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Outdoor Cushion Buying Guide

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Outdoor Cushions, what to look for?

Buying outdoor furniture can be a deeply personal experience, from the style and colour to what cushion types you prefer, firmness and how long they will last for. Our buying guide will make it easy for you to make an informed decision about the cushions on your outdoor furniture.

Avila Outdoor Sunlounger

Different Types Of Upholstery Fabric Options

The upholstery fabric is the exterior material that surrounds and protects the interior cushion fill. Because upholstery fabric is exposed to the elements, as well as the component of the cushion that provides aesthetic value, look for fabric that is both fade-resistant and waterproof. Read through for a breakdown on the most common upholstery fabrics used for outdoor cushion construction:

Upholstery Fabric Types

Features & Characteristics:

Sunbrella Fabric

  • Designer fabric developed in the 1960s
  • High performance engineering
  • Resistant to water and fading
  • Highly breathable fabric means easy maintenance and supreme feel and aesthetic
  • Cotton Canvas Fabric
  • Heavy duty fabric that is plain woven
  • Dyes easily which means cotton canvas is available in a variety of colours and prints
  • Duck Cloth Fabric
  • Tight weave construction
  • Feels texturally smoother when compared to cotton canvas

Textilene Fabric

  • Often used to construct sun canopies and sling seating
  • Displays moisture, fading, and mould resistance
  • Flame retardant
  • Textilene contains a PVC coating and is a type of woven polyester

Olefin Fibre Fabric

  • Known as polypropylene, this synthetic fibre has plastic-qualities ideal for outdoor use
  • Exceptionally durable against fading, mould, and mildew
  • Ideal choice used for cushion inserts

Vinyl Fabric

  • Polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC,) is the second most popular plastic and was was first developed during the 1920s
  • Recyclable and eco-friendly
  • Durable and easy to maintain and clean


Cushion Thickness

Cushions for outdoor seating are usually thicker than normal cushions. The foam used in outdoor cushions is specially designed to be water resistant. Cheaper foam is sometimes used in lower quality cushions, but this doesn’t last the distance and will need replacing within a season. Foam for lounge cushions, daybed cushions and any deep-seating situation should be between 10cm & 15cm thick. Outdoor specific foam also comes in different grades, so make sure that foam is ‘high density’ so that it will last for years to come.

Different Types Of Fill Options 

Batting (Foam and Dacron)

Batting is used to bring a smooth appearance to cushions. Foam is used as the centre core and is then wrapped with batting made from Dacron. These types of cushions carry a medium to firm density.


Available in a variety of densities, foam is the most common filling material applied to fill outdoor cushions. Density is the most important property to consider when choosing foam. Different applications will require different densities of foam. There are 4 important factors that determine the quality of foam used for cushions:

Density: Typically, the higher density the foam, the firmer the cushions will be. Density measures how much air is in the foam. A very high density is considered excessive for outdoor applications. The industry standard for outdoor cushions is between 0.68-0.81 kg./cu. mm. for seats. Indoor applications require a much higher density for longevity.

Indentation Force Deflection (IFD): IFD is a measurement of a foam’s softness. Indentation force deflection tests how many kilograms foam takes to compress. 70 IFD is considered firm, 40-45 IFD is medium, and 33-35 IFD is rated as medium soft.

High Resilience (HR): High resilience foam refers to properties in foam that allow it to quickly regain its shape, or “bounce back” after pressures has been applied. HR foam is better suited for indoor applications, as moisture and exposure from an outdoor setting may compromise the properties of high resilience foam.

Biocide: A biocide treatment is recommended for foams used in outdoor cushions. Biocide is an additive that reduces fungus growth in foam.

The most common types of outdoor cushion foam include:

Type of Foam


Compressed Polyester Foam

  • Foam alternative
  • Will not degrade like traditional foam
  • Economical alternative used often in outdoor cushions

Polyester Fibrefill Foam

  • Foam alternative
  • Mildew-resistant and non-allergenic
  • Machine-washable (if fibre bunches, simply smoothing out the filling will retain its smooth consistency)
  • Typically used for for deep seating back cushions

Polyurethane Foam

  • Usually treated with biocide treatment for protection against mildew
  • Most common type of foam used in cushions
  • Displays medium density ideal for seating

Open Cell Foam

  • Best for areas exposed to moisture, open pores in reticulated foam allows maximum water and air flow for quick-drying properties
  • Easy to maintain and extremely comfortable
  • Dry Fast is a type of high-quality open cell foam formulated with an antimicrobial agent that prevents mould and mildew

Closed Cell Foam

  • High-density foam known as flotation foam
  • No water absorption, 3x firmer than polyurethane foam, buoyant
  • Used for flotation applications, ideal for commercial boat seating

No matter what you are looking for Outdoor Furniture Co has what you need. Be sure to take note of the cushion description in our products to be sure you are getting exactly the type you want.