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Classic and Contemporary Types of Upholstery Fabric

Recognising and understanding the requirements of the different types of upholstery fabrics will help you build a proper and regular maintenance routine and keep your upholstered furniture in perfect condition for as long as possible.

Classic Upholstery Fabrics

Linen is a strong and durable material, smooth to the touch. However, it wrinkles easily due to its poor elasticity. Linen fabrics come in a range of natural colours, often in the shades of ivory, ecru, and tan. Linen stains easily and needs professional upholstery cleaning whenever you stumble upon such an issue. Choosing upholstered with linen furniture pieces is not recommended for families with children and pets because of its requiring and hard to maintain nature.

Cotton upholstery fabric can be found in natural cotton and cotton blends. The strength and durability of cotton blends make them more popular. It is comfortable to the skin. Due to its absorbency ability, it takes longer to dry. Staining and wrinkling may occur, so if you have children Scotchguard your upholstered furniture.

Wool is soil-, stain- and flame-resistant and holds water repellent properties. It also absorbs polluting gases. Both hot water extraction method and dry cleaning are applicable for this fabric. On the downside, wool does not feel comfortable to the touch. It can get easily stained and is very sensitive to chlorine bleach. Wool takes a long time to dry if overly wetted. Additionally, due to its protein content wool is inclined to insect damage.

The leather is expensive but durable and flexible material. It is easily maintained by a simple wipe-down. The natural leather fibres may break down with time. Acidic leathers are susceptible to red rot which leads to a change in texture. After long periods of exposure to low humidity, leather may desiccate, changing its fibrous structure irreversibly. Special treatments and maintenance procedures are available offered by professional cleaning companies.

Silk is a fragile material that could be damaged easily so refrain from upholstering frequently used pieces of furniture with this fabric. It is predominantly used for decoration.

Nylon is an extremely strong synthetic fibre. It has a low soil absorbency capacity and responds well to cleaning. The few drawbacks are that stains easily and bobbles may appear on the surface.

Acrylic is a strong synthetic material that is easy to clean and maintain, not susceptible to shrinkage and wrinkling. It comes in a variety of colours. It is practical for upholstering the furniture in the living room.

Contemporary Upholstery Fabrics

Chenille fabric is named after the French word for caterpillar describing the unique process of manufacturing. Short lengths of yarn, called ‘the pile’ are placed between two ‘core yarns’ and then twisted together.  The edges of the piles stand at right angles from the core which contributes to the fabric’s characteristic look and softness. Chenille fibres appear iridescent due to the unusual catch of light. Chenille yarn tufts can work loose and result in creating bare fabric, however, this problem can be resolved by using a low melt nylon in the core of the yarn and then steaming the hanks of yarn. Hot water extraction method or dry cleaning may be suitable for your chenille upholstery.

Suede is a type of leather with a napped or brushed finish. Suede leather is made from the underside of the skin, hence its less durable but softer characteristic than standard leather. Due to its textured nature, suede absorbs liquids quickly and can easily become dirty.

Velvet is a woven tufted fabric with an evenly distributed cut threads and a short dense pile. Velvet can be made from various kinds of fibres such as silk, cotton, and even synthetic fibres. It is a luxurious fibre and associated with high status. Due to its pile velvet is difficult to clean and dry cleaning method is recommended.