olefin vs sunbrella

Olefin vs Sunbrella | What’s the Better Outdoor Fabric?

In Outdoor Furniture, Tips by Jamie

If you are looking for outdoor furniture or for the fabric to upholstery some furniture you have outside, you might be wondering which outdoor fabric to get. Olefin and Sunbrella are two of the most popular and commonly used outdoor fabrics. You might have heard of both brands, but you are unsure which one to get and wondering which one will work better for your outdoor living area.

In this guide, we will discuss the difference and the similarities between the two fabrics to help you decide which one will be better for you to use.

What’s the Difference Between Olefin and Sunbrella?

Both are great choices for outdoor fabrics despite being different in a few key ways. Olefin is often easier to find because it can be found at common stores like Home Depot and Lowes. It’s part of Phifer’s GeoBella line of designer fabrics so there are plenty of colors and patterns to choose from.

Sunbrella can be found at Pottery Barn or directly from the Sunbrella company’s website. Many people choose Olefin because it’s environmentally friendly and made in a way that creates minimal waste. The fiber is also 100 percent recyclable. If you are looking for an eco-friendly fabric without needing to consider any other factors, you could just go with Olefin.

However, Sunbrella has many eco-friendly factors as well even though it’s acrylic fabric. They try to use minimal energy and water so that those things are not gone to waste. They also have a recycling program where people can bring in used fabrics and they can be used for manufacturing.

Olefin tends to be more widely available and therefore cheaper, but this really depends on where you live and what is available in your region.

What Is Olefin Fabric? 

What Is Olefin Fabric

Olefin fabric is made from polypropylene fiber. Olefin is a safe fabric that is used for both indoor and outdoor furniture. It’s stain-resistant which makes it nice for outdoor use especially if you have kids and pets that might be on the furniture.

Advantages of Olefin Fabric

Olefin fabric has many different advantages to keep in mind when considering which one to buy for your outdoor living space. One of the reasons it’s so popular among outdoor furniture is because it resists fading and insects.

You can leave your furniture in an unshaded part of the courtyard or out in the sun and it will not fade. You can also sit outside and not have to worry about insects burying themselves into the furniture and possibly leaving eggs and other problems.

They are also lightweight and easy to clean. Overall, they have a very strong dynamic and can withstand most weather elements and environmental factors that they might encounter while being outside the home.

Disadvantages of Olefin Fabric

Along with the advantages, there are some disadvantages to keep in mind before buying the fabric. For example, many people decide to treat their outdoor furniture with FR treatment when they are putting the furniture next to their grill or another possible place where it might be easy for the furniture to catch fire.

Olefin fabric cannot be treated with fire retardant treatment. It can also become brittle when exposed to too much sunlight unless you put a UV inhibitor on it. It also creases when folded which can be inconvenient for some people.

How Can You Clean Olefin Fabric?

Luckily, cleaning Olefin fabric is very easy. You can dab the stain with lukewarm water and use a mild detergent. It’s best to spot clean if there are only a few areas of the fabric that need cleaning. If the entirety of the fabric is dirty, try putting it in the washing machine on a gentle or delicate cycle.

You can also use bleach if needed, but try not to use too much. If using a machine, make sure to wash on cold or warm settings and not hot. If the water is too hot, the fibers can melt and cause them to deform.

What is Sunbrella Fabric? Sunbrella Linen 8319-0000 Stone, Fabric by the Yard

Sunbrella is a marine and awning fabric that is used for outdoor and indoor living areas. It’s often used for outdoor shade cover because it’s sun and UV ray resistant. It also comes in many different colors so you can get one that matches your outdoor living area very well.

What is Sunbrella Fabric made of?

Sunbrella Fabric is acrylic and is 100% solution-dyed. The pigments are often UV stabilized as well to ensure that the sun does not fade them over time. They are also often used for boat covers and shade because of their superior quality and their ability to resist water and mold and mildew growth.

