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Can Indoor Pillows Be Used Outdoors?

Have you ever found the perfect pillow for that outdoor sofa only to find out it’s for indoor use only and wondered. Can indoor pillows be used outdoors?

I know I have. There are so many more options when your shopping for the indoors. The best patterns, colors and sizes are always made for indoor use only. And I always wondered what’s the difference. Why can’t I use inside pillows outside. Well, it turns out that you can. But there’s a few things you need to know before you do. Stuff like how to weatherproof them. I recommend a Scotchgard treatment. It’s fast, easy to do and cheap. What type of outdoor space you’ve got and what’s the season? Covered spaces are obviously best and so is dry weather. What type of fabric are your pillows made from? Pillows without lots of holes hold up best. And do you want to leave them outside permanently or just for the day? Taking them inside in bad weather is a great way to keep them looking like new.

We’ll go over all this ahead with some great tips and pictures of inside pillows being used outdoors.

Location

If you like to decorate like I do then pillows are a big part of your designs. I use them in the living room, den, bedrooms, mudroom and pretty much anywhere else you can sit. And that includes my outdoor spaces.

I love to use lots of pillows on my backyard sofas and front porch chairs. They’re a great way to add color and texture to any design. But I like indoor pillows so much more than the outdoor stuff being sold. There’s so much more variety in terms of colors, textures and patterns. I had to figure out how to incorporate indoor pillows in the outdoors so that’s exactly what I did.

Most stores have a bunch of great indoor pillows to choose from, but outdoor pillows tend to be seasonal. And on top of having less selection, outdoor pillows are generally more expensive.

But, before you start picking out pillows you need to consider the location of where you’ll be putting them. If you have a screened or covered porch that’s a lot different then a completely open deck or patio. The pillows may still see some weather but they won’t get the full force of the elements or sun.

The location is a major part of choosing an indoor pillow for outdoor use because you need to know what type of weather it’ll be dealing with. For example if you live in Arizona where it’s hot and dry that’s very different from Seattle where it’s cold and wet.

When you choose an indoor pillow for outdoor use consider these two things:

  • Where you live. This effects the weather and climate.
  • Where the pillows are. A completely open area or something that covered.

In order to choose the right pillow you need to understand the type of weather conditions it’ll be exposed to.

Covered porch with indoor pillows used on the outdoor sofa.

Covered porch with indoor pillows used on the outdoor sofa.

Weather

Another important thing to consider is the season or more important the weather. Here is New Jersey we see four distinct seasons with completely different weather. We get hot and dry Summers with cold and snowy Winters. Both the Spring and Fall tend to be cool and damp. And it rains years round. But when I lived in Southern Florida it was pretty much hot all the time and rained almost every morning. All these things should be considered when you plan a strategy for using indoor pillows outside.

If you live in a wet area where it can rain hard with very little notice then waterproofing your pillows is a good idea. But if you live in Nevada that may not see rain for a month then it’s not as important.

Another thing to consider is fading. If you live in an area that sees non stop sun then dark colors will fade. In this case you may want to go with lighter colors.

Did you know that different fabrics and coloring methods fade at different rates. Cheap materials with colors that are only on the surface can badly fade. However good quality fabrics with coloring dyed all the way through fade a lot less. I really like to use dyed wool. It’s a natural fiber that’s durable, comfortable and doesn’t fade much.

Another thing to consider is the cold. You don’t want to use indoor pillows with decorative elements that can freeze and crack. Have you ever seen those pretty throw pillows adorned with small plastic beads sewn into a pattern. They’re nice indoors but don’t hold up for very long in the freezing cold. All that plastic expands and contracts until it gets brittle and breaks.

Waterproofing

The best way to use an indoor pillow outside is to waterproof it. It’s a very easy process that you can do yourself and it’s cheap. Spray the pillow down with Scotchgard (Heavy Duty Watershield) a couple of times and that should be enough to repel water.

This is the easiest way I’ve found to make any indoor pillow or fabric waterproof and outdoor safe. I like to spray the pillow a couple of times to make sure I’m getting good coverage. I think of it like painting, several thin coats are better than one thick one. Scotchgard dries really fast so your average sized pillow should only takes a minute to do.

This simple trick lets me use any indoor pillow or fabric I want in the outdoors. Any time of the year or in any climate. It doesn’t protect plastic from becoming brittle and breaking or stop fading but it does wonders against water.

Is It Really Waterproof?

No. Scotchgarding your indoor pillows and other fabrics will make them water resistant and able to be used outdoors but they won’t be 100% waterproof. Even pillows that have been made for use outdoors aren’t typically 100% waterproof. They’re made with special fabrics and stuffing that resists water but nothing is indestructible. Eventually anything you use outdoors will get weathered and that’s also true of indoor pillows you treat with scotchgard.

