Choosing fabrics for a sofa or chair can be a daunting task. From grades and rubs to a wide variety of natural or synthetic fabrics, it can get overwhelming. Although important, shopping for the right fabric shouldn’t be intimidating. Here are some points to consider:
1. Natural vs. Synthetic - Probably the most important point. Natural fibers are animal-based like silk, wool, cotton and linen, while beautiful, are typically more fragile than man-made fibers and are susceptible to damage from factors like staining, wear and tear, and fading from sunlight. Silk will disintegrate over time if it is unprotected and exposed to high levels of natural light.
The man-made fibres on the market today are technologically advanced and designed to withstand high levels of daily abuse. Polyester, acetate, acrylic, nylon, and olefin are prime examples. Up to this date, polyester is considered one of the most durable fibres for furniture. Having a mix of both synthetic and natural fibres are highly recommended.
2. Fabric Grade - Each manufacturer has their own grading system. The higher the grade does not equate quality but how expensive certain fabrics are made. Prices vary on intricacy of the weave, construction, fibre content, season, and performance.
3. Rubs - Or abrasion. The higher the double-rub count the better for durability and wear and tear factoring. Simply put: a double-rub is a testing method that uses a special machine that passes a testing pad back and forth over the fabric until it is worn out. Each back-and-forth pass is known as a double-rub.
Residential grades are usually rated at 3,000 to 25,000 double-rubs. These are fabrics that easily wear and typically used for light traffic areas. These fabrics usually last 1-3 years and are cheap.
Commercial grades are anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000++ double rubs. These are the fabric selections that you see in Shelter Furniture sofas and chairs. These are fabrics that are made to withstand extreme wear and tear even and made for very high traffic areas (ex. airports and hotels). Having one in your home guarantees a furniture lifespan of 10-20 years.
Just to recap, your considerations for fabric shopping should rely on:
- Appropriateness to lifestyle.
- Resistance to stains, soil, abrasion and sunlight.
- Care and maintenance.
- How long it can be expected to last.
UPHOLSTERY GUIDE 101
By: Larsen Palafox, Designing Consultant