Replacement Cushions & Covers: What You Need to Know

2 October, 2014

Many of our outdoor furniture sets come outfitted with weatherproof cushions that don’t fade in the sunlight and repel dampness caused by rain. While the cushions are engineered to last, you may find you want or need replacements for a number of reasons. In fact, our cushions come in two parts: covers and inserts. At some point, you may need one or the other.


Either way, this guide will help with all you need to know for replacement cushions or cushion covers for outdoor furniture, so you can keep yours looking its best.


Reasons to Replace Your Cushions or Covers

You’ll know it is time to replace your outdoor furniture cushions when:


You want to update the color scheme. Say you bought a lovely outdoor sectional with red cushions a few years ago. While the cushions may still be in great shape, your taste may have changed. If you plan on updating your outdoor living spaces and introducing new colors, then picking out cushion covers is a smart move.

Doing so allows you to redecorate without having to spend money on new outdoor furniture or cushion inserts. Browse through the cushions designed for the furniture sets you currently own, and pick out a color that will fit with your new ideas. Don’t get rid of the covers you already have-you may want to go back to the old color scheme at some point.


They’re in disrepair. Cushions are built to withstand the outdoors, so the chances of them falling apart due to the environment are slim. However, extreme weather can damage your cushions. You should avoid leaving them out during such conditions, including the winter, and store them in a dry spot.

If you forget to store them during a thunderstorm or the cold months, you may find you need to pick out new cushions or covers. If just the fabric is worn, go for the covers. However, if the foam is out of shape, a new insert is the way to go.


Consider Your Furniture Material

Patio furniture comes in a wide variety of materials and styles. Just like you have to decide on what your furniture is made of when originally selecting your furniture set, you might also need to factor it in with your patio cushion replacement.


Wood: To keep your wood furniture looking its best, make sure your outdoor replacement cushions or cushion covers are either waterproof or water-resistant. Keep in mind that there is a difference between waterproof (will not absorb any water) and water-resistant (the cover will shed water but the cushion can still absorb a good amount when soaked). Choose the option that best fits how much rain or water your cushions are likely to take on.


Wicker: Contrary to how the term is often used, wicker is actually not a material, but the pattern of the weave. Rattan is a common material used in weaving wicker. Wicker furniture often houses seat cushions only, with no seat back. If you’d like to add a seat back cushion for increased comfort, follow the measuring guidelines below.


Metal: Outdoor furniture made of metal is appealing for its durability and clean design. However, cushions may slip more on metal furniture. Replacement cushions or covers that fit snugly or have ties to anchor them may stay in place better. Check out this DIY tutorial on adding ties to your cushions or covers.


Plastic: Plastic furniture is less expensive than other materials, but you can sacrifice comfort for price. The right cushions can elevate the comfort level while adding some extra style. It’s common for cushions to slip or blow away, so make sure they fit well or have ties.


Determine Cushion Type & Style

Replacement cushions for outdoor furniture can be purchased in standard sizes that fit many furniture styles, but custom cushions or those long lumbar pillows-either for your specific patio furniture set or made to your specifications-often fit and look better. If the outer fabric is worn or faded, but the cushion core itself is still in good shape, you may only need replacement cushion covers for your outdoor furniture.

Here are common cushion seat types:


Single Seat: This is the cushion that will be sat on, and can come in square, iron, round, curved, wicker, and deep styles.

Hinged Chair: The seat and back are connected in a single, hinged cushion. They can be used in chairs that need padding both on the seat and the back. Most hinged chairs have high backs.

Bench: Bench cushions are typically used for sofas and loveseats. Larger furniture pieces like sofas and sectionals are great at seating bigger gatherings in comfort.

Hinged Chaise: Chaise lounges have a longer seat and a reclining back. Cushions for this furniture type have a longer seat area and a hinge seam for where the seat meets the back.


The five most common cushion shapes are rectangle, square, round, contoured, and trapezoid. As far as the typical cushion styles, the box-edge style is usually thicker, with piping around the edges. Bullnose style cushions have rounded edges that offer a more casual look and typically cost less.


Another consideration, make sure that when looking at patio cushion replacements you determine if they are for deep-seated or high-back furniture, which are both not typical dimensions. Deep seating usually features extended seat depth, and is often more comfortable for tall individuals (over six feet). High-back furniture is designed with taller backs for more support. These special designs will require specific cushions.


Choose the Right Fabric

Selecting the right fabric for your replacement cushions or covers is an important decision. You want it to look and feel good, but it also needs to function and be durable enough to last. A good rule of thumb is to look for fabric that is both fade-resistant and water-resistant or waterproof. You don’t want your cushions to fade after two summers, or foster the growth of mold and mildew. Here are some of the most common fabrics used for outdoor cushions:


Sunbrella: This light and durable fabric is resistant to fading, mold, and mildew. It is highly breathable and waterproof.

Cotton Canvas: Canvas is a heavy duty, plain woven fabric. It also dyes easily so it can be found in a wide variety of colors and prints. A water-resistant coating can be added, but without it, cotton canvas is generally not a good choice near water.

Textilene: Often used in sun canopies and sling seating, Textilene is moisture, fading, and mold resistant. This fabric is waterproof (not water-resistant), but does get hot in the sun.

