Nothing beats the joy of basking in the sunlight while resting on outdoor furniture with plenty of cushions for added comfort.
However, outdoor cushions and fabrics are always exposed to the elements of weather, so they typically last a lot shorter than average indoor cushions. So how long do outdoor cushions last?
Ideally, you should expect outdoor cushions to stay in shape for 2 to 5 years. However, the longevity of these cushions depends on various factors, such as the type of fabric used, exposure to the elements, and whether you clean it regularly.
If you want to find out more about these cushions and how to protect them from outdoor elements, especially the sun, keep on reading this guide!
How Long Do Outdoor Cushions Last?
Outdoor cushions are specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions of being left outdoors, including high humidity, consistent wind, morning dew, and exposure to sunlight.
As a result, you should expect a good quality cushion to last for around 2 to 5 years. However, a poor-quality outdoor cushion that is made from flimsy materials may only last for 1 to 2 years.
In addition to the quality of the build, there are plenty of factors that can also play a role in determining how long a cushion would last, which we’ll take a look at in the following section:
Factors Affecting the Longevity of Outdoor Cushions
Here’s a quick glimpse at all the factors that may extend or shorten the lifespan of an outdoor cushion:
1. Fabrics Used
One of the main factors that play a major role in the longevity of an outdoor cushion is the materials used to make it.
In fact, there’s a wide variety of materials that are used to make the outer fabric, such as:
- Solution Dyed Polyester
- Solution Dyed Acrylic
While cotton and natural fabrics are commonly used in indoor fabrics, they’re not as durable when exposed to harsh outdoor elements.
On the other, outdoor cushions that are made of moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic, and nylon, are expected to last the longest.
2. Exposure to the Elements
Environmental conditions can also significantly affect their longevity. For instance, if you live in an area where it’s extra sunny all day long with high levels of humidity, the cushions will wear out much faster.
This is because the sunlight, especially the UV spectrum, is the leading cause of fading of color and fraying of the material, according to various studies.
If cushions are left outside in an environment frequently exposed to moisture, this could foster growth of mold and mildew.
3. Frequency of Use
Like any fabric based item, the more you use it, the more it’s exposed to damage and fading. This is because continuous friction during use damages the fabric on a microscopic level.
Yet, the impact of this damage builds up with time. This also applies to the materials used to make the filling.
Whether the material is cotton or foam, it loses its elasticity and ability to regain its shape with continuous use, which makes the cushions look worn and outdated.
4. Stubborn Stains
Another aspect that can quickly damage a cushion is a stubborn stain that doesn’t go away no matter how hard you clean it.
While the cushion can still do its job, a lot of people will simply replace a cushion if it ends up getting a hard stain that ruins the aesthetics of the patio furniture
5. Care and Cleaning
Just like there are aspects that shorten the lifespan of a cushion, there are others that can extend it.
If you constantly clean the cushions, store them when they’re not in use, and protect them from the elements, your cushions can actually last for a few more years before showing obvious signs of wear and tear!
How to Protect Outdoor Cushions from Fading
Fading is one of the main reasons why outdoor cushions are thrown away and replaced. Here are some of the best methods to protect your cushions from fading:
1. Buy Cushion with Fabrics That Don’t Fade
When it comes to resisting fading, prevention is always key, as it’s much easier to prevent fading than restore the faded cushion.
As previously established, there are various materials that are used to make outdoor cushions. However, some of them are more durable and fade resistant than others
If you’re planning to buy an outdoor cushion, make sure that they’re made of solution dyed polyester and acrylic, as they retain their colors for much longer.
2. Opt for White/Light Colored Fabrics
Another trick that helps in preventing the fade effect from setting early is going for light colors while buying cushions, especially white.
Another advantage of going with white cushions is that light colors reflect sunlight, which allows the cushions to stay cooler on hot sunny days.
3. Consider Dying the Cushions Covers
If the cushions themselves are still cushy and soft, you can either opt for a new cover or dye the cover with their original color, which is a great way to maintain a fresh look for a lot longer!
In addition to professional dyers, you can actually dye the covers yourself by getting a few bottles of the right color of Rit DyeMore and following the instructions on the bottle. This product is specialized for synthetic fabrics that are often used in outdoor cushions.
4. Rotate and Flip the Cushions Periodically
If you only use one side of the cushions, it’ll show obvious signs of wear and fade a lot quicker.
To avoid that, simply rotate and flip the cushions even now and then so that you’re applying pressure on different parts and also preventing the elements of weather from only affecting one part.
