Choosing The Right Fabric

 
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So many times we get clients who are eager to begin projects. They come in with an idea in mind of a fabric that they saw in a showroom or magazine and want to replicate it in their home. Then we find out they have kids, or pets, or really love drinking wine, and that dream magazine styled sofa suddenly looks like its heading out the door. This can be true in some instances, but most of the time we are able to find something comparable that will work with their life. 

One of the main questions we ask is, "How is your furniture used in your home?" Depending on the answer, and oftentimes the style of the furniture, we can narrow down some fabric options that will be suitable. 

If you have pieces in your home that are used often, more than likely they will need to be covered in tough, durable and tightly woven fabrics. 

For those of you who are more gently on your furniture, or use it less, these will often wear fine with a less durable fabric. 

 

NATURAL FABRICS


Linen: The favorite among myself and a lot of our clients. However, linen is possibly one of the least durable fabrics because it soils and wrinkles easily. Along with that it also needs professional cleaning to avoid shrinkage. However, it does tend to resist piling and fading, and more recently can be offered in durable options.

Leather: Leather is the type of fabric that can work in almost any environment. It's tough yet soft, and can be gently vacuumed, damp-wiped, and cleaned with leather conditioner or olive oil.

Vinyl: It used to be viewed as the less cool brother to leather, however now-a-days it comes in soft, silky, and smooth finishes that oftentimes beat leather. It is also easy to clean and less expensive than leather.

Cotton: The fabric of our lives can sometimes be durable and at other times be a nightmare. This natural fiber tends to provide decent resistance to wear, fading, and piling. Although it less resistant to soil and wrinkling, they can often be given treatments to enhance durability. 

Cotton Blend: Depending on the weave, cotton blends can be sturdy, family-friendly fabrics. A stain-resistant finish should be applied for everyday use.

Wool: This sturdy, durable, and consistent fabric offers good resistance to piling, fading, wrinkling and soil. Oftentimes in upholstery it is difficult to find one hundred percent wool, more commonly it is blended with synthetic fibers allowing it to be easily cleaned. 

Silk: The fabric that should only be seen, rarely touched. This delicate fabric is only suitable for adult areas that are formal in nature. It must always be professionally cleaned and maintained. 

 

SYNTHETIC FABRICS


Nylon: Nylon is usually blended with other fibers to make it one of the strongest upholstery fabrics. It can come in a lot of different forms and is one of the most resilient and helps eliminate the crushing of velvet, and doesn't easily soil or wrinkle. 

Olefin: One of the top contenders for best upholstery fabric, it has no pronounced weaknesses. It can often have a synthetic feel if it is a low quality olefin. 

Polyester: This is one of those rarely used alone fabrics, in upholstery, polyester is blended with other fibers to add wrinkle resistance, eliminate crushing of napped fabrics, and reduce fading. 

Rayon: Developed as an imitation silk, linen, and cotton, rayon is durable. However, it wrinkles. Recent developments have made high-quality rayon very practical.

Acrylic: The imitation wool offers great resistance to wear and tear, wrinkling, soiling and fading. If it is low quality fabric it will begin to pill excessively in areas of high abrasion. 

Acetate: The imitation silk, can often withstand mildew, piling and shrinkage. However, it offers only fair resistance to soil and tends to wear, wrinkle, and fade in the sun. It's not a good choice for furniture that will get tough everyday use.

 
 

written by: Drew Albo

Drew Albo