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Fabrics that are as durable as they are beautiful are a homemaker’s dream. Fabrics that can stand up to pets, spills and stains are bringing the outdoor in and the indoor out. The same features that make these fabrics great for the outdoors, easy cleanability, beachability and the UV resistance make them perfect for indoor furniture.

Twice a year at Showtime in High Point, NC textile manufacturers present their latest and greatest fabric collections to buyers. In the past most buyers of outdoor fabrics also referred to as performance fabrics, were outdoor furniture manufacturers. But at this market retailers, indoor furniture manufacturers and designers were shopping for performance fabrics for indoor applications.

07_07_SUN0781_It’s easy to understand why consumers are demanding more durable fabrics that can take the punishment of everyday living. But until now the selection of patterns and colors just wasn’t there.

Performance fabric manufacturers have started paired vivid colors with a wide variety of patterned coordinates. According to Lori-Jo Shea, design director at Richloom, her customers are asking for novelty, florals/botanicals, a watercolor look and peacock colors. She noted that the single top color is a bright red, closely followed by a graphite shade. Blue is also in high demand.

Textures are also being incorporated into performance fabrics. For the past couple of years textures have played a huge role in interior fabrics so it is only natural that this trend would spill over into the great outdoors.

In the past consumers were limited to just one brand of outdoor fabrics, Sunbrella. Today the market has expanded to include a handful of performance fabric manufactures, bringing a larger selection of colors, textures and patterns that look right at home indoors.

AFTER_lounging_pillows_pink_turquoiseBut before you buy do your homework. Not all performance fabrics are created equal. Some stand up to moisture and UV exposure better while others are easier to clean and wear longer. Solution-dyed acrylic has become the most popular choice for outdoor fabrics because the fibers are dyed with a liquid acrylic solution before the fibers are woven together making it color-fast and water-resistant while still being soft and easy to clean even with bleach.

Polyester and cotton-polyester blended fabric threads are woven and then dipped into an acrylic coating to color the fabric and add durability. Microfibers is a fine synthetic fiber that can be woven into textiles with the texture and drape of natural fiber cloth but with enhanced washability, breathability and water resistance.

Olefin is a manmade fiber that is manufactured similar to polyester and nylon and is generally solution-dyed.

So why are all these different types of fabric important to us. It has to do with their performance and gleanability. Performance fabrics are not indestructible. Whether you are using these fabrics on outdoor cushions or to upholster your living room sofa they do require care and cleaning. Outdoor furniture should be covered when not in use. Vacuum the cushions on a regular bases to remove pollen, dust and debris.

Some fabrics such as can be cleaned with beach without destroying the color or the fabric, others cannot. Be sure you know the limits and cleaning instructions for the specific performance fabric you’re purchasing. They are not all the same.

If you’re shopping for new indoor furniture it is certainly worth the time investigate the fabrics that are available from your retailer. If they can’t supply you with the performance fabric you want, you can always supply your own fabric (COM) and have them upholster the furniture for you.

Maybe this is finally the time you get that white sofa you’ve always wanted. Just make sure it is upholstered in performance fabric!

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