Up Close and Personal With Sunbrella for Indoor and Outdoor Living

In a world where the barriers between inside and outside living are blurred, a fabric that can serve both indoor and outdoor areas is popular. Sunbrella performance fabric is a category of technical fabrics that offer more than just basic textile and fabric making. 

Finding out just what makes Sunbrella popular is a journey into how to guard your home against the elements. Let’s find out more. 

Characteristics of Sunbrella 

Sunbrella is a tightly woven acrylic fabric that has been dyed in a unique process. The dye is added via an acrylic activator that mixes with the fibers, soaking the color in for a permanent and fade-proof finish. These colored fibers are then spun into yarn to make the high-quality Sunbrella options you can consider today. 

Sunbrella is tightly woven, and since the yarns are saturated with acrylic dyes, the fabric is also color-fast. Other characteristics of Sunbrella fabric are:

  • Water-repellent, which means the fabric won’t easily absorb stains. 
  • Mold-resistant since it doesn’t get “wet” enough to form a base for mold growth.
  • Color-fast and UV resistant due to the unique coloring process.
  • Tighter weave than other textiles, resulting in more shade but less ventilation. 
  • Ideal for awnings and pool-side furniture.

Pros of Sunbrella for Living Spaces

Sunbrella may be a textile you are familiar with when it comes to your pool area and for awnings around your home; however, it is also ideal for sunny rooms inside your home. You can use Sunbrella in several ways to help beat UV damage on furniture and furnishings inside the home. 

Sunbrella is an ideal transition textile for those areas that are multifunctional as indoor and outdoor spaces such as patios and sunrooms. Some other pros of Sunbrella include:

  • Great choice of colors that remain vivid and don’t fade. 
  • Rub resistance is higher than normal, making for a piece of durable fabric.
  • No UV damage and no heat melting in hot areas.
  • Easy to clean—simply remove slipcovers and wash or hose awnings.
  • Cool to the touch, even after a morning in direct sun.
  • Made from a byproduct (propylene), which is normally burned off during crude oil processing.

Cons of Sunbrella for Living Spaces

For all the pros and selling points of Sunbrella, it isn’t a perfect fabric. There are a few cons:

  • Somewhat hard to the touch. 
  • Not very yielding to sit on.
  • Thick fabric, and while it’s water-resistant, it’s not waterproof, so soaking rains will cause the fabric to become wet. 
  • When excessively exposed to water, the fibers can twist, pulling the fabric out of shape.
  • It’s a rather expensive choice in the outdoor fabric market.

Expectations of a Dual-Purpose Indoor and Outdoor Fabric

In an ideal world, we would like our dual-purpose fabrics to meet a long list of criteria to be absolutely perfect for our uses. However, all fabrics have plus and minus points. Sunbrella has mostly plus points, making it a great fabric for those transition zones around your home. Here are a few uses for Sunbrella fabric:

  • As shade sails in your garden or on your veranda.
  • For awnings on sunny windows.
  • To cover poolside loungers and outdoor furniture.
  • For reupholstering a sun umbrella. 
  • Outdoor cushions and beanbags or loungers.
  • To create vertical sunscreens that can delineate outdoor spaces.
  • Inside-the-house Venetian blinds on high-sun windows. 
  • Pergola covers and sails for sun filter purposes.

Considerations Before Choosing an Outdoor-Indoor Fabric Like Sunbrella

Before you start clicking and ordering fabric for indoor-outdoor purposes, it’s good to know what you are looking for in addition to a great design. 

Your outdoor and indoor transition fabric should:

  • Offer value for money (affordable and durable).
  • Be available in various designs and colors to match your design scheme.
  • Be easy to work and sew into chair covers, etc.
  • Be rub-resistant 
  • Be UV-resistant 
  • Be safe to use at high temperatures (for those super hot summers)
  • Be soft enough to sit comfortably.
  • Offer water resistance and be mold-resistant.
  • Be chemical and insect-proof or offer resistance to these elements. 
  • Be easy to wash when soiled.
  • Resist stains for easy cleaning.
  • Eco-friendly manufacturing process.
  • Offer stylish options for meeting your design needs.

Alternatives to Sunbrella Performance Fabric

If Sunbrella isn’t your cup of tea, you can consider several alternative fabrics that share the stain-resistance, water-repellent, and UV-proof qualities of Sunbrella. You can consider:


Like Sunbrella, Olefin is also produced from propylene gas during the manufacturing process of crude oil. However, olefin doesn’t use a trademarked process, and therefore, you can purchase olefin from many different manufacturing houses without having to pay the cost of Sunbrella. 

Olefin is durable, sun and fade-resistant, water-resistant, and color-fast. However, olefin isn’t as heat tolerant as Sunbrella. If you place a chair covered in olefin in direct sun, the fabric may begin to melt. While manufacturers do add UV-resistant chemicals to the Olefin mix, it’s not quite as durable and heat-tolerant as Sunbrella is. 

Polyester-Based Outdoor Fabrics

There are many outdoor fabrics that are made from polyester, which is a synthetic fiber. Some of these are also solution-dyed, making them colorfast. The advantage of polyester-based textiles is that the fabric is somewhat thinner and more pliable than Sunbrella, which means it’s easier to handle when sewing. 

PVC Mesh

In outdoor furnishings, PVC mesh is usually used in sling mesh furniture since you can fix it directly to the chair frames. Unlike Sunbrella, which is water-resistant and dense, PVC mesh has a looser weave and dries quickly once wet. 

PVC mesh is ideal for applications where you want a non-fading fabric that can tolerate heat and UV damage. PVC mesh is usually printed with patterns or woven from different color strands of PVC that have been woven into the mesh. 

Sunbrella FAQs

What is a Sunbrella canvas?

Sunbrella is a specialty fabric that’s made from solution-dyed fibers woven into a superior sun-resistant fabric. Sunbrella can be used for awnings, covers, and other outdoor purposes, as well as sun-resistant applications for indoor purposes. 

What is Sunbrella canvas made of?

Sunbrella is made from acrylic fibers that have been saturated in color-fast dyes, which gives it the characteristic fade resistance that trumps other outdoor fabric options.

How long does Sunbrella last outdoors?

Depending on the care you give your outdoor fabrics, Sunbrella fabric canvas can last anywhere from 3 to 15 years. 

Is there a softer Sunbrella option than Sunbrella canvas? 

Sunbrella is also available in Sunbrella twill fabric, which has a softer weave and offers a more plush feel to the touch for areas where frequent seating is needed. 

Can you use a pressure washer to clean Sunbrella fabric?

While it may seem like cleaning your Sunbrella with a pressure washer is a good idea, you shouldn’t do this as the high-pressure spray can damage the individual fibers that make up the yarns that weave into the textile. Your Sunbrella can become fuzzy and damaged as a result. 

The Final Sunbrella 

Sunbrella is a highly praised outdoor fabric that can tolerate high heat, won’t fade, repels water, and resists insect bites. When you choose Sunbrella as a fabric option for your lawn furniture, veranda sofas, or indoor high-sun areas, you know you are choosing quality. 

However, Sunbrella does come with a substantial price tag. Therefore, you can consider using olefin, polyester-based outdoor fabrics, and PVC mesh as alternatives to save some costs. For more advice on which of these fabrics would be suitable alternatives for your DIY project, contact the consultants at Kovi Fabrics and make sure your next outdoor project is a great success.

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