What Does Sunbrella Offer in Terms of Fabric Shapes and Designs?

Sunbrella offers many different fabric shapes and designs including items for indoor and outdoor use. They offer upholstery, cushions, pillows, drapery, windows, shades, umbrellas, shade sails, and marine canvas.

Their website shows all the products they have and in what colors you can buy them. Most items come in a variety of colors perfect for however your living areas are decorated. 

How Do You Clean Sunbrella Fabrics?

Sunbrella fabric is fairly easy to clean. For the best tips and tricks, check out this article answering in more detail if you can wash Sunbrella cushion covers in the washing machine. When washing Sunbrella fabric, always make sure to use cold water and the delicate washing cycle. This ensures that the fibers will not melt or deform. You should also use only a mild detergent.

Don’t put Sunbrella fabric in the dryer, you can hang dry it instead. Sunbrella will shrink in the dryer so you might find that your cushion covers or other items do not fit anymore after being in the dryer. If you do not want to put the fabric in the dryer, you can also combine water with bleach and dish soap and spot clean.

This might be the best method if you are just looking to rub out a few dirty spots rather than completely clean the entire fabric.

Which is the More Affordable Fabric?

This depends on where you buy it and how much of the fabric you need. Olefin is usually more affordable because it’s easy to find in stores across the country. This also cuts out the need for shipping costs which you will need when buying Sunbrella from an online retailer or their website.

Which is Better Against Rain and Moisture?

Olefin is moisture resistant and will dry quickly when it rains or storms. Sunbrella is also moisture resistant and is mold and mildew resistant as well. Neither fabric is completely waterproof, but both do a pretty good job of repelling moisture.

Sunbrella is better though because it keeps mold and mildew away as well.

Do Either Fabrics Fade from the Sun?

Sunbrella has died with a solution that makes it resistant to fading. It’s colored all the way to the core which means that the UV rays will not be able to penetrate any layer of the fabric. Sunbrella is one of the best fabrics to use for boats and patio furniture.

Olefin is not naturally UV resistant. Some companies add a UV inhibitor to the fabric though which makes it less likely to fade over time. This might cost additional money though or you might have to buy the fabric and then find a company to add the UB inhibitor later.

Which is a More Durable Fabric? 

Olefin is more durable than Sunbrella because it has better abrasion resistance qualities. Many people feel more confident using Olefin because it can resist even things like animals scratching it or children climbing on it.

Which Outdoor Fabric Lasts Longer?

Since Olefin is more durable, it’s more likely to last long in regards to not having mold damage or water damage. However, since Sunbrella is more resistant to UV rays, Sunbrella will last longer in terms of the pigment staying the same since the day you bought it.

Which Outdoor Fabric is Easier to Clean?

Both fabrics are equally easy to clean. They can be placed in the washer machine on cold or warm with mild detergent. Neither fabric can be put inside the dryer so you will need to hang them outside. Bleach can also be used on both fabrics for spot cleaning.

Are Both Options Eco-Friendly Fabrics?

Both options have eco-friendly fabric. However, since Sunbrella is acrylic it cannot be considered as eco-friendly as Olefin. Olefin also has more procedures put into place to make sure the company is managing water and electricity well which overall contributes more positively to the environment.

Does One Fabric Have More Texture Options?

Both fabrics have about the same range of patterns, colors, and designs. You should be able to find what you are looking for from either company unless you are wanting something highly specific. In that case, you will want to ask the company to make a custom-made item.

The Verdict | Which Fabric is Better?

Overall, Olefin seems to be better because it’s more durable, cheaper, and it’s eco-friendly. You can have nice furniture or other items with Olefin. Sunbrella may be better for some though who want to put their furniture in unshaded areas where they will benefit from having a UV-resistant material. Sunbrella might also be better for those who live in humid or rainy climates because they do not have to worry about mold and mildew growth even when it rains every day.

About the Author

Jamie

Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.