If you are new to the world of upholstery, choosing the right fabric may seem like an arduous process. With all the fabrics (not to mention the colors and designs) available, how do you choose the one which is right for you? Here is some information on various fabric to help you select the right fabric for your furniture.
You may hire a designer to make these choices for you based on your lifestyle, home traffic, and desired design inspirations – however, as they say – knowledge is power! Knowing a little more about the various fabric types and combinations thereof will truly help you in your decision making process.
Some things to consider before we jump in: How easy is it to maintain? Is it dry or wet clean only? How long will it last? These are just some baseline points to consider before re-upholstering every piece in your home! Some fabrics are gorgeous to look at and touch, however, they are notorious for being very difficult to clean and maintain. The more difficult to clean, the more expensive they are to maintain (think art silk, silk, viscose, velvet, and suede).
Let’s Jump in!
Durability – How do you use it?
If you are planning to upholster something that will experience everyday wear and tear, durability is important to consider. Upholstery fabric’s durability is determined by how it rates on the manufacturer-administered double rub test, which is a back and forth motion that mimics the wear and tear of someone sitting on an upholstered seat over time. The higher the number of double rubs, (for example 100,000 vs 10,000) the better the indicator of quality and durability. In addition to higher double rubs, look for upholstery fabrics treated for performance, like stain resistance, water repellant, or UV resistance.
For upholstery projects that will not be used every day, like decorative or heirloom pieces, performance characteristics might not be as important, which opens up a wider variety including silk, wool, linen, cotton duck, embellished fabrics and more!
Upholstery fabric is often not suitable for traditional washing or dry cleaning once applied to furniture; therefore, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions and look for stain repellent fabrics for heavier-use pieces. Remember that over time protective finishes do wear down, so be sure to re-apply them during professional cleaning of your furniture. Our recommendation for dry-cleaning is intended prior to upholstering if cleaning before use is desired. Once upholstered, use spot cleaners intended for upholstery fabric, or upholstery cleaning services. Using a fabric protectant application over your completed project is recommended for enhanced stain resistance. Be sure to hire a certified upholstery cleaning professional service.
These common, upholstery fabrics come in a variety of weights, colors, fibers, and treatments to ensure you get the fabric you need for your project.
- Chenille – Excellent fabric choice for home usage, primarily heavier use pieces. Similar to velvet, it has a cut pile that aids in abrasion resistance and comfort.
- Faux suede / Microfiber / Ultrasuede – Typically a polyester multi-weave fabric with a surface abrasion treatment giving it a fuzzy, suede pile to mimic suede, this fabric is an excellent choice for heavy-use family rooms and pets. It’s very strong, abrasion resistant and easy to clean.
- Velvet – Velvet has a dense cut pile, making it luxuriously soft with a sheen. Velvet can stand up to heavy usage and is an attractive choice for most homes. Cleans best when spill or stain is tended to immediately. Please note, however, that velvet – like many finer fabrics – do have a tendency to have fiber distortion if rubbed too hard when wet or during stain removal.
- Basketweave / Tweed – These textured woven fabrics hide stains and wear well, and can be used in any upholstery application depending on their double rub rating. Higher double rubs will reduce pilling and fabric pulls.
- Faux Leather – Easy to clean and makes a great choice for children’s furniture and other high-usage pieces. Clean and condition appropriately to reduce the risk of cracking.
- Marine Vinyl – Made to resist weather and harsh elements, marine vinyl is a leather-look vinyl that is extremely durable and easy to clean.
- Jacquard – Typically a heavier fabric, it has yarn dyed fibers that create a pattern, giving the fabric texture and style. Good fabric choice for home usage, primarily moderate use and decorative pieces.
- Duck/Canvas – A strong, plain weave fabric, ideal for printed designs. When made of cotton, this fabric shape can warp over time with heavy use, so it should be used on moderate-use furniture, decorative pieces or pillow accents.
These are common fibers used in upholstery fabrics. They can be 100% or blended with other fibers to join characteristics. These fibers can be made up into a variety of fabric types, which also have an effect on their performance:
- Cotton– breathable, comfortable, and budget-friendly. Not fade resistant.
- Linen– Very strong and breathable and classic. Less resistant to stains and fading, should not be used for heavy-use, but excellent for heirloom pieces.
- Wool– Luxurious, great texture and feel, keeps its shape, less resistant to stains – look for stain resistance treatment or a blend.
- Silk– Luxurious and strong, but should not be used for everyday. Due to weave type – it can snag very easily.
- Rayon / Viscose– Adds softness when blended with other fibers, not durable.
- Polyester– Durable, easy to clean, low – moderate abrasion resistance – it can pill if double rub rating isn’t high enough. CAN BE VERY FLAMMABLE!
- Nylon– Durable, high abrasion resistance, easy to clean. CAN BE VERY FLAMMABLE!
- Acrylic– Very durable, colorfast, easy to clean, great for heavy-use upholstery. CAN BE VERY FLAMMABLE!
- Olefin– Very durable, colorfast, easy to clean, great for heavy-use upholstery. CAN BE VERY FLAMMABLE!
Your color choice is also dependent upon the type of use your furniture will see. Natural beige color is a popular choice for hiding dirt as well as being a neutral that can go with many different décor styles.
Consider lighter solid colors to create an airy, inviting mood in a space. Darker colors or patterns are better for hiding dirt and wear. Or you can always select a bright color or a fun, bold pattern to make a statement in your space!
When considering a professional for your upholstery cleaning and protection – call Wiz Team, Inc. for your free in-home consultation and we can discuss the best methodological approach to handling your beautiful textiles and ensuring a long life for your upholstered home furnishings.