Olefin Fiber: Also known as polypropylene, this fabric is durable against fading, mold, and mildew.

Vinyl: Vinyl is easy to maintain and clean, but can become hot to the touch when it’s been in direct sunlight. It’s not suggested for use with children.

Polyester: Polyester fabric is very cost-effective, as well as resistant to UV rays, stains, and mildew.


RST Brands offers free fabric samples before purchasing because we understand that sometimes it’s best to actually see and feel your options.


How to Measure for Replacement Cushions or Covers

Whether you’ve decided to replace your outdoor cushions or cushion covers because of wear and tear, to update your furniture, or to simply add a new burst of color, you want the right size and fit. Here are some quick measuring guidelines, so you can get the patio cushion replacements that are perfect for your outdoor space.


1) Depending on where you are ordering your replacements, you can use existing cushions for measurements, or the furniture itself. If you are unsure which is preferred, measure both so you have them on hand.

2) You will need a measuring tape, pencil, and paper. A firm tape measure will be easier to use than a flexible measuring tape.

3) When using a measuring tape, place the hook so it grabs one side of the area being measured. Pull the tape across the space and lock it into place so you don’t have to worry about it retracting when you’re not ready.

4) If you have to round a measurement, round up. Often cushions or covers come in sizes to the nearest inch. Cushions that are a little big will be more comfortable than cushions that are a little small.

5) When measuring cushions, lay them on a dry, flat surface. You will measure for width, height (the thickness of the seat cushion), and depth. Stretch the cushion out and measure from seam to seam.

    • For width, measure from the right side of the cushion to the left in three different areas, like the front, middle, and back of the cushion. Use the widest of these measurements, unless the cushion is quite worn and out of shape, then use the smallest measurement.
    • To get the height, or thickness, of your cushion, measure from bottom to top. You may want an outdoor replacement cushion that is more or less cushy than the current one; in the end it’s a matter of preference.
    • Find the depth of your cushion by measuring from top-to-bottom (for back cushions) or back-to-front (for seat cushions).

NOTE: Avoid ordering back cushions that extend past the furniture. This results in a non-supported feeling that can be quite uncomfortable.


6) When measuring the dimensions of your furniture, you also need width, height, and depth.

    • Take three measurements for the width (left-to-right measurement across the seating surface): 1) measure the front edge of the seat frame, 2) between the arms, and 3) at the rear. Use the widest measurement.
    • Here height also refers to the thickness of the cushion. Decide how plush you want the cushion to be, then lock your measuring tape and place it against the seat or back to see how far up or out the cushion would extend.
    • Only one measurement is required for the depth/length of the seating area: measure in the center of the seat from the front edge of the seating surface to where it meets the back. To measure the depth of the back, go from the top of the furniture back to where it meets the seat.

NOTE: For chaise lounges, measure the back, seat, and foot areas.


Tips for Selecting Replacement Cushions and Covers

No matter why you need new cushions or covers for your outdoor furniture, you should follow a few guidelines when purchasing. Make sure you consider the following when you start your search:


Match collections: We offer numerous collections of outdoor furniture, and each piece has its own cushions. As you shop for replacement cushions, make sure you’re looking by collection and piece. For example, if you own the Portofino Signature Six-Piece Deep Seating Set, you should get cushions that are designed for that furniture (the Portofino Six-Piece Replacement Set). That way, you know your new cushions will fit perfectly on your existing furniture.

Match colors: Consider the other furniture pieces you have in your yard. For example, what color is your hammock or patio umbrella? Ideally, your new cushion covers (and thus your furniture) will match the overall decor of your outdoor spaces.

Consider accessories: Buying new cushions provides the perfect opportunity to also purchase accessories, such as throw pillows. Doing so allows you to add a complementary splash of color to your design and as well as additional comfort. Remember, you can’t purchase any old pillow-you need one designed for the outdoors. We carry lumbar and throw pillows in numerous colors sure to meet your lounging needs.

Play with pattern: If you do get pillows in addition to your replacement cushions and covers, you have the opportunity to get creative with patterns. For instance, you might buy solid sand-colored covers and accent your furniture with striped pillows.


How to Care for and Maintain Your Outdoor Replacement Cushions

You can extend the life of your outdoor replacement cushions or outdoor replacement cushion covers with some basic care. Simply follow these easy steps:


    • Regularly brush off dirt and debris. You can also vacuum to reach in between seats or in corners.
    • Remove stains by blotting the fabric, not rubbing.
    • Limit exposure to direct sunlight to keep patio cushion replacement colors vibrant.
    • Place cushions that do become saturated with water seam side down to drain.
    • Covers provide even more flexibility because they can be removed from the cushion for cleaning and drying separately.
    • Properly store cushions during wet or winter seasons by cleaning and drying them thoroughly.


You can also use furniture covers to extend the life of your furniture as a whole. Covers that are slightly wider and deeper than your furniture work best. Just make sure that covers are slightly shorter than your furniture height, so they don’t draw moisture up from the ground.


Replacing your cushions is a simple way to change things up, throw in some seasonal color, and ensure maximum comfort as you enjoy the outdoors.