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Fabric Finder
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by Martha's Furnishing Fabrics

12 December 2022

With the warmer weather coming its the perfect time to start refreshing your summer outdoor spaces. But, before you fall in love with the look of a particular fabric take into consideration the fibre content suitability for your required use.

It’s important to understand the environment your outdoor fabrics will be required to withstand. If your outdoor space is exposed 24/7 to the elements, under a veranda or put out just for occasional use only that will determine the type of fabric you are looking for and associated longevity.

Check out our buying guide for all your summer outdoor lounging 


Solution Dyed Acrylic
The most damaging factor in our NZ climate is our harsh sun and so anything required to be permanently outside and exposed to the elements should be Fabric made from Solution dyed acrylic. With this type of fabric, the dyeing occurs before the yarn is made. Liquid acrylic and colour are mixed and formed into fibres or as a continuous filament. The fibres are spun into a yarn already permeated with colour. The fabric is made to be colourfast after the exposure to the elements, along with ordinary wear and tear. Solution dyed acrylic is usually soft, breathable, water resistant (not proof) and quick drying. Acrylic should not allow the growth of mold, and this usually only occurs when soils or spills are not removed immediately. The only negative is the material is often limited in colour and pattern due to the manufacturing process but is ideal for larger upholstered pieces. 

Olefin (polypropylene)
Solution dyed olefins are great options for outdoor upholstery applications. The fibre has excellent properties for clean-ability, abrasion, chemicals, and mildew.

Spun Polyester
Unlike solution dyed acrylic fabrics, spun polyester is woven first and then screen printed which allows for a wider range of colours and patterns. Spun polyester also has a shorter UV ray resistant lifespan so we recommend it’s used as throw cushions and on upholstered items that are brought in or covered when not in use. It tends to be a little stiffer to the touch also.

As some outdoor fabrics have protective finishes neither the spun polyesters nor solution dyed acrylics should be dry-cleaned.

Shop our full range of outdoor fabrics, and order your free samples here.

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