Some of the most important questions we have when we purchase outdoor furniture (and likely some of the same questions that you have, too, if you are reading this!) are:
- How will the cushions on the patio furniture hold up in the rain?
- Can the outdoor cushions get wet?
- What happens if the cushions do get wet?
- Are the cushions waterproof?
If these are your questions, read on below as we take a deep-dive into outdoor cushions and the best patio cushion materials for rain you should be looking for when shopping for outdoor furniture.
To bring all parts below together between the location of the furniture, the expected rain severity, and the best materials, here is a summary of the materials and actions you should consider for outdoor cushions in the rain:
Can outdoor cushions get wet? Can cushions be left out in the rain?
This is a challenging question to answer simply because there are several factors to determine if your cushions can be left out in the rain and how well the cushions will resist getting wet.
In most cases, you should expect that your cushions will get soaked (even with some of the best weather-resistant fabrics – because they aren’t waterproof!) and will need a few days to dry if they get left out in the rain. Again, in most cases, the cushions will be fine to use after they have fully dried. But, over time, repeated exposure to constant rain will degrade an outdoor cushion.
So, there are three main factors you need to consider in assessing how well your cushions will resist rain, the materials you should consider, and actions you should take to help protect your cushions:
- Furniture Location – Is the furniture under a patio or outside without any overhead cover? Where your patio furniture is located outside will have a big impact on if you need to worry about rain
- Rain Severity – A lot of cushions may be fine in a light drizzle with the right materials, but heavier rains can soak some of the best water-resistant cushions
- Cushion Materials – Very few patio cushions on the market are fully waterproof, but some materials are better at resisting water or drying quickly
Let’s look a little deeper at each of these factors below…
Furniture Location: Where is your patio furniture outside?
The first step in analyzing if your outdoor cushions will be okay in the rain is assessing where your patio furniture is. The main question is: is there overhead protection for your furniture?
No overhead protection: If your patio furniture with cushions is out in the open air without any overhead protection (patio roof, gazebo roof, etc.), then your outdoor cushions are very likely to get wet if it rains. These are some things to consider if you expect rain for patio furniture in this type of location:
- Get waterproof cushions (more on this in the materials section below)
- Cover your patio furniture with a waterproof cover when not in use
- Store your cushions when not in use
- Opt for cushionless patio furniture
Partial overhead protection: You may have your patio furniture located under an outdoor structure but at the edge of this structure’s roof. In many cases, this roof will help shield rain from getting on the cushions. But being at the edge of the roof protection exposes your furniture to getting wet in a rainstorm if the wind blows the rain under the structure. These are some things to consider for outdoor cushions in these locations:
- Consider waterproof cushions, especially if you live in an area with frequent heavy rainstorms
- Watch the weather and move cushions if there is a heavy rainstorm forecasted
- If possible, move the furniture further away from the edge to limit exposure to rain
- Cover your patio furniture with a waterproof cover when not in use
Full overhead protection: If your furniture is well protected by an overhead roof outside, then your cushions will likely be okay in most rain types. So, you may not need waterproof or highly water-resistant cushions, and you may not need to worry about covering or storing them when it rains.
However, in some cases, you may need to consider protecting your cushions in these areas… read on below!
Rain Severity: How much rain do you expect?
Not all backyards are the same, and neither are all storms. If you live in an area in which heavy rain is normal, finding the best cushions for rain is all the more important.
Heavy rain showers can soak typical foam cushions, which will require a few days to dry. So, if you are expecting your furniture to be in a position to get a heavy amount of direct rain, either store them in a dry area, protect them with a waterproof cover, or buy cushions with waterproof fabric and/or quick dry foam.
On the other hand, if you expect a light drizzle or your furniture is under a protected area, then water-resistant fabric and high-density cushions should fair pretty well. But, if you are expecting a very heavy storm, we recommend storing or protecting these types of cushions.
In some extreme weather, we also recommend storing or protecting outdoor cushions that are in areas with full overhead protection. We have first-hand experience with our cushions that were well under our patio getting completely soaked because high winds brought rain across our patio and onto our Sunbrella cushions. So, check your weather, and if it looks like a really bad storm, take a few minutes to protect your cushions to save you from several days of drying out your cushions!
Cushion Materials: Anatomy of an Outdoor Cushion
Before we explain what the best outdoor cushion materials for rain are, we first need to explain the anatomy of an outdoor cushion so you know what you are looking at.
Not all patio furniture manufacturers will state what is in their cushions, so it helps to understand the different components of how a cushion is constructed to judge the quality of an outdoor cushion.
There are two types of cushions: seat cushions and back cushions. Seat cushions are typically firmer to provide the proper seated support, while back cushions are usually plusher to provide a relaxing back support. The overall thickness and size will vary by brand and furniture type.
1. Fabric – Fabric is the outer layer of the cushion, and this will be the most commonly referenced portion of a cushion. Example: “Sunbrella cushions,” “Olefin cushions,” or “polyester cushions.” These examples reference only the fabric of the cushion.
Now, there is a wide range of fabric materials: polyester, cotton canvas, solution-dyed acrylic, olefin, etc., and there are some well-known fabric brands like Sunbrella, Nuvella, CushionGuard, etc.
Fabric is the first level of protection against rain. Some fabrics are better are protecting against water and rain than others. Some are specially designed to be water-resistant, meaning that they repel water up to a certain extent but are not fully waterproof. While several outdoor fabrics are fully waterproof.
2. Batting – Batting is a layer of synthetic fiber wrapped around the core foam of the cushion. Batting is great because it adds softness and a consistent smooth and rounded shape to a cushion.
Not all cushions will have batting, as this is typically found only on higher-quality cushions. A telltale sign of a cushion without batting is the edges and corners of the cushion are straight and sharp (batting would smooth and round out the edges of the foam core).
Batting is great for protection from the rain because this material is usually quick drying. So, if rain does penetrate through the fabric, the batting can be a good barrier to prevent the water from getting to the foam core.
A polyester material is typically used for batting, and one brand name of this material that you may see for batting is a brand called Dacron.
3. Foam core – This is the main cushion that provides the support and comfort of your seating. Typically, this foam core is made from some type of polyurethane foam, and it is typically firm.
Higher-quality brands use high-density polyurethane foam for better durability, meaning that it won’t go flat quickly. Also, higher-quality brands use foam with anti-microbial treatment to protect the foam from growing mold or mildew if it is exposed to moisture.
In most cases, patio furniture standard polyurethane foam cores are highly absorbent, meaning that the cushion will get soaked and can be hard to dry.
However, there are some types of foam called open-cell (or reticulated foam) that don’t absorb water like typical foam. Rather, this foam allows water to drain quickly, and the foam is quick drying (only needs a few hours or less). As a result of these capabilities, this type of foam can be great for rain.
1. Fabric – Just like the seat cushions above, this is the outer layer of protection for the cushion. The fabric material used for back cushions should match the fabric for the seat cushions.
2. Fill Material – Unlike seat cushions that have a firm foam core, back cushions are usually made with a softer fabric fill material that can better contour to your back.
Usually, this material is some form of polyester fiberfill material, which will be similar to what you will find in most pillows. This material is more porous than traditional foam, meaning that it should dry quickly if it does get wet. Additionally, higher-quality brands will usually have back cushion fill material with an anti-microbial treatment to protect it from mold and mildew.
4 Best Outdoor Cushion Materials for Rain
Now that we have explained the anatomy of an outdoor cushion and the importance of your patio furniture location and rain severity, below are the best outdoor cushion materials to consider.
#1: Waterproof Fabrics
If you want to put your furniture in a location in your backyard without any overhead protection and you expect it to rain, and/or you don’t want to worry about storing or protecting your cushions when it rains, then you need waterproof fabric.
Waterproof means exactly what it sounds like: no water will penetrate through the fabric. This will give you peace of mind knowing that your cushion is fully protected by waterproof fabric.
One popular waterproof fabric that we highlight is Sunbrella Rain. Sunbrella Rain is very similar to the typical solution-dyed acrylic Sunbrella fabric that you find available on many outdoor furniture brands, except Sunbrella Rain is created with a non-porous barrier to keep water from penetrating through the fabric. Like other Sunbrella fabrics, Sunbrella Rain comes with an industry-leading 5-year warranty.
You can’t find Sunbrella Rain on all outdoor furniture. Only a few brands and retailers will carry this option because it requires a special manufacturing process to ensure that the cushion is properly manufactured to be waterproof. One retailer where you can find patio furniture with Sunbrella Rain is Frontgate.
#2: Water-Resistant Fabrics
A water-resistant fabric can repel some amounts of water, but not all. A heavy amount of rain can usually penetrate the fabric, as we have experienced with our outdoor furniture with water-resistant fabric.
You will find that there are many outdoor fabrics with water-resistant properties and that many brands use water-resistant fabric on their furniture.
Water-resistant fabric is great for repelling a light amount of rain. If you have furniture in a semi or fully overhead-protected area, these fabrics can be great for withstanding rain with minimal need to store or protect your furniture constantly.
Generally, these water-resistant fabrics are labeled as performance fabrics, which are specially engineered fabrics to withstand outdoor weather. Below are some common types of water-resistant fabrics.
#3: Quick-Drying Foam
As you may have experienced at some point, a typical outdoor cushion turns into a sponge full of water when it gets wet. It can take days to dry.
However, there are foam options that are designed to have water quickly drain through the foam and dry quickly. This type of foam can be an excellent option if you don’t expect to store or protect your patio cushions from the rain. In most cases, you can expect that quick-drying foam will dry in a few hours or less.
Quick-drying foam can go by many different names like Fast-Dry foam, Quick-Dry foam, EZ-Dri Foam, etc. In all, these are all open-cell foams (also called reticulated foam). Neighbor is one brand of furniture that uses reticulated foam cushions.
#4: High-Density Polyurethane Foam with Antimicrobial Treatment
Not all patio furniture brands and manufacturers state what their cushion is made of, let alone the type of foam they use. However, you will find most high-quality brands do, and they usually use some form of high-density polyurethane foam. The downside with this foam is that it will absorb a lot of water and it will take a few days to dry fully.
However, in most cases with high-quality brands, this foam is treated with antimicrobial protection to prevent mold and mildew growth in the cushion when it does get wet.