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Quick Guide to Cushion Fabrics and Fillers

Cushions provide the comfort zone for furniture, and they come in a wide variety of materials along with different fillers for indoor and outdoor uses. Knowing a little more about fabric coverings and what goes inside them will make any shopping experience a little easier.

Common Cushion Fabrics

Acrylic is a man made washable fabric with wool-like softness that holds dyes well and is a fine choice for outdoor use.

Acrylic Linen - Water and fade resistant synthetic material similar in texture to linen.

Bamboo Fabric - Constructed from bamboo grass pulp that becomes a strong fibrous material that resists moisture damage and offers some antimicrobial properties.

Cotton Canvas offers a casual fabric weave for indoor use, but can be treated for use in outdoor areas. Wears well and is washable if covers are removed but can absorb stains.

Dacron - DuPont's trade name for the fiber construction of polyester, which is also called PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

Dupioni Silk - Nubbed fabric that is machine washable. Sunbrella features a faux material of the same name for outdoor use.

Hemp - Manufactured from industrial hemp (cannabis sativa), and commonly used in sailcloth. Noted for its strength and somewhat coarse texture, it also resists stretching and is a popular choice for high-traffic areas.

Linen - With more strength than cotton, this fabric is produced from plants and is available in various weights.

Muslin - Lightweight with a low thread count. Available on some indoor seat cushions in white or off-white.

Nylon - Strong, flexible synthetic fabric known for its durability.

Outdura is a textile manufacturer with products for marine use, awnings, residential and commercial applications.

PVC - Polyvinyl chloride; waterproof and fade resistant vinyl material.

Polyester - Synthetic fiber popularized in the 1950s. Second in strength to nylon, wears well and dries quickly.

Polypropylene - Synthetic nonwoven plastic material also known as olefin that is waterproof, will not mold and will not fade.

Rayon - A synthetic material similar to silk produced from cellulose plant fibers. Some rayons are known for pilling, but newer manufacturing processes are producing stronger, higher quality materials.

Solution-Dyed Acrylic - In a liquid polymer state, pigments are applied to the acrylic before extrusion to create a highly fade resistant material for outdoor use.

Sunbrella is a popular manufacturer of outdoor fabrics for residential, commercial and marine applications.

Viscose - Another term for rayon; produced from a combined synthetic and natural plant fiber process.

Filler Definitions for Furniture Cushions

Blown Polyester Fiber Uses a process of filling cushions using pressurized air to blow in fibers in a random placement that creates a softer feel. Blown polyester fiber is often used in back cushions and accent pillows.

Dacron Wrap - Polyester batting that is about 1/2 inch thick and is glued around foam. It adds shape but is softer than foam.

Densified Fiber - Compressed polyester fiber construction that is washable and retains its shape with heavy use. It dries quickly and is mildew resistant. Excellent for high traffic indoor areas and for outdoor use, but does not have the same supportive properties as foam products.

Foam Density Rating - Polyurethane foams are rated as low-density (breaks down quickly), medium-density (typically lasts up to 6 years) and heavy-density (longest lifespan). Density ratings are not related to levels of softness or firmness.

Hollofil - Dacron fiberfill is a durable alternative to foam. It retains its shape well and is machine washable without losing form.

Polyurethane Foam - Porous filler that allows water to drain through; excellent for outdoor use. Dries quickly and is available with various firmness ratings.

Reticulated Foam - Lightweight open-cell type of foam that dries quickly

Thermal Bonded Polyester Fiber - Layers of polyester fibers bonded in a thermal process with different treatments that include fire retardant properties and wash ability.