Best and Worst Fabrics for Upholstery Projects

Choosing the appropriate fabric for upholstery is a demanding task. You need to consider the cost, purpose, hypoallergenic features, and durability of the material. 

Take a look at the best and worst fabrics for your upholstery projects. This guide will tell you which fabrics are pet-friendly, easy to clean, and long-lasting.

Best Fabrics for Upholstery Projects

There is a wide array of upholstery materials you choose from. Narrow down your choices into these six fabrics.

  1. Cotton

Cotton is a classic upholstery fabric that creates a smooth and robust material when woven. Premium, natural cotton has long fibers that feel glossy like silk. It’s always a great choice for upholstery projects because it resists wear, pilling, fading, soil, and wrinkling. 

What makes cotton the most popular upholstery fabric is that it’s breathable. If you live in a tropical climate, cotton can conduct away heat and moisture from your skin. You can sit on a cotton-made couch on a hot summer day, and it won’t feel as sticky.

  1. Leather

Leather is one of the most luxurious fabrics for furniture. It stays popular despite the range of natural and synthetic materials available. That’s because the leather looks better over time compared to other fabrics.

Instead of aging, leather only gets softer and more supple. It also dissipates cold and heat, no matter the weather, the way cotton does. Durability is also impressive, as leather lasts up to four times longer than anything else.

The upholstery material is pet-friendly. It’s thick enough that your dog’s claws shouldn’t puncture it. And their fur won’t stick to it.

  1. Vinyl

Vinyl is an ideal fabric selection for upholstery because it’s easy to clean, durable, and affordable. It doesn’t easily crack or dry if your kid spills their drink. And you can use almost any cleaning product to maintain vinyl. 

Although leather is sturdier than vinyl, this fabric can still last a long time. It’s available in different colors and textures that won’t break the bank. Make sure to choose high-quality vinyl to avoid tears.

  1. Microfiber

Microfiber is a synthetic upholstery fabric, which means it has undergone a chemical process. Its texture feels like velvet but is more durable and water-resistant. It’s ideal for your game room, kitchen, and living room because it’s stain-resistant.

The fabric is tightly woven using fibers that are thinner than human hair. Your wine or your kid’s juice won’t leave marks as it wicks away moisture quickly.

Another benefit of microfiber is its vibrance. It holds color for a long time, whether you want a neutral fabric or a brightly-colored one. Unconventional colors are also available, including orange, plum, and bright red.

You can also choose printed microfiber fabrics. Just don’t place this material under direct sunlight to avoid fading. 

  1. Nylon

It’s better to use nylon with other fiber types to create a strong upholstery fabric. This long-lasting material can prevent crushing, which is common in velvet. Place your nylon sofa or cushion in areas with high exposure to spillages. 

Nylon does not absorb moisture. Even if it gets wet, it dries at a faster rate. This material also prevents abrasions and is a fantastic insulator. It’s perfect for entertaining guests and having kids and pets. 

Nylon is famous as a seat cover, pillow, lounge, chair, outdoor furniture, and more. Because of its tensile strength, the fabric is universally applicable to different objects.  

  1. Olefin

Olefin makes it to the list of the best fabrics for upholstery because it can receive heavy wear. Whether indoors or outdoors, the material can resist various elements to last a long time.

The fabric is slowly getting popular in the world of furniture since it’s stain and water-resistant. The durable plastic-made olefin is also not prone to fire, mildew, and abrasion. 

Olefin should not be in direct sunlight like other fabrics because it can get brittle over time. Consider the proper location so you can maximize all of its benefits.

Worst Fabrics for Upholstery Projects

These four fabrics may look good in your home, but they’re either hard to clean, weak, or not pet-friendly.

  1. Chenille

Chenille may easily match other home decor with its patterns and styles, but they are hard to clean. If your dining chairs are upholstered with chenille, expect them to look old and dirty after only a few months of use.

Moisture and extreme heat can quickly eliminate its appeal. The fabric will lose its color and look uneven from afar. When cleaning, you need to use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to avoid the disintegration of the threads.

Animal claws and chenille are also not the best pair. Compared to leather, the chenille fabric is hard to fix if your furry friend scratches even a tiny loop. 

  1. Velvet

Velvet may look elegant in your bedroom, but it’s not allergy-friendly. Dirt, dust, and pet dander may easily land on this fabric, causing itchiness and sneezing. 

It’s also challenging to get rid of the dirt. When cleaning velvet upholstery, use a steam carpet cleaner to get the dust and stains out. 

The fabric is also not exemplary for long-term use. The only way for your velvet sofa to stay soft without fading and matting is to not sit on it. And we know that doesn’t make sense. So opt for more durable fabrics like leather, cotton, and nylon.

  1. Silk

There’s something luxurious about silk. But once your furry friend scratches it, the tear might make its way to the end. Aside from being easily ripped, silk is expensive, tough to clean, and not child-friendly.

There’s no point in spending a lot of money on silk when it absorbs a large amount of moisture. This designer fabric loses its expensive appearance once it comes in contact with water. 

The fibers also wear down when exposed to sunlight, making silk easier to rip and fade. Save the silk material for your sheets and curtains. 

  1. Tweed

Tweed is a textured woven fabric that doesn’t always suit different home interiors. The uneven surface may add personality to your furniture, but it doesn’t feel comfortable to many people. Food, dirt, and pet hair can easily stick between the fibers, causing itching.

You can use different tools to clean tweed, but you must be gentle. It’s also prone to pilling, and fabric pulls unless you choose a tweed material with a higher double rub. Tweed also suffers from animal claw issues like chenille. 

Final Words

Ultimately, the best and worst fabrics for upholstery projects still depend on you. If you prioritize appearance over ease of cleaning, you can still go for chenille and silk. But nothing beats the practicality of cotton, leather, and vinyl.

Which upholstery fabric are you getting? Leave your thoughts and questions below, and share this post if you enjoyed it! And for more great fabric tips, check out our guide to trending textiles!

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