|The fibers in upholstery
contribute not only to the appearance of an upholstered piece,
but also to the durability of it. Further, the amount of care
necessary for the piece and the types of cleaning methods
that can be utilized on the piece will also be affected. Therefore,
it’s very important when deciding to either purchase
or reupholster a piece that you consider the upholstery
fibers associated with the piece.
Fibers typically come in two major categories: natural and
synthetic. Within those categories, several subcategories
Cotton is one of the most popular natural fibers. Cotton is
derived from a plant and comes in varying degrees of quality.
A long staple and a particular sheen characterize higher quality
cotton. Lesser quality cotton is identifiable as having a
shorter fiber length and its appearance can sometimes be dull
or drab. Because of its chemistry, cotton absorbs color very
well, which is why you will often see a variety of colors
available for cotton pieces. Cotton stains easily, and needs
fabric protection to remain pristine. It also wrinkles easily.
That said, however, cotton is considered strong and versatile.
Linen is also derived from plants, and it shares many qualities
with cotton. Unlike cotton, however, linen does not fade easily
and is therefore a good option for a room with a lot of sun.
Linen is, however, very susceptible to mold and mildew.
Silk is a popularly luxurious fabric and is derived from silk
worms. Silk can either be reeled, resulting in a smooth shiny
appearance, or spun, resulting in a more textured feel. Silk
is strong and resilient but is very susceptible to fading
in sunlight and is therefore not suitable for a room with
a lot of sun.
Wool is made from the fleece of a sheep and depending on how
it is spun can either be soft and fuzzy or hard and scratchy.
Wool is fairly resistant, standing strong against mildew,
sunlight, and abrasion. However, moths or other insects can
damage wool easily.
As far as synthetic materials go, the majors are acetate,
acrylic, nylon, olefin, and polyester. Acetate is often blended
with other fibers to create softness and sheen. It’s
resistant to shrinking, wrinkling, and mildew but is not great
with solvents or abrasion.
Acrylic is often used in outdoor pieces due to its resistance
to sunlight, mildew, and insects. Acrylic has a soft and wooly
feel to it, and it almost feels natural. Acrylic is often
used in knit pieces as well as woven fabrics and velvets.
Nylon takes color and shape very well and has a nice sheen
to it. It’s considered a very durable fabric and is
therefore used heavily in pieces that must be sun, mildew,
wrinkling, and insect resistant. Olefin too is resistant to
such things and is often used to create flat woven fabrics
Finally, polyester can either be soft, crisp fabrics or have
sheen to them. Polyester is often blended with other fibers
such as cotton to create an appearance similar to that of
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