What you need to know about outdoor cushions.

20 cushions face-lifted for another few years. Doesn’t that fabric just say summer?

It’s patio season. Finally.  So that means it’s time to get the deck furniture cushions out of the green plastic ‘storage’ bags! Sounds like a lot of you are finding that the cushions are really tired and need either replacing, or at least a facelift.

So here is your outdoor cushion primer.

The absolutely worst thing you can do when dealing with out-door cushions is to aim for waterproof. I know that may sound nuts, but here’s why.

If there is even a pinhole (such as the sewing machine needle holes, or the spaces between zipper teeth), moisture can get in —  and if it can’t get out it will create mold and mildew. Which is exactly the opposite of what you were trying to do.


This Dacron-like ‘foam’ is mildew-resistant and will allow water to pass through. It’s perfect for adding softness to the super-hard quick dry silly string.

Get cushion foam which allows the moisture to flow through.  Not regular foam. It’s airy enough that any moisture trapped inside it will evaporate. And you don’t want any regular Dacron-wrapped foam which is glued in place — the glue will not allow the moisture to pass, either.

Outdoor foam is tricky to find and is fairly expensive. There are products like ‘Dri-Fast’ which demonstrates the drainability by showing water running right through the foam. It costs about 10.00 per board foot. And up. (A cushion 20 x 24 and 3 inches thick has about 10 board feet in it.)


And there is ‘Instant Dry’. This looks like a mass of Silly String and water just drains through it but it’s really, really, really firm. Cost is about 6.00 per board foot and it needs to be wrapped with drainable Dacron for any sit ease at all.

Now, fabric. Sunbrella is the best outdoor fabric you can buy. It does not fade in the sun, you can wash it, and you can actually bleach it and it won’t be damaged. It will last five to ten years. It’s amazing stuff, but expect to pay 60.00 per meter.  I have two suppliers for Sunbrella who sell if for a lot less. Krypton is another super out-door fabric.

Fabricland sells outdoor fabric at super reasonable prices. I made bright red cushions for a client’s south-facing year-round deck and the fabric was still bright as new three years later. 

Here is why you should use outdoor rated fabric. This is a piece of 100% cotton which was sunbleached from the blue to the yellow in 24 hours. While sitting under a north-facing window, super-quality windows, overhang on the windows too, in April.

Thread and zippers: use plastic zippers. That’s a no brainer. And regular polyester thread is good enough unless the cushions will be near salt water, then you should have them made with marine thread.

Ok, back to work. Today I’m working on some really pretty sea-glass green and blue leaves on white outdoor fabric. For a fabulous deck overlooking the valley. Just lovely.



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