Tips & How-to's11 min read

Performance Fabric: What It Is And Why You Need It

Performance Fabric: What It Is And Why You Need It

What’s the point of having beautiful furniture that you’re afraid to use? Sometimes when we create gorgeous spaces around our homes, we tend to focus more on beauty than functionality. Luckily, with performance fabric, you can have both!

This unique material has evolved dramatically over the past few years, and it helps homeowners keep their furniture looking cleaner and newer for longer.

If you’re looking to enjoy every space around your house without worrying about spills, stains, and wear and tear, then this guide is for you!

What Is Performance Fabric?

Cream color performance fabric on outdoor furniture
Outer Brown Wicker Outdoor Sofa

In a nutshell, performance fabric is any fabric created to withstand wear and tear, while also being simple to clean.

Outdoor cushion and fabric manufacturers were the first to add performance fabric to their furniture pieces. Why?

Because adding material with these qualities to outdoor furniture makes sense, especially because of all the harsh weather conditions outside furniture can get exposed to.

But indoor furniture can also experience wear and tear. So, over the years, performance fabrics were also added to indoor upholstery.

If you have kids, pets, or a large family, then you know how challenging it can be to keep certain furniture around the house clean and in good condition. To help make this possible, you need furniture that’s both durable and stain-resistant.

Performance fabric offers you exactly that! It’s ideal for living spaces around your home — both inside and outside — that usually get a lot of traffic because the material is durable and easy to clean.

Is Performance Fabric Safe?

Family hanging out on coaching that have performance fabric
Outer Brown Wicker Outdoor Sofa

As a homeowner, the last thing you want to do is buy furniture that can be harmful to you and your loved ones.

After looking at some of the qualities of performance fabric, you probably have one important question — is it safe?

Creating safe, environmentally friendly, sustainable, and functional furniture is important to the Outer family. That’s why we decided to make our own materials to ensure we maintain quality and adequate safety measures.

The Outer Sofa, for example, is 100% recyclable. With this outdoor sofa, you’ll enjoy the pleasure of knowing all materials used on the fabric are safe for you, your family, and the environment.

In addition, we opted for solution dying, rather than piece dying. Piece dying involves a lot of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, and the process can end up contaminating rivers.

Solution dying, on the other hand, is more eco-friendly because it requires much less dye. As an added bonus, the color lasts longer.

Now that you understand how we make our performance fabric, let’s look at some of the most common types of performance fabric material and how they compare and differ.

Types Of Performance Fabric

Performance fabrics typically contain a blend of natural or synthetic materials that are treated to improve durability and last longer.

Different types of performance fabrics offer their own unique advantages, but they’re not all as effective as you might hope. While some are sustainable and eco-friendly, others are made to be cost-effective and produced with price prioritized over performance.


Outdoor pool chair that has performance fabric
Outer Charcoal Aluminum Outdoor Armless Chair

Olefin is a soft, lightweight, and environmentally friendly material made from polymers known as polyolefins. For you, this means quality fabrics made from olefin will be protected from stains, fading, and anything that the outdoors can throw at them.

One of the main benefits that olefin has over other materials is that it doesn’t have to be treated with any solution to enhance its outdoor performance. All of the qualities mentioned above are natural characteristics of olefin.


Another durable material that fights stains with ease is polyester. On top of protecting against mold, rot, and mildew, polyester is known for being stretch-resistant and flexible.

Polyester is also an extremely versatile choice. When the material is woven, it bears a feel and resemblance to natural fibers, such as cotton. It’s easy to wash and performs well in harsh sunlight when treated with a UV-protective solution.


When treated with a performance solution, nylon shares many of the same qualities as olefin and polyester. It is water-resistant and ready to withstand a variety of outdoor conditions. It’s no wonder that nylon is so common in outdoor equipment like tents and backpacks.

The main downfall of nylon is that it sits at the top of the list of synthetic materials that have the highest negative environmental impact. This is due to the emission of greenhouse gasses from production and manufacturing.

Along with its effect on the planet, it’s not the most comfortable when it comes to your outdoor furniture. While it certainly does the job just fine for tents, we know you’re looking for something softer to spend your days sitting on!


These fabrics that are primarily cotton are usually treated to protect against any stains. When a fabric is treated as heavily as Crypton, it’s safe to assume that it’s intended for indoor use rather than keeping it outside.

Why? Underneath that super-strong coating is a fragile fabric comprised of fibers that aren’t stain-resistant and won’t hold up well when left in the rain, snow, or humidity.

