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How Light Affects the Appearance and Function of Outdoor Fabric

By 9 April, 2018Products
blog/How Light Affects the Appearance and Function of Outdoor Fabric

Considerable discussion is given in the textile industry to the effects of UV light on the physical properties of fabric. While this is very important to consumers as they consider the long-term value of their purchase, of equal importance, is the appearance of the fabric in its intended environment. The amount, quality and angle of light and reflections all play an important role in fabric appearance, as does the function of the final product. Each of these factors can drastically change the presentation of the fabric and ultimately determine whether the buyer is happy with their purchase.

The volume of light in the area where the fabric will be viewed has a great effect on the visual perception of it. Lower light environments will make fabrics appear darker and any patterns less discernible. The brighter the lighting, the more obvious a pattern will be and colors will appear lighter and brighter as well. If your location is prone to predominantly bright lighting conditions you might also want to think twice about considering a light or white fabric as these colors do little to filter strong rays. A darker color will offer greater protection from eye strain caused by solar glare. Additionally, it’s important to note that with awnings, the fabric will be viewed from underneath and backlit much of the time, providing a completely different perspective that should definitely be considered prior to purchase.

The quality of the light refers to  its color undertones. These are typically referred to as either warm or cool. Warm lighting has yellow undertones and, as the name suggests, imparts warmer tones to everything it washes over. Cool light is the opposite and washes the environment with blue tones. While the quality of light can change depending on the time of day, weather conditions and more, certain geographies tend to lean toward being predominantly more warm or cool. You can balance or, conversely leverage, the light quality of your awning location by choosing colors that complement or match the quality of the light in that area. The psychological effects of colors are very powerful with warm colors creating the perception of warmth and cooler colors making occupants feel cooler. You can use these psychological tendencies to your advantage to create the atmosphere you desire.

The direction from where the light is coming is the angle. Since in most cases RECacril® is used outside, in most use cases the light will emanate from above. An important factor to consider prior to purchase is the consumer’s view of the final fabricated product. For awnings, one of the most important considerations is the underside of the fabric since most people will be viewing it from that angle. At Recasens, this is something that we’ve put great thought into, ensuring that patterns, as well as the weave of our solids, are beautiful to view from both sides.

While the evidence of UV damage should take many years to appear in high quality synthetics, it’s certainly something to consider in the purchase process. UV radiation will ultimately cause colors to fade over time as well as weaken the structure of certain of materials. It’s important to consult with the fabric supplier to understand how resilient a fabric choice is to UV rays and other forms of environmental damage that might occur. Our fabric is made out of solution dyed acrylic fibers. This is the most UV resistant synthetic fiber on the market. Polyester fibers are also synthetic, but less UV resistant. Nylon is a synthetic fiber, but has low UV resistance. RECacril® is made from solution-dyed acrylic fibers which is the most UV-resistant synthetic fiber available on the market today.

There are more options than ever for outdoor fabric patterns and colors. Careful consideration of the intended environments in which they will be used is essential to ensuring that consumers will be happy with their choices for years to come. Ideally, viewing a swatch of the fabric in that environment during various times of day from all possible angles is the best way to ensure total satisfaction. Recasens offers hundreds of quality fabric options. View them here or contact us to order your 2018 RECacril® Collection Sample Book.