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How to Choose the Best Upholstery Fabric?

Whether we’re talking about your living room or your bedroom, or even your porch in some cases, the condition of your furniture pretty much reflects your overall character and attitude. If you always keep it in top condition, you’ll present an image of class, seriousness, responsibility and dedication to everyone who lay their eyes on it. If however, your furniture becomes neglected and it slowly reaches a state where it desperately needs a restoration, people won’t think that you don’t have enough money to change that but instead, they’ll think you just don’t care much about such things and the image of you that they had will certainly change to worse. And you don’t want that, especially not with new friends or those you haven’t seen in a very long time.

That’s why it’s important to try and make your furniture at least decent looking at all times. But you’re not a wizard I guess, so even if you do that, your furniture will eventually require a reupholstery, no matter if you want it to be reupholstered or not.

Lucky for you, we’ll help you get ready for such a scenario by teaching you how to choose upholstery fabric. Let’s get this party started then.

Types of Upholstery fabric:

There are many different types of fabrics available in the market for the upholstery purposes of different types of furniture. However, these all fall into two main categories – natural and synthetic.

Natural Upholstery Fabric

Now before we start listing the best materials and explaining their properties, we should first briefly mention a few important things you should keep in mind when selecting among them.

There are two main types of furniture, believe it or not. The one that’s used often and the one that’s used seldom. Therefore, you must choose an appropriate type of material depending on which kind of furniture you wish to upholster. If you desire to freshen up some more rarely used pieces, a fabric which isn’t the most durable will do just fine. On the other hand, if we’re talking about a piece that’s used a lot, you’ll need a higher quality fabric for upholstery, due to more wear and tear it will have to endure.

It’s time to see which natural fabrics are good for upholstery.

  • Linen is a fairly strong kind of fabric that’s made from the fibers of a flax plant. When it gets wet, linen tends to dry much faster than cotton, which is why you can often see shopping bags or beach bags made from this type of material. As an upholstery fabric, it is best for furniture in the bedroom areas, due to the fact that it soils and wrinkles easily and it doesn’t stand much heavy wear. A soiled linen must be professionally cleaned with special tools. But since it also resists fading and piling, it is actually a good choice for living rooms and such.
  • Leather is a fabric which represents class, style and luxury. Maintenance of leather furniture is somewhat easy because it requires gentle vacuuming or wiping with certain leather care products and basically nothing else. It is one of the most durable and tough, so it can be used for upholstering sofa furniture that’s used a lot. Just try not to scratch it with a sharp edge, the mark will not be easily removable.
  • Cotton is a thankful material when it comes to upholstering. It is durable, depending on the weave type, and good at resisting fading or pilling. Its weaknesses are soiling, wrinkling and of course, fire. When it receives surface treatments or when it’s blended with other materials, cotton usually loses these bad characteristics.
  • Wool and blends of it are one of the durable fabrics and it isn’t prone to neither soiling it wrinkling nor pilling or fading. This fabric is often mixed with some synthetic materials in order to allow easier maintenance and longer life span.
  • Cotton blends possess similar properties. Durable and tough, they tend to last long and provide good results in upholstering. They are family friendly which means that if your kids decide to create a mess and soil it, you should be able to resolve that issue without much trouble.
  • Vinyl is a cheap yet smart choice for upholstery. It resists all kinds of mistreating so it makes for a good choice when it comes to dining and living room furniture fabrics. Quality of vinyl depends on its quality and there are a lot of different kinds of vinyl quality out there.
  • Silk is a beautiful classy and luxurious fabric. It is pretty strong but it’s also quite delicate, not to mention expensive as well so it’s adequate for adult areas only. When soiled, silk requires special treatment in order to be cleaned.

Synthetic Upholstery Fabric

Moving on to synthetic types of upholstery fabrics. These are similar to some natural fabrics in appearance but they possess different properties. Let’s check them out.

  • Acetate is a synthetic imitation of silk and it offers good resistance to pilling, mildew and shrinking. But since it soils easily and doesn’t stand wrinkling or heavy wear and it tends to fade in the sun, acetate isn’t a good choice for furniture that’s going to be used a lot.
  • Acrylic is a synthetic imitation of wool. It resists wrinkling, soiling, wear an fading very well. Depending on its quality, acrylic can pill quite a lot in areas that receive abrasion. Higher quality acrylic don’t have this problem though.
  • Nylon is a fabric which isn’t used a lot in its base form. But when blended into other materials, it drastically increases the strength while reducing the possibility of crushing of napped fabrics such as velvet. It’s resistant to soiling and wrinkling but it’s weak against fading and pilling.
  • Olefin is a powerhouse kind of fabric, having no pronounced weaknesses. This makes it great for furniture that receives a lot of wear and tear.
  • Polyester is similar to nylon in a sense that it’s mostly blended with other fabrics in order to reduce the chance if wrinkling, crushing and fading. However, when mixed with wool, polyester aggravates the pilling problem.
  • Rayon is a synthetic imitation of silk, cotton and linen. It is a very durable material but it does wrinkle a lot. However, newer types of this fabric have a more practical use than before.

Here’s a quick recap for those who prefer visuals:

Well then, now you know all about the different types of upholstery fabric. Ok maybe not all but certainly enough. So will you just pay for upholstering of your furniture, or will you perhaps venture into a DIY project by buying a standard or auto upholstery sewing machine and do it yourself? It’s up to you to decide.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
Adam Golightly - April 15, 2021

My brother has been thinking about getting some upholstery for his couch because he would like for it to be made safer. He would really like to get some the right upholstery from a professional in order to be a lot safer. It was interesting to learn about the different materials that can be used in upholstery that can be more durable like cotton and wool that can also be blended with other materials.

Tex Hooper - January 19, 2022

I like what you said about how synthetic imitation silk can still wrinkle. I need to get a contractor to reupholster my furniture. I’ll have to consider getting someone who has a good online review to do it.

Thomas Clarence - August 22, 2022

I thought it was interesting when you talked about how the conditioning of your furniture reflects your character. I would think that it would be a good idea to have your furniture repaired as soon as possible whenever they get any kind of damage. Getting the damage fixed quickly would help you ensure that the damage doesn’t get worse.

Nadia - September 15, 2022

Individuals genuinely must have a space that they love, and that you get up cheerful each day in your home. A major piece of that is what you have for your furnishings, your specialty, and your stylistic theme.

Mia Evans - October 26, 2022

It got me when you talked about acrylic and how it will not wrinkle, soil, or fade easily. I will choose this when I hire a furniture repair service for my sofa in the living room. It’s because we already need the cover changed after it has has ripped parts because of our cat.


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