ll see when shopping for outdoor furniture at Home Depot. CushionGuard is a less expensive solution dyed polyester fabric that claims to repel water, stains, and spills and be mildew resistant. Below, we outline the major differences between Sunbrella outdoor fabric and CushionGuard fabric and take a closer look at how to decide which is right for you.

What to look for when shopping for outdoor fabric

Sunbrella Fabric Patio Chair

Before you decide on a patio furniture set for your outdoor space, consider how the furniture’s upholstery will hold up outdoors. High-quality outdoor upholstery will last a long time but will be more expensive. Think about where you live and where you will keep the furniture (will it be under a covered patio or in direct sunlight?) to help find the material that is most suitable for you and your space. If you’re still not sure, here’s what to look for when shopping for outdoor fabric:

  1. Weather-resistant

Most outdoor furniture brands will claim their fabrics are weather-resistant, but not all are. Look for synthetic fibers and fabrics that are water resistant so you don’t have to worry about rain and snow. If the water repellency on your fabric fades, you can always restore it will a water repellency spray treatment

  1. Mildew and mold resistant

Bacteria grows easily and often outdoors, especially on damp fabrics or on fabrics that are soiled with dirt and debris. Look for fabrics that resist mold and mildew growth and are easy to keep clean. Synthetic fibers, like acrylic, polyester, and nylon, are more resistant to bacteria and mildew growth. 

  1. Easy to wash

Spills and muddy handprints are bound to find their way onto your outdoor furniture. Whichever outdoor upholstery material you choose, ask the sales team about how to clean the outdoor cushions, as well as the warranty in case anything major happens. The easier to wash, the better. We might be a little biased, but we like that with Neighbor outdoor furniture you can unzip the outdoor cushion covers and machine-wash them. Sunbrella fabrics, like Neighbor’s, can even be washed with bleach on tough stains.

  1. Stain resistant

It’s much easier to keep your outdoor furniture clean and enjoy outdoor living if spills don’t soak in and are easy to wipe up. You’ll save yourself time and headache if spills like ketchup, mustard, and grease can come clean with mild soap and water. Both Sunbrella and CushionGuard fabrics are easy to clean and will resist absorbing stains because they’re made with synthetic fibers. 

  1. Warranty

No fabric is perfect. Even if your outdoor fabric can withstand the elements of the outdoors, things happen. The insurance of a warranty is important when you’re spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on furniture. A good outdoor fabric warranty should protect you from things like seam failure, fabric separation, and loss of color. Sunbrella outdoor upholstery, for example, has a 5-year limited warranty and is the only performance fabric brand to guarantee against pilling, abrasions, and loss of strength.

  1. Softness

The look and feel of outdoor fabric are often overshadowed by its need for performance, but style and comfort matter when you’re investing in any sofa or sectional. When transforming your outdoor space into an outdoor living room, the best fabric is soft to touch, comfortable to nap, and looks like it belongs in your living room. A lot of outdoor furniture fabrics feel scratchy, but softer is better for everyday comfort.

  1. Fade-resistant

The sun can do as much damage to outdoor fabric as rain and spills. Sunbrella fabrics are most famous for being fade-proof because they are made with solution-dyed acrylic. The color in Sunbrella fabrics is the same throughout the fibers, instead of being only on the top layer so it never fades.

Sunbrella vs CushionGuard: Which is best?

Neighbor Sunbrella Outdoor Fabric Swatches

When comparing Sunbrella outdoor fabric and CushionGuard fabric, the cost is likely the first thing you’ll notice, but it’s not the only difference. Both fabrics are designed for outdoor use, but Sunbrella is highly regarded as the best outdoor fabric you can buy. Sunbrella’s parent company, Glen Raven, is headquartered in North Carolina and is an industry leader in awning, marine, furniture, and protective fabrics for all kinds of outdoor living. CushionGuard, comparatively, is used by Home Depot in their Hampton Bay furniture. Looking at both fabrics side-by-side, here are the biggest similarities and differences.

  • Durability: Sunbrella has a 5-year warranty, whereas CushionGuard fabric only has a 3-year warranty. Both are tough enough to live outdoors and will last a long time with proper care and maintenance.
  • Fade resistance: Sunbrella wins in this category hands-down. All fabric will fade eventually, but Sunbrella’s solution-dyed acrylic has the most robust fade-resistance of an outdoor fabric even when compared to other outdoor fabric competitors like Olefin and Outdura. Sunbrella is essentially fade-proof.
  • Style: CushionGuard fabrics come in a variety of colors whereas Sunbrella has thousands of style and color varieties. We prefer Sunbrella fabric when it comes to style because it looks more like indoor furniture, has more colors, and feels softer to touch.
  • Range: Sunbrella, again, has hundreds of styles, colors, patterns, and price points. You can customize your furniture to be totally unique, and even purchase furniture with Sunbrella recycled outdoor fabric which has 50% recycled content sewn into the fibers!
  • Weather resistance: It’s hard to beat Sunbrella’s fade-proof guarantee and warranty, but most outdoor synthetic fabrics are fine to leave outdoors in all kinds of weather.
  • Ease of cleaning: Some fabrics are easier to clean than others, but ease of cleaning will depend also on how the cushion covers are made. You can wash both Sunbrella and CushionGuard fabrics with soap and water. Although, it is safe to use bleach and stronger chemicals on Sunbrella fabrics.
  • Reputation: Sunbrella has a long history of innovation and is considered a leader in the outdoor fabric industry. They make everything from outdoor cushions, pillows, awnings, to marine upholstery, and safety equipment fabric. When the outdoor furniture you are considering uses the brand Sunbrella,  you can trust the quality and endurance of the fabric.  
  • Cost: Furniture that uses Sunbrella fabrics are more expensive than the furniture you’ll find in Home Depot. We think Sunbrella is worth the investment because of it’s quality and reputation, but you may opt for CushionGuard if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly.

It’s hard to argue against Sunbrella when it comes to choosing the best fabric brand for outdoor cushions, but the brand might not be right for everyone due to its high price. If you don’t want to splurge on furniture with Sunbrella cushions, CushionGuard is a worthy option. You could also choose to accent your existing furniture with Sunbrella pillows. 

Final verdict on Cushionguard vs. Sunbrella

Sunbrella Recycled Fabric

While there are pros and cons to each outdoor fabric brand, Sunbrella wins when compared to CushionGuard because of its reliability, reputation, and superior performance. CushionGuard is, however, a solid option for outdoor cushions since it is a strong and durable synthetic fabric and is available at a much lower price point.

We use Sunbrella for all of Neighbor’s outdoor cushion covers. Choosing a partner like Sunbrella for our outdoor cushions, rugs, and poufs, means our entire Haven collection is made with fabric that won’t fade or stain and can be left outdoors without worry.  If you’re wondering how to clean Neighbor’s outdoor cushions, it’s as easy as machine washing or treating stains with stronger chemicals like bleach. We also sell protective covers for all of our furniture to prevent dust and debris from getting on the fabric. With Sunbrella, Neighbor furniture can transform your outdoor space into an outdoor sanctuary with cozy cushions that look like the belong in your living room.


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