What’s the Difference Between Sunbrella Marine and Upholstery Fabrics?

2013_October-Sunbrella-Blog-1

Sunbrella Marine Grade on Sailrite’s Project Boat

Selecting the perfect fabric, especially for a large project, can be a daunting task. To help inform your decisions, we’re here to answer a fabric question that we hear quite often from customers—What’s the difference between Sunbrella Marine and Sunbrella Upholstery Fabric? There are some differences between these performance fabric lines, so let’s take a closer look.

All Sunbrella fabrics are made from 100% solution-dyed acrylic. Therefore, they share a lot of core characteristics like being UV, water, mildew, stain and fade resistant, to name a few. But the marine and upholstery fabrics do have some key differences, and it’s those traits that make these fabrics perfectly suited to their applications.

First, let’s take a look at the construction of the two fabric lines. Sunbrella Marine and Awning fabrics have been engineered with shade applications in mind. Perfect for awnings, biminis, and boat tops, Sunbrella Marine Grade features a stiff, tight weave construction and a heavy finish. This tight weave gives the fabric a stiff feel to the touch. Then, compare that to the lighter, softer weaves of Sunbrella Upholstery fabric.  These fabrics are engineered with softness, comfort and flexibility in mind. The end result is an upholstery fabric that has a wonderfully soft hand.

2013_October-Sunbrella-Blog-2

Sunbrella Upholstery Fabric Patio set by Jorge Veloz at Smith’s Upholstery

Stiffness versus flexibility comes into play for these fabrics again when it comes to sewing and applications for use. The stiffness of the Sunbrella Marine Grade doesn’t lend itself well to upholstery projects, as it doesn’t easily flow around curves and it is less desirable to sit on than something softer. It also can be more difficult to sew, as the stiffness keeps the fabric from folding over itself. A good way to combat this is to crease the fabric well or to use basting tape. Sunbrella furniture fabric, however, is made for upholstery purposes and it sews well, just like any other home décor fabric.

Each fabric is designed to be the best performing in its intended area of use. Take a look at this quick comparison chart to help see which fabric best suits your needs and application.

Sunbrella Marine and Awning Sunbrella Upholstery
Solid colors and stripes Solid colors, stripes and woven patterns
Stiff Soft
9 oz. per square yard 6-8 oz. per square yard
Outdoor Use Indoor/Outdoor use
10-year warranty 5-year warranty
Use for covers, awnings, biminis, dodgers, boat tops, cockpit cushions, and enclosure curtains Use for cushions, pillows, upholstery, patio furniture, and boat interiors

Find the perfect Sunbrella fabric for your application at www.sailrite.com.

What traits do you look for in a fabric? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts!

2 comments
  1. Stacy Foree said:

    Looking for suggestions on interior boat upholstery fabrics that will stand up to pets. I live on a sailboat in the Caribbean and need to replace our salon upholstery. Any recommendations on what type of weave/texture would best hide scratch marks? Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: