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What is Sunbrella Fabric and How to Choose the Right Grade

Who doesn’t love sitting out in the open, soaking the sun? Or simply enjoying the outdoor ambience at a restaurant? The décor of these places is one of their prime attractions. It is, in turn, dependent on the landscaping as much as it relies on the fabric being used in these open areas – be it the umbrellas, sofas or other such seating arrangements.

The regular fabrics used in indoor seating can fade or get damaged, when exposed to elements like sun, rain and dust for extended periods of time. Thus, there is a strong need for outdoor fabrics that are designed to retain their longevity, irrespective of the location they are placed in. Outdoor fabrics have different characteristics when compared to indoor fabrics. Thus, when decorating an outdoor space, whether for a business or for intimate personal gatherings, it is important to check whether the fabric used has been marked for outdoor use.

Grades of Outdoor Fabric

Grades of Outdoor Fabric

When deciding on the outdoor fabric for a project – whether it is DIY or for a client – one needs to consider a number of factors. Some of these considerations should include one or more of the following.

  • Is the area completely open or is it partially covered?
  • What is the climate of the area where this fabric needs to be used? (Is it mostly sunny or is it in an area receiving heavy rainfall?)
  • What is the budget for the décor?
  • What is the purpose for using the fabric? (Seating, Awning, Sunshade etc.?)

Once these factors are considered, there is a fair idea of the essential characteristics required from the fabric to be used. Next, one needs to look at the different grades of outdoor fabrics available.

Grade A

This is the basic grade of outdoor fabrics and the most inexpensive one. Made using polyester or their blends, Grade A outdoor fabrics have a strong resistance to mildew and water, are super quick to dry, free of wrinkles and durable fabrics. They are, however, not resistant to fading and tend to lose their color over time. These are best suited for décor of furniture that can be moved in easily or that are not placed in completely open settings.

Grade B

The next level of outdoor fabrics, Grade B are a slight improvement over the Grade A ones. These use olefins as the base material, instead of polyester-based Grade A fabrics. Thus, the stain and fade resistance are higher in Grade B outdoor fabrics. Also, they are comparatively soft and hence make for great sofa covers as well as cushion covers. The variety of colors and designs available in both Grade A and Grade B outdoor fabrics is simply unbelievable. Of course, due to their superior performance against stain and wear and tear, this is a better choice when using in a place frequented by children. Thanks to their improved features, Grade B outdoor fabrics are slightly more expensive, yet still affordable.

Grade C

The premium outdoor fabrics, used to make cushions and their covers, Grade C fabrics are made of acrylics. These are 100% solution-dyed materials, i.e., the liquid acrylic is mixed with color even before they are converted into fiber and then yarn. This ensures the fastness and uniformity of color, instead of just having painted one side of the completed fabric.

The fast color ensures the longevity of the final product as well. The solution-dyed acrylic ensures wear and tear resistance, a great news for families with children as well as pets. Thus, Grade C fabrics are the preferred material, even in the case of outdoor seating of restaurants, malls and coffee shops etc. The stain resistance allows for ease of cleaning.

Grade D

In the case of Grade C and Grade D fabrics, the difference is not in terms of constituent material like the previous cases. Instead, the Grade D fabrics differ due to the improvised mechanisms and complex production mechanisms to make them. Some of these complex mechanisms may include specialized weaves, intricate design patterns and simply enhanced manufacturing practices. Like Grade C fabrics, even the Grade D fabrics lie at the higher end of the price spectrum. However, with their superior characteristics and longevity of the fabric, the premium price of Grade D fabrics is justified.

What is Sunbrella Fabric?

What is Sunbrella Fabric?

Sunbrella is the brand name under which the outdoor fabrics are manufactured by Glen Raven Inc. These are premium outdoor fabrics, known for their quality, durability as well as the huge variety of options available to their customers. Sunbrella fabric is a big name in the industry, especially with designers working on outdoor décor.

The huge popularity of the brand and its fabrics is because of some of its basic characteristics, like the ones listed below.

  • It is an all-weather fabric, making it a versatile choice for use in any location.
  • It is dust, mold and mildew resistant.
  • The fabric is UV processed and hence doesn’t even get impacted by the UV rays from the sun. This makes it an ideal summer choice, as much as a choice in any other season.
  • The sheer variety of designs and colors available in their collections can please any designer.

Apart from the above characteristics, the fact that Sunbrella fabrics are made from 100% solution-dyed acrylics, makes them a Grade C fabric. Thus, even the Standard Sunbrella fabrics have a high quality standard, making it a premium choice.

Another important fact about the brand is that they collect the finished products from the consumer as well as non-consumer locations. These products are then recycled in their other collections like marine fabrics and industrial applications. Thus, it is one of the most sustainable brands, trying to make a difference in an industry that is known for exploiting the environment, more than it gives back.

How to identify the right Sunbrella Fabric?

Sunbrella Fabric is produced by the company under different collections. Some of these collections include the ones listed below.

  • Upholstery
  • Shade
  • Marine

Each of these collections is designed keeping in mind the specific use-case. Thus, the fabrics in the Sunbrella Marine range will be thicker, have higher water resistance and can be used to make the seating in boats etc.

The best way to identify the correct Sunbrella fabric to be used is to check against the parameters listed above for identifying the suitable outdoor fabrics. Below are a few examples of how to decide the right Sunbrella variant.

  • Purpose of Use – What will the fabric be used for? For outdoor sofa or cushion covers, use Sunbrella Upholstery and for Boats use Sunbrella Marine. The latter is generally a Grade D fabric, since there are multiple ways to create a specialized fabric for marine use.
  • Exposure – If used in an open-air restaurant, the upholstery needs anti-fading as well as wear and tear resistance. Thus, a Grade C fabric is a better choice. In fact, some designers use a dark shade Grade C, Sunbrella Upholstery for the seating and any other soft Grade B fabric for the cushions.

Looking at the versatility of the Sunbrella fabric and its availability in a multitude of colors and designs, it is no surprise that it’s one of the top choices of designers and manufacturers worldwide working in the field with outdoor fabrics. To find manufacturers and suppliers for bringing your own designs to life, search on Fashinza– an end-to-end platform for all things related to the fashion industry. Whether it is Sunbrella Fabrics or suppliers of the same, you can find everything at Fashinza.

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