Choosing seating materials and finishes

Choosing materials
When choosing the right materials, it’s important to do your research, listen to what your customer is asking for, and consider where the end product will be located, how it will be used and maintained, and your customer’s budget.

Saltwater versus freshwater will affect your professional offerings and choices. Will your projects be outside, inside or under cover? Both the elements and cleaning products take their toll on all materials.

Coated vinyl is designed to be UV-, mold- and water-resistant, yet the layer of protection may not last as long as a laminated marine vinyl.

Laminated marine vinyl offers a sealed layer of protection similar to coated vinyl. It prohibits rips and tears and is more appropriate for covers. Acrylic and polyester are wise fabric choices for marine work, as are expandable vinyl materials that offer abrasion, mold and mildew resistance.

Vinyl specifically labeled “marine” will outlive other vinyls. Reputable commercial manufacturers source vinyl specified for use in outdoor settings, yet the deterioration we see in barely a year is astounding, even when the materials are under cover yet open to the elements of sun, wind and rain.

Research materials and finishes
Consumers are increasingly looking for environmentally safe materials. Being knowledgeable about materials and finishes will position you as a reliable source for high-performing materials that address these concerns.

Discuss label terminology with suppliers using their online information, emails, phone calls and during MFA conferences and workshops. I spend a lot of time doing research on websites such as,,, and, among many others.

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