Choosing Upholstery Fabric

Fresh Décor Ideas

Fresh Décor Ideas: Choosing Upholstery FabricWhile many of us are taking advantage of the warmer weather to renovate our homes, some of us are just looking for fresh new décor ideas to update the home.

This could mean re-upholstering an old lounge suite, having a new lounge suite made or simply having accessories made to complement your home. But before deciding on the fabric you are going to use, make sure you are aware of its fade-resistance, durability and its ability to stay clean.

Good quality fabric will always cost a more than low quality fabric and, in most cases, prints cost more than solids.

This is a good guide to use when choosing fabric for upholstery as well as for soft furnishings like linen and blinds.

Consider the Traffic

First off, how will the item you’re upholstering be used? If it’s an ottoman or chair that’s more for show than for use, you will be able to get away with slightly less durable fabrics. But if it is going to be exposed to high traffic and heavy wear, you will need to use more durable, tightly woven fabric.

Natural Fabrics

Fresh Décor Ideas: Choosing Upholstery FabricCotton is always popular for upholstery. It doesn’t fade easily, resists wear and is available in a variety of thicknesses and textures. For a casual relaxed area, canvas is extremely durable while damask and brocade suits more formal areas of the home.

Cotton blends are also very strong and family-friendly. It’s a good idea to have a stain resistant finish (like Scotch Guard) applied if it’s for everyday use.

Linen and linen blends are also popular for interior décor. It’s quite hard wearing and it is washable, but because it wrinkles easily it’s best for formal areas. It isn’t fade resistant either, so make sure you have blinds fitted to your windows to protect it.

Wool blends are somewhat more expensive than cotton but are more resistant to soiling, wrinkling and fading. Wools are usually blended with a synthetic fibre for ease of cleaning.

Silk is very popular decorative furniture or accent pieces because of the large range of colours and styles available but should only be used in adult areas as it needs to be professionally cleaned if soiled.

Synthetic Fabrics

Acrylic is wrinkle- and fade-resistant and also resists wear and soiling. It was developed as a more cost effective alternative to wool.

Fresh Décor Ideas: Choosing Upholstery FabricNylon is one of the strongest fabrics for upholstery and it is normally blended with other fibres. Unfortunately it does tend to fade even though it takes a lot for it to soil or wrinkle.

Olefin is most often used for outdoor furniture. It is perfect for heavy wear as it has no major weaknesses and its sun proof.

Polyester is blended with other fibres to increase wrinkle resistant; prevent crushing of napped fabrics, increase durability and to reduce fading.

Rayon and acetate were developed as an imitation silk, linen and cotton. This blend c offers a very luxurious, silky look that withstands shrinking and mildew. It is only fairly resistant to fading and soiling so be sure to use it only for accent furniture where you would normally consider silk for your décor.

Vinyl is a popular choice for high traffic family living and dining rooms. It’s easier to care for and less expensive than leather but its durability depends on the quality you choose.

When choosing fabric to match your décor, follow these simple tips:

  • Examine the original piece of fabric on the furniture you are going to re-upholster to decide why you liked it or didn’t like it. This will help you with selecting the new fabric accordingly. Then decide how often the item will be used to determine the durability of the fabric you need.
  • Crush the fabric of your choice tightly in the palm of your hand. Release it and see if the wrinkles are retained.
  • The higher the thread count or the tighter the weave, the stronger the fabric.
  • Don’t use drapery / curtaining fabric for upholstery. It will not withstand everyday use and holes will appear or the fabric will unravel.
  • Ensure that fabric has a stain resistant finish by dropping a small amount of water onto it. The water should bead up and not be absorbed, then it will repel stains.
  • If you select fabric with a repetitive pattern, be sure to order extra to match up. The larger the repeat, the more you will need.

Have a look at this video on how to measure for fabric:


With so many fabric options available, you’ll be sure to find something to fit your style and budget. Use bold fabrics to play with new interior décor ideas to update your home.

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