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The Right Fabric for Your Furniture


Choosing the right kind of furniture fabric may not seem that important but may eventually reveal its significance several years later when you see that the fabric you originally chose was totally wrong. After many cleanings, this fabric may now appear stained as well as faded and possibly torn in a few places. Having children, pets and a steady flow of traffic steamrolling all over your furniture can necessitate replacing inappropriate fabric within a short time span.

Another consideration many people neglect to recognize as important is the color of the upholstery fabric. While you may immediately love a certain pattern or color, that pattern or color may not look as good once it is established in your living room. For example, bold or vibrant patterns may overwhelm a smaller room, making it seem cluttered and claustrophobic when it didn't seem that way before you replaced your old furniture fabric. Certain colors may clash with color of your carpet once the colors are next to each other as well.

Consider Fabric Grade
Fabrics are graded on a scale of "A" to "F", with "F" being the most expensive type of fabric you can buy. Grades are assigned based on weave complexity, how it is made, contents of the fiber and how well the fabric stands the test of time. However, grade does not mean to designate the durability or quality of the fabric. Instead, grade just means how much a manufacturer spent when making the fabric.

Also consider thread count of a fabric. Thread count indicates how many threads were used per square inch in the fabric. For example, a square inch sewed with eight thick threads will not have the durability that an inch of fabric sewed with 30 thinner threads will provide. An easy way to check thread count is by holding the piece of fabric up to a light. The more light that peeks through the fabric, the looser the fabric weave.

Natural Upholstery Fabrics
The benefits of natural upholstery fabrics such as cotton, wool, cotton blend, linen and ramie are:
• Durability
• Ease of cleaning (can be spot cleaned or machine washed)
• Fade resistant
• Pilling resistant
• Family-friendly
• Absorbent

One drawback of natural fabrics is their tendency to wrinkle. Treating natural fabrics with wrinkle-resistance solutions can help inhibit creasing, especially with all-cotton fabrics.

Synthetic Upholstery Fabrics
Lightweight acrylic is highly resistant to wear and tear, soiling and, unlike natural fabrics, does not wrinkle. However, acrylic that is not high-quality may begin to pill when used on high-traffic furniture. Often used as a substitute for wool, acrylic keeps its original color well and is warm in cool weather.

Microfiber upholstery fabric is also stain and wrinkle resistant, lightweight and absorbent. Some items made with microfiber such as tablecloths or vehicle interiors actually repel spills by causing the liquid to bead and easily roll off the material. Lovers of suede like microfiber because it resembles suede but is much cheaper. However, microfiber fabric is prone to flammability and exudes a poisonous gas when it is on fire. It is also not biodegradable.

Using vinyl as an upholstery fabric is a great choice for furniture accustomed to children, pets and households experiencing a lot of hard furniture use. Spillage is easily wiped off vinyl, reducing the chance of staining or fading. Although it is used as a substitute for leather, it is not as durable as leather, but neither is it as expensive.

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