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Follow Simple Tips to Make Reupholstery a Green Job

The decision to reupholster used or vintage furniture rather than purchase new pieces is a smart choice for the environment. Reupholstery saves the materials and energy that would be spent on brand new furniture, which not only saves customers money, but also helps to make the planet more sustainable. While reupholstery is a green choice by its nature, some jobs are more sustainable than others. Customers can take steps to make their reupholstery work as green as possible, particularly in terms of the material used for cushions and fabric.

Not all furniture material is renewable or friendly to the environment. Consider the foam used for cushions in vintage sofas and chairs to make sure the reupholstery process begins with a green choice. Some older and even new foam is treated with brominated fire retardant, for example, which consists of harmful chemicals that accumulate in the environment and cause damage over the long term. Instead of these dangerous chemicals, customers should use options like natural latex foam, which can be ordered in custom sizes and shapes, for cushions in the reupholstery process. Latex foam is not fireproof, so it is important to wrap the foam in something nontoxic and breathable like natural wool batting, which should be covered by a down-proof ticking. These protective layers also keep dust, mites and other pests from penetrating the cushions, which provides an extra benefit for family members who suffer from allergies.

In terms of fabric selection for green reupholstery, look for natural and nontoxic fabrics. Synthetic fabrics like nylon contain petroleum, but fabrics made of cotton and other natural fibers are eco-friendly. However, synthetic material derived from natural ingredients like Seacell, which comes from seaweed, and Modal from beech trees are green choices. How the company prints or dyes the fabric makes a difference in being green, where water-based, nontoxic ink is more desirable. It also is important to know whether a company uses chemicals to finish the fabric. Methods that involve only heat and pressure are the most eco-friendly, but it means that fading may occur in the fabric, which makes it important to dry clean the materials. Finally, look for fabric made of recycled products, such as polyester, which is indicated on the tag as having a “cradle-to-cradle” life cycle.

Those criteria may seem like a high bar, but in the twenty-first century, many fabrics are available in stores, online and through your reupholsterer that offer a broad array of good looks without sacrificing concern for the environment. These green fabrics are made of heavy-metal free dyes, recycled fibers and natural fibers. If a fabric you like is not entirely green, try washing a sample of it, which can remove harmful treatments, but might affect the quality, performance and longevity of the fabric.

When in doubt of your own assessment about green reupholstery, look for materials certified by a conservation organization. These professional groups make it their business to know what products and materials are most suitable for the environment.

Making the decision to reupholster furniture rather than dispose of old pieces represents a green step in the right direction for the environment. Once that choice is made, additional steps can be taken with regard to materials selection that make sure the process remains as green as possible.

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NYC Furniture Upholstery | Manhattan Commercial Upholstery | New York City Sofa Reupholstery
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