“Sunbrella” is the trade name for a 100% solution dyed acrylic fabric manufactured by Glen Raven. Sunbrella got its start in 1961 as an alternative to cotton awning fabric. Unlike cotton fabrics, Sunbrella’s acrylic fibers resist damage from UV rays and are water resistant. In addition, Sunbrella’s acrylic fibers are extruded in color, rather than dyed like cotton fibers, so the fabric is highly fade resistant. Because of these high performance properties, Sunbrella has made its name as the premier indoor/outdoor fabric.
In addition to Glen Raven’s Sunbrella, other fabric manufacturers also make 100% solution dyed acrylic fabrics that offer the same high performance properties as Sunbrella. Sunbrella and similar fabrics have a fade resistance of up to 2000 hours—the number of hours in direct sunlight before fading begins.
There are other brands of outdoor fabrics made from polyester or acrylic fibers dyed after weaving. These fabrics tend to have lower fade resistance—between 300-800 hours. So while still serviceable for outdoor use, outdoor fabrics made from polyester or after-dyed acrylic fibers will stay brighter longer if used in a shaded environment like a sun room or covered patio.
Many people remember the early days of outdoor fabrics, when the material felt stiff. Today, thanks to advances in weaving and yarn development, outdoor fabrics can have a softer feel, making them attractive for indoor use, as well. Most outdoor fabrics are easily cleaned. Many can be bleached without damage, which makes them ideal for both outdoor and high traffic indoor uses.
Like other upholstery and drapery products, prices vary depending upon the construction and weave of the fabric, as well as the fiber content. Therefore, on average, Sunbrella and other 100% solution dyed acrylics will cost more per yard than polyester outdoor fabrics. Multi-colored woven patterns are also likely to cost more than printed fabrics.
At Bolt Fabrics, we stock a variety of outdoor fabric brands including, Sunbrella and other brands of 100% solution-dyed acrylics, to fit within a range of budgets and applications. We also carry weather-resistant pillow inserts in standard sizes and we can special order outdoor pillow inserts and foam in custom sizes to meet your specific project needs. Come in and let us help you refresh your outdoor living space with new cushions and pillows!