Sunbrella vs. Outdura: Choosing the best outdoor fabric
Written by Neighbor Editorial Team | @neighboroutdoor | Opens in a new window. |
Learn more about the benefits of Sunbrella and why it's the best fabric for your outdoor furniture.
If you’re in the market for outdoor furniture, you’ve likely been introduced to the world of outdoor fabrics. The fabric you choose for your outdoor seat upholstery, cushion covers and pillows is a key part of what makes your outdoor space comfortable and inviting. With different types of outdoor fabric brands available, choosing the right one requires some research. Outdura and Sunbrella are two of the most common names in quality outdoor furniture fabrics.
Both brands are renowned for offering superior comfort, durability, easy maintenance, and protection from the elements. We’re here to help you determine which type of outdoor fabric is best for your space, and how to decide between Outdura Vs Sunbrella.
Types of outdoor fabric
There are a few key considerations when choosing the right outdoor furniture fabric for your outdoor living room seating or outdoor home decor. Consider durability, breathability, colorfastness and resistance to fading in the sun, level of water resistance, and of course, appearance.
Depending on the level of maintenance you’re willing to commit to, the climate in your area, the level of elemental exposure, and the style you’re aiming for in your outdoor space, one type of outdoor fabric may be better suited for you than another. From olefin fabrics to solution-dyed acrylics, we’ve gathered the most common textiles for outdoor use with applications, pros and cons for each.
Upholstery fabric encompasses the different types of fabrics used to upholster, or cover, furniture pieces. These fabrics can be attached to a furniture frame, or cover a seat, cushion or padding. The type of upholstery fabric used in outdoor furniture is an important consideration when furnishing any outdoor space.
Sun, rain, and other elements can quickly deteriorate lesser-quality fabrics or furniture fabrics not intended for outdoor use, and leave furniture damaged, worn and faded. Upholstery fabrics that are not outdoor-proof, like cotton, for example, will quickly grow mold with moisture and rain. Other fabrics, like acrylic, polyester and olefin, that are durable and weather-resistant are capable of living a longer life outdoors.
Polyester is a synthetic material derived from petroleum, coal, air and water.
Outdoor cushions, outdoor pillows, umbrellas, awnings and even outdoor clothing use polyester fabric as a strong, resilient barrier against the elements.
Polyester is water-resistant, offers sufficient UV-protection, is strong enough to withstand harsh weather conditions and comes in a variety of vibrant colors. It’s highly resistant to fading, fraying, staining and growing mold. This fabric is also lightweight and has a low-maintenance finish, which makes it a popular choice for outdoor materials.
However, polyester is not as breathable or soft as some other outdoor fabrics, making it more ideal for umbrellas or awnings than seat upholstery or outdoor cushions. This material is also made with harsh chemicals, is not biodegradable, and contributes to global plastic waste. Polyester is not a sustainable material.
Olefin fabrics are made of synthetic fibers from polypropylene and polyethylene, through a process of melting plastic, spinning it to create fibers, then weaving it together. These textiles are almost always solution-dyed.
You can find olefin fabrics in outdoor cushions, outdoor umbrellas, carpets and seats. They’re particularly common in bean bag manufacturing too.
Resistant to mold, mildew, water damage and olefin fabrics are ideal for outdoor spaces facing the elements. These fabrics do not absorb water and dry relatively quickly. Due to the solution-dyeing process, olefin fabric color is evenly distributed throughout the piece and ensures colorfastness, making them resistant to color fading or bleeding.
Olefin fabrics are also soft and lightweight, and bleach cleanable. They come in a variety of color and style options and can complement any outdoor space design. These outdoor fabrics are also sustainably made, environmentally-friendly and 100% recyclable.
Olefin fabrics are not as durable as outdoor fabrics like acrylic and can weaken and become brittle with too much sun exposure. They’re not as resilient as other fabrics, and cushions made of olefin are known to leave marks, depress or misshapen with frequent use.
These fibers are heat-sensitive and may not be ideal for hotter climates. They can also incur damage from friction easier than other fabrics like polyester and acrylic.
