What Is UV/Sun-Resistant Fabric?

A sun-resistant fabric is one that has been treated to withstand UV rays, which account for approximately 10% of the sun’s light. UV stands for “ultraviolet,” which is a form of light wave or radiation. UV rays have a shorter wavelength than visible light and a longer wavelength than X-rays. This wavelength makes them particularly good at penetrating through objects, which is how they can cause damage.

Why Use Sun-Resistant Fabric?

Much like how you would use sunscreen to protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV rays, your furniture should be equipped with its own version of SPF.


When it comes to DIY projects, the fabric you use in your outdoor living space needs protection from the sun. UV damage can cause your once-vivid fabric to degrade and break down faster, taking a toll on its durability and shortening its useful life.


So, how do you find truly fade-resistant upholstery fabric? Let’s take a look at what goes into UV-resistant fabric and how you can ensure that your investment stays gorgeous and strong, even after several summers’ worth of rays.

What Do UV Rays Do to Fabric?

Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause materials to break down. In the case of outdoor fabric, UV rays can cause a chemical reaction with the dyes in the fabric or with the man-made plastic (polymer) yarns of the fabric itself. The breakdown of the dye or fiber is what causes fading. This process is known as “photo degradation.”


The term “sunproof fabrics” can be somewhat misleading. There is no fabric in the world (even those engineered for NASA!) that can withstand all UV rays for an indefinite amount of time. So, how do you measure how sun resistant a fabric really is? Some damage and fading will inevitably occur over time, but a sun-resistant fabric should be able to resist significant fading for the expected lifetime of the furniture.

Finding the Right Sun-Resistant Fabric for Your Location

If you live in a very sunny part of the world, it’s even more important to look for sun and fade-resistant fabric and ask questions about how it will perform in your environment. You can extend the life of your fabric by keeping your outdoor furniture in partially-shaded areas.

Phifer's Fade Resistant Fabrics

All of Phifer's Designed Fabrics have been engineered with built-in UV resistance.

GeoBella® Fade Resistant Fabric

Our stunning 100% solution-dyed olefin fabric line offers a beautifully soft feel that you might not expect in such a hard-wearing fabric. Fade resistant and easy to clean and maintain, GeoBella is a spectacular indoor/outdoor fabric choice for a wide range of projects, including cushions, pillows and curtains.


Check out our selection of outdoor fabrics that can be delivered right to your door!

Our vinyl-coated polyester fabric range, Phifertex is an incredibly durable material with high UV/fade resistance. The color of vinyl-coated polyester mesh is “locked in” to the PVC coating, which means it is much less likely to fade in the sun. It’s also infused with Microban®, an antimicrobial treatment that helps fight the growth of mold and mildew.

How We Test Our Sun-Resistant Fabrics

For an objective explanation of a fabric’s level of sun resistance, we can look at independent industry standards. The most common measure of sun resistance is “hours to fade.” Using this standard, fabrics are tested in a lab using special UV lights. This process simulates years of sun exposure in a matter of days or weeks. The fabric is observed in experiments that measure how long a sample takes to show a noticeable color change.


Phifer tests our fabric in a variety of ways to ensure we surpass industry standards:

  • We Expose them to UV Rays for up to 1,200 Hours
  • We Expose them to High Temperatures
  • We Expose them to High Moisture Levels


Exposure to the Elements

For woven upholstery fabric, the industry standard for a sun-resistant fabric for interior application is at least 40 hours with no color change. Phifer’s process for testing our exterior Designed Fabrics for sun resistance involves exposing our fabrics to a UV source, elevated temperatures and moisture.


Assigning Value Rating

Samples are then evaluated using the AATCC Grey Scale standard. The value of 5 representing no minimum change, and the value of 4 representing no visible change. 


Other's Best Is Our Minimum

We hold that a value of 4 is our absolute minimum for a passing grade on all of our fade-resistant fabrics. We believe that if a fabric isn’t tough enough to withstand the elements in our testing grounds, we won’t allow it to withstand the elements outside your home. 

Looking for More?

Ready to design the sun-resistant DIY masterpiece of your dreams? Try the Phifer Outdoor Fabric Visualizer. Combine fabrics, textures and colors to see how they work together, and use our sample images to preview how they might look in real life.


If you still have questions about sun resistance and Phifer fabrics, get in touch with us or contact us via our live chat feature! We have the answers and are always happy to offer advice over phone, email or live chat. We can also make it easy to find your chosen fabrics when you need them by referring you to off and online retailers who carry Phifer products.