What Are the Different Grades of Vinyl Fabric?

Vinyl upholstery fabrics come in several different grades, but grade isn’t reflected in the fabric’s quality. Grade actually refers to the cost to make the fabric. It’s hard to find consistency within the vinyl fabric grading process because each manufacturer has their own grades. When starting a new project, the most important question to ask is if you are using the right grade for the task at hand. 

Depending on what you want to do with the fabric, you may need automotive, contract, or marine vinyl fabric. Here’s how a clearer way to choose what’s right for you.  


Appearance and performance are the two main functions of automotive vinyl fabric. You want it to be durable yet comfortable since the fabric is for car seating. Many car owners love automotive vinyl because it looks so similar to leather, but it costs less.  

Automotive vinyl is also easier to work with because it stretches further and has elastic properties. Plus, in comparison to leather, it needs to be replaced less often than leather. Though these benefits can sound dangerous, you don’t have to worry about safety, because the vinyl meets all the rigorous standards for vehicles.  

Heavy Duty 

Contract-grade vinyl is perfect for heavy use since its durable and strong. Certain types come with special coatings, like anti-bacterial and anti-stain treatments, but they’re all easily cleaned with soap and water. 

Since it is about 1/16 to 1/8 thick, this material is good for indoor upholstery projects that may face a lot of wear and tear. It’s perfect for lounge seating, restaurant seating, and massage tables. Heavy duty vinyl fabric has a soft, foam-like quality and is thicker than most upholstery fabrics.  


This type of material is used by designers and manufacturers to make faux leather products for residential and commercial décor. This is an ideal upholstery fabric for outdoor furniture because they can usually withstand high levels of moisture. The design will come in a variety of patterns and colors, so they can be used as decorative elements.  


Transparent vinyl is used to construct thin, water-repellant items like rain coats, umbrellas, and tablecloths. They are protective coverings for various weather conditions. Transparent vinyl allows the water to bead up and roll right off the surface so the water isn’t sitting on the fabric for an extended time causing damage.  

Marine Vinyl Fabric

Marine vinyl fabric is your best option for outdoor use since it’s 100% waterproof, UV protected, and weatherproof. As the name suggests, marine vinyl is perfect for boats, but it’s also great for motorcycles, outdoor furniture, and awnings. Its durability allows it to withstand high temperatures without cracking or fading. All you need to clean the fabric is soap, water, bleach, a scrub brush. Boats are constantly subject to mildew, moisture, and dirt, but marine vinyl fabric keeps your boat looking as new as the day you bought it. 

Having a better understanding of the different grades of vinyl will help you when it’s time to choose which one is right for you project and budget. All Vinyl Fabrics can help you along the way! Contact us or call 1-877-518-4695 today to speak with one of our vinyl experts.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *