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Is Sunbrella Fabric Worth It? An Outdoor AND Indoor Review, 2 Years In The Making

Hey friends – do you trust me? Because I have been living with and testing some incredible pet-/baby-/child-/chaotic-adult-proof fabric over the past 2 years and I’m finally ready to share the honest pros and cons. That’s right, baby: TODAY, WE’RE TALKIN’ ABOUT SUNBRELLA. You’re probably familiar with the name (maybe you’re even rocking some Sunbrella fabric on your outdoor furniture as we speak!), but I’ve tested it out in a ton of different applications – Curtains! Pillows! Outdoor cushions! Indoor upholstery! – and have since amassed a whole lot of first-hand experience that I’m excited to relay to my fellow home-loving companions. You’ve probably read my blurbs about this material in a variety of blog posts over the last few years, but I’m so excited to partner with the brand (!!!) to compile my thoughts in one place.

So if you’ve ever wondered if Sunbrella fabric is comfortable, or easy to clean, or stain-resistant, or pet-friendly…well, I have all the answers you’ll ever need below. (Spoiler: I LIVED IT, I LOVED IT.) Let’s take it back to the beginning of my journey…

My OG Inspiration

…or, uh, Spring 2021. (Same thing.) I saw these photos of Em’s mountain house deck, read her Sunbrella fabric testimonial, and was pretty immediately #emfluenced. Weather-resistant? Fade-resistant? stain-resistant? Easy to find at the stores I already patronize? SOLD. See, I was working on my own outdoor space at the time – a tiny 4’x10′ balcony, just off a major 6-lane road in Los Angeles (so, uh, basically the opposite of Em’s idyllic mountain retreat) – and I decided to invest in a few pieces with Sunbrella fabric for my own home.

My First Trial Run

And y’all, I am SO GLAD that I did. I hung those sweet cabana stripe curtain panels made with Sunbrella fabric over the summer in 2021 and they still look brand new after nearly 2 years of near-daily sun exposure (same with the pillows – they’ve held up beautifully).

My favorite part, though, was the cushion I grabbed for my secondhand rattan loveseat. This thing exceeded my expectations in every way – the fabric is easy to clean with a wet towel and some soap (essential for those of us who live near roads and often find our outdoor possessions covered with a thick layer of black dust), it is mold and mildew-resistant (I didn’t feel bad about leaving it outside during the freak rainstorms we’ve been having in 2023, which is awesome for those of us who lack storage), and the kicker: after a lot of testing, I can confirm that Sunbrella is a GREAT fabric choice for pet owners.

Buff, my cat, spends a ton of time out here on this cushion – making biscuits (kneading? You know, whatever your regional term is :)), stretching in the sun, playing, jumping, zoomie-ing, all that jazz – and while no fabric is totally indestructible, the stuff out here REALLY held up to the elements. To that end, I knew that Sunbrella fabric was going to be the most durable choice for my indoor upholstery, too.

Wait, Can You Use Sunbrella Fabric On Indoor Furniture?

can you spot buff?

You sure can! And it’s pretty widely carried at many of our favorite EHD retail destinations. My search for indoor, stain-resistant, pet-friendly furniture for my home brought me to Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, which carries a really lovely variety of Sunbrella fabric.

I landed on the Sunbrella performance basket weave fabric (in ‘Almond,’ in case you want to match!) because I fell in love with the texture – it looked classic and timeless, but the weave also felt pretty sturdy and forgiving and easy to maintain long-term. (And for the record, MG+BW carries a really nice assortment of other types of Sunbrella fabric! I eyed their Sunbrella two-tone linen weave and their Sunbrella chenille fabric for these chairs, but am SO happy that I landed on the basket weave.

Is It Comfortable?

YES, BIG TIME. I think that a lot of the time, when people hear “performance fabric,” they think “canvas.” (Guilty as charged.) And while you can absolutely use canvas indoors, there are SO MANY more options and textures to choose from! Case in point: the Sunbrella basket weave texture I landed on doesn’t just look luxe – it feels great, too. It’s soft and comfortable while also being tough enough to stand up to daily life.

Is It Actually Stain-Resistant?

Yes, THANKFULLY. I got these chairs delivered back in September 2022 and the upholstery has absolutely seen its fair share of spills and “whoops” moments in the many months that have passed since. True to form, I accidentally got dirt ALL OVER this chair about a week after it was delivered. (The cut of the arms is perfect for those who love to pull their legs up underneath them – just forgot I had sandals on!) It was pretty nerve-wracking at first – had I just ruined my new furniture before I had a chance to share it with the world? – but then I remembered that this kind of situation was exactly why I wanted to use Sunbrella fabric on my indoor upholstered furniture.

