What Makes Outdoor Fabrics So Different?


Umbrella canopies are made of fabrics that are specially made to withstand harsh conditions that interior fabrics never experience. Direct exposure to intense sunlight, salt air, driving rain, and high winds are all part of their day-to-day existence. Year after year, they also need to maintain their colorfastness; not tear or stretch; and remain stain-, mold-, mildew-resistant. That’s a lot to ask! For our customers peace of mind and to provide durable products, our FiberBuiltTM merchandise exclusively features acrylic fabrics made by industry-leading manufacturers, including Sunbrella and Outdura, because they can meet this challenge.

There are differences between marine-grade and furniture-grade solution-dyed acrylics. But first, let’s define what “solution-dyed acrylics” are. Solution dying is a process in which the pigment mixes with the acrylic or polyester chips before they’re even extruded into filaments (or yarn). That way, the color isn’t applied only to the surface of the fabric but is an inherent part of the fibers, resulting in colorfastness. And the material is UV-resistant as well.

Though comparable in colorfastness and durability, the greatest differences between marine- and furniture-grade acrylics are the feel and weight of the material. Marine-grade fabrics have a tighter weave, are stiffer to the touch, abrasion-resistant, and heavier. The stiffness of the material makes it appropriate for most canopy applications. Furniture-grade fabrics are softer and more flexible, which is why it can be used for both canopies and coordinating cushions. For certain umbrella styles, such as Bali, Edge, and Cantilever, furniture-grade is the recommended fabric. And, of course, for cushions, pillows, bolsters, and poufs, furniture-grade fabrics provide the soft and comfortable feel you expect.

Furniture-grade acrylics carry a five-year warranty while marine-grade acrylics come with a ten-year warranty. This covers the fabric becoming unserviceable due to loss of color or strength from normal exposure to sunlight, mildew, and atmospheric chemicals.

San Luis Umbrella also offers other models with different canopy materials. Within the Home Collection, the Garden umbrellas are available in ten vinyl-coated weaves. These have an open-weave PVC coating that allows some light to come through it. Our Patio models have a spun acrylic canopy.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published