Choosing the right Sunbrella fabric for your project can be quite daunting when there are more than 2,000 choices and several different grades for different applications.
Today, we asked Patio Lane Marketing Director Wendy Schechner to give us some design tips and to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Sunbrella.
Question #1: Can I use an awning- and marine-grade Sunbrella fabric on outdoor patio cushions?
Answer: Yes, absolutely! Although the awning grade of Sunbrella will be a little more stiff and, for the DIY person, a little harder with which to work, you can definitely use it for your patio cushions.
Many of our customers like to use a solid-colored awning fabric for the seat portion of the cushion and then complement the back cushions or throw pillows with the softer Sunbrella furniture-grade style of fabric.
Question #2: What’s the difference between regular Sunbrella and a designer version offered by Robert Allen or Kravet?
Answer: Many of the major fabric design houses have jumped on the Sunbrella brand wagon. I mean, after all, who wouldn't like a fabric that can easily be cleaned and won’t fade or mildew? There really is no difference except, in some cases, the price point. Of course, there are different patterns that come along with each designer collection, but they are all constructed out of Sunbrella fibers, and they are all a great choice for upholstery applications.
Adding a different-colored welting to a Sunbrella cushion can create a dramatic effect that results in something that you won’t be able to find in a big-box retail store.
Question #3: Are there any Sunbrella fabrics that are completely waterproof?
Answer: There are three collections of Sunbrella that are waterproof: Sunbrella Supreme, Seamark, and Sunbrella Rain.
Sunbrella Supreme has a linen flock on the underside of the fabric and is rated as “essentially waterproof.” The flocking keeps water out and also protects whatever it's rubbing against from being scratched.
Seamark is simply Sunbrella on the top and a vinyl on the bottom. It is rated as completely waterproof but loses breathability. Care must be taken when sewing the seams; a #16 needle or smaller is recommended.
Sunbrella Rain is the most recent addition to the waterproof line, using a special coating on the backside of the fabric, which is guaranteed to be 100-percent waterproof through a special manufacturing process for which only some fabricators have certifications. (We are one of them!) The fabric does lack breathability, but our fabrication process adds venting to the cushion, keeping it dry inside and out. Although Sunbrella Rain is not available to the retail customer, our in-house fabrication department can custom make cushions using Sunbrella Rain.
Sunbrella Rain has a higher price point, but because it’s waterproof, you are not required to use a dry-fast foam for the cushion. Also, if the outside of your cushions do happen to get wet, it only takes a couple of minutes for them to go back to completely dry!