Determine Durability NeedsThe first step to picking out the perfect upholstery fabric is considering your lifestyle and durability needs. What’s the point of getting a chair reupholstered if it’ll just get ruined again in a couple of years? The durability of upholstery fabric is determined by a manufacturer-administered double rub test, which mimics the wear and tear a fabric will undergo using a back and forth motion — the higher number of double rubs a fabric can withstand, the more durable the material. You should also consider upholstery fabrics that have been treated for performance and have water repellent or stain resistance qualities. This is especially important if you live in a household with kids or pets. In general, woven patterns with high thread counts, microfiber, and leather fabrics are able to withstand more wear and tear. More delicate and textured options like wool, linen, cotton, and silk don’t hold up as well and typically soak up stains.
Find Complimentary FabricIn addition to suiting your lifestyle, the upholstery fabric you select has to complement your unique piece of furniture and the décor present in the rest of your house. Here are the qualities of some of the most popular fabrics that you should consider:
- Chenille: This silken thread that is sewn into cotton or wool has a 3-D effect and is well suited to heavier pieces. Chenille cut pile helps with comfort and abrasion resistance.
- Basketweave/Tweed: These solid, woven fabrics are ideal for upholstery applications. They hide stains well and are able to withstand wear and tear.
- Canvas: Typically made from cotton or linen, this durable weave is well suited to printed designs. When canvas fabrics are created from cotton, the shape can distort over time, so it shouldn’t be used for heavy-use furniture. If you’re looking for a more tightly woven fabric, duck canvas is the way to go.
- Faux Leather: This imitation leather is super easy to clean, making it an excellent choice for furniture pieces that will be used a lot.
- Faux Suede/Microfiber: Similar to faux leather, this polyester fabric is easy to clean, very strong, and resistant to abrasion.
- Jacquard: This highly textured fabric that features intricately woven patterns makes for a great decorative piece and is an ideal choice for furniture that will be used moderately.
- Marine Vinyl: Also known as PVC or polyvinyl chloride, this durable material is resistant to mildew and mold. It can also be made waterproof.
- Velvet: Velvet can be made entirely from silk, but cotton is also used as a less-expensive alternative. Typically velvet has a dense cut pile and can withstand heavy usage. Spills easily come off this material when they are treated immediately.