Solution-dyed acrylic fabrics
Acrylic is a synthetic fabric made from acrylic yarns woven together. Both Sunbrella and Outdura use solution-dyed acrylic fabrics in their outdoor upholstery. When a material is solution-dyed, this means that the raw fiber materials are color-dyed during the manufacturing process, as opposed to the finished piece of furniture being dyed as a whole.
Solution dyed acrylic is known as the go-to fiber for outdoor patio furniture, cushion covers, outdoor pillows, outdoor upholstery, awnings, umbrellas, marine uses (like boat covers, boat tops and boat seating).
Acrylic makes for an excellent outdoor furniture fabric, due to its robust and durable composition that naturally defends against the elements. This material is lightweight, dries quickly, and is resistant to water and moisture, mold and mildew growth, fading from UV rays, chlorine and salt water. The solution dyeing process is eco-friendly and helps to reduce the use of water and chemicals during the dyeing process.
Solution-dyeing ensures that all of the fibers are completely saturated with long-lasting color before they’re woven into fabrics, which prevents fading in the finished furniture piece. It also ensures that the color stands strong through years of cleaning, wearing, abrasion and being exposed to the elements. Acrylic is known as a comfortable material that is soft to the touch and makes for plush, luxurious outdoor cushions. The comfort, durability and longevity of solution-dyed acrylic fabrics are some of the reasons we choose to use Sunbrella outdoor cushions for Neighbor’s entire outdoor furniture collection.
There aren’t many cons to using solution-dyed acrylic as an outdoor fabric, since it performs exceptionally well in terms of weather-resistance, comfort and design. However, solution-dyed acrylic can cost more than lesser quality fabrics, which may be a con for some. Although, this material can last a lot longer than other types of materials, so the price of solution-dyed acrylics is less than the price of replacing less-resistant outdoor fabrics regularly.
Outdura Vs. Sunbrella
Solution-dyed outdoor fabrics are only produced by a few main manufacturers. Outdura and Sunbrella are two of the leading manufacturers of solution-dyed outdoor fabrics. Both offer high-quality, long-lasting products made from 100% solution-dyed acrylic. These fabrics are ideal for outdoor upholstery, indoor upholstery, umbrellas and awnings.
Outdura and Sunbrella fabrics are water repellant, mold resistant, stain resistant, fade resistant and UV resistant. They can be cleaned and maintained easily without getting damaged and can withstand harsh cleaning chemicals, like bleach. See our complete guide to easy Sunbrella fabric care. Both are also soft to the touch and make for cushions that are resilient and maintain their form after each use.
Both textiles are manufactured in the USA. Outdura fabric is produced in North Carolina, and Sunbrella fabric has its main sourcing location in South Carolina. Sunbrella has been a trusted outdoor fabric brand since the 1960s, and Outdura was launched in the late 1990s.
Sunbrella furniture fabrics and specialty fabrics come with a 5-year warranty, and Sunbrella shade and marine fabrics come with a 10-year warranty. Outdura furniture fabrics offer a 10-year warranty on their textiles.
The main difference between Outdura and Sunbrella is that Sunbrella is more widely-known and generally more accessible than Outdura. Sunbrella also offers a wider variety of colors and patterns to suit different design styles.
Sunbrella is the industry leader
Overall, both Outdura and Sunbrella offer long-lasting performance fabrics that are great options for outdoor furniture and decor. Due to its proven performance, comfort and variety of designs, Sunbrella is the winner for us. We’ve found Sunbrella fabric to accommodate all purposes and deliver the highest performance against all weather conditions. Ultimately, the best fabric for your outdoor living room depends on your intended purpose. Want to know how Sunbrella measures up to other outdoor fabric brands? Explore Sunbrella vs. Cushionguard.
Browse our collection of thoughtfully-designed outdoor furniture made to stand beautifully through the years. See reviews for our best-selling teak outdoor sectional with plush Sunbrella cushions. Our new Haven throw pillow comes in two sizes, featuring performance Sunbrella fabric with a lofty polyfill insert for comfort.
Learn more about Neighbor and our commitment to using durable, weather-resistant materials that don't sacrifice beauty or feel, and won't harm the environment.