Selecting Patio Sling Chair Replacement Fabric
Perfect for poolside lounging or outdoor dining, sling chairs are a popular style of patio seating. They are comfortable, durable and easy to maintain. If your sling chairs are starting to look saggy or dingy, you can replace the sling material in the frame to extend their life. Sailrite® carries two, high quality brands of sling fabrics: Phifertex® and Sunbrella® Sling. These fabrics look very similar, so it can be hard to tell which one to select for your application. Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two popular fabrics.
First, both of these fabrics were developed with sling chair applications in mind. They are both extremely UV resistant, durable, and breathable. Likewise, both fabrics are very easy to care for and clean with just mild soap and water. Plus, they are both manufactured right here in the United States at top-notch mills. The differences between these two fabrics are subtle and come from the fiber content and the manufacturing process.
Phifertex offers two collections for sling chairs: Phifertex Plus and Phifertex Designer. All Phifertex Plus fabric and most Phifertex Designer fabrics are made from 100% PVC-coated polyester yarns. When the fabric is being finished the PVC coating is actually re-melted slightly and then set again so every point where the fibers cross is fused together. This makes the fabric extremely dimensionally stable and leaves little bias stretch. This is important because when the fabric is stretched over your chair it won’t form pockets or sag.
Phifertex Plus has a more distinctly vinyl look to it, but Phifertex Designer features more intricate weaves and a more fabric-like look. A few Phifertex Designer fabrics also have olefin yarns woven in, with the PVC-coated polyester to give a softer look and feel.
Sunbrella Sling, on the other hand, combines Sunbrella acrylic fibers with PVC coated polyester and weaves the two fibers together. This gives Sunbrella Sling a softer look than Phifertex Plus, more like a traditional woven fabric. However, the acrylic fibers prevent Sunbrella Sling from being completely bonded together like Phifertex making it less dimensionally stable. Over time, Sunbrella Sling could start to sag in an application. Sunbrella does provide a 5-year limited manufacturer’s warranty on Sunbrella Sling fabrics.
There are a few other functional considerations to make beyond the brand that are important to note. Sling fabrics that have a softer fiber woven in, like Sunbrella Sling and some Phifertex Designer styles typically have more give, which is great for certain chair styles and preferences. But if you want a really taut chair surface, or if your chair calls for it, we recommend using Phifertex Plus or a 100% vinyl Phifertex Designer instead of a fancier weave.
Both fabrics are mildew resistant, and Phifertex also features Microban® antimicrobial protection. If your furniture will sit by a pool, you might want to choose Sunbrella Sling, which features chlorine and chemical resistance. Additionally, Phifertex Plus has a little broader use, if you want your chairs to match cushions, shades or window screens, you can make them all out of Phifertex Plus.
An important factor to consider when choosing sling fabric is the weight. The heavier the fabric weight, the more difficult — but not impossible — it will be to slide the fabric into the sling chair's groove or channel. For easy installation, choose a sling fabric that's less than 19 ounces per square yard, which is most solid colored and striped sling fabrics. If you like the look of wicker weave and basketweave sling fabrics, these are the heaviest and most difficult fabrics to install. It will require two people to install, as well as lubricant and vice grips. Watch our video "How to Replace Fabric on a Patio Sling Chair" (#300109XHT) to see how a heavier weight sling fabric is installed in a patio chair.
Use the chart below to help you determine which sling fabric weight best suits your application.
In conclusion, you really can’t go wrong with either fabric. If your top priority is the look and feel of your chairs, then try Sunbrella Sling, with the softer hand and more stylized design. Phifertex Designer will also give you added style but doesn’t quite match Sunbrella Sling in softness. If your primary concern is longevity above all else, then you will certainly be happy with Phifertex Plus. The choice is yours.