All Sunbrella fabrics are manufactured with technology that saturates every fiber with color and UV-stabilized pigments before being spun into yarns and woven, which means that you can easily clean up messes when life happens. Much like the cushions on my patio, all the muck and gunk removed super easily with just a little bit of soap and water. CRISIS AVERTED. (If you opt for a piece that’s been slipcovered, you can also throw your Sunbrella fabric straight into the washer!) This is why we CAN have nice things. ๐Ÿ™‚

Is It Pet-Friendly?

ABSOLUTELY. And while I can only speak to the experience I’ve had with Sunbrella fabric and a cat who loves to climb and claw, I’d emphatically recommend this fabric to any pet owners out there. Look – long-lasting, quality furniture is an investment (as it should be!), and it makes sense to protect that investment by choosing a fabric that will give your pieces the best possible chances at survival, you know?

While I don’t want to make any extraordinary claims, I’ve been so pleased by the way that the tight weave of the basket weave Sunbrella fabric I chose has held up to daily wear-and-tear from Buff, a nearly 13-year-old cat whose sprightly movements and constant zoomies could rival any kitten. I definitely don’t encourage her to use these chairs as a scratching post, but I do feel like I have the freedom to be a little less precious. It’s awesome to be able to sit back and enjoy my furniture without worrying that it’s on the constant verge of destruction, you know? (PS. Dog owners, you can read Em’s firsthand testimonial about choosing Sunbrella for her dining nook right here!)

TL;DR – Yes, Sunbrella Fabric Is Worth The Investment

Y’all, it is SUCH A TREAT to have the opportunity to write this post. I don’t take my recommendations lightly, and it’s been a dream to write about something that I’ve tested (both indoors and outdoors!) that I genuinely love and believe in. With Sunbrella fabric, I’ve been able to get the aesthetic look I wanted (soft, textured, tailored, clean, and comfortable) without any of the stresses or the extra mental load that usually come along with maintaining white or upholstered furniture.

Since Sunbrella fabric is designed to withstand the toughest messes, it’s the PERFECT choice for those whose interiors often take a beating. ๐Ÿ™‚ I, a person who spills constantly (and who spilled that Hawaiian Punch all over immediately after taking this photo), am still no match for Sunbrella fabric. Buff, a cat who is seemingly in the running to become the nation’s preeminent feline-free climber, is no match either! I’ve written about my experience with this fabric ad nauseam in tinier chunks over the past year and a half and it’s been so exciting to be able to share all my thoughts and opinions in one place. (Can you tell I genuinely love it?)

Let me know if you have any questions. Here’s to making our lives a little easier and a little more beautiful, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

This post was sponsored by Sunbrella but all words and opinions are all mine๐Ÿ™‚

*Design by Caitlin Higgins (me!)
**Styled by Emily Bowser
***Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
(unless otherwise noted:))

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24 thoughts on “Is Sunbrella Fabric Worth It? An Outdoor AND Indoor Review, 2 Years In The Making

  1. A: Love Sunbrella fabric, have it all over Londo Lodge and it stands up to all the dirt my sweet pup drags in. B: That’s a lovely portrait of you – that dress is wonderful!

  2. Just had to comment on the picture of Buff sitting in the chair next to a glass of water. I imagined all kinds of snide comments he was mumbling under his whiskers. Made me LOL this morning!

  3. I also have a cat named Buffy !!! She is basically the same model as yours but orange. That’s it, I have nothing else to add, no notes, excellent post

  4. Nice ad for this product – consider me sold! Now, what’s the best way for me to shop for Sunbrella fabric by the yard that I can use to reupholster a chair or headboard? The Sunbrella wants $4.00 per swatch which could add up when I’m just trying to get a sense of texture and drape, let alone try colors. Is it available at any brick & mortar fabric stores? I don’t see any listed on the Sunbrella site, although I see the F&S website says they have a selection. And what about price? You’re always good on that, Caitlin! Do they have sales we should be on the lookout for?

    1. I was able to find Sunbrella swatches in person at a high-end outdoor furniture chain in California. Unfortunately I don’t remember how I found the store… but you might try calling a few places like that near you. Then I ordered by the yard from Outdoor Fabric Central because I was using the fabric for an indoor upholstered banquette (which hasn’t faded at all after 1 year next to a big window with no curtains or shades, FYI).

    2. I’ve ordered Sunbrella fabric before by the yard from fabric.com (which looks like it’s now just Amazon). It does take some searching on the site, though, so probably more helpful if you already have a sense of what you are looking for. And I’m not sure if you can order samples! patiolane.com looks like they offer free samples, and also some sample packs for $10. Price per yard ranges from $20-$55ish. sailrite.com is also a website that has Sunbrella fabric samples. I hope this is helpful!

    3. Ballard Designs will send free fabric swatches but there is a small shipping charge. I am not sure if there is a max quantity that can be ordered; however I have ordered a “handful” of free swatches in the past and also the website does not say there is a max quantity. In addition to Sunbrella fabrics, Ballards also sells an indoor “performance” fabrics called “Crypton” (not a Sunbrella product) that has stain resistance etc but it is only for indoor use and and they also sell and indoor/outdoor fabric line called “InsideOut”. The below link shows the three types of “performance” fabrics at Ballard Designs:
      https://www.ballarddesigns.com/fabric/performance/
      They have many fabrics of all types by the yard and periodically they will have sales on fabric (subscribe to emails for the notices) and if a fabric is being discontinued by them, they will put it on a deeper discount.
      Online Fabrice Store and JoAnn Fabrics also sell Sunbrella but I believe the swatches are $2.

  5. As a designer, I have had great difficulty sourcing Sunbrella specifically. It seems that a lot of fabric companies were discontinuing carrying the brand during the height of Covid. I believe highly in all performance fabrics though, because of the nature of how the fabric is woven and dyed as you described.

    1. I’ve also had trouble finding Sunbrella fabric! I’ve been wanting it for this project I’m working on but can’t seem to find it easily. Good luck in your search!

  6. I would love to know more places where you can buy pre-made furniture at affordable prices with Sunbrella fabric. Are there several stores with this option or is it primarily just for reupholstery?

    1. If you go to the “Where To Buy” link on the Sunbrella site, there are drop-downs to enter that you’re a consumer interested in indoor or outdoor furniture. It will return a list of online vendors (Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn, Wayfair, etc) some of which have links to take you to the Sunbrella page on their sites. If you enter your zip code, you’ll also get a list of stores in your area. There were some in my area that I’d consider affordable shops, but everyone has their own criteria for that.
      https://www.sunbrella.com/where-to-buy-sunbrella-fabric

    1. In her Living Room Reveal post, Caitlin said the curtain rods and rings were from Ballard Designs, and the draperies are on Amazon, brand HPD (Half Price Drapes) in Tuscany Green.

      1. Hmmm – for some reason I have these linen curtains bookmarked as the source (https://amzn.to/3ojPoRJ) from a round up a few months ago, but I’m LOVING these dark green ones. Caitlin, can you confirm? They look great!

  7. I absolutely love the art above your fireplace! Beautiful! Would you be able to share the source?

    1. I believe it is her Frame TV. Check her living room reveal in the a previous post from a couple weeks ago.

  8. Would love additional sources for sunbrella indoor furniture! Super helpful post.

  9. I understand how they dye it plus acrylic makes it stain resistant but canโ€™t find enough on coatings / chemicals to make me want it in the house. Outside is great.

  10. Great post Caitlin and always a treat to peek inside your beautiful home again. Great to know about the durability of Sunbrella fabric both in and outdoors! I’m definitely investing in Sunbrella fabric in the future! No more cheap, faded off brand outdoor fabric for me–it really does not hold up.

  11. FYI, the 60+ Calico stores around the country are a great source for hundreds of Sunbrella fabrics–sold online as well at http://www.calicocorners.com. In addition, the stores sell other Indoor and Outdoor Performance fabrics under the brand names InsideOut, Fortress, Bella-Dura, Crypton, Sensuede and more. Stores have sample books on hand and can have swatches sent to you.

  12. Just wanted to note that thefiltery says โ€œ. A lot of Sunbrella fabric is also finished with PFAS chemicals, which build up in the environment and can cause problems to ecosystems, animals, and humans. โ€ It appears sunbrella has one new line that is PFAS free, but those concerned about PFAS forever chemicals may want to avoid their PFAS containing lines.

    1. At the Calico stores, we find that most manufacturers of performance fabrics have switched to PFAS-FREE finishes or are in the process of doing so. Glen Raven, the company that manufactures Sunbrella fabrics, has stated: “ As part of our commitment to provide the highest quality products and minimize our environmental impact, we have identified optimal non-PFAS solutions and will be phasing them into production, targeting a full conversion on newly manufactured Sunbrella fabrics by the end of 2023.” We are closely following the developments in performance fabrics and their finishes.

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