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Outdoor Fabrics Make Summer Living Easy

When it's warm and you want to be outside, you want your outdoor living made easy. Outdoor fabrics have vastly improved our lifestyle because they are very durable and easy to clean. However, there are some fabrics that are more durable then others, and I have often wondered why. I spoke with an expert, Garret H. Smith, VP of Operations at the Robert Allen Group.

Garret explained that there are two types of outdoor fabrics: solution dyed wovens and printed patterns. A woven pattern has the stitching of the pattern on the reverse side whereas printed pattern only has the pattern on the front side of the fabric.

Solution dyed fabrics can only be woven fabrics and are the most durable for outdoor environments. "A solution dyed fabric is a process where the color is introduced to the yarn while the synthetic yarn material is in a molten state. The colorant is fully encapsulated within the yarn during the manufacturing process. It can be performed on all types of synthetic yarns, including acrylic, polyester, nylon, olefins," Said Garrett.

Solution dying gives the yarn several advantages:

  • Superior light-fastness
  • Inherent mildew resistance
  • Resistance to chlorine fading (in pool environments)
  • Flexibility in cleaning methods... spot cleaning, dry cleaning, laundering (for some fabrics), and the limited use of a 10% bleach solution for the most stubborn stains.
  • Suitable for all outdoor environments; pools, patio, porch...
  • Excellent abrasion resistance.

Printed fabrics are best when used in shaded areas because they can fade in bright sunlight. "Since a print has its' dyes applied topically, it will not be as durable as a solution dyed yarn. Also, the cleaning methods for prints are generally restricted to spot-cleaning or dry cleaning only. Most definitely, bleach in any concentration should not be used on a printed fabric, "advised Garrett.

Outdoor fabrics are also mildew resistant but somehow, midway through the summer, mine need to be cleaned. I always thought that it was the damp ocean air that caused the mildew to grow on the fabric and was quite surprised to learn the true reason. Any type of dust or dirt is what attracts mildew, not the fabric so it's best to rinse the fabric occasionally before mildew has a chance to grow. Mild soap and water is recommended for this.

Today, manufacturers such as Robert Allen, Ralph Lauren, Schumacher and Scalamandre, have thousands of
outdoor fabrics to choose from.

DecoratorsBest offers a selection of over 2,000 outdoor fabrics. When used correctly, these fabrics will last a very long time and facilitate summer living.
offers designer drapery fabric, upholstery fabric, designer wallpaper, throw pillows and custom drapery at discount prices! These items are sold exclusively in design centers to interior designers and are are now available to you through New York Interior Designer, Barbara H. Karpf. Browse through more than 100,000 products at unbeatable prices. Visit us at:

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