While it will easily send liquid running off its side, these fabrics are not designed to withstand the elements.


performance fabric on a day lounge couch

Acrylic is another material that does fine when treated, but on its own, it does not have much to offer. Without a proper performance coating, acrylic does not withstand the usual wear and tear of the outdoors very well, typically leading the cushion to pill.

What is pilling? Glad you asked!

Pilling happens on furniture (or anything made from blended materials like clothes) when abrasion causes the material’s fibers to loosen and clump together in a ball.

While it’s not necessarily a sign of low-quality fabric, it’s not the most pleasant sight to look at — especially when it comes to something that you want to look beautiful well beyond its warranty like your outdoor furniture.

For materials guaranteed to last and look fresh for years to come, let’s get to the top three benefits of the quality performance fabric at Outer.

Top Benefits Of Performance Fabric

1) High Resistance To Color Fading

One of the most unpleasant parts about owning furniture is watching your favorite item start to lose its color.

When this happens, you may try to buy a treatment solution that promises to restore the color of the material back to its glory days. But these solutions seldom deliver on their promises.

At Outer, we used the lightfastness test to ensure our fabric would look bright and new for years to come.

In a nutshell, this tests how resistant the fabric is to sunlight. Our performance fabric meets the highest standards, meaning that you don’t have to worry about dull and faded cushions anymore!

2) Cleaner And Newer Look

Outdoor patio furniture with performance fabric
Outer White Aluminum Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chairs - 5 Seat

Depending on the quality of the material, most new furniture has a lifespan of around five to nine years. During this time, if you often host parties, dinners, or just have a large family, your furniture can be exposed to lots of wear and tear!

If this sounds anything like you and your home, then you definitely need furniture with performance fabric.

In addition to the material retaining its color for longer, it’s also much easier to clean (more on this below!), and you don’t have to worry about stains that may reduce the aesthetic appeal of your favorite pieces.

3) Durability

We’ve already mentioned how our material is UV resistant. But rain, wind, and other weather conditions can also affect your fabric. Also, do you have pets? They can affect the appearance of your furniture, too.

You don’t have to worry about these factors with Outer’s performance fabric. From the material to the unique weaving patterns and UV resistance, our fabric is built to endure tough conditions and last.

4) Variety Of Styles

performance fabric for outdoor furniture
Outer Black Wicker Outdoor Loveseat with Armchairs - 4 Seat

Some materials limit your ability to choose the perfect fit for you. Sure, leather might do an OK job of keeping your couch clean, but you don’t have much choice beyond the traditional brown and black look.

Performance fabrics stand out because they’re able to be made into an endless list of designs, patterns, and textures for all of your indoor and outdoor furniture needs.

Our designers have created the perfect fabrics and materials that are sure to match (or make) your backyard’s style and never go out of style.

Whether you’re interested in Pacific Fog Gray, Dark Pebble, Deep Sea Navy, or Palisades Cream, there’s no telling how these carefully curated colors will bring your backyard to a whole new level.

5) Environmentally Conscious

A hard truth we’ve come to face is that the textile industry is one of the leading producers of pollution. That’s why we’re rethinking how furniture is produced and giving you new ways to make a difference while getting exactly what you want.

Not every performance fabric is environmentally friendly in a traditional sense. Some are not easily recyclable, while others take years to break down once they’ve been thrown into a landfill.

The most significant way that performance fabric contributes to curbing climate change is through its longevity. These fabrics promote a lifestyle of extensive use rather than throwing products in the trash after a few months of wear and tear.

In addition to the above-mentioned qualities, here at Outer, we went ahead and added more features to our performance fabrics — sustainability, comfort, and impeccable beauty.

How? It’s all in the details, of course.

How Outer’s Performance Fabric Is Unique

Outer’s Performance Fabric outdoor furniture
Outer Brown Wicker Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chair

1) Irregular Weave Pattern

Most modern weaving machines produce a standard weaving pattern. And that’s OK if that’s what you’re looking for.

But, for those who love uniqueness and personality in their furniture, you’ll appreciate the fact that we decided to take a less mechanical approach, one that blends both technology and hand-done craftsmanship.

To achieve this, we use a more irregular weave pattern and some of our cushion fabrics are infused with with "ply" (twisting of) and "slub" (little lumps that get developed in the spinning process) of the thread. This helps to ensure that our couches have a high-quality look and feel.

2) Comfort Is Key

A lot goes into creating performance fabric. For most manufacturers, this involves applying many coatings and blending synthetic materials. Unfortunately, this process also leads to the fabric feeling stiff and uncomfortable.

At Outer, we were able to make our fabrics feel as soft as cotton by using the material technology method mentioned above.

In addition, the fabrics also have low thermal conductivity, which means they feel warm and are great for those cold winter nights by the fire!

3) We Don’t Use Acrylic

Acrylic is one of the most popular materials used in performance fabrics.

While it does have many great qualities (it’s resilient and resistant to water, mildew, and different chemicals), unfortunately, acrylic falls into recycle code #7 on the International Standards list, which is misleading because it’s not actually recyclable.

With sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind, we use Olefin. This is one of the most commonly recycled durable threads (recycle code #5).

Olefin is also special because, as we mentioned above, it doesn’t need to be treated due to its natural high-performance qualities — it’s easy to clean and resistant to water, chemicals, and mildew.

Cleaning Performance Fabric

We know how important it is to keep your furniture looking its best, which is why our sofas are incredibly water repellent and stain-resistant. No amount of wine, coffee, tea, or other liquid can destroy this fabric.

How did we manage this? Eco-friendly nano coating is the special coating we use to make our fabric stain-resistant.

For water-repellent materials, most manufacturers opt for a coating called C8 carbon chain. Unfortunately, this chemical doesn’t degrade easily and is flagged as a chemical concern.

Staying true to our focus on eco-friendly solutions, we use the water-repellent coating commonly used in outdoor performance apparel because it performs without having any hazardous effects on the environment.

But how exactly do you clean our performance fabric? It’s as easy as following these steps!

  1. Stay calm and identify the stain
  2. If the stain is fresh, wipe off any excess from the fabric
  3. Apply some soap and water to the stain
  4. Give it a few dabs, and you’re good to go!

Stains don’t stand a chance against our performance fabric. Sound too good to be true? Watch this video and find out how your cushions can go from stained to stunning in seconds.

The Best Furniture Pieces For Performance Fabric

Before buying furniture with performance fabric, it’s important to first understand where you need it. As we mentioned earlier, these will be areas both inside and outside your home that get used daily and are more vulnerable to wear and tear.

Patio Or Outdoor Seating

Roof top furniture that has performance fabric
Outer Brown Wicker Outdoor Sofas

Outside furniture naturally receives more sunlight and exposure to all sorts of weather conditions. Outdoors is also where you’re more likely to host family and friends when the weather’s nice.

Of course, this will probably result in food or drink spillage. So it makes sense to buy furniture pieces with performance fabric for this area, like The Outer Sofa.

Besides the incredible comfort you get from the multi-layer memory foam cushion, it also has those stain and fade-resistant qualities we’ve been talking about, so the harsh sunlight won’t damage its color.

This sofa is also made from eco-friendly materials, meaning it’s safe for the environment and your family!

Whether you’re looking for something small and simple like an Outdoor Armless Loveseat or something like the 8-Seat Black Wicker U-Sectional to accommodate every friend and family member, we’ve got you covered.

More importantly, every large party and small get-together is protected against tough stains — from cocktail spills to that accidental salsa drippage. Just keep our simple cleaning steps in mind and watch as those stains disappear.

Living Room And Dining Room Seating

In most homes, both the living and dining room areas get used quite a bit! This could be from family dinners, early morning breakfasts, or relaxing to watch some TV at the end of the day.

This is also the time when accidents happen (e.g. food or drink spillage). And for that, it’s great to get performance fabric upholstery on your most loved pieces of furniture.

In addition to the above commonly used areas around your home, you can also use performance fabrics on other furniture pieces that are vulnerable to spills and often get used by your kids or pets.

This includes barstools, club chairs, desk chairs in your home office, and ottomans.

And when you decide to bring the dinner party outdoors, don’t forget to ensure that your dining set is ready to fight any stain.

At Outer, our Dining Table is set to go with an OuterShell® for protection against dust, dirt, pollen, and anything the outdoors might throw your way. No dirty elbows here!

The cover for our table is made with durable, waterproof material, and the body of the table is made from aluminum and teak, some of the best performance materials available for the outdoors. Here’s why.

For starters, aluminum doesn’t overheat when temperatures begin to climb. This means you can stay cool and comfortable all season long without having to worry about your favorite seat giving in to the heat.

Plus, aluminum and teak are both durable and long-lasting materials that require little maintenance. The table frames are finished with top-of-the-line powder coating guaranteed to last for more than 10 years so you can clean every mess with peace of mind.

Performance Fabric For The Win

Performance Fabric on patio furniture
Outer Brown Wicker Outdoor Sofa with Armless Chairs

If you’re looking for furniture that will last, performance fabric is the way to go. And you can find it in Outer’s outdoor furniture.

From our outdoor armchairs to our 6-Piece Outdoor Sofa, you’ll experience the luxuriously comfy and durable benefits of performance fabric when you choose Outer.

Worrying about wear and tear — or even stains — is now a thing of the past!