The weather is warming, spring is in the air and we can’t wait to get out on the patio! Whether said patio may be at a resort or favorite restaurant or even your favorite cruise liner we have a few pointers for designers to consider when picking the perfect outdoor upholstery fabric. In order for you to get the most out of your outdoor upholstery fabric the textile must be solution dyed, exhibit high lightfastness, and must be mildew resistant. Without these three basic qualities the textile will be unable to withstand nature’s elements for an extended period of time. I have cited the ACT website in this post for term definitions.
The solution dye process is when the pigment or dye is added into the spinning solution/polymer before it is forced through the spinneret, dispersing the color evenly throughout the fiber and producing excellent colorfastness and consistency. Since the solution dye process produces such superior colorfastness it plays a crucial role in the integrity of the finished textile and will determine what types of fibers can and cannot be used. Natural fibers cannot be solution dyed for obvious reasons; therefore only manufactured fibers can be used. Nylon, acrylic or polypropelene and polyester are all examples of fibers that can be solution dyed. Make sure to check the fiber content when you are selecting the outdoor upholstery fabric. The fiber content is the best place to start when looking for a textile that must meet stringent requirements.
Lightfastness is just what it seems it is. Lightfastness is a textile’s degree of resistance to exposure to sunlight. In other words the lightfastness term refers to how well a certain textile retains its color when continually exposed to sunlight. Once again it is clear why an outdoor upholstery fabric must be solution dyed to begin with. Dyes in the fabric will fade much faster if the textile is not solution dyed.
Lastly the textile must be mildew resistant. Mildew resistance is a fabric’s ability to resist mold and mildew. Fabric can be chemically treated so that the performance characteristics are not adversely affected if the fabric is exposed to moisture for long periods of time. Another way to achieve mildew resistance is to extrapolate silver’s natural anti-microbial properties and integrate it within fibers to be used in outdoor applications as well as in medical textiles and even your workout garments.
As long as the textile that you intend to use as an outdoor upholstery fabric exhibits all three of these qualities, the textile should be able to withstand nature’s elements with ease. Choosing the appropriate textile for an application is key when designing any space.