When shopping for outdoor furniture, typically the first thing that catches your eye is the cushioning, and more specifically the rich colors or soft textures of the fabric. And while the aesthetics of the cushion is an important factor in choosing a look for your outdoor space, it’s what’s on the inside that will truly provide that look and comfortability for years to come. Considering elements beyond the color, pattern and even feel of a product to see what particular elements and materials have gone into the cushion is crucial. Knowledgeable outdoor furniture retailers are well-versed about the construction of each of the brands they carry and eager to share this information and offer expert advice. Here are some of the important questions to ask regarding cushion construction:
A good outdoor cushion will be made of outdoor grade, open celled foam. This foam has antimicrobial properties which help it to stand up to the elements and resists growth of mold and mildew. Open celled means the foam is constructed in a way to allow water to pass through the cushion rather than being absorbed by the foam. This also cuts the growth of mold and mildew, and will allow you to enjoy your furniture sooner after a heavy rain. Another sound method is using indoor foam and wrapping it in a waterproof barrier. This method provides the same type of comfort as fine upholstered furniture meant for indoor use, but can also be more expensive.
2. Is the cushion made well?
Most retailers will know if a cushion is known to stand the test of time or not. Some things to consider are; what kind of fabric is offered by the vendor, and what kind of thread is used. It is standard for outdoor furniture manufacturers to use high quality Sunbrella® fabric or an equivalent (although not a given!), but what about the thread that holds it all together? If the manufacturer is using inferior thread, then your cushions might, quite literally, fall apart at the seams. Seek out cushions that use Tenara© thread by Gore©, which is guaranteed to last the lifetime of the fabric. Tenara thread is made from a Teflon-like material and will stand up to sun, chlorine, and even bleach, which is commonly used to clean outdoor fabric.
An inferior product may look and feel good in a store, but lacks the materials and components to hold up to the elements.
Ask about warranty, and if the retailer is aware of any issues with the cushions of a particular manufacturer. Is the cushion made domestically or overseas? An inferior product may look and feel good in a store, but lacks the materials and components to hold up to the elements.
4. What fabric is right for my lifestyle?
It is important to think about how you will be using the furniture when choosing fabric. Will your furniture be in a high traffic area? If so, a white fabric may not be the best option. Do you live somewhere with a lot of rain? You may want to ask your retailer about Sunbrella® RAIN fabric, which offers a step up from the normal weather resistant properties. Most store selling outdoor furniture will offer solution dyed acrylic fabric, which is the quality-standard for outdoors. Read more about choosing fabric here.
Cushions are such an important element in the look, comfort, and longevity of your outdoor furniture. Each of these critical construction and materials elements are showcased in OW Lee’s cushions, and backed with one of the best warranties in the industry.
Credit: O.W. Lee