Keeping Up Appearances While Coping with Mother Nature
April 05, 2019
Posted by D. A. Burns
Better weather has arrived, and we’re all thinking about getting our outdoor living spaces ready for spring and summer enjoyment. If your outdoor furnishings and gear spent the winter in nice, dry storage…great! You’re ready for the season.
If your outdoor fabrics spent the winter exposed to harsh, winter weather – or were stored without cleaning – this might be a good time to check them over for any signs of animal stains or mildew and moss growth. True outdoor fabrics are designed to be tough enough to resist sun, moisture and temperature variations, as well as being resistant to color loss, mildew and insect damage. However, there are a few things that can cause some problems, so we’ll cover them below, along with potential remedies. Remember that the best way to extend the life of your outdoor fabric is to keep it clean and periodically reapply a stain resistant treatment.
Mildew, moss or lichen will grow on wind-deposited soil or pollen residues that adhere to any outdoor surface. They will try to send roots into the surface to maintain their grip, and those roots can damage paint, siding, roofing materials – and outdoor fabrics. Even though outdoor fabric is designed to be resistant to fungal growth, both fiber and color can be damaged if the combination of soils, warm temperature and moisture allow fungal growth. Removal of discoloration is typically done by first killing the growth using chlorine bleach and then cleaning. If you’d like to do some cleaning yourself, be careful to follow the manufacturer’s directions in the links below – remember that too much bleach can cause fabric to turn yellow in the weeks following application!
Often a sharp burst of water from a hose is all that’s needed to remove animal waste. An application of disinfectant followed by another rinse with water will work if you’re concerned about lingering microbial contamination. Bird droppings can become more troublesome if allowed to linger. The droppings are acidic so they may damage color, and if baked on by sunlight, they will harden. Soaking the area in a warm detergent solution followed by some physical agitation may be required.
All outdoor synthetic fabrics have stabilizers added to resist the effect of ultraviolet light but will both fade and weaken with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and heat. Liquid products marketed as UV blockers are not recommended, as they absorb UV light and eventually become yellow. This type of product is very difficult to remove, so the discoloration is usually permanent. The best practice to prevent fading is to keep colored fabrics out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Even without an additional coat of UV blocker, outdoor fabrics may take on a hint of yellow after a few years in the sun. There is no remedy for this color change outside of replacement.
Rapid Color Loss
This is not usually a concern if the fabric is from a known producer of outdoor and marine fabrics. We have seen patio and deck cushions that look just like those more expensive products but are actually made from a heavy off-white fabric that is printed with color on one side. The color coating may last a year or two but will readily come off when the fabric is cleaned.
This has typically been a problem for boat covers and awnings rather than cushions, as the sewing thread of choice was cotton or linen. Even when stitches are made with synthetic thread, that thread is not always impervious to light damage. All synthetics designed for use in an outdoor environment should be UV stabilized.
We can take care of a thorough cleaning and the reapplication of a stain resist treatment, but if you like to tackle some smaller issues yourself, here’s a link to a home spot-cleaning guide for outdoor fabric.
Opening Day of Boating Season
Better weather is just around the corner, and it’s time to get ready for on-the-water activities. With the annual opening day of boating season on the first Saturday in May, we often have a rush of last-minute service requests from boaters who are spiffing up everything from ski boat covers to yacht interiors.
It might be time for you to put the “show” back in your floating showpiece. Here are three ways we can help:
1. Cleaning of Marine Fabric.
We can clean your boat covers and all manner of marine deck fabric…from sail covers and rain dodgers to your window and tender covers. All exterior fabric cleaning is protected with a stain resistant treatment to keep your vessel looking its best, longer.
2. Cleaning Marine Interiors.
We have extensive experience cleaning and protecting marine interiors – carpet, upholstery and headliners – and are mindful to protect the adjacent finishes.
3. Edge Treatments for Weather Resistant Carpet.
For carpet exposed to the elements, we can apply Sunbrella™ brand acrylic edge-binding with a variety of colors and finished widths.
We’ve mentioned the effect that sunlight has on outdoor fabric; so what does UV stabilized mean?
Almost everything is affected by exposure to light, with the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum being the primary culprit of color fading, weakening of cotton and the oxidizing of synthetic fabric plasticizers. For outdoor use, synthetic fabrics have a component built-in to protect them against the effects of UV exposure, making them superior to the cotton that was once used for boat covers and patio awnings. Nothing lasts forever, but synthetic fabrics that are “UV stabilized” will last longer when put to exterior use.
That’s why we use “UV stabilized” thread whenever we apply a Sunbrella™ edge binding to a carpet. Contrary to common industry practice, D. A. Burns stands behind our work – and materials. Longevity of your outdoor carpet investment is important to us…and, we want to clean the carpets we fabricate, so they provide you continued enjoyment for many seasons.
For those of you that enjoy the outdoors on land, we can clean your outdoor cushions on-location or in-plant. We also offer the cleaning of patio umbrellas and outdoor area carpets at our cleaning plant. And, a carpet with a weather-resistant edge binding can put the finishing touches on your outdoor living space.
We’re good at cleaning and protecting your marine fabrics – boat and tender covers, bimini tops, dodgers and sail covers – as well as your outdoor cushions, patio umbrellas and area carpets. And, we can help them last longer with our stain resist treatment following cleaning.
Beat the Opening Day rush and call or come in today. Two D. A. Burns locations…Seattle and Bellevue. Enjoy your summer…and your outdoor furnishings!
To inquire about our cleaning and custom carpet services – or request a complimentary quote – contact us today.