How to choose the best upholstery fabric for you
If you’re having trouble knowing which upholstery fabric option is best for you, we understand. There are a lot of factors to consider even after you have settled on a colour palette or chosen which spot on the sofa is going to be yours.
Whilst some elements of fabric selection come down to your own sensory experiences – what looks or feels good against your skin – other factors may be more objective. So, how do you make sure that the fabric or leather that you love the look of now, is still going to look great in 6-, 12-, or 24-months’ time?
To help you narrow down the best options to suit your requirements, before such assessments as “snuggle factor” come in to play, we provide the following detailed information on every fabric in our extensive range.
All our upholstery fabrics and leathers are organised into fourteen price groups, allowing you to select from a range of luxurious options no matter your budget.
Groups one to nine are home to our range of over 19 styles of fabrics, whilst ten to fourteen are reserved exclusively for leathers. Just because a fabric falls into a lower price group, it does not mean that it is lower quality. It may be that the raw material cost is lower or that the manufacturing process is simpler, so you may find that the fabric you had your eye on costs less than you think.
When it comes to composition, upholstery fabrics fall into two categories: natural and synthetic. Natural fabrics have immediate appeal due to their tactility and style, and are often more environmentally friendly than their synthetic counterparts. On the other hand, synthetic fabrics tend to be particularly durable and easy to care for, helping to ensure a long life for your carefully chosen furnishings.
Many of our fabrics are blends, engineered to maximise the benefits of both, so you can enjoy relaxing in comfort without the worry.
The Martindale score is an industry standard measure of how durable a fabric is. Calculated by subjecting the surface of the fabric to repeated rubbing by an abrasive object, Martindale measures how much wear and tear a fabric will withstand before the structure of the fabric is compromised.
A Score of between 15.000 and 25.000 is appropriate for general domestic use, whilst sturdier fabrics with a score of over 30.000 are also suitable for use in public or commercial spaces. All of our fabrics have a Martindale score of 30.000 or higher.
Designer’s tip: If you need help visualising this, one sit equates to one rub. So, if you were to sit in the same place on a sofa with 30.000 Martindale ten times per day, that area would last for 3000 days (or 8 years) before showing wear.
It is worth bearing in mind that since the Martindale test is limited to simulating damage from rubbing, the score does not provide guidance on how well an upholstery fabric will withstand other types of damage, such a plucking from cats’ claws, or resistance to sharp objects.
Our most durable fabrics:
Pilling is the formation of small balls of loose fibers on the fabric’s surface, also known as bobbling. All fabrics are subject to pilling to an extent but, whilst unsightly, it is not usually an indicator of any more substantial damage to the body of the fabric.
Much like the Martindale test, rubbing and friction are the main causes of pilling. However, as the ability of pills to develop is somewhat independent of a fabric’s overall durability, it is worth considering separately. To give you extra guidance on what will work best for you, we rate all of our fabrics on a scale of one to five (with five being the best) for their resistance to pilling.
Our highest rated fabrics for resistance to pilling:
Colour Fastness to Light
It can be incredibly frustrating to discover that the colour of a carefully chosen, and well loved, piece of upholstery has faded to a shadow of its former self. To help you navigate this problem and find the best, long-lasting, solution for your space, we rate all of our fabrics on a scale of one to eight (with eight being the best) for their ability to withstand UV exposure.
Designer’s tip: As a rule, more saturated coloured fabrics tend to be less colourfast, so we would not recommend placing a brightly coloured sofa in a room receiving full sun unless the upholstery fabric was particularly highly rated.
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