A Quick Guide to Upholstery Fabric

Picking the right kind of seating for your home can be quite daunting task – the size, shape, and aesthetics have to be well matched to other elements in the interiors of your home. An equally important consideration is the upholstery that goes over it. Not only do you have to pick fabrics in a good color and pattern, but also the right texture, and with good wearing properties. So here is a quick guide to help you understand the basics of upholstered fabrics, and what you need to keep in mind when selecting them for your furniture from upholstery fabric stores.

Upholstery – the different choice of fibers and materials

Upholstery fabrics can be made either from natural fibers, synthetic ones or blends. Those made from natural ones include the following.

● Cotton – a soft and durable material, cotton is a natural fiber used widely in upholstery. It is usually found on slipcovers as the fabric can easily be cleaned with detergent and water. The downside of cotton is that it gets wrinkled and soiled easily, and can also fade quickly when exposed to sunlight.

● Linen – the biggest advantage of linen is that it works well in formals and casual settings alike. This fabric does not pill or fade easily, but form wrinkles pretty fast. It also does not withstand heavy wear. Linen can be washed and cared for at home, but to prevent shrinkage, it is advisable to clean linen using professional laundry services.

● Wool – this fabric is extremely sturdy and durable. It does not fade, wrinkle, or get soiled easily. However, pure wool may felt, and hence the fiber needs to be blended for use in upholstery. Such blended fabrics can be spot cleaned when necessary, or be dry cleaned with professional services.

● Silk – silk is a, luxurious fabric that is also very expensive. This limits the use of silk upholstery to adult rooms and those that are designed to be high end. Silk forms stains easily, but can be cared for at home.
Synthetic fibers or manmade fibers that are commonly used in upholstery include the following.

● Acrylic – a soft and lightweight fabric, acrylic resists wear, wrinkles, and fading. As a result, fabric made from acrylic can be used for seating in outdoor areas, as well as those next to windows.

● Nylon – nylon is preferred widely in upholstery because it is very strong and extremely durable. However, nylon is sensitive to light and needs to be cleaned frequently with solvent based cleaners.

● Polyester – like nylon, polyester is durable and strong. Polyester stands up well to light and hence is blended with other fibers to provide wrinkle resistance, reduce fading, and to add resilience.

Things to consider when selecting upholstery

● You want the upholstery to be durable

Upholstery fabric stores offer a wide range of colors and patterns from various brands like Robert Allen, Barrow, Magnolia, Kravet, etc. They can be woven, printed, or have textures on their surface. Unless you plan to change your upholstery frequently (which indeed is a rare case), you want them to stay strong, and resist the wear and tear that they are subjected to. Furniture in adult rooms generally tend to experience lesser wear, but that is not the case of the sofa or chair on which your children jump around or your pets cuddle. For the latter, choose a synthetic material that can withstand extra wear and tear, and also which doesn’t get soiled or show stains easily.

A measure that comes in handy when determining durability is double rubs. This term refers to the fabrics ability to withstand wear and tear that occur from back and forth motion, similar to that experience when a person sits down and then gets up again. The higher the number of double rubs, the longer the fabric will resist wear and tear. As a rule of thumb, frequently used furniture with upholstery should have a rating more than 15000 double rubs. Occasionally used ones should have a double rub count between 9000 and 15000. Those that are rarely used can have a low count of 3000 to 9000.

● Maintenance matters too

Upholstery get soiled with continuous use and need to be cleaned regularly, and cared for. Vacuum-cleaning such fabrics at least once every month is recommendable. When you buy new upholstery, always pay attention to the wash and care instructions so that you can keep your upholstery in good shape for long.

● Skin friendly texture makes sense

The texture of the upholstery matters as much as its color and pattern. After all, a beautiful looking fabric that pricks you or feels rough against your skin is not worth investing in. When buying new upholstery, it is advisable to feel the fabric with your arm or face to see how it feels exactly. This is even more important with furniture that you lounge on, such as a sofa that you watch TV on.

Equipped with the right know-how about upholstery, you can now select the right ones for your furniture with ease.

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