How to Protect Fabric from Sun Damage
Sunlight has the greatest environmental impact on outdoor cushions, so here are some of the best methods to protect the fabrics of outdoor furniture from sun damage:
1. Apply a UV Protection Spray
One of the easiest ways to protect fabrics from sun damage is to apply a UV protection spray on them.
This treatment works somewhat similarly to sunscreens on the skin. This means that the spray coats the fabric and blocks UVA and UVB radiation from the sun.
These ultraviolet radiations react with the fabrics and cause fading of colors as well as visible wear.
Another property that these sprays have is that they restore the water repellency of the fabrics, so they also protect them from moisture damage.
2. Cover the Upholstery When You Don’t Use it
Another easy method to protect your outdoor fabrics from sun damage without using any chemicals is to simply cover them when they’re not in use.
For that, you can use slip covers that are designed to fit perfectly over the furniture or any kind of blankets that you have.
This solution is ideal if you’re not going to use the outdoor furniture for a long time, but you can store them indoors.
Once the summer arrives, you simply remove the covers, clean them, and you’re good to go!
3. Protect the Fabrics with UV Barriers
UV barriers are quite similar to UV protection spray, except that they’re usually some form of film or sheet that directly block UV light and prevent it from penetrating and causing damage.
These advanced barriers were originally designed to be fitted over window panes to block harmful rays. However, newer films are too thin that you can fit and wrap them over fabrics.
4. Provide Shade Over the Furniture
Lastly, another easy trick that a lot of homeowners do to protect their outdoor furniture from sun damage is to simply provide them with plenty of shade throughout the day.
The simplest way to do this is by deploying large umbrellas over the furniture and adjusting their direction as the day goes by.
Some people also relocate the furniture to a spot where there’s usually some shade, such as next to trees.
If you don’t mind spending a little more and you have enough space in your yard, you can build a canopy –such as a pavilion or gazebo–where you want to set up the furniture, which provides shade all year round as well as protection from the rain!
Signs That Your Outdoor Cushions Need Replacement
Since the lifespan of cushions will vary depending on their quality, it’s usually best to let your eyes be the judge on when to replace them with new ones.
To help you with that, here are some of the major signs that mean that your cushions are outdated and ready to go:
1. Discoloration and Fading
Discoloration of outdoor cushion fabrics can happen for several reasons. As previously mentioned, sun damage is one reason for discoloration, in which the colors become faded.
In addition to sun damage, cleaning outdoor cushion fabrics with detergents ends up causing some form of fading effect on the fabrics.
This is because the chemicals in detergents react with the fabrics and cause the pigments and color molecules to break down or change in color.
2. Wear and Tear
Wear and tear are inevitable in upholstery fabrics, especially the parts that are directly in contact with our bodies.
In fact, old age alone is enough to make some woven fabrics start breaking down and thinning out, even if they’re not used all the time.
Of course, throughout the year, accidents can happen, such as juice spills, cigarette burns, and other stains and physical damage that renders your outdoor cushions too worn and old.
Deformation of cushions, whether they’re outdoor or indoor, will happen due to continuous use, no matter how careful you are.
This happens when the internal stuffing of the cushions is squashed and flattened due to continuous pressure. As a result, the cushions look beaten and quite shabby.
Flat cushions can cause your patio furniture to feel even shorter than usual –which raises, the question, why is patio furniture so short anyways?
Luckily, deformation is one of the signs that you can overcome by stuffing the cushions with a fresh batch of fillers, such as high density foam or feathers.
4. Appearance of Mold
Lastly, if the cushions are left in a humid environment and they’re not cleaned periodically, they might develop some mold.
Fortunately, mold can often be cleaned off the cushions. Even mildew stains are often removable with the right amount of TLC.
However, if you’re struggling to rid the cushions of mold or would rather not deal with the hassle of cleaning them, it’s probably a good time to replace them. Mold doesn’t just look bad, but can also cause risk to health.
There you have it! A simple guide that walks you through everything you need to know about outdoor cushion longevity with methods to protect them and help them stay vibrant for longer!
As you can see, an average outdoor cushion should last for 2 to 5 years. However, with regular care and protection of the fabrics from the elements, the cushions may last longer!
Husband and father of three (actually, four if you include the pool). I’m an avid DIY-er and weekend warrior that enjoys taking up new projects around the house to help us maximize leisure right at home. I enjoy researching and sharing various tips, tricks and knowledge to help others make their home an oasis.