Fun Fact: Rockin’ is good for your health. Porch rockin’ and swingin’, that is. We think this is crazy good news because what’s more quintessentially comfortable for a lazy summer hang than a porch swing or rocking chair?
Nothing. Except a swing or chair made exponentially more satisfying with upholstered cushions and pillows. But are there fabrics somehow offering that settle-in welcome and still up to the outsized task of outdoor performance? Yes indeed. (On our site, pages and pages of them.)
Today we’ll give you everything you need to know to choose the perfect upholstery for your porch swing and other outdoor furniture. And we’ll offer you examples to get you inspired to bring your unique style and personality to whatever you choose. Time to get your relaxation game into the swing of things — so to speak.
Quick Look At The Fabrics You Can Count On To Truly Perform Outdoors
First, a really simple question. Does it matter what kind of fabrics you choose for cushions for your porch swing, rocking chairs, or other furniture?
Just in terms of money and time-suck, yes, 100% it does. You can put whatever fabrics you’d like and replace them often. Or forever be pulling them in or out of the elements. Or be treating and retreating them with various sealant sprays. Or better yet, you can take advantage of today’s advanced fabrics.
We’ve talked in-depth about this many times before, but the basic idea is that generally speaking, you’ll stick with Sunbrella, Olefin, and solution-dyed acrylic fabrics. And with those fabrics, we can — as the largest online upholstery fabric store — pretty much guarantee you’ll have not only performance but also style akin to what you’re used to indoors.
Cool, right? And for those extra-duty needs (or just as covers and the like), there are marine favorites like duck, denim, and vinyl. Now on to how to choose what’s right for you.
Picking The Best Outdoor Upholstery Fabrics Based On Your Furniture
Two factors play oversized roles in what you choose and why: your furniture and your climate. Of course, fabrics are our bailiwick, not so much furniture construction, so we dug around and learned a thing (or three) you might find helpful. Here’s how typical porch swings and other furniture materials perform:
Pine Or Metal
Upside: Initially inexpensive. Each takes paint well, so personalization is simple. Downside: Both require maintenance and repainting. Plus, pine’s a bit soft and prone to nicks and scratches, while metal can get really, really hot.
Resin-Based (Faux Lumber Or Wicker)
Upside: Set-it-and-forget-it furniture. Lasts a long time and weathers weather wonderfully. It’s basically fancy plastic wearing a lumber costume.
Downside: It’s a bit pricier and doesn’t really hold a paint job. Also, you’ll want to tie in cushions because there’ll be a bit of slip.
Upside: Harder and more durable than pine and really holds paint well.
Downside: Again, it’s a bit pricier than the rest so far and will require some maintenance.
Upside: The undisputed heavyweight champ of outdoor furniture. All the warmth and appeal of wood but the set-it-and-forget-it of synthetics.
Downside: Pricier than the rest and doesn’t take paint.
Picking The Best Outdoor Upholstery Fabrics Based On Your Climate
Obviously, where you live changes how you use your porch swing and other outdoor furniture. And it can impact how you choose fabrics. We won’t linger on this point too long because — again — fairly obvious.
Bottom line: All of the fabrics we’ve recommended work outdoors. And each has slightly different superpowers. If you’re in an arid, mostly sunny climate, you’ll want to focus on woven, breathable fabrics that offer fade resistance. If you’re in a super wet or swampy climate, you’ll likely prioritize bacteria and mold resistance. Or even full-bore impermeability like vinyl. None of the above requires extra work on your part. Just awareness of where you live and a quick glance at the fabric’s description.
Oh, and yes. The likes of Sunbrella, Olefin, and solution-dyed acrylic fabrics generally offer fade, weather, and all the above resistances. And vinyl’s not letting any weather through. Period. So that’s today’s fabric weather report. Now back to the studio.
Time To Dream Up Your Unique Porch Swing Cushion Fabric Design Style
Time for the fun part. You’re clear about your furniture and where you’ll be enjoying it. And — thanks, again, to today’s advanced fabrics — you’re ready to pick patterns that really suit your style. Let’s get your ideas flowing with examples for a spectrum of vibes. What’s your style jam?
Style skewing traditional? Perfect. Take your porch swing cushions there with soft blue and white paisley. Or a pleasantly sultry summer sunset orange and white stripe fabric. How about chairs decked in basic black and white plaid or a simple, never-fail neutral heather beige canvas?
Let your outdoor space mirror your modern tastes. Try a Caribbean blue geometric pattern or a calming light green abstract instead. And this blue and green teardrop design kind of just makes you smile and breathe easily. Or get a perfect modern fit with this Sunbrella fabric bringing boldly elegant true-white simplicity.
Sit and swing in tropical breezes. Go with full-on tropical flowers in aqua, pink, and green denim or foliage in high-contrast burgundy and white. Play it less tropical but still get vacation vibes with a spa-like lattice print fabric. A rocking chair can feel like any icy umbrella drink cushioned in this solid lime green tone.
Make things even more playful and stay within your style. Traditional? Try basic stripes with some zing in mango, pink, and orange. Modern? Go with something in lagoon green with a bold modern chevron that shouts, “Come sit here!” Have your swing softly singing in indigo and white Shibori pattern. Or go all-in on a beach theme with a beach shack print in… um… all the colors, really.
If your furniture is regularly besotted with sogginess, there’s vinyl and faux leather to the rescue. Just had a downpour, but now you want to sit down? No problem. Shake it, wipe it, and you’re ready to settle back in with vinyl. You might be a smidge (technical term) more limited in style selection. But you’re SET for performance.
Now Rest Easy As You Swing, Rock, And Lounge In Comfort And Style
As we wrap up, you might be itching to dig in and make your own cushion and pillow covers for your porch swing, rocking chairs, and the rest of your outdoor furniture. We totally relate.
And while today’s been about helping you confidently choose the right and perfect fabrics for your home and style, we also say go for it! We often cover DIY pillow/cushion covers as well, and you’ll find all the options you could want over here.
And when you’re ready to choose those right and perfect fabrics, you know we’re here for you and more than happy to help. If we don’t answer right away, look for us out on the porch whiling away the afternoon with some stellar tunes, a frosty beverage, and a big ole smile. Cheers.