Sunbrella vs. Olefin: Which is the Best Outdoor Fabric?

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As you shop for outdoor furniture, you have likely come across two popular fabric options: Sunbrella and Olefin. But you likely have several questions when you run across these fabrics: what are Sunbrella and Olefin? Why are they popular? Are these good options for outdoor furniture? Why do these usually cost more than other fabrics? Not knowing the answer to these questions can be stressful.


Luckily, we are here to answer these questions for you. In this post we provide the characteristics of each fabric along with differences and similarities between the two.


This information will help you find the right piece of outdoor furniture and give you the confidence in knowing that you are picking out the right item.


Sound good? Keep reading!

Summary Table

Category Winner Explanation
Moisture Tie Both are highly water, mold, mildew, and stain resistant
Sun & Heat Slight Edge to Sunbrella Both are highly fade-resistant; Olefin is sensitive to extreme heat
Durability Tie Both should last many years in your backyard
Warranty Sunbrella Sunbrella has a 5-year warranty
Maintenance & Care Tie Both require minimal maintenance
Eco-Friendly Tie Both have environmentally friendly characteristics
Price Olefin Olefin is usually cheaper than Sunbrella
Comfort Tie Both fabrics are very comfortable

Summary

Sunbrella and Olefin are both excellent choices for outdoor fabrics. Sunbrella is a brand of solution-dyed acrylic, whereas Olefin is a type of fabric made by various manufacturers.

 

If you are looking at a piece of outdoor furniture or other item (e.g., umbrella) with one of these fabrics, you should rest assured that you are getting a high-quality fabric.

 

Both of these fabrics are highly fade, stain, moisture, and wear-and-tear resistant, which are ideal properties for any outdoor material. You really won’t be able to find better fabrics than these for outdoor uses.

 

One of the main differences is that Olefin typically costs less than Sunbrella. On the other hand, Sunbrella comes with a 5-year warranty, but the warranty for Olefin depends upon the manufacturer, which may not always be 5-years like Sunbrella.

Our Personal Experience:

We have used and owned patio furniture with both Sunbrella and Olefin fabric, and both types of fabric have performed very well through some extreme conditions in all seasons through freezes, high heat, rain storms, and heavy use (thanks, kids!). The fabric looks great after several years of use, and we highly recommend picking either one of these fabrics for your next patio furniture purchase!

SUNBRELLA

5/5

Pros

Cons

OLEFIN

5/5

Pros

Cons

Sunbrella: Overview

Sunbrella is one of the most popular outdoor branded fabric used in many different items: cushions, shades, and marine fabrics.

 

Sunbrella is made from solution-dyed acrylic. Solution-dyed means that the color of the fiber is dyed all the way through the fabric during the manufacturing process of the fabric, which results in a highly color steadfast fabric that is great for outdoor use.

 

Where to Buy Sunbrella:

You can find patio furniture with Sunbrella fabric at many retailers (like Amazon, Wayfair, and Home Depot) and many popular high-quality brands like:

Cozy Corner Patios Sectional Set

Olefin: Overview

Olefin is the name of the fabric typically made from synthetic polyolefin materials like propylene and ethylene, with propylene being the primary material used to make Olefin fabric.

 

The key point is that Olefin is not a brand name for a fabric like Sunbrella. Instead, this is the trade name for the fabric, and several manufacturers make Olefin.

 

Regardless, this material is a prevalent option in many outdoor furniture pieces. It is a great option if you are looking for a highly weather-resistant and durable outdoor fabric.

 

Where to Buy Olefin:

You can find patio furniture with Olefin fabric at many retailers (like Amazon, Wayfair, and Home Depot) and many popular high-quality brands like:

SunHaven Wicker Patio Set

Key Similarities

Sunbrella and Olefin are very similar. These fabrics are highly water, stain, fade, and abrasion-resistant, which makes them a great choice to weather the outdoor elements of your backyard and other outdoor spaces. You can expect these products to last several years with normal wear and tear. When these fabrics reach the end of their useful life, there are recycling options for each material. As a result of this premium performance for Olefin and Sunbrella, you should also expect furniture pieces using these fabric options to have premium pricing compared to other options without this fabric.

Key Differences

Although both of these products will likely be priced at the higher end of outdoor furniture options, materials with Olefin are typically less expensive than Sunbrella options. However, the 5-year limited warranty of Sunbrella justifies the higher price as this warranty provides a guarantee that your product will last a long time.

Characteristics Comparison

Moisture

Winner: Tie

 

Reason: Both of these materials are highly water, mold, mildew, and stain resistant

Sunbrella is designed to repel water and stains, enabling this material to be mold and mildew resistant. Sunbrella specifically engineered this water and stain resistance throughout each fiber to help it endure outdoor elements for many years.

