Upholstery Fabric Guide
Custom upholstery fabric makes a significant difference to the look and comfort of your seats, sofas, and other furniture. In most cases, it can also increase the longevity of the piece for years to come.
However, to ensure quality results, it is just as important to choose the right material as it is to choose a highly knowledgeable and skilled upholstery service.
Several factors go into choosing the right upholstery fabric, and this short guide will provide you with a basic rundown of them to help you select the best material for you.
Upholstery Fabric Types
When shopping for upholstery materials, you will be faced with two main options: natural or synthetic, or you can choose a blend of these materials.
Natural upholstery materials are derived from organic sources, such as leather, silk, velvet, etc.
These materials are soft and breathable, making them more comfortable than other materials, and since they are natural, they won’t harm the environment when they are discarded. However, they are also more porous than other materials, which makes them less resilient.
They also do not resist mildew and mold growth, which, if left untreated, can cause the material to smell musty, as well as continue to rot the fabric until it becomes discolored and crumbly.
Therefore, natural upholstered pieces are not usually recommended in environments with humidity levels above 80%, especially during the summer.
On the other hand, synthetic upholstery is made from handmade materials, so it is more durable. It is also less porous, so it resists mold, mildew, and stains reasonably well, and it is also easy to wipe down.
However, many synthetic materials can be made to look and feel like natural fibers but with more sturdiness.
There are also blended upholstery fabrics, which contain a mix of both natural and synthetic fibers. This way, you get the comfort of natural fibers and also the resilience of synthetic fibers.
Other Upholstery Materials
When having your furniture upholstered, it will also be fitted with padding, springs, and stuffing to add thickness and complete the look.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Material
What Feelings Do You Want the Piece to Inspire?
Different fabrics invoke different feelings. For instance, leather has a more sophisticated feel, while velvet exudes a bolder, more dramatic flair.
The fabric color you choose will also help create the mood, be sure to consider how it will fit in with or accent your other furniture and decor.
Consider How You Will You Use The Piece
Think about how you plan to use the upholstered piece and where you will place it, such as in a boat, RV, or family room, etc., which will determine how tough it needs to be.
Many fabrics have a rub count that determines the number of rubs it can withstand before it starts to rub away. The higher the rub count, the more suitable the material is for heavy use.
For instance, an outdoor chair may require a high rub count because it is used more vigorously.
Likewise, if you place the upholstered furniture in an area that receives lots of sunlight, you will need to select a fabric that doesn’t fade quickly. Otherwise, the direct exposure to UV light and heat will cause the fabric’s dyes to begin to breakdown, causing the fabric’s color to lighten and become distorted.
Consider the Shape of the Piece
The shape of the piece is also essential to consider when choosing a fabric. For instance, a larger piece of furniture upholstered in a patterned material may become displeasing after a while.
Meanwhile, if the piece is made in an intricate shape, it will need to be broken down to be upholstered. However, once the pieces are upholstered, it can be challenging to put them back together in a coherent texture or pattern.
Consider Your Pets and Children
If you have pets, you want to pick a material that does not attract pet hair or that stains easily, making it easier to clean.
It would be best if you were sure the material is free of any loose pieces that could cause your pets’ paws to become entangled or snagged, which can damage the rest of the fabric.
Likewise, if you have small kids, you want to select a resilient fabric that is also resistant to scuffs, scratches, and stains.
Consider Allergies Sufferers
If anyone in your space suffers from allergies, then be sure to choose a fabric that is hypoallergenic to prevent allergens from penetrating the furniture. This way, they will remain on the surface where they can be wiped off or vacuumed away.
Consider the Maintenance
Different materials require different cleaning and maintenance requirements to prevent damaging them.
For instance, some fabrics must be professionally cleaned to prevent ruining them, such as silk. Meanwhile, velvet does not do well with water, so it may also have to be cleaned by a professional to prevent damage.
Therefore, be sure to check the fabric’s maintenance instructions to ensure it is the right material for you.
Consider the Price
Fabrics differ in costs according to the type and quality.
To determine the cost of your material, calculate the amount of fabric you will need to upholster your piece, which will give you an estimate.
You can also choose a comfortable, high performing synthetic fabric for the look and feel of more expensive fabric but at a lower price.
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