A Guide to Outdoor Restaurant Upholstery

A Guide to Outdoor Restaurant Upholstery

Outdoor dining offers a delightful escape, allowing patrons to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a meal in the fresh air. But for restaurateurs, creating a comfortable and inviting outdoor space goes beyond just setting up tables and chairs. The key to a successful patio experience lies in the selection of the right outdoor restaurant upholstery.

This guide delves into the world of outdoor furniture fabrics, exploring the vital factors to consider, the different types of materials available, and essential tips for keeping your upholstery looking its best.

Factors to Consider for Outdoor Restaurant Upholstery

Choosing the ideal outdoor restaurant upholstery requires a balance between aesthetics, functionality, and durability. Here are the key factors you should consider:


  • Sun Exposure: Constant exposure to sunlight can fade fabrics. Opt for materials with high UV resistance.
  • Precipitation: Rain, snow, or even morning dew can wreak havoc on upholstery. Choose water-resistant or waterproof fabrics.
  • Temperature Fluctuations: Extreme hot or cold weather can affect the comfort and longevity of your upholstery. Pick materials that can withstand temperature variations.


  • Frequency: High-traffic areas require more durable fabrics compared to those used occasionally.
  • Food and Drink Spills: Upholstery prone to spills needs to be easily cleanable or stain-resistant.
  • Fading and Wear: Consider the aesthetic impact of fading and wear patterns on your chosen fabric.


  • Cleaning Ease: Regular cleaning is crucial for outdoor furniture. Choose fabrics that are easy to maintain and stain-resistant.
  • Mould and Mildew Resistance: Outdoor environments can promote mould and mildew growth. Opt for fabrics with anti-microbial properties.
  • Drying Time: Quick-drying fabrics are ideal for outdoor use, especially in humid climates.


  • Style and Ambiance: The fabric’s colour, texture, and pattern should complement your restaurant’s overall décor and create the desired atmosphere.
  • Colorfastness: Choose fabrics that resist fading to maintain a vibrant and attractive patio space.
  • Comfort: The fabric’s texture should be comfortable for prolonged sitting, even in hot weather.

Types of Outdoor Restaurant Upholstery Materials

The world of outdoor fabrics offers a variety of materials to suit your needs and budget. Here’s a breakdown of some popular options:


  • Pros: Affordable, durable, water-resistant, colourfast, mildew resistant, easy to clean.
  • Cons: Can feel hot in direct sunlight, not as luxurious as some other materials.


  • Pros: Affordable, versatile in terms of colour and texture, water-resistant, dries quickly, some varieties are stain-resistant.
  • Cons: Can be prone to fading over time, may not be as breathable as other options.


  • Pros: Waterproof, stain-resistant, easy to clean, durable, affordable.
  • Cons: Can feel hot and sticky in hot weather, not as breathable, may appear cheap if not high-quality.


  • Pros: Durable, water-resistant, stain-resistant, dries quickly, some varieties are UV resistant.
  • Cons: Can feel rough or scratchy, may not be as comfortable for long sitting periods.

Solution-dyed Acrylic:

  • Pros: Offers the benefits of acrylic with superior colorfastness, resists fading for extended periods.
  • Cons: More expensive than regular acrylic.

Olefin (Polypropylene):

  • Pros: Water-resistant, stain-resistant, easy to clean, dries quickly, affordable, lightweight.
  • Cons: May not be as UV resistant as some other options, can fade over time.

Performance Fabrics:

  • Pros: A broad category encompassing various high-tech fabrics, often incorporating features like water repellency, stain resistance, breathability, and quick drying.
  • Cons: Can be more expensive than traditional options.

Additional Considerations

  • Mesh fabrics offer breathability in hot climates but may not be suitable for high-traffic areas.
  • Woven fabrics can add a touch of elegance, but choose materials specifically designed for outdoor use.
  • Leather offers a luxurious look but requires special care and may not be ideal for all climates.

Tips for Maintaining Outdoor Restaurant Upholstery

Even the most durable outdoor fabric needs proper care to extend its lifespan and maintain its attractiveness. Here are some tips for keeping your outdoor restaurant upholstery looking its best:

  • Regular Cleaning: Regularly brush off dirt, debris, and food crumbs to prevent them from settling into the fabric. Depending on the fabric type, you might be able to hose down chairs or use a mild soap and water solution for a more thorough cleaning. Always follow the specific cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • Spot Cleaning: Act quickly on spills to prevent stains. Blot up any excess liquid with a clean, absorbent cloth. Use a mild cleaning solution specifically designed for your chosen fabric and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for stain removal.
  • Mould and Mildew Prevention: To prevent the growth of mould and mildew, especially in humid climates, allow your furniture to dry completely after rain or cleaning. Consider storing furniture indoors during extended periods of rain or high humidity.
  • Sun Protection: For optimal longevity, minimise direct sun exposure whenever possible. If full shade isn’t available, use umbrellas or awnings to provide some protection for your furniture during peak sun hours.
  • Off-Season Storage: During the off-season, clean and dry your furniture thoroughly before storing it in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated space. Using furniture covers can offer additional protection from dust and moisture.
  • Professional Cleaning: For deep cleaning or stubborn stains, consider hiring a professional furniture cleaning service that specialises in outdoor fabrics.


By carefully selecting the right outdoor restaurant upholstery material and implementing proper maintenance practices, you can create a comfortable and inviting outdoor dining space that enhances the customer experience and lasts for years to come.

Consider the factors discussed in this guide to find the perfect balance between functionality, durability, and aesthetics. With a little planning and care, your outdoor patio can become a thriving extension of your restaurant, attracting customers and boosting your business.

Bonus Tip

For high-traffic areas, consider using slipcovers or removable cushions. This allows for easier cleaning and replacement when needed. You can also offer a selection of throw pillows in different colours or patterns to add a touch of personality and allow for easy customisation depending on the season or occasion.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your outdoor restaurant upholstery remains comfortable, stylish, and functional for years to come, creating a welcoming and memorable dining experience for your patrons.

For more information on Outdoor Restaurant Upholstery contact Hill Upholstery.

Deep buttoned seating

Deep buttoned seating can really transform a dining area and can make your restaurant go from great to incredible! People will always remember how something looks and how comfortable something is, so make sure they remember your seating for the right reasons!

Hill Upholstery can create bespoke seating for your home, restaurant or bar as well as reupholster your current seating to make it more modern or so it complements your new decor.

Contact our team to find out more today!

Take a look at some of the deep buttoned seating work we have completed on other restaurants on our case studies page.

Take a look at the video below to see one of the upholstered deep button seating projects we have completed.

Restaurants Seating

Restaurants Seating Cucina Hill UpholsteryI (Helen) had an excuse this week to admire the restaurants seating work we did for Italian restaurant Cucina in my lovely home town of Leigh on sea, Essex.

In July & August this year, our talented master upholsterers transformed the restaurants seating as part of their refurbishment. Lots of lovely soft blue & cool grey shades featured in the fluted seating which work great with the new copper lighting and accessories – bellissimo!

It was the perfect place to unwind after a very busy week.

You can see more images of the finished look on our case study or even better…book a table – the food is to die for!


Oyster Creek Kitchen, Westcliff

This November saw a repeat job for Oyster Creek Kitchen in Westcliff-on-sea where we upholstered some new seating for this trendy seaside restaurant. It’s been almost two years since we upholstered all the existing benches there so it was great to be invited back to help increase their seating area further. The restaurant still looks as fabulous as ever, even if we do say so ourselves.

Take a look at the original Oyster Creek case study here.