What Is Olefin Fabric?

Olefin is a soft, lightweight woven fabric designed for outdoor use. Its refined appearance makes it an attractive fabric for use in indoor and outdoor projects. This beautiful and ecofriendly material can be found in Phifer’s GeoBella® line of designer fabrics.


Olefin is made from synthetic materials known as polyolefins. Resilient, colorfast, stain-resistant and durable, it lends itself to a wide variety of applications. Olefin fabric can be produced in a huge variety of weaves, textures, colors and prints, making it ideal for indoor and outdoor accents that lend pops of color.


Olefin fabric has a distinguished scientific history. It was first manufactured in Italy in 1957. A talented chemist named Giulio Natta was the first to formulate olefin fibers suitable for use in many textile applications. Natta and his partner Karl Ziegler were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1963 for their development of a method of transforming polyolefins into fiber using titanium as a catalyst.

Use Cases for Olefin

Olefin outdoor fabric is ideal for projects where you want a durable fabric that’s still soft and chic.

Upholstery

DIY upholstery with Olefin fabric gives you touchable, durable, beautiful chairs and couches. Find out how to breathe new life into your furniture with our comprehensive reupholstery tutorial.

​​​Cushions and Pillows

Olefin makes incredibly comfortable covers for seat cushions and pillows. Learn how to make your own with Phifer’s easy how-to guide.

Curtains

Using Olefin to create billowing outdoor drapes can give your patio or porch the ambiance of an upscale resort. Discover how to create your own gorgeous curtains with Phifer’s step-by-step guide.

Features of Olefin

Phifer’s GeoBella olefin fabrics boast a range of exceptional features that help them stand head and shoulders above the competition.

The production of olefin fabric is environmentally friendly. The manufacturing process creates very little waste, and the fiber is 100% recyclable: it canre-extruded into new yarn up to ten times.

Our designed fabrics made with olefin adhere to the highest standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (also known as VOCs) in order to protect indoor air quality.

Olefin is an exceptional performer when it comes to dealing with water. It does not absorb moisture and it dries very quickly. (If you live in areas that get a heavy dose of rainfall, you can breathe a sigh of relief that your cushions won’t stay soggy after a passing shower.) Olefin also wicks away moisture and sweat, which ensures you won’t stick to your chair on hot summer days.

Outdoor fabric shouldn’t fade in the sun. Phifer’s colorfast fabrics made with olefin have been designed to stay bright and beautiful for years, rain or shine.

Advantages to Using Olefin Fabric in DIY Projects: Olefin vs. Acrylic

On top of so many great features, olefin also is soft and lightweight, making it ideal for projects where comfort is as important as durability. High quality olefin fabrics like GeoBella can rival the beauty and touchable texture of indoor upholstery fabrics, while being rugged enough to deal with the demands of outdoor living. Olefin is exceptionally stain-resistant, which is a huge bonus for families with kids and pets, or anyone who enjoys entertaining. (What’s a party without a few spills?)


When weighing options for outdoor fabrics, many people wonder about olefin fabric vs acrylic --another fabric commonly used in outdoor cushions and upholstery. The main difference is acrylic is solution-dyed acrylic yarns, while olefin (as mentioned) is made from solution-dyed yarns spun from a polyolefin fiber. Both types of fabric are well-suited to outdoor use, but olefin has several advantages.

  • Greater wear-resistance: Olefin fabric is more resistant to wear than acrylic, particularly when it comes to abrasion.
  • Wider variety of textures and weaves: Compared to acrylic, olefin upholstery fabric is also available in a much wider selection of styles, textures and weaves, which opens up a whole world of exciting design possibilities.
  • Does not transmit static charge: Unlike acrylic, olefin fabric isn’t prone to transmitting static charges -- a small but important consideration when you’re lounging on your patio furniture wearing shorts!

There aren’t many disadvantages to using olefin, however, keep in mind that this fabric is heat sensitive and should not be put in a dryer. Rather, allow it to air-dry to keep it in great shape. Also, avoid ironing olefin fabrics whenever possible. If you have to iron olefin, make sure that you use the lowest temperature setting available and a very light touch.


Luckily, maintenance of olefin is easy: a simple wipe-down with soapy water now and then will keep it looking great. If you’re dealing with a trickier stain, check out our comprehensive cleaning how-to guide for all of Phifer’s designed fabrics.


When selecting fabric for any DIY project, it is also important to take into account the material’s intended purpose. While 100% olefin fabric is ideal for upholstery, cushions, and curtains, it has not been engineered for weight-bearing or tensioned applications such as sling chairs. For these types of jobs, Phifertex® PVC/Olefin Blends are ideal, giving you all the softness of olefin with the strength and dimensional stability of PVC.

Choose Phifer’s Olefin Fabric for Your Next Outdoor Project

Phifer offers a sophisticated line of high-quality designed fabrics made from olefin. GeoBella is a spectacular indoor/outdoor fabric -- a perfect fusion of high design and high performance, strong enough to stand up to the demands of outdoor use but lovely enough to grace your living room, too. Available in a wide range of colors, weaves, and textures, there’s a GeoBella fabric to suit any aesthetic, from traditional to contemporary. You’ll discover a dazzling spectrum of solids, stripes, tapestries, brocades and prints to spark your imagination.


Feeling inspired? Experiment with the Phifer Outdoor Fabric Visualizer to mix and match your favorite GeoBella fabrics. Using sample images, you can play with color and texture until you fall in love with the perfect combination.


If you have any questions or want to learn more about GeoBella fabric from Phifer, please get in touch! Whether you prefer phone, email, or live chat, there’s a friendly Phifer expert standing by to help. We can offer advice on choosing fabric for your next DIY project and help you get started by recommending online and offline retailers who carry your favorite Phifer fabric.