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Indoor VS Outdoor Fabrics

10 Oct 2021

Choosing the right finish for the right purpose usually makes or breaks a space. Fabrics however play an important role in both visual and functional aspects of the product. With the advances in technology today, the range of materials and finishes available are enough to consume a week in decision making. 

Fabric is usually split across two main categories - indoor and outdoor. Knowing the difference can avoid critical Day 2 issues in its application. Furniture or accessories exposed to an outdoor environment will test the durability of any fabric due to natural elements such as direct sunlight, rain & snow including dust and stain. The summer months are especially testing on outdoor fabrics in the region, hence its important to get your specifications right.

Some key features to look out for while picking outdoor fabrics:

  • UV & Fade resistant 
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Waterproof or Water resistant 
  • Stain resistant
  • Washable/Bleach Cleanable

UV & Fade Resistant: In the dying process of indoor fabrics, the pigments are usually left on the top surface of the fiber only, which can fade away quite easily when exposed to consistent  sunlight. The process of pigmentation is different when it comes to outdoor fabrics. The fabrics are saturated with UV-stable pigments rather than surface level ones which avoids color fading in the short and midterm. (Rates for lightfastness for outdoor fabrics should start from 500 hours and it can reach to 5000 hours)

Mold and Moisture Resistant: Keeping the fabric safe from mold and moisture in an outdoor environment is another key consideration. Rain/Snow and other natural elements can have a huge impact on the quality of the fabric and for that reason, outdoor fabrics are often treated to avoid absorption of any liquid. Luum Textiles has recently launched a product called Color Fuse, a woven cotton base fabric coated with a thin layer of polyurethane sheet which makes it a water resistant fabric.

While water resistant and waterproof may seem interchangeable, it's important to know that waterproof fabrics (like vinyls) repel water and often don’t allow the product (like a cushion) to breathe. Any moisture caught in the product can end up growing Mold as a result. Water resistant fabric also repels water, however due to the coating applied, its ability to repel water can wear out over time. Water resistant fabrics are usually breathable and can often be more comfortable to the touch.

Bleach Cleanable: Outdoor fabric is more likely to require maintenance compared to an indoor one. Choosing a Bleach Cleanable product for an outdoor application can be a wise choice since the fabric can be cleaned and wiped constantly with bleach based chemicals without ruining the surface of the product, or destroying fibre pigments. 

LUUM's latest collection “Outdoor in'' uses a technique of Olefin coating on their Graticule line, a direct glue wallcovering. It boasts enhanced cleanability, ink and stain resistence. 

Visually Appealing: For too long has the world been stuck with vinyl weaves and flowery patterns for outdoor spaces. Advances in technology have allowed fabrics to up its game on comfort & weather resistance to give outdoor spaces the punch it needs for a garden party or a quiet meditation. Sitting on an outdoor piece of furniture can now feel exactly the same as one indoors, enhancing your overall experience of the outdoors.

About The Total Office

As a provider of workspace solutions, The Total Office helps its clients with tools for collaboration, acoustics, environmental sustainability and well being, by providing quality products from international brands. The company is headquartered in Dubai, and serves the UAE and the wider Middle East region. All press enquiries can be directed to Rima Singh at [email protected], +971.4.450.8700. For more information, visit



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