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 sag or look dingy, you can replace the sling material in the frame to extend their life. Sailrite® carries three high-quality brands of sling fabrics: Phifertex®, Textilene® 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 three popular fabrics.
First, all of these fabrics were developed with sling chair applications in mind. They are extremely UV resistant, durable and breathable. Likewise, all three fabrics are very easy to care for and clean with just mild soap and water. Plus, they are all manufactured right here in the United States at top-notch mills. The differences between these fabrics are subtle and come from the fiber content and the manufacturing process.
Comparing Sling Fabric Brands
Phifertex is our most robust offering of sling chair fabrics. You can choose from more than 75 fabrics across five collections: Phifertex® Standard, Phifertex® Plus, Phifertex® Stripes, Phifertex® Jacquards and Phifertex® Wicker Weaves. With so many options, you’re sure to find a Phifertex fabric that fits your outdoor living area’s décor.
All Phifertex fabrics are made from 100% PVC-coated polyester yarns. When the fabric is being finished, the PVC (also simply called vinyl) 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 sag or form pockets.
Phifertex Standard and Plus have a more distinctly vinyl look to them, but Phifertex Wicker Weaves, Stripes and Jacquards feature more intricate weaves and a more fabric-like look. So, you have plenty of options of Phifertex fabric depending on the look and feel you want for your sling chairs.
Like Phifertex, Textilene sling fabrics are 100% vinyl-coated polyester with excellent dimensional stability. You have a few collections of unique fabrics to choose from here too: Textilene® Decorative Fabrics, Textilene® Metallics, Textilene® Sailrite® and Textilene® Sunsure.
Two of these lines are especially notable. Textilene Decorative sling fabrics feature intricate weaves that create eye-catching designs, making these fabrics perfect for standalone accent pieces. And Textilene Sailrite fabrics are specially designed for Sailrite. Browse a selection of stripes, solid colors and variegated weaves that you won’t find anywhere else! If you want your outdoor living space to be the envy of the neighborhood, shop Textilene Sailrite.
Note: Sailrite offers a fifth collection of Textilene fabric called Open Mesh. Open Mesh fabrics are not rated to hold human weight and should not be used for sling chairs. These fabrics are intended for shade applications.
Sunbrella Sling combines Sunbrella acrylic fibers with PVC-coated polyester and weaves the two fibers together. This gives Sunbrella Sling a softer look, more like a traditional woven fabric.
However, the acrylic fibers prevent Sunbrella Sling from being completely bonded together, 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.
Sunbrella Sling fabrics are available in a selection of soft neutrals to bring a sense of warmth to your outdoor space.
There are a few other functional considerations to make beyond the brand that are important to note. The first is how much stretch the fabric has. Sling fabrics that have a softer fiber woven in, like Sunbrella Sling, typically have more give. This 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 a 100% vinyl-coated polyester fabric like Phifertex or Textilene.
Another consideration is resistance to environmental factors. Sling fabrics from all three brands are mold and 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. All three brands boast excellent UV resistance, meaning the fabrics will keep their color and structure for the long run — even in year-round sun exposure.
Finally, think about how you want to use sling fabric inside and outside of your home. While Sunbrella Sling is recommended for just roller shades and sling chairs, Phifertex and Textilene have a broader range of uses. If you want your sling chairs to match cushions, shades, window screens or something else, you can make them all out of Phifertex or Textilene.
A Note About Sling Fabric Weight
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, just know that these are the heaviest and most difficult fabrics to install. They will require two people to install, as well as lubricant and vise grips. Watch our video, "How to Replace Fabric on a Patio Sling Chair" (#300109XHT), to see how to install a heavier-weight sling fabric into 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 sling fabrics from Sailrite for your patio sling chairs. If your top priority is the look and feel of your chairs, then try Sunbrella Sling, with its softer hand and more stylized design. If your primary concern is longevity above all else, then you will certainly be happy with Phifertex or Textilene. The choice is yours.
This blog was updated in August 2023 to include Textilene.