Friday, March 7, 2008

Outdoor Fabric 101

Spring is looming. We go through a time change this weekend, have Easter in just a couple of weeks, and before you know it, it will be time for Memorial Day. With all these events taking place that means it will be time to start thinking about how you will dress up that patio or sun room for the warmer weather.
It has come to my attention that while people get the concept of outdoor fabric and what it is used for, there are still a lot of things that remain confusing...even to us!
I have compiled a list of things to consider when choosing your next outdoor fabric.

#1: Water Resistant vs. Water Repellent. We get phone calls all the time about what the difference is. Well, I am here to clarify! Water resistant means the fabric resists water. Water will not penetrate the fabric. Water repellent means that is resists fabric but given enough time and water it will penetrate the fabric. Most outdoor fabrics are water repellent, not resistant.

#2: Choose a fabric that is stain resistant. Most of the time, if the fabric is stain resistant it will also repel the growth of mold and mildew.

#3: Light Fastness. This is another topic that even I personally have had a lot of questions about. Certain dyes are more prone to fading than others. There are finishes you can place on your fabric to help slow the process of fading but nothing will completely stop the process. Any outdoor fabric will have this process already done to it. On many outdoor fabrics they will list the minimum number of hours a fabric can be exposed to light before showing signs of fading. You might see fabric anywhere from 200 hours to 2200 hours.

#4: If you are using the fabric on an outdoor patio, you are most likely placing the fabric in an area where a grill, or fire pit, or candles will be used. For this reason, it is good to also consider a fabrics flammability rating. There are three main flammability ratings used in the US:
1. UFAC Class 1
2. Cal. 117
3. NFPA 260
These three are used on the majority of contract and some residential fabrics used.

#5: The last thing you might consider is the cleaning code. How easy will it be to clean? You might see Cleaning Code: S, WS, W, whatever the cleaning code visit our page of cleaning code definitions to understand exactly what it means. Cleaning Codes.

Hopefully this shed a little more light on what all the technical information means and don't forget to check out our section of Outdoor Fabrics!

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