Should You Re-Apply?

Yes. I recommend re-applying the scotchgard to your indoor pillows and other fabrics every few months. It only takes a minute or two per pillow and scotchgard isn’t that expensive. The sun can start to where the protective layer away over time. The way you’ll know is that water won’t bead the same way after a while. You’ll notice it start to absorb more and act differently on the surface. Try to re-apply before this happens.

Is Scotchgard The Only Brand That Works?

No. There are other fabric sprays you can use but Scotchgard is what we recommend. It really does work and is very easy to apply.

Outdoor patio chairs and sofa with indoor pillows. White furniture with a wood table and cream canvas umbrella.

Outdoor patio chairs and sofa with indoor pillows. White furniture with a wood table and cream canvas umbrella.

Take The Pillows Inside

I know this may sound kind of obvious but have you ever considered taking the pillows inside. I like to do it because Scotchgard doesn’t do a thing to stop animals, bugs, birds or the sun from damaging my pillows. It’s great at making them water resistant but there are other things out there that can damage a pillow.

Since indoor pillows are typically made from more delicate fabrics it’s a good idea not to leave them out there forever.

You can vary this of course. If you’ve got a covered space or something on the 2nd floor then you may not ever have to take the pillows inside. But if you’ve got a deck or patio then it may be more of an issue. You should also take them in from a storm.I know this is more common sense but I don’t want you thinking a Scotchgard treatment will make your pillows indestructible. 

Indoor Pillows Used Outdoors Gallery

Here’s a small gallery filled with some of my favorite examples of indoor pillows being used in the outdoors.

Covered outdoor patio furniture set with indoor pillows.

Covered outdoor patio furniture set with indoor pillows.

Can indoor pillows be used outdoors? Yes. Check out these beautiful animal print indoor pillows used on these outdoor wicker chairs.

Can indoor pillows be used outdoors? Yes. Check out these beautiful animal print indoor pillows used on these outdoor wicker chairs.

Printed indoor pillows used on the front porch.

Printed indoor pillows used on the front porch.

Teal indoor pillows used on the back deck.

Teal indoor pillows used on the back deck. Indoor pillows come in a lot more colors than outdoor versions.

Colorful pattern indoor pillows used on the back deck outdoor sofa.

Colorful pattern indoor pillows used on the back deck outdoor sofa.

Indoor pattern pillows decorate the outdoor patio furniture.

Indoor pattern pillows decorate the outdoor patio furniture.

Rooftop deck with an outdoor patio set and indoor pillows.

Rooftop deck with an outdoor patio set and indoor pillows.

Outdoor wicker furniture with a variety of indoor pillows.

Outdoor wicker furniture with a variety of indoor pillows.

Backyard patio furniture set with indoor pillows.

Backyard patio furniture set with indoor pillows.

Beautiful backyard patio set with indoor tassel pillows.

Beautiful backyard patio set with indoor tassel pillows.

Plush outdoor patio set with colorful indoor pillows.

Plush outdoor patio set with colorful indoor pillows.

If you want to use indoor pillows outdoors like this patio set then treat them with Scotchgard.

If you want to use indoor pillows outdoors like this patio set then treat them with Scotchgard.

An assortment of blue indoor pillows used on the front porch furniture set.

An assortment of blue indoor pillows used on the front porch furniture set.

Outdoor wicker furniture with orange cushions decorated with white indoor pillows.

Outdoor wicker furniture with orange cushions decorated with white indoor pillows.

Summary: Can Indoor Pillows Be Used Outdoors?

Have you ever found the perfect pillow for that outdoor sofa only to find out it’s for indoor use only and wondered. Can indoor pillows be used outdoors?

I know I have. There are so many more options when your shopping for the indoors. The best patterns, colors and sizes are always made for indoor use only. And I always wondered what’s the difference. Why can’t I use inside pillows outside. Well, it turns out that you can. But there’s a few things you need to know before you do. Stuff like how to weatherproof them. I recommend a Scotchgard treatment. It’s fast, easy to do and cheap. What type of outdoor space you’ve got and what’s the season? Covered spaces are obviously best and so is dry weather. What type of fabric are your pillows made from? Pillows without lots of holes hold up best. And do you want to leave them outside permanently or just for the day? Taking them inside in bad weather is a great way to keep them looking like new.

I hope this article helps you use some beautiful indoor pillows in your outdoor spaces. If you have any questions or comments e-mail us any time. We’d love to hear from you.

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