 

Olefin is highly resistant to water and stains since this is a synthetic material. Any water that comes in contact with the fabric will pool on the fabric and runoff. As a result, this material is also mold and mildew resistant.

Sun & Heat

Winner: Slight Edge to Sunbrella

 

Reason: Both of these fabrics are solution-dyed, which makes them highly fade-resistant. One downside is that Olefin is sensitive to extreme heat.

Because this fabric is solution-dyed and treated with UV stabilizers throughout the manufacturing process of the fiber (as opposed to a dye being placed on the fiber after the manufacturing process), this material is highly resistant to fading from UV exposure and normal backyard wear-and-tear. Additionally, this fabric should remain cool even if exposed to direct sunlight.

 

Olefin is a solution-dyed material. The fabric’s color is introduced at the beginning of the manufacturing process, and it is dyed throughout the fabric – not dyed on top of the fabric. Therefore, the color is part of the actual fabric, which causes the fabric to be very colorfast and resistant to fading from exposure to UV light. One downside is that this material can be very sensitive to extreme heat, so caution should be taken when cleaning this material or using this in very hot climates (you will need to refer to manufacturer instructions for additional information).

Durability

Winner: Tie

 

Reason: Both Sunbrella and Olefin should last many years in your backyard

Sunbrella fabric is a very strong material that is designed to last many years. This material is designed to withstand the harsh elements of your backyard by being water, stain, fade, and abrasion-resistant.

 

Olefin is a very durable material that is abrasion-resistant and should endure typical backyard wear and tear. You can typically expect this material to last for several years.

Warranty

Winner: Sunbrella

 

Reason: Sunbrella comes with a 5-year warranty, whereas the warranty for Olefin depends on the manufacturer.

A great feature of Sunbrella fabric is that it carries a 5-year limited warranty, which is longer than warranties for most outdoor furniture and other items.

 

The warranty of the Olefin fabric depends on the manufacturer that produced the fabric. For some, this can be a 1-year limited warranty. For others, this may be a 5-year limited warranty.

 

One company that offers a 5-year warranty on Olefin fabric on patio furniture is Outer

Maintenance & Care

Winner: Tie

 

Reason: Both of these fabrics require minimal maintenance year-round.

Usually, all that is needed to clean Sunbrella is mild soap and water to clean away any dirt or dust on the fabric. Refer to manufacturer instructions from Sunbrella for harder to remove stains.

 

A great aspect of Olefin is that all that is typically needed to clean this fabric is mild soap and water to clean away any dirt or dust on the fabric.

Eco-Friendly

Winner: Tie

 

Reason: Both of these fabrics have environmentally characteristics.

Sunbrella fabric is manufactured without any harmful chemicals, and the manufacturing process produces little wastewater. One drawback of Sunbrella is that solution-dyed acrylic is not directly recyclable. However, Sunbrella has a “Recycle My Sunbrella” program that allows end-users to send fabric that has reached the end of its useful life back to Sunbrella to find additional applications for the fabric like automotive insulation and felt.

 

One constant across all manufacturers that make Olefin is that there is very little waste made during the production of Olefin. Olefin was created by finding the use of propylene, which was once burned off during oil production. Additionally, Olefin fabric can be recycled multiple times to reproduce additional Olefin fabric.

Price

Winner: Olefin

 

Reason: Outdoor furniture with Olefin cushions is usually cheaper than a comparable piece that has Sunbrella fabric.

You will typically find that Sunbrella fabric and patio furniture with Sunbrella fabric carries a higher price than other fabrics or outdoor furniture made with different fabrics. However, we find that the higher price is justified given the fabric’s high weather resistance and durability coupled with the industry-leading 5-year warranty.

 

What may surprise many is that Olefin offers many great weather-resistant and durable characteristics at a reasonable price compared to other name-brand outdoor fabrics. This is especially true compared to Sunbrella, which usually costs more than comparable Olefin fabric options.

Comfort

Winner: Tie

 

Reason: Both of these fabrics are very comfortable cushion fabrics.

Despite all of the outdoor protection this fabric provides, this very soft and comfortable material is an excellent choice for cushions where comfort is a must.

 

Olefin is usually noted for being very soft and smooth, and some note that it is softer or more comfortable than Sunbrella. However, that distinction can vary from person to person.

Hi, I’m Ashley!

I started Live Your Best Backyard to share my hands-on experience and countless hours of research on all things backyard to help you find the best products, ideas, tips, and information